I was a Dungeons and Dragons (and other role playing games) geek as a young Rhino. Big surprise, huh? And by young I mean into adulthood and the only reason I stopped was when I moved away from that amazing group of friends. I'm sure that I could have found another group to join, but, it just wouldn't have been the same. No shared verbal shorthand built-up over thousands of hours of gaming. It would have been uneasy and awkward and by then I was just too old to want to change my ways.
I learned many valuable lessons during those formative years that I've applied to my personal and professional life And being the magnanimous and generous Rhino that I am I will share them with you as an early Christmas present.
1. Always Check for Traps. Number was there a better truism to live by. Even when you think you are at the end of a trial and have reached the reward, one should never rush in lest he find himself poisoned because he didn't take a moment to do the right things that got him there in the first place.
2. When you have teleported onto a platform that has been rigged with a flaming trap one should just attack because the surprise gained by not stopping to put the fire out far outweighs any ongoing damage (not to mention that it looks really cool too). Sometimes you just have to take the pain but find a way to turn it to your advantage. Can't tell you how effective this has been for my career in leadership roles.
3. "But we have Linguistics". This one requires some explanation. We were playing an SF role playing game and I was designated science officer and was responsible for the purchase of ships software. With a limited budget I bought what we thought we'd need and since we were going "out there" I figured that we'd need to communicate. That was until we were attacked and didn't have the right programs to fire our cannons very well. In the heat of the battle the captain asked me what we did have and I replied "But we have linguistics". That became the catch phrase for massive FUBARS going forward, regardless of the game being played. Lesson learned there was that delegating is fine but it always pays to double check.
What is even funnier is that some of my friends played with other groups and probably used that phrase around outsiders and years later they were at a con playing and when something really went wrong someone that they had never met before said "but we have linguistics". True story.
4. If you expect your party to bring your body back for resurrection (as opposed to defiling your corpse and taking all of your ill-gotten gains) you probably need to have laid down a foundation of goodwill long before that point in time.
5. That NPC beauty at the inn that comes on to you (even though you have a charisma score of -4) that your party warns you not to go upstairs with, but you do anyway because you are too drunk to care, is probably a succubus. Stop and listen sometimes even with faced with something you really, really, really want. Sometimes the wisdom of the group should be heeded.
6. That NPC beauty at the inn that comes on to you (even though you have a charisma score of -4) that your party warns you not to go upstairs with, but you do anyway because you are too drunk to care, is probably a succubus. Go.When else is that going to happen to your sorry ass? Ignore the wisdom of the group and get your drunk ass upstairs anyway because it will probably be a wild ride and a great story for beers later and if you've been smart you can rely on point #4. But only do this occasionally as goodwill only goes so far. Sometimes the experience is the most important thing.
7. Party warfare is always ugly and, in the end, everybody loses. Put down, quickly and violently, any force that causes unreasonable dissension in the ranks. Key word there is unreasonable. It sometimes pays to leave a dissenter alone as long as they are too impotent or incompetent to tear the team apart. It makes you look wise and reasonable to the rest of the team when you counsel them despite their obvious shortcomings.
8. A party travels on its stomach. Food is important and there is no gaming session that cannot be improved by the availability of salty and sugary snacks, pizza and gallon jugs of day-glo colored "drink". If you want people to be happy - feed them. Even if it has to come out of your own pocket. If you are asking people to go above and beyond then feed them.
9. Ambiance counts and preparation is key. There is nothing so wonderful as a GM that can spin a tale and bring you into the fantasy so completely that hours can go by without you wanting to stand up and relieve your numb ass. On the flip side, there is nothing so awful as a GM that does not have the ability to wing-it and just didn't care enough to be ready. If you are going to lead, you have an obligation to everyone involved to make sure that you prepare appropriately. Sure, there are times that you are going to have to take a break and deal with something unexpected ... but preparation can limit those times.
10. Nothing is as important as the guys and gals around the table. There are good adventures and there are bad adventures ... but there will always be more adventures. But, above all of that are the people that you have the adventures with. Don't lose sight of what is really important - the people that you are with. The adventures, high and low, are always the best in the retelling with the people that you experienced them with. Always important but especially so at this time of the year.
Good advice all of the above... but never forget ... we have linguistics. And, as long as you have that what else do you really need?
It is good to be the chaotic good Rhino with 18/100 strength statistics and the +5 vorpal blade bastard sword.