Asking Help from Community

Roleplaying communities in internet are a beautiful thing. Back in the day when we played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I was really active on Strike-to-Stun. I quickly learned that if I had a problem or wanted to change ideas an international community of likeminded players was a great place to start. Now we haven’t played WFRP in ages but I still visit the communities because I want to keep up with the people there.

There are a lot of rpg communities all around the web. There are dedicated forums, publisher’s forums, Facebook and (my personal favorite) Google+ for example. Combine them and you have almost unlimited resources of information and ideas. Ask help and you will get it.

Most of the time.

There is one problem with only verbal communication that happens over internet. You cannot be precise enough when asking questions.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that people are willing to take part into discussion about a game they love/like. But sometimes it’s just frustrating to browse through comments that state the obvious. Usually (at least in ideal situation) people are actually trying to help but they might still miss your point.

For example: I’m thinking about running Dungeon World this weekend. I’m thinking of giving a minotaur character for someone to play. Since I don’t already have such playbook I went to Google+ to ask if there is one. Simple question “Is there a playbook for minotaur?” now has ten replies (mine included). As a hindsight I should have phrased my question: “Is there a playbook for minotaur? Yes/No”.

I’m first to admit I might not be sinless in this either. Most likely I have stumbled upon a question (even more than once) to which I have answered in a bit arrogant matter. “You are playing wrong” or “it’s your own world, you can do whatever you like”. About twenty years ago I might have learned from these answers. But as roleplaying as a hobby gets older the age scale of players also gets older. And I’m pretty sure that there are a lot more people groaning at those answers than people who learn from them.

This is not an attack on the Dungeon World community. Far from it. I would not be asking things there if I did not trust and respect the users there. In fact earlier this Fall we discussed about a similar experience with Sami about Out of the Abyss. Someone asked a question about a group of NPCs and their actions. Sami explained how things worked out in his campaign. After replying to the original poster it struck to him that it wasn’t what they had meant. They were asking if there was an explanation about the group’s action written in the book.

From my personal point-of-view I see this as a short sighted child of our playing habits when rpgs were “new”. Old games had a way of explaining everything to a detail and even declaring all other actions invalid. Later games have challenged this but older players might still (at some level) think things via their early experiences.

What I’m trying to say here is that in effort to keep the communities positive, thriving and inspiring we should all consider two things. At first we should try to consider our responses to other players (“you are not getting the point” or “you are doing it wrong” are simply just bad answers). At second we should forgive those who answer us in that manner.

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