Today’s guest article is by Craig Dedrick, who talks about holidays around and in gaming. He forgets to mention the best holiday of all – gnomexodus! It’s the holiday all the Staff Gnomes celebrate when they escape the warrens and get to avoid becoming part of the stew for one more day!- John”Only closed my eyes for a minute” Arcadian
With Thanksgiving, Festivus, and Christmas fast approaching, many RPG groups will encounter conflicting scheduling priorities as both family and work events demand attention. This is certainly a problem for many groups, but where others see problems, I see opportunities; opportunities to build a sense of community, if not family, with your gaming friends. There are a few ways to take advantage of these opportunities.
Holidays are a time for family and friends, and in my case, my RPG groups are comprised of many of my best friends. Every year I plan a Christmas party on a game night. Families are invited, food is brought, and a turkey is cooked. This provides a chance for families to meet each other, and fosters a sense of community around the game. Spouses and significant others get a chance to put faces with names, and may be more forgiving of the time set aside for regular game sessions. When this sense of community is created around a game, it increases the players’ commitment, and it tends to make for a more stable and long-lasting group.
Celebrate the Holiday In-Game
Organizing a holiday feast can be a lot of work, and some expense. However, you and your group can celebrate a holiday in-game as well. With a bit of planning and coordination, a clever game master can arrange for the “annual feast day” in your fantasy world to coincide with the Christmas season. Characters purchase gifts for each other and attend a gathering of some sort. It always amazes me how excited players get about purchasing and receiving gifts for their characters, and some very memorable moments can be created with this method.
Gift exchanges don’t necessarily need to be limited to in-game exercises. Over the years, I have been in several groups that have organized an annual “secret Santa” gift exchange. The goal is to get something that the player will appreciate but is thematically appropriate for the character as well. Some memorable gifts include a toy car that had been modified to be a model of the character’s car in the game, an electronic “orc detector” for a player whose character had a hatred for orcs, and a fake magazine cover that featured articles and pictures of characters from a superhero game. This is another way to celebrate the holiday, and to foster emotional connections between players and around the game.
This type of activity works particularly well if festive snacks are provided at the table, and a few holiday-appropriate decorations go up. One of my groups are big fans of dressing in character at Halloween and eating grotesque amounts of tiny candy bars. Once the appropriate atmosphere is set, you can run a session with some sort of holiday theme. Perhaps Krampus is on the loose and needs to be stopped for a Christmas-themed game, or a coven of witches is planning something nefarious for a game on Halloween.
Something to Look Forward to
In the past, the holiday season was something that, as a game master, I viewed with some trepidation, knowing that a scheduling nightmare was around the corner. Now the Christmas-party games are something that everyone looks forward to, and players bend schedules so that they do not miss the special event.
How do you celebrate holidays with your gaming groups? Do you prefer in-game or out-of-game celebrations? Are there any other suggestions out there for avoiding the holiday scheduling blues?