Friday, July 23, 2010

Well I Screwed That Up

The big presentation tonight was a disaster.

For the presentation in Tracon I made no preparation and talked off the cuff and was told I was entertaining.

Tonight I made outlines and was aware of the camera and was trying to be upbeat and positive and a representative of all the good things about what we do. I also kept to a one hour OSR/one hour LotFP format.

Awful. I'm not meant to be an informative straight man - I'm a ranter at heart and I have to be let loose. It felt unnatural when I was doing the "history of D&D and the OSR" like a boring history teacher and just downright wrong when trying to not bring controversy, or worse yet diffuse it, in the talk. I mentally blanked a few times and was just goddamn fucking awful. It was painful to be up there and probably painful to witness. And I stretched it to an hour.

The second hour was the opposite. I was talking about my stuff, the history and reasoning and behind-the-scenes fun bits of my projects and why I've conducted business the way I do, it felt good, the audience seemed engaged, laughed when they were supposed to, didn't laugh when they weren't supposed to (so I could do my fake "I can't hear you!" type schtick), and then time ran out just when I was getting to the part about the guts of the actual game.




If I was going to be "Mr. OSR Representative" I should have run down the basics in the first fifteen minutes and then taken an hour and a half to talk up my game in my natural style. I wouldn't have been awful in the first bit and would have had enough time in the second.

What's weird is I am better at running games if I'm well prepared and my improvisation skills aren't so great when I don't have a solid base to riff off of. The exact opposite of my public speaking.

Ah well. I hope that video is never seen by anyone.


  1. I understand how you feel been there myself. What does me in is the intense feeling of time pressure. All I can say it gets easier the more you do and as you find your "style".

    Better luck next time.

  2. ahhh, screw this. It was an opportunity missed, but I'm going to build on it and do something right.

    I'm putting together an A5 flyer to give out to passersby tomorrow. So many people pass by and I say "Traditional RPG supplements" like that means anything to Joe Gamer.

    Now I'll give him something that says, in brief, what I should have said in my presentation.

    Old School IN YOUR FACE. Shit-stirring, Face of the Great Green Motherfucking Devil kind of stuff.

    Don't like it? Find it divisive? Then give as good as you get and let's hash it out. Let's be passionate about this hobby that trades on the passion of the participants.

    I'll post it when I'm done. I give myself 40 minutes.

    Goddamn I should have been angry and bring down the wrath of god instead of trying to "inform a potential new audience."

    grrrrrrr self. Grrr.

  3. Chances are, James, that you did better than you felt. You were probably more critical of yourself than was the audience.

    The important thing is that you stepped-up to the plate and really gave it a swing. How many people can say that?

  4. Talking for one hour if you're not used to it is tough, talking for two - incredible. When I was in the military I got posted to a recruit training unit and three weeks later they had me teaching classroom lessons to the recruits. I had no training in it, no experience, just thrown in the deep end. It's not easy. Geoffrey is right, you probably did a lot better than you think. And Rob is right too, it gets easier the more you do it. But James, if you managed to fill in the two hours , you did amazingly well.

  5. A flyer I just made up - lots of text of course. :D

    "Traditional Fantasy Role-Playing:

    Old School is the wonder and the terror of exploring someplace new, strange, and dangerous. You’re not supposed to be there and you will only survive by your own skill and wits.

    Old School is when the Game Master is not on your side. The system is not on your side. They are neutral and will just as soon kill your characters to death as watch them succeed and grow. You can fail, which makes success all the sweeter.

    Old School is about defeating challenges by realizing that the things on your character sheet are not important if you are clever.

    Old School is rolling up your third character this adventure, positive that this will be the one to survive the challenges and live on to be great and powerful.

    Old School is the freedom to try something crazy without worrying that it will screw up the plot, because the plot is something you create through your actions and not something to follow through to its predetermined end.

    The Old School Renaissance is about falling in love with gaming again by bringing wonder back to the stifled and stale hobby of tabletop role-playing.

    The Old School Renaissance is about producing new material for classic games that rivals the quality of any gaming material ever written.

    Lamentations of the Flame Princess
    Carrying the very best from the Old School Renaissance
    at Ropecon 2010!"

    I will pass this out to people moving by the booth tomorrow.

    This doesn't ask the reader to be passive, it demands argument, it demands a response, and so I can interact with the person and give concrete examples from specific products about what is meant and how it applies to game play. As opposed to them coming by the booth, me saying "traditional fantasy role-playing material!" and they look things over, nod their head, and move on to the next booth.

    Are people who take offense at this really going to enjoy Death Frost Doom or Cursed Chateau anyway?

    I'll print a bunch up in the morning. I'll read your comments when I wake up and adjust if necessary.

    But this is what I should have done for the presentation. Push the audience and then handle their push back so they are not bored shitless and I've got real human interaction instead of a lame boring stupid fucking speech.

  6. The Old School Renaissance is about falling in love with gaming again by bringing wonder back to the stifled and stale hobby of tabletop role-playing.

    i think this will only matter to a small number of people, while it might confuse many newcomers.

    "why would i need to fall in love with gaming again? i am just starting out... roleplaying is a stale hobby? wtf?!" thinks the newbie and wonders off. (i refuse to edit this wonderful typo! :))

    the veterans (who actually might want to fall in love again... ) will get the message by your description of old school-gaming anyway.

  7. @shlominus - there's no doubt that there are many more younger gamers in the scene, who have never played the older games, than there are older gamers. Some of these guys have been playing D20 for 10 years now and it's probably getting a bit stale for some of them. The message "falling in love with gaming again" is a good strategy that could hit home with a large number of people. As for newbies, there's plenty of other stuff in James's flyer to excite their attention.

  8. It was alright man, not your best, but it wasn't shit. I've seen worse.

  9. I'm sure you weren't as bad as you thought you were? By the way your boxed set looks excellent. No hyperbole, it looks great.

  10. Having personally blown a big speech or two, I say don't be too hard on yourself. Most everyone in the audience forgets all about it after only a few minutes vs. the long time we tend to carry it around afterward ourselves.

    As for the flyer idea - there's no doubt that controversy makes for great free publicity...

  11. Well sounding spontaneous while reading from a script is a difficult task. It's why news anchors and lead actor get paid so much. I work in a profession which uses a lot of the dreaded viewgraph pitches. The best advice I got was to remember the key points and talk extemporaneously, rather than read bullet points which is certain doom.

  12. Public speaking sucks. Doesn't matter if its 2 people or 2OO that you are addressing. It does get easier with practice tho ;

  13. It is water under the bridge. Stop sweeting it. Set up your talking points, be confident in yourself and your message. Make eye contact with the audiance or look as if you are. They are there for the message they want to hear it.

    If you lose your place laugha lbut it and ask them where you are at speech wise. tell a few joles about designing the game.

    In future you may need to have a person with you to keep it moving much like Jeff Grubb use to do for Ed Greenwood sort of of the cuff editor.

    Best of luck keep practicing and the public speaking will get better.

  14. Where can I get the video?

    Just kidding.

  15. James Edward, your presentation was entertaining, insightful and honest. Easily one of the best lectures i've seen. Of course, yours "best" may differ from mine, but fortunately it is not for you to decide what i consider best :)