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Hosting a game

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 6 months ago

Hosting & being a guest

The decision to host a game is a serious one, and not to be taken lightly. A good game session can trash your house, and a bad game session can trash friendships. And then there are housemates and neighbours to consider, as you make noise and a mess, or offend or impress people by your behaviour.


Who hosts?

The first thing to decide is who will host the games? The answer, "whoever it's convenient for." There are three things to consider: housemates of host, geography, and gaming space. Together these make up convenience


Housemates of host

Next to consider are the housemates of the host – their roommates, parents, siblings, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, aunt or whoever lives with them. We'll assume they're not gamers themselves, if they are, we don't have to worry about them as housemates – they're just part of the game group. Non-gamers attitudes to gamers can range from liking to amused tolerance to loathing. In general, the loathing only comes from bad behaviour by the gamers, such as by violation of one of the areas below (bad table manners, not cleaning up, etc). So we usually get liking or amused tolerance. It's well to consider this in detail, because even if you can ignore the housemate, your host can't; they'll hear the mutterings and get the dark looks when the housemate steps on the left-behind d4 the next morning.


Does the housemate have to be up at 5am for work, and your game will be from 7pm till midnight? Probably you can't game there, then – housemates without sleep complain to the host, and you may find the host suddenly dropping out of the game group. Is the housemate asthmatic, and two of the players are smokers? Does the housemate get offended by profanity easily?



This is, where is the gaming place in relation to where everyone is coming from at the game time. They might not be coming from home, but straight from work. One could be coming from twenty miles away and get there quicker than the person from three miles away, just because of traffic, where the public transport is, and so on. So don't think of distances, but of travelling times. It should be the aim to minimise everyone's travel time, so you can maximise gaming time!


Also remember that people have to get back home, too. No-one should drive while really tired, and in some places public transport ends at some time. If you're not careful, someone could get stuck ferrying the gamers home in their car, and then they come to expect it, and then the driver gets brassed off and quits the group.


So the gaming place should be in the middle of all that.


Gaming Space

This is where you will sit down to game in the host's place. Obviously, it should be large enough to fit all the players. Sounds obvious, but many people have gamed squashed in a laundry with no windows, or in a small kitchen with an annoyed mother squeezing past someone's chair to the refrigerator thirty times in the session. In the modern West, many people are physically large, from fat, muscle or height, so take a look at your home and picture them around that table or in that loungeroom.


As well as space, it should be somewhere that is easily cleaned. A game session is a bit like a dinner party – you have several excited happy people eating and drinking – things will be spilled, messes will be made. So don't game on a polished wood floor with an antique wooden table as your space, it'll get pencil and dice dents on it in no time. Take a bottle of cola and a bag of cheetos, and throw at least half their contents on the table and floor. If it takes you more than half an hour to clean it up, you don't want to game in that space. If you do not even dare try the experiment, then you don't want to game in that space.


Depending on the climate in your region, your gaming space may need heating, cooling, or fresh air. Ideally you should have access to all three.




Together these three things – housemates, geography and gaming space - make convenience. It may be that one place is about as convenient as the other, and to minimise hassle with housemates you can rotate the place of hosting. Many game groups do this informally already. "Bob, I think it's your turn..."


Example of choosing "Who hosts?"

Over a series of emails and phone calls, the group discusses it. Anna's place is right out, obviously. Bob's place sounds good – they can have a dedicated gaming room! - but no-one except Bob wants to travel there. Charlie's joint is too far, and anyway their gaming would wake the kids. Dave's place sounds good but is a bit far. Erika gets excited and volunteers her place.


They go there and try to have a session, and it's a disaster. The kitchen table is not huge at all, its four-person setting just seemed big to Erika because she always eats alone. Both couples are home, one couple squeezes past Anna while she's trying to GM so they can get to the fridge, and then loudly accuse the gamers of stealing food from their shelf in the fridge. Meanwhile the other couple is on the balcony smoking dope, which makes Anna nervous because in the Army Reserve you're subject to random drug tests, and she's worried about getting stoned from the passive smoking. Erika makes a speech about how the world would be better if dope were legalised, and everyone smoked and was relaxed, and Anna says, "I don't want people with rifles stoned, thanks very much."


They end the session early and decide to try Dave's place next week. At Dave's place the session goes really well, and everyone is really comfortable – a bit too comfortable, in fact, as the excitement rises so does the noise, but they're having fun! so when the neighbour bangs on the wall they just laugh, besides Dave is putting back a few cans of Guiness, and he's the host, so if he doesn't care, why should anyone else? Dice and cheetos are thrown about with wild abandon, and a great time is had by all. In the morning Dave gets a call from the landlord, the body corporate complained about him, and the landlord's giving 24 hours' notice of an inspection. Dave says that'll be no problem, and hangs up the phone, turns around and sees empty beer and cola cans, cheetos packets, and half a pizza upside-down on the floor. Also one of the girls must have had her period, because the toilet is blocked with sanitary napkins. Dave sighs, calling the carpet steamcleaning company and the plumber, and decides it's better they don't game there again.


So the next week they try Bob's. No-one is too happy about the half-hour train ride (especially Dave, who never trains, just drives, and the highway tolls went up earlier this year), but they don't have anywhere else right now. Bob offers his garage space, or the spare bedroom. The garage is spacious, but of course unheated and uncooled, in summer under the tin roof they'll be cooking. Plus, Bob's dad is very protective of his prize Lada which is a bit too near. The spare bedroom is a bit small, having just enough room for a trestle table and five chairs, plus a card table for snacks, but they settle on that.


Bob's parents simply cannot understand what this "roleplaying" is all about, but Bob's father already spends thousands on his model trains, so Bob's mother is accustomed to strange hobbies. Sitting at the table, Anna notices that people are a lot more focused on the game than they were. She decides this is partly because they're at a table with enough space, and partly because the room has got nothing else to distract them – no tv, no stereo, no books, no annoyed flatmates, etc.


So between bad, and too good, they found a happy medium. It's a bit of a journey there and back, but all of them can meet in the city and travel there together at the end of the work day, though Dave always drives and won't take passengers, and Charlie usually takes his car that day, just so he doesn't have to mess about with trains late at night. So Anna looks forward to many interesting conversations alone on the train with Erika back to the city late each gaming night.


They also have Dave's place as a back-up in case Bob can't game one week. Charlie leans over Dave and makes him promise not to drink any Guiness at game sessions, Dave thinks of his chef's knives for a moment, but then gulps and says "okay."


Now that Anna is experienced in figuring out who should host, she thinks she'll have an easier time of it next time, maybe only having one disaster instead of two, and later still, maybe no disasters at all.

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