Tag Archives: games

I still like D&D at my library

…in case you were wondering.

But seriously, I thought I would update my library Dungeons & Dragons life for you all so you know how it’s going. Also, I got a message from someone on Goodreads – hello new friend! – who asked me about my experiences. She was just asking for some general tips for running D&D campaigns for tweens/teens. I’m not an expert by any means and I get stuff wrong sometimes, but this is also something that anyone can do. It obviously helps if you’ve played D&D or some other roleplaying system before, are moderately organized, and like having fun, but those aren’t requirements.

Well, you should like fun. D&D is very fun.

community-dd

We usually have anywhere from 8-10 players and 10 is just A LOT of kids. As far as adventures I’ve used mostly pre-made – with lots of tweaks and changes – from the Dungeon Masters Guild via Wizards of the Coast. You can buy adventures for cheap and they are pretty good! I tweak them a bit by adding in more combat and simplifying the story. My teens like killing stuff, what can I say?

Anyway, here are some miscellaneous thoughts about DMing (Dungeon Mastering aka running the game):

-Be sure to know your story really well and be ready to either improvise or fall back on prepared side stories when your players do something completely unexpected. They will, because that’s the fun of D&D. I also like to have the teens summarize the last session but also try to take notes.

-Make sure you have a few copies of the Players Handbook around for kids/you to look stuff up. Your players will ask lots of questions. I don’t think that you need to know everything off the top of your head, but they want to know quickly. Try and review the classes and mechanic beforehand. I also like to put tabs in the Player’s Handbook for frequent sections like races, classes, weapons, spells, and leveling up. I also just discovered the D&D 5e Compendium from Roll 20 which is great for quick reference. Its so helpful!

-Always make sure to have plenty of dice, scrap paper, blank character sheets, and pencils around. I often have new players drop in right before we start so I have some pre-made characters as well. Also snacks. Snacks are key.

-My friend and DM for one of my current campaigns told me about DM David’s imitative tents. They are great – I love them! He has some for creatures/monsters too.

-The Dungeon Masters Guild has a lot of stuff on the website: pre-made characters, cheap adventures, and help. I’m sure there are people on there who know way more about this than I do.

-I definitely fudge the rules a little bit to make it more fun and because rules isn’t really what my group is playing for. They are into the story and the adventure. (And the murder of monsters and sometimes innocent NPCs. Did I mention the murder?) I tell them that if they want to be super picky about tracking how much food they have, they can, but that I’m not especially interested in that level of minutiae. I promise to not let them starve.

-My kids are also super concerned about things being really fair – as are many kids – so I try to be really aware of that when it comes to any rule bending or treasures giving out or inspiration. If you fudge the rules for one player, make sure to give the other players similar opportunities to get a second chance. Also, if they start complaining that no one is attacking them, I will have the creature attack them next. That’s what you get! Don’t complain!

-Finally, the biggest challenge for me is making sure that the kids aren’t talking . . . ok SHOUTING . . over each other and making sure everyone is getting a chance to talk/share ideas. One way I need to try out is to have a party leader. Basically one player will tell the DM what they want to do as a group in a roleplaying situation or if they are setting up a trap or something. Then you don’t have 8 kids talking to you at once! Or you could do to “talking stick/dice/ruler” whatever and only the person who has that can talk. Either one could work though I admit I haven’t really tried for various reasons.

So that’s how D&D has been going. We have the best time! How do you game at your library?

(Wait you don’t game at your library? Get with it.)

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2016: The Good Stuff

2016-year-in-review

It’s time for the 2016 year in review. As I mentioned in my best books of the year post, a lot of 2016 was shit. But we know that; I’d rather talk about some of the good stuff that happened this year. The good stuff is what is going to sustain me going forward. Yeah some really scary, sad, and frustrating things happened in 2016. Nothing can change that, but remembering the good things that happened will give me hope to keep going.

Professional life:

Nominated to the 2019 Printz ballot – voting in March/April 2017. I’m very nervous about this but deeply thankful to be nominated. I really hope that I get on the committee but if I don’t, I can always try again.

Went to PLA in Denver which was such a great experience. I got to hear about innovative programming, make new librarian friends and connect with old ones, and even meet a WWAC friend in real life.

Got a new coworker – the amazing Renata! Listen to her podcast, The Worst Bestsellers, she’s super cool and a great librarian.

Read some great books: 30% were by people of color, 51% were by women. That improves slightly upon my authors of color numbers from last year, but I also read less books by women. Interesting! (2015 I read 28% authors of color, and 53% women.)

Continued Girls Who Code at MHL – a wonderful program that I’m so happy to be able to present.

Dungeons & Dragons is still going strong. It’s a riot! If you ever would like to feel more control of your life, host a D&D game for 8 – 10 middle school teens. Your life will seem calm and controlled in comparison.

Kept writing for Women Write About Comics. I’m especially proud of these posts this year: The Fear of a Cage: Re-reading Eowyn; In Defense of the [YA] Love Triangle; Why I Game: Trying to Try; and Super Sad Depressing YA Books: How They Help Me to Feel.

Personal life:

I got to travel a lot in 2016: Punta Cana, DR; Scotland; Montreal; New Hampshire; Connecticut, Chicago; Denver! What a year! 

punta-cana

My trip to the Dominican Republic was an amazing trip with my best lady friends for the year most of us turned 30. It’s something we’ve been talking about for 10 years or more! It was absolutely perfect. We sat in the sun, drank cocktails, read, and swam in the blue-green ocean. Probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been. 

scotland

Scotland was a trip with my mom, sister, cousin, and two aunts. We drove around, ate the best food, talked to the most wonderful people, and enjoyed the beautiful Scottish countryside. We saw castles and sheep, laughed and joked, and had just most wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back! 

Doug and I went to Montreal in July. (No good pictures – it was too sweaty!) It was hot but we ate some really good poutine and pastries. We had to drive over a huge bridge and neither of us spoke French so it was a bit hilarious.

wedding-party
Also, duh, we got married, which was amazing! I have the best family and friends who did incredible amounts of work. Family did everything from sewing a wedding dress is basically a weekend, making a million paper flowers, giving us money to pay for the wedding we wanted, took amazing photographs, and came out to celebrate with us. Our incredible friends picked up ice cream, coordinated the entire event the day of, threw us parties, officiated the freaking wedding ceremony (!) wrangled tablecloths and more. As is every year, the best part of it was family and friends.

I also love being married to Doug. He’s the sweetest, kindest, most hilarious person I know. I’m very lucky. </schmoop>

Last year my goals were to: “Read more, sew more, bake more, write more, run more (and get better!), game more, librarian more, and well . . . more. Just more of all of it, really!”

And I can say I did most of that. I read a lot of great things and I even had time to sew some new clothes. I made macarons the other day and am working my way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I wrote a lot for WWAC but not really for anyone else. I need to work on my blogging, clearly.

I’ve been running and am hoping to ease back into races – like 5k distance – in the spring. We joined the YMCA in town and I’m also looking forward to trying out some yoga classes.

I’ve gamed a lot. Doug loves games and I’ve really come to love them as well. Some favorites I’ve played this year include: Eldritch Horror; Mission: Red Planet; Inis; Jaipur; Castles of Mad King Ludwig; Survive: Escape from Atlantis, and Betrayal at House on the Hill.Oh and Dungeons & Dragons. I love it so much. 🙂

As far as next year? Here are some goals:

-Read more books by authors of color and other writers whose lives differ from my own.
-Generally, listen to other peoples’ stories.
-Become more politically active and fight/campaign for the things I believe in: women’s rights, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, LGBTQ rights, accessible health care, slowing climate change, and supporting immigrants and refugees.
-Write more critically.
-Sewing goals: learn to install a zipper and experiment with different fabrics.
-Food goals: improve my macaron; make miso soup; figure out that food processor recall….
-Exercise because it makes me feel good; keep running.
-Be kind.
-Go on adventures!

 

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The reason I go to work everyday

It’s not because I’m supposed to, or because they pay me to, or because it’s glamorous. It’s because I love working with my patrons, and my teen patrons especially. Yesterday I had a drop-in games and crafts program in our teen space. I had a handful of kids not traveling for school vacation and whose parents were not deterred by a sudden snow squall. I put out stuff for rainbow loom bracelets, origami paper, duct tape, and embroidery floss, as well as a smattering of board games. A few teens played “Spongebob Life” – a perennial favorite – and others make rainbow loom bracelets. We chatted about school, all of the snow, and then totally derailed the game of Life by fan-girling and fan-boying over various YA movie trailers.

Game and craft prep....

Game and craft prep….

First I had to see The Maze Runner trailer, then Divergent, and then we watched The Fault in our Stars about three times. And maybe I teared up each time seeing Augustus and Hazel.

I got to recommend a few books to read and invited them to Book Babble, our monthly book group. I did have to assure them we didn’t talk about the book the entire time, that sometimes we talked a lot about “Sherlock” or “Downton Abbey” or “Once Upon a Time.” They seemed relieved.

Anyway, this is the reason I go to work: to hang out with these teens, to talk about books, to feel like I might be doing something for them. Even if it’s just watching movie trailers, eating cookies, and being an adult that doesn’t hate them or think they are annoying. I think that’s a good reason.

And sometimes I get paid to do crafts. That’s a pretty good reason to go to work.

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