It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Yeah, not Christmas – that’s all stress, panic, not offending people with the wrong card or gift – but the AGM; getting in the way of gamers gaming since the year 2000! This year? No different.
Normally, we do statistics first. Interesting statistics. This year, we’re doing hide-behind-the-sofa-scary statistics!
This year, club GMs have run 65 different games. We’ve recorded an average of 63.75 members per week (and we do the arithmetic so that you don’t have to), which means that a member of the club has sat down at a game 3,115 times this year. On our busiest week, we managed to find spaces at games for 74 players.
Our membership has grown by leaps and bounds – we now have 149 members on our rolls, of which 127 are currently active. Our 22 inactive members will be deleted from our rolls on the first of January, as per our data protection policy.
Comparing to this time last year, we had 101 active members. After taking into consideration all the changes in memberships, we have gained 53 new members this year. That’s slightly over a third of our total membership, and nearly half of the active ones!
We sent a huge team of 41 competitors to the UK Nationals last year – Kerry, the Chief Cat Herder, will be dealing with the Exiles stuff in a couple of minutes.
What these numbers mean that we can start to do some things that we’ve never really done before. We’ve been experimenting with merchandise – and for those who are interested in such things, the list I’m waiting to get final confirmation of is: All Rolled Up dice bags and roll mats in both Club and Exiles colours; A KoT special edition Genki Gear t-shirt; hoodies in club colours, and a couple more club related t-shirt designs. We’ll get prices out there as soon as possible – some of these are third party vendors, some of them will be from our own merch site.
We ran a little social outing experiment and held a picnic on the lawn at Crathes. The folk that went seemed to enjoy themselves, so more events outside these four walls are planned in future, based on the results of the survey we did. Stay tuned for developments there!
Our digital aspirations took a bit of a hit this year; but all is back underway. Our web site is back up and running – if you hadn’t spotted that the address (https://www.knightsoftrinity.net) is printed on your membership card, then now you know! The oft-promised app is still slightly broken, but is looking a good deal healthier, and will (honest) become available next year.
On a related note, we’ve decided that there are some concerns with doing as much of our business on Facebook as we do, so we’re going to start moving our day-to-day operations elsewhere. The web site (and app once available) will become the first place that we put information. We’ll also probably be moving from using Facebook Messenger (or its sister WhatsApp) to Telegram instead. We’ll put more info out about that in future. Essentially, our intention here is to exchange info with all of you without creating concerns around any profiling of your private information, or a need to be part of the Facebook universe if you don’t want to be.
There’s a few things to get through, so here we go!
Over the course of this year, there have been a couple of high-profile incidents which brought the subject of consent in roleplaying into sharp focus. I won’t go into them here – if you’ve heard about them, then you know; if not, feel free to ask later on, but the detail is not as important as what these events represent.
Now, we like to think that we’re a pretty savvy bunch, and that you as GMs and players are all pretty aware of these kinds of issue, but there’s always, ALWAYS room for improvement.
As a result, we’ve had a look around at what is happening at conventions, other clubs, across the industry – then we steal what we can, and give it our own distinctive KoT twist.
Why it matters
If you’re sitting there wondering why we’re worrying about this, here’s a quick summary. We are all in this hobby to have fun; but we’re all different in terms of what we find fun and at what level of intensity. That’s not weird or wrong, that’s just life! Problems can arise, though, when different people at a table have a gaming different expectation of what is “okay”, and what is “over the line”. Some folks find it hard to speak up, and spend time being miserable in a game that they’re really not enjoying. We find that thought particularly uncool. In some games (thankfully not any that we’re aware of here), other players will just demand that a freaked-out player just “man up”. We find the idea of that completely gross and unacceptable.
We’re not alone in this. Games companies, conventions and other clubs are taking action to ensure that – as far as possible – players get the kind of fun that they’re looking for, at a level that they’re comfortable with. We are now going to join with them. And this is how we’re going to do it.
First off, we’re going to start asking our gamesmasters to provide information on their game in advance of us advertising it for them. That way, you as a player get to know what you’re in for.
The advert will now include a brief description of the game and an idea of how complex the game might be, in terms of the game mechanics, the quantity of games rules and the depth of the setting.
They’ll also have to grade their game based on a set of content categories. These are: Violence, Bad Language, Fear, Gambling, Sex, Drugs and Discrimination, which are the same categories used for video games. The levels for a game will be shown with a rating – E for Everyone (mild), T for Teen (unrealistic), M for Mature (realistic) and A for Adult (gratuitous or explicit). The highest grade will be used to give an overall age rating (yes, just like the movies) for the game, and again, just like the flicks, if there are any specific parts of the game that the GM is concerned might upset their players (e.g. spiders, torture, bigoted orange politicians) then they will be identified too.
Before you sit down at a table at Knights of Trinity, then, you should have an idea of what the game is mostly going to be like. We are starting this off with the first batch of games next year; our GMs have already filled in the forms, and we’ll have them available as soon as we finish this presentation.
The ‘X’ Card
However – you might not know when you’re going to react badly to something going on in the game. It happens. You might not have a particular fear of spiders, but the way that LGS describes one in his Call of Cthulhu game sets the screaming habdabs loose inside your head. What do you do?
To allow for everyone to be able to deal with those situations – GM and player alike – we’re going to introduce X Cards to the club.
Some of you might have encountered these; if you haven’t then here’s how it works. In a game that uses them, either every player ends up with their own card, or there’s one in the middle of the table. If something ends up causing someone to feel uncomfortable, then they can just tap their X Card, calling for a time out. The table either immediately skips the thing that is causing that discomfort, or takes a quick break from the game that lets everyone cool down. The game then picks up, moving past the thing that’s caused the discomfort.
We’re planning to set this up so that everyone has an X card, and that using the X card signals a “fade to black”, and calls a quick break. The house rules for the use of the card will be printed on them, so everyone will have the opportunity to refer to them.
It’s important to remember these things about consent, especially as they relate to the use of the X card:
- The default is “no”.
- You decide where your boundaries lie, no-one else.
- Anyone is allowed to leave a situation at any time.
- No-one needs to explain why they’re not consenting.
- You can change your mind at any time.
- It’s not up for debate.
In short – no-one is to blame if something makes them feel uncomfortable. It happens, but we hope that by putting all this in place, that we can ensure that we are as clear as possible about what you can expect when you climb up those stairs.
So, as the club grows, so does the task of managing it. As such, the Council have discussed and arrived at a list of things that we would ask you, as either GM’s or Players, to do. Now these are not just to help us out, but to help you out- and most of them are common sense.
So firstly, for both players & GM’s is communication. It’s kind of a big thing in this hobby and a big thing in running a club. So, going forward, if you are going to be absent you need to message a member of the Council or the page to let us know- as soon as possible. For players, this stops your GM and fellow players hanging around, waiting on someone who is not going to turn up. For GM’s, we as a Council need to know if you aren’t coming so we can try accommodate your players, either with emergency games or sliding them into an open space.
We would ask that, if you are someone who is wanting to run a game, that you seriously consider if you can commit to the full term. Now we’re not expecting you to get off your death bed or haul yourself in after being hit by a car. But if you know there’s a chance your game will be interrupted, either from work or holidays, you give consideration to that fact.
Finally, with regard to communication we would ask players that you let your GM know if you are a later arrival. As you know we’ve grow quite a bit over the past year and so nobody knows everybody’s schedule- there are folk here from 4ish and folk who turn up at 7. So if you are a late arrival, tell your GM- it will allow them to know when to start and when to hang fire.
Now, obviously as has been mentioned previously, we are introducing a new consent policy. So GM’s, you now have a little task to do before you run your game. All your games will need to go through the ratings system and we do expect you to use the tagging to warn anyone of anything that might feature that is outside the ratings.
But we expect everybody to abide by the policy- and that includes players. If your character’s actions are getting too harrowing for some folk the X cards will be there for everyone- and that includes DM’s. Anyone ignoring the policy will be taken through the disciplinary measures outlined in the club charter. So if you don’t know where that is, we can show you.
At the end of the day, all of this is about respect and consideration for one another. We are all here to have fun, we are all here to have a good time. So we’d ask you to keep things in mind- come prepared for the game- your DM is not your mum and can’t always be guaranteed to have the 200 d6’s needed for Shadowrun. Give your DM your attention-they’ve put work in to bring your something, least we can do is give them that. And always remember that there’s nothing worse when you are at a table and feel left out. Reach out to your fellow players, particularly if you see them looking isolated or bored.
And GM’s- tell us if you have preferences for where you’d like to be located, particularly if you think your game might get into some things that people at other tables might find uncomfortable. Tell us if you have a game you’d like to run, but it’s better for a smaller group.
We’re here to help you guys run and play in games and have fun. Come see us- the Council do not bite. Probably.
So, there’s a few last bits and pieces left to tie up before this torment ends!
Thanks to everyone who filled in the club survey back in November. It’s been extremely helpful and has helped inform a lot of the decisions that we’re now making. The consent and rules and responsibilities packages that we’ve just outlined came from some of the feedback that we’ve gleaned from that so far.
Quite a lot of the questions were centred on how blocks work, both from the player and the GM side. The Council have recognised that the system which has served us for the last nineteen years has moments where it creaks a bit under the weight of what the club now is and how it behaves, so as a result, we’ve started to look at whether, and if so how, we make changes to make things better for all of us.
Our initial dip into the data suggests that there are improvements that can be made, but that it’s not going to be a quick or easy task to work out what changes there should be. As a result, we’re going to spend some time working on that problem; and from time to time, we might call on some of you to help out as we try to playtest out some of the ideas that we have. Of course, if anyone loves high-concept scheduling design and is interested in getting involved, let one of us know!
Some Thank Yous
Thanks to everyone who has helped with playtesting this year; we’ve had some mixed results so far, but the growth that we’ve seen in the club is matched by the growth in the industry. Good quality feedback is essential to games designers, and we have a reputation for being able to deliver that. Whether it was one of the games being tested at conventions, by an online group, or one of the games that we’re working on or will be working on inside the club, thanks for putting something back in to the hobby. In here, Dune will be kicking off soon, Tales from the Floating Vagabond is ongoing, and I’m waiting to hear that Everway has cleared its legal barriers and is ready to test. I fully expect our testers will be busy next year!
Thanks to those selfless maniacs who are our gamesmasters. A round of applause, please. This club can’t function without you all – the Council are totally indebted to you for your efforts. Based on the survey, we know that there are folks that are interested in giving the big chair a go and haven’t done so yet. We’d love to help you with that. If you’re interested in GMing, we’re planning to put together a scheme or workshop to help you achieve that goal – we need to understand what you need in order to get the most out of it. If you’d like to GM but haven’t, tag one of the Council, and we’ll add you to the list for that when it happens.
Thanks to everyone who helps support Slains Castle – they do a pretty terrific job, week to week; and those of you who don’t just use it on a Tuesday really help too. When the bar is willing to take a punt on closing its doors to everyone except us on a Tuesday due to the decorators being in, is an absolute testament to the value that they place on their relationship with us. Your continuing efforts are really appreciated.
Yes, finally, thanks to all of you. At Tabletop Scotland, I had a conversation with Dave, the guy that runs it. He’d compiled a list of all the clubs that he could in Scotland, and I’d congratulated him on managing it. He remarked that amongst all the Scottish clubs, we were unique. What we do should work anywhere, but it doesn’t, apparently. That it works is down to all of you. Whether you’re newly in the door, and are putting smiles on faces with your enthusiasm, or a veteran helping new folks with game mechanics or club values – it all matters.
We’ve talked about consent, roles and responsibilities tonight – most of it relates to things that we already do. We’re simply making sure that it’s right out front for our new friends, and something that won’t get lost as we continue to grow. This club’s values are the thing that make us the envy of games clubs across the nation; that you choose to follow them and promote them makes us all terribly proud.
That’s us done. Enjoy the rest of the night – remember, we’re back here on the 7th of January. Games adverts will be around for our Block 1 games in addition to whatever mayhem your GMs may have to finish the year off. Go forth and throw dice – thanks for listening!