Don't know if this is the kind of thing you're talking about, but for each campaign/AP/set of new characters, I pick a piece of theme music, usually about a minute or two long... we play it right before we actually begin play, after all the BS has finished, while players are updating their character sheets or reading notes from the session before. It really helps people get into the mood, like an intro to a show like Firefly.
Right now we're using the opening theme from Robin Hood: Prince of Theives.
Everyone shows up with lunch and we eat while BS for a half hour or so about work, movies, tv, video games, mutual friends, things we did during the week, etc. After that the log from the previous session is read and we begin. There used to be a pause in there while a couple of members left and came back with red eyes, but that hasn't happened in a while. :)
On rare occasions there is an alcoholic drink or two (not an understatement). One time I made gin bloody mary's.
I am GM and host... so before each game (the four or five nights a week I have them) I get the table clear, clean, and set up for that night.
Players show up, usually with fast food or something from their fridge at home (except our new guy, who seems to never eat anything but the occasional whatchamacallit candy bar), and we eat and BS while the new guy rants about how the late guy is late again (he is late 98% of the time, and usually for no reason beyond bad time management) even though I don't start the game while I am eating.
Then, there is about a 10-20 minute ritual of me trying to start the game that involves each player very carefully taking turns interrupting me in order to share the stories they just got done telling with the late guy who missed the first telling.
As is traditional for RPGs, there is a period of cat herding. Then the bard plays some songs on his keyboard, we all ooh and aah at his perfect pitch, then I look angry and sternly command the players to begin. This last step is repeated several times, with an increasingly deflated ego each attempt. Finally, they all shut up, we quote some spongebob, lose some dice under the table, and I give a brief summary of what happened last session. The last thing I say is always, "So, that's where you are now... What do you do?"
The last thing I say is always, "So, that's where you are now... What do you do?"
This reminds me that I forgot to mention the end of ritual and true start of gaming at my table... the moment when I am sitting in complete silence, looking from player to player giving each a facial cue to say something until one of them says "What?" to which I can only respond "What do you mean what, I'm waiting for you guys to do something!" in a flabbergasted tone because it never fails that everyone misses the moment when my silence signals both the end of a sentence and their turn to speak.
I roll all my candidate dices for all the dices I will need and select those who make the highest scores.
For example, if I need 3 d20s to play (like having 3 attacks for example), I roll all of my d20s and keep the 3 with the significantly highest scores. I roll again in case of a tie.
When we are ready to start, the GM asks us to summarize what happened in the previous session.
Years ago with one consistent group I was in one guy would be designated the serving wench and would end up getting drinks for everyone most of the time.
Also, a during game tradition we had during summer. When the door was open due to the heat whenever a moth flew in and burnt up when he heard the his and smelt the burning aroma we would all chime in "Sacrifice!"
I usually host, so first there's cleaning the house. If I have time, I do it the same day, so that I can have the couch and carpet freshly vacuumed before the guy who's allergic to cats shows up. Then there's locking the cat up in the bedroom.
If I can think of rules clarifications/ coordinating feats and tactics with other players, I try and do that beforehand (email is even better, but this is rarely the case), because the end of the game is usually cutting into sleep time for more than one of us.
Then there's the three or four false starts, when people are still getting derailed, or food shows up in the middle of "previously on Pathfinder".
Then I'm usually the one to drag the players kicking and screaming into starting the game and shutting up for the DM.
We usually grab Subway (or other food) and spend the first 30 mins or so eating and BSing (our game "starts" at noon). We're not very hardcore about start/end times, but I usually like to start at 12:30 when I'm running the game. Then we do a recap and start playing. I brew my own beer so often bring a couple for each player, if they want it...though these are usually consumed over time during the game, not before.
Character sheets are like catnip to....well, er....cats!
Sounds like you need a moggy wrangler.
Measure all die to a a micrometer and check their balance.
BS and food, followed by me (GM) sitting quietly, waiting for an awkward slilence which I then fill up with anything I feel like shouting at that moment. Some previous or recurring phrases have been:
Want some Excitement? SNAP INTO IT!
You've taken 29 HP...
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls: dyin time's here...
These and other phrases are inevitably met with groans or hrumphs but they serve better than just telling the group that I want the game to start.
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
it's my buddies preferred and it last's him through the week. As for late guy we have that too, he was a late add in to shore the party back up to 4 players who then missed about a month of games. He has now earned the names Grand master flake and... well and unsavory act one could do to a pig.
AS DM: I usually start by telling my players that they're all going to die "horribly horribly".
AS Player: I find a space on the top of my character sheet to record how many time one of the other guys is going to say "it's like" during the session - sometimes it's multiple times in one sentence!
As host I put on some stupidly strong coffee too!
Usually we start by chit-chatting upstairs in our host's living room, often accompanied by the sounds of his two year old daughter. Sometimes we open a bottle of wine if we're all feeling stressed. Once we're ready for game, we move downstairs to his gaming cave as he calls it. Since I'm usually running the game, I set everything out, and we review the last session. Then, off we go!
Drew Brees-style huddle war chant with the other players, followed by a lot of group-screaming at the GM, telling him how it won't happen "in our house" and that the "pain train" is coming for him. We then do a lot of "wooo" yelling and high-fiving.
Or just some house-cleaning and laying out the snacks, since my wife and I usually host for our group.
I used to play in a Vampire game that the ST started every session by saying "You are dead. You are all dead! Do you hear me? Dead! ...not that it matters," and leading immediately into set-up of whatever was going on in-character.
The night before I refresh my mind as to what the players are doing, reread the section we are going through and look through some books. The day of someone brings in the snacks and/or pizza, another brings some pop and beer (lately Newcastle Werewolf). Several glasses of Basil Haden, Bullet, or what ever are poured, and chat about recent events. We have a recap of last game, I then ask the players what they do next.
Three-dragon Ante with the player's risking their character's money. It gives them an incentive to play (especially if they lose most the money)
Our group is similar to a lot of yours. We usually pick up some Carl's Jr. or some carne asada burritos, sit around, eat and talk life/games/sports/politics for awhile until everyone's arrived and eaten.
Eventually, someone will say: "I heard there's a D&D game going on somewhere?" "Yeah I think I heard that too..." then we begin.
I clean the guest bathroom, put a movie in for the kids ("game night" as become "movie night" for them), pop some popcorn and make a Jim Beam and Coke - heavy on the Beam. 'Course it's winter now so I've now switched to Pineapple Juice and Tequila for my vitamin C.
For almost 4 years now me and my gaming group have followed pretty much the same ritual!
We play once a month on a saturday from 1P.M. up to wayyyy late!
#1 At 12:00 we all gather at the nearby Mc donalds for some unhealthy junk food while chatting about the latest thing we crafted/looted at DDO (dungeons & dragon online), the new model we just finished at warhammer 40K and we eventually start talking about the last month game and how we intend to proceed for the upcoming one.
#2 We finally made it home (me being the DM) around 1 P.M.
#3 Around 5-5:30 P.M. we put the game to a pause and hit the local St-Hubert B.B.Q. (THE house of chicken roasting for those not living in Québec province).
#4 We get back home about an hour later and keep on playing until we can't keep our eyes open anymore!
One month later rinse and repeat!
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