Jacques (Gork) de Jager
South African roleplayers look forward to their weekly game not only because they get to hang out with their friends but also because it is their way to forget about and get rid of all the work and study stress that has built up over the week. Many roleplayers like to do this by having a few drinks throughout the game.
When it comes to drinking, roleplayers can be divided into two groups:
- Likes to drink; and
- Never/once in a blue moon.
The saying ‘birds of a feather flock together’ appliesto the South African roleplaying scene. When a gaming convention (con) is held players from both groups mix and a new roleplaying environment is created. This article highlights the differences between the groups, looks at the roleplaying environment at conventions, and also at how drinking can affect a person’s roleplaying experience.
The once-a-week roleplaying campaign
Once a week a roleplayer will grab his or her
/ bag that contains an updated character sheet, dice, tablet device, pencils, notebooks and finally snacks and drink and other random bits and bobs that have been collected over the years and head out to where their Game Master (GM) is hosting the game. Let’s take a look at how a typical Likes to Drink group of players differs from the Never/once in a Blue Moon group.
Likes to drink
After a hard week at work or university these guys like to unwind with a drink in one hand and dice in the other. More often than not you will find one or two players in every Likes to Drink group who don’t drink alcohol during the session. When the game starts there is almost always beer, wine and vodka present on the table (strange but true). During the course of the game each player will drink an average of three drinks. The GM may drink more than the rest depending on how badly the players mangle the carefully planned out session and also because they accidentally blow up the dwarven day care centre which was where the GM’s über necromancer was hiding.
Rarely will a player (or the GM) get completely knackered during the course of a game as it inevitably disrupts the game and upsets all the other players.
Gork’s advice: Respect your fellow roleplayer’s choice to drink or not to drink. If you are a roleplayer who likes to drink, don’t get yourself absolutely trashed before or during the game. The GM works hard at working out a story and a scenario for you to play in and some players travel far to attend games. If just one person is drunk, the entire game can become very unpleasant for the rest.
Warning for GMs: Fear a session when all of your players only bring cool drinks along to the game. Should this situation ever occur in one of your games then a booze run must be done immediately.
Players who like to drink can’t handle vast quantities of non-alcoholic drinks laced with sugar. Before you know it you will have very loud, very hyper and very in-your-face players who make your game an absolute waking nightmare. I speak from personal experience as it happened to me on a day where all seven my regular players made it to a Pokethulu session for the first time in months.
Never/once in a blue moon
At these games the table is filled with all manner of cool drinks and fruit juices, as well as the usual spread of snacks and food. In such a group you will find one or two players who do enjoy a drink or two during a game so a beer bottle or two might pop up from time to time.
A lot of roleplayers don’t drink alcohol at all (or only on special occasions), but there are roleplayers who like to drink from time to time that don’t drink during their roleplaying sessions. The following are just some of the very good reasons why these roleplayers do this:
- Some players like to fully immerse themselves in their character and don’t want alcohol to interfere with the experience.
- Some players don’t handle alcohol well and don’t want to spoil the game for the other players.
- Due to medical reasons some players are advised by their doctors not to drink alcohol.
There are also groups where the house rule is that no alcohol is allowed during the session. Most of these groups implement this rule because they have had a very bad experience where some players got too drunk (or shouldn’t have been drinking at all).
Gork’s advice: Always follow the house rules. If there are no house rules concerning alcohol and you like to have a drink during the game, first clear if it is alright for you to do so with the GM and the other players. Last, you know best how alcohol affects you, so don’t go and spoil your friends’ day.
The convention environment
Aaaah yes … going to the convention to meet new people, buy all sorts of cool new stuff, and roleplay with all sorts of weird and wonderful people! Roleplayers from all walks of life get together to share stories of their most recent adventures, make new friends and over all just to have plain good old fun!
Now the modus operandi for most early morning zombies (aka roleplayers with little sleep) is to pay their entrance, get a mug and then head straight for the coffee or tea. Once the grogginess of little sleep and the cold shivers has been chased out of the body they start to become more human. At the moment this transformation occurs in the early morning the drinkers open beers, pour liberal-handed mixes and pass around suspicious looking 2 L milk bottles (Swamp Juice). This regularly happens at almost any gaming convention in South Africa.
This early-morning ritual is a tradition for a lot of the older and experienced con attendees who like to drink. A toast to a great day of gaming! The main problem is that in recent years people have started seeing conventions as an excuse to drink a lot and then some more. Roleplayers are loud and noisy to begin with, but some players and GMs can become so loud that they completely disrupt the games of other people around them.
What is worse than when a player gets so drunk that they start crying their eyes out and need looking after? Or a GM slowly slumping forward onto the table and starting to snore?
This drunken behaviour also affects other con goers who walk past the roleplaying area. Many complaints come from cosplay girls who were harassed by opportunistic roleplayers. For newbie con attendees this can also be a huge shock which leaves a lasting negative impression on them. Some may never attend a con again.
To prevent this drunken behaviour from spoiling other people’s good time and giving the entire roleplaying community a bad name, to prepare new roleplayers for the worst and to make the cosplay girls want to talk to you, here is some advice. Editor’s note: for people who are legally allowed to drink
Gork’s advice for drinking at a con
- Always start your convention day with a hearty breakfast.
- Keep hydrated and don’t skip meals. You have an entire weekend to get through.
- Planning is essential, so make sure that you have enough money to buy food and cool drinks.
- Be sure to bring your own drinks – nobody likes a gelatinous booze cube.
- Limit yourself to two or three drinks for any game.
- Don’t harass the cosplayer girls.
- Do not, under any circumstances, get plastered before the prize giving ceremony.
Gork’s advice for roleplayers
- During your game it is polite to offer the GM some of your booze as he or she needs all the creative inspiration they can get.
- Make sure your GM doesn’t get drunk during the game. Offer to buy him or her a cool drink or to go make him or her some coffee when he or she starts to get too creative.
Gork’s advice for GMs
- Don’t drink alcohol when reading through the module and preparing for your game.
- Once all your players have their character sheets then go get yourself whatever refreshment you require for the start of the game, relax and slowly scan through the introduction and the first two encounters of the module one last time before starting to play. See the article on Running a module at a convention.
- If you feel yourself getting a bit drunk ask a player to get you some food and something non-alcoholic to drink.
Just by following these simple guidelines everyone should have a good con experience. Above all else respect your fellow roleplayers’ preferences and to always abide by the GM’s rules.