|No, not like this.|
I think it's very important to spend time with your players outside of gaming. Some people have a "gaming group" and barely ever interact outside of that. But it's important to get to know your players when you're not in a gaming setting. And that's doubly important for Dungeon Masters.
When you run a game, you're used to reacting to everyone, adjusting things and adjudicating, and controlling the flow of conversation. In a regular social situation, especially involving people you game with, it's important to learn to simply be another player in the conversation. I definitely still treat certain social situations as if I am in DM mode, and sometimes I overcompensate and disappear into the background. Social skills aren't always high up on the ladder for gamers, but it can help you be a better friend.
It also helps your game writing. First off, your players have to interact with NPCs all the time. Knowing social cues and being able to portray different people is a skill that requires real-world development to master. Not every NPC can sound like they are from a movie.
Finally, (and this could be the subject of an entire article) hanging out in a non-game setting gives you a chance to find out what sort of other things interest your players. Maybe you play in a fantasy setting and never knew that one of your players is a rabid Star Wars fan. Or you find out that a player is really into woodworking. Talking to them can reveal these sort of things, and give you ideas for the type of plot and easter eggs they would enjoy in-game.
|Not this either.|
Basically, instead of telling you about a game I ran, I'm just going to cover a fun and interesting event from a game in the past. Usually before this blog began, although I do occasionally play in games and I might pull a story from there.
Old News: The Spider Mecha
This story comes from a game I ran for Demonquest about half a year ago. The players were infiltrating a noble manor that had become a den of depravity and demon worship, under the eye of the corpulent magistrate Lord Zratoni.
|Closer, but still not right!|
Having successfully made it to the dungeon of the manor, they were beset upon by three Helmed Horrors, powerful constructs made to look like possessed suits of armor. Among the party was Callie Hilltopple, a halfing druid who lived in the sewer under the city and controlled the rats and mold that grew in the waterways below civilization.
While the combat began, one of the other players tried to create a swarm of spiders using a magic summoning item. She threw the enchanted tooth at the ground, and indeed, a swarm of spiders flocked to the item, ready to assist in fighting the Helmed Horrors.
Callie, however, had a different idea. Using her Wild Shape and Speak With Animals abilities, she changed into a spider, entered the swarm, and (with a powerful animal handling check) convinced the other spiders to obey her.
|No, just no.|
At this point the party's fighter and barbarian had dispatched two of the three Helmed Horrors, and the battle was nearly won. As the players turned towards their final foe, Callie's swarm of spiders scurried forth to attack.
To everyone's surprise, the swarm didn't attack at all. Instead, the spiders crawled into the joints of the armor and filled it up, causing the Helmed Horror's movements to be slowed and eventually stopped by the tide of spiders.
|What are you even doing.|
As the magic within the construct faded, Callie decided that she didn't want to leave the swarm or her new suit of armor. With a concentrated effort, her swarm began to move the limbs of the former construct, with Callie sitting in the head of the armor to see and direct the spiders below.
The suit of armor shook back to life, now full of spiders and at Callie's command. She had successfully made a mobilized, armored construct, controlled from a small point in the head.
Thus, the Spider Mecha was born.
The players went on to successfully defeat Lord Zratoni, and Callie was forced to abandon her mecha when the summoned swarm dispersed. But the memory of the Spider Mecha lives on in the legends of the city!
Thanks for reading!