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Are you a “guest player” or a “host player” in your gaming?


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I have this idea that there are most players, let’s call them “guest players,” the folks who may have their favorite character mini, or their favorite warband, maybe even their favorite army. They also may have their favorite dice and appropriate personal rule books but no terrain, no NPCs. I believe these players are the majority of gamers.

For most of the years I have been gaming I was a guest player. It never crossed my mind to get some props, terrain or minis that I would not be “controlling”. I always relied on a “host player” for these things. 

So then, what are  “host players?” They have playing/storage space, game props, terrain, their own favorite character/warband/army and a bunch of NPCs that they or others may be “controlling.” These host players could also be described as world builder players. I believe that they are likely a minority of gamers. 

The last couple of years I have become a host player.

Now I would like to test my theory… are guest players the majority and host players the minority?

To what end you may ask?

For me, adding terrain to the table helps share the sense of world building. It makes me feel more like it is “our table” compared to “my table”.

I would love to see the majority of players get some terrain, easy to transport scatter if you will, some buildings or modular pieces of buildings. Pieces that they can continue to use long after they have repeatedly switched favorite character/warband/army. Pieces that they bring to the different games they play and pool together to help host players make even more amazing tables.

It is true that some folks do this already as part of gaming clubs but again I believe that is a minority and that most folks who bring things to share at clubs or events are still actually host players…. Just on the move, so to speak. It is folks doing this that gave me the idea that maybe it would be good for the hobby if more did it.

Another thing that sparked this thought was watching Too Fat Lardies using their random terrain set up system for Infamy, Infamy! on YouTube.

Do you think it would be a good idea for more players to have a couple of favorite terrain pieces and/or NPC’s to bring to games?

What do you think could be done to encourage more players to do this?

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Well, as a DM I fall into the "host" category you have posited.  Even as a player, I usually have a case of minis, terrain and a battlemat in my car and I have let DM/GMs of games I have played in use them.  I have had multiple players at my LFGS go "Oh it's a XXX?  I have that mini in my locker, give me a sec" and plop it on the table.  And the one guy that leaves his entire Dwarven Forge set at the shop for people to use.  And the stores collection several hundred of pre-painted mini was donated by @Mad Jack.

 

While I think that (in my experience) there are more guest players than host players, the ratio is closer than most would expect.  I also suppose it would depend the demographics and income of those playing in the area.  I bunch of high schoolers playing in an afterschool club doesn't tend to have the means of a bunch of 30-50 year old grognards with tech jobs.

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Whilst I have been asking these questions in a number of forums results may be skewed by the type of interested folks who are on such forums compared to more casual players.

I can see from early responses  in various places my terms are causing some confusion.

The fact that a player would provide minis and terrain at all makes them a “host player.” The question is not where they game or are they a DM/GM. Where ever they play, in whichever role, they help in hosting the game by helping with the physical tools of world building. 

And yes this often falls onto the more experienced players with more resources available… but should there be a way to encourage new players to help out with terrain at the same time they buy their first minis?

 

It is great that you have such positive experiences Dilvish. Unfortunately not every has had that. But I also do not want to criticize those players who are only “guests” at this stage because I think there are a lot of reasons why someone might not think of buying and providing terrain when they usually run games but rather just participate in a game run by someone else, be it a DM/GM, a Club or store or even just their opponent.

 

 

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Soon we will start playing frostgrave and i had to kick the other player to paint his minis. I build all the terrain and painted all the neutral (and my own) minis we play with. So i guess i am a host player. But honestly i don't mind because

 

1) The other player has little time to paint but has when buying neutral minis for frostgrave always paid half of the expenses for the neutral "wandering monsters" miniatures.

2) I am just a mediocre painter when it comes to minis but actually decent when it comes to terrain building. So i actually do enjoy terrainbuilding projects a lot. Also if we were to buy terrain pieces like the typical frostgrave wizard tower or city ruins i think the other player would at least still pay half of the money.

 

In essence the other guy is just a guest player but he supports certain aspects of our shared frostgrave hobby with money so i don't mind being our terrainbuilder and npc-creature painter "host player". I think it is fair this way.

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14 minutes ago, Grumpy Gnome said:

Whilst I have been asking these questions in a number of forums results may be skewed by the type of interested folks who are on such forums compared to more casual players.

I can see from early responses  in various places my terms are causing some confusion.

The fact that a player would provide minis and terrain at all makes them a “host player.” The question is not where they game or are they a DM/GM. Where ever they play, in whichever role, they help in hosting the game by helping with the physical tools of world building. 

And yes this often falls onto the more experienced players with more resources available… but should there be a way to encourage new players to help out with terrain at the same time they buy their first minis?

 

It is great that you have such positive experiences Dilvish. Unfortunately not every has had that. But I also do not want to criticize those players who are only “guests” at this stage because I think there are a lot of reasons why someone might not think of buying and providing terrain when they usually run games but rather just participate in a game run by someone else, be it a DM/GM, a Club or store or even just their opponent.

 

 

I suppose that what I meant by "as a DM, I'm a host player" wasn't so much that DM's are host players, but that because I'm a DM, I have minis and terrain and maps and extra dice and so on, thus it's easier for me to be a host player as I already have the materials to meet the requirement.  Most of the people in my circle that are host players also DM (using minis and terrain to varying degrees).  As far as encouraging new players to help out with terrain...I suppose it depends.  While I understand that expecting the DM to carry the entire burden for terrain and such can be expensive (depending of the style of game played; Theatre of the Mind and VTT obvious has no need for physical terrain), the DM really controls what terrain is needed based upon the adventure/campaign they intend to run.  

 

I suppose it really depends on the type of game that the group enjoys,  Fully detailed terrain sets with WYSIWYG, some basic tiles, or a battle mat with to free standing details or stand ins.  I started off my RPG career Theatre of the Mind, then used minis and Jenga blocks on a paper grid map, and then went the battlemat/tile route.  So while I appreciate the ability to play on a fully detailed table, my emphasis is on the story and only need enough terrain to show where things are enough to make any tactical choices.

 

Again, this is just me, and I know that everyone has different parts of the hobby/game that they enjoy.  As far as encouraging new gamers to buy terrain when they get their first mini, you could just suggest it if it is something that your group dynamic supports.  "Hey, we use minis and terrain, if you could help out with  the terrain, either by building or buying something that would be cool.  Here is a list of stuff we have or could use."  I personally wouldn't make it a requirement, but I could see it working for some.  

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While there are some “guest players“ that GM/DM, I would think they are rare, as you have suggested Dilvish.

 

Let me be clear, I am not suggesting there is a right or wrong way to play or to put demands on people. Everyone contributes something in gaming by its very nature and demands in gaming often have a counter-productive effect. Be it demands to provide terrain or to play with only painted minis.

 

There is usually room for flexibility in all gaming situations since this is supposed to be largely for group fun shared by all.

 

Nice example with your gaming partner sharing the financial burden Mediocre Painter.

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Well i think it is right to expect other players to contribute especially in an expensive hobby like miniatures however one should always be reasonable. I mean not everybody has the same amount of time and money at hand so i also don't think being a guest player is wrong. Well except for one thing: I always demand that other people paint their minis. Because when i build that terrain paint neutral cretures and my own minis i don't want to have the atmosphere destroyed by some plastic grey minis. Except for that i am open to guest players being as lazy as they want.

 

Also with me being a skirmish wargamer and dilvish being more of a dungeons and dragons type of player you see also pratical differences. To a wargame table everybody can contribute with terrain cuz everybody knows what will be played next week. However a D&D GM needs to build his own terrain because he does't want to spoil the next adventure like: "BTW guys next week there will be an epic showdown against the guy who joined your party during this adventuere pretending to be a travelling mage because in truth he is an evil necro-lich-god. Can somebody of you build a boss arena for our surprise showdown with him?"

 

RPG terrainbuilding is the same as preparing the adventure and can't be done as a group effort.

Edited by MediocrePainter
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I think you need to break this into two slightly different camps; RPGs and tabletop miniature. While you mentioned favorite army in your list, the conversation so far has been focused on RPGs. In my mind, when playing an RPG who ever is the game master is almost always going to host. They know what’s going to a happen and, should be, prepared with what they need. Anything players bring is a bonus but is just as likely to be in the way of the limited space as actually being useful on any given game night.

 

Tabletop miniatures is a bit different, I think, in the regards to who brings what. If I’m hosting a game then I have likely determined if it is going to be a historical, sci-if or fantasy battle. The period (more important for historical, there is a world of difference between playing a napoleonic game than WWII) the scenario and if it needs a gamemaster to run it. I would setup the game and if I need something special or terrain another player owns I would ask them to bring it. We, typically, have a good idea of what each other owns for any given period along with generic terrain and buildings. Guests would be expected to provide troops, if necessary, and anything special to support those troops. 
 

As an example: we are going to play a game of Chain of Command, which is a WWII game at the platoon level which would be between 30-50 miniatures per side at my house. We are in the midst of a campaign so I have the table layout and would set it up so we are ready to go. If I needed a building or more fence line I would let my opponent know so he could throw it into his box. I would supply my own troops, along with supporting equipment and I’m ready to go. My opponent would bring their troops and supporting equipment and we could start to play as soon as he is setup and organized. This wouldn’t vary much regardless of genre or period. If someone wants to set a game in the Thirty Years War period they might have to provide everything if no one else collects for that period. So the host providing everything isn’t uncommon for periods that only they are interested in, outside of generic terrain.
 

With tabletop stuff you have to be somewhat aware of where folks live. Player A May never host a game or provide terrain because they live in an apartment and barely have room for their armies. I have had other players (especially player A types) host at my house using my terrain and buildings, but they supply the troops for both sides. 
 

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For miniature games, I'm usually bringing enough for the table.  And maybe the next table over.  I've lots of minis and lots of terrain.

 

For RPGs, I tend to be a guest player.  I'll have minis for my character, including companions and mounts.  I may have maps or terrain if the characters controls significant recurring vehicles.  If I'm asked to bring something terrain wise, I'd be happy to do so.  As it was noted above, even the request gives out information that the gm may not want to share.

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I'm a host player.  I have a love for minis and painting that is not matched by anyone else in my group.  Some of them have figures, but rarely paint or bring anything.   I've also been collecting and painting for decades longer than some of them.   I have multiple armies for the few war games I've tried, because opponents can't or won't bring their own. (I've mostly stopped playing because of that). 

 

 

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I do not think the style of game, boardgame, wargame or RPG is the key point of what I am asking about. It is mindset of the players, what they consider their responsibility to contribute.

 

This is not the only forum I have asked these questions on today. I have seen a lot of interesting answers that have given me a new perspective on things I just assumed, like whether folks even bring refreshments for other players.

 

There have been mostly host players replying. Where guest players have replied there have been some justification of their “guesting”, cost and space being two issues.

 

One interesting reply was a suggestion for host players to provide a crafting session to help guest players make terrain they can bring to games in the future. “Give a player a fish…”

 

But it is not just terrain that I am talking about. It is about fostering a healthy appreciation for shared responsibilities in gaming… even if that means bringing the pretzels I suppose.

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If I'm not misreading this, I'm probably more of a 'host' player; I have a decent collection of NPC minis and some terrain, because I like to use those things even if I'm not GMing. This is convenient when Andi is GMing, but not always when someone else is. Depends on the person GMing; I have an agreement with most of my group where, if they need something for a live game, they can ask and I'll bring it, no questions needed.

... although I might have a concern if they need a five-headed dragon, and I /might/ have to ask if they want the adorable little Wizkids prepaint, or Ma'al......

 

Anyway. I have a decent collection of Stuff, and I am happy to loan Stuff to a GM who doesn't have as much Stuff but would like to use Stuff in their game.

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1 hour ago, Grumpy Gnome said:

I do not think the style of game, boardgame, wargame or RPG is the key point of what I am asking about. It is mindset of the players, what they consider their responsibility to contribute.

 

Not all game players consider it a responsibility to bring figures or terrain.  Some folks are quite happy to play without them, and to use a gridded map, or play "theater of the mind" style.  Not every game needs to be a big production, a simple paper map can be just as entertaining as a massive 3d dungeon set-up. 

 

Not everyone wants a big figure collection. Lots of people don't like to paint.  Even fewer people make terrain because it is hard to store.  (They see the crafting hobbies as separate from gaming) These people bring themselves and their enthusiasm to the table.  I think it's unreasonable to force them into building or painting things they don't like and don't want to do just because you like it and want it on your table. 

 

 

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Not all games require physical assets. That is true. But let’s not go off on that tangent for now. Let us accept that for the purpose of this discussion  that there are some physical assets required to play your intended game.  If you were to participate in a game would you provide materials beyond yourself and the absolute minimum you need to participate? 
 

On the surface it is unreasonable to force anyone to do anything in what is supposed to be social entertainment. 
 

However there are social contracts, often left unspoken, that we all abide to and encourage, ie do not cheat, do not abuse or take advantage of other players.

 

Let me put it like this, as someone brought up in another forum when I asked these questions. Do you provide refreshments for other players, regardless of the location? 

 

Is it reasonable for players who spend a certain amount of time and money on their personal gaming materials to spend a percentage of that on gaming materials used jointly or by others?

 

There was a time I thought only to provide myself and my gaming materials. I no longer feel my responsibility ends there and I wonder how others feel about this.

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