New Year, New Skills
January is the month for dreamers, as the cold tendrils of winter are momentarily halted by warm wishes for a better life. Perhaps you long to improve your health, your professional life, or work some organizing magic on your domicile. Or, better yet, maybe you wish to take your gaming to the next level. Do you long to run a live stream show with your best party members? Want to try your hand at self-publishing an adventure? Maybe you just want to play more TTRPGs?
All goals are good goals, and we’re here to help you achieve them. Here’s how to take your gaming to the next level and keep those dice rolling all year long.
Goals are not Resolutions
First of all, a successful New Year’s plan has nothing to do with resolutions. A resolution is a simple sentence that typically begins with “I want.” For example, “I want to be a better game master,” is a wish. A New Year’s plan is your battle strategy to get you there.
Write it all Down!
Just like your regular campaign, the most important thing is to take notes. How you do it doesn’t matter, so use the system that works best for you. Litter your apartment with post-it notes if you have to. The point is that it’s impossible to track progress or correct your path if you have no memory of it. If your mind is a steel trap, congratulations! The rest of us mere mortals need to write down our spells.
Find Your Weak Point
Improvement begins once your honest about your weak points. Are you late to every game session, or the type of player who bemoans fate with every dice roll? As a game master, have you heard a particular type of complaint from your players time and time again? Write them all down.
Can’t think of any bad habits? Talk to one of your closest party members and ask them to be real with you. I promise, they’ll give you plenty of ideas on how to improve.
Once you’ve compiled a list of your weaknesses, jot down what you can do to address each one. Always late? Ask a friend to keep you accountable. Do your battles fall flat? Research battle tactics and brush up on rules. For every weakness, there’s a way to improve!
Hone your Strengths
Most resolutions are abandoned because they only focus on what you want to “fix” about yourself. As if, by having a different stat block than another, you are somehow less. We’re not about that life, and it’s time to bolster your strengths!
So, flip the page and write down everything you’re great at! Are you awesome at making engaging NPCs your players want to run away with? Are you the party scribe who keeps track of everything you’ve gotten wrapped up in? Keep it up!
Just like your weaknesses, notate how you can continue to improve what you’re already great at. This is going to require a bit more creativity to get through. More often than not, you’ll find the way to continue improving your strengths is by moving on to the next step.
Try Something New
The most fun and frightful stage will require you to jump off into something new. Going back to your list of strengths and weaknesses, look for themes. Are all your strengths centered on story development and scene? Do you feel your miniatures and maps need work? How’s your character development going?
If you’re strong at something, consider spreading your gift to the world. Look for opportunities to teach others about gaming, or writing. Challenge yourself to start publishing adventures or magical items. Lead a group of new players at your local library or after-school group. If you’re artistically inclined, share your work with the world!
Picking up a new game-related hobby is also a great way to address where you feel weakest. Enjoying a new aspect about gaming gets you in touch with new people, new ways of thinking, and increases your confidence. For example, if you’re the type to zone out mid-battle, pick up a tactile hobby like crochet or knitting. Keeping your hands busy will help you stay engaged while you patiently wait for your turn to rage.
Involve the Whole Party
No lie, hitting your goals and improving yourself is difficult. Life gets tricky, motivation gets low, and suddenly abandoning the whole idea looks enticing. If TTRPGs teach us anything, it’s that we’re stronger as a team than alone. So, get your party involved! If one of your goals is to eat a bit healthier, get in touch with your group and discuss new options. Pizza is great, but maybe it doesn't have to be a weekly meal.
Keep each other accountable for your goals and be honest about how it’s going. If your party can survive dungeons together, anything is possible! Just don’t force your friends to firewalk across dice the moment they hit a roadblock. What are your goals for this new year? Let us know in the comments below. Happy rolling!
Brittany Lindstrom is a mixed media illustrator out of ye olde Boise, Idaho. Under the banner of Spice & Rose, Lindstrom is oftentimes left dreaming of deep dungeon dives while chained to her studio. On the rare occasion that she's let out, you can find her presenting panels on art and Artist Alley at conventions all around the Intermountain West. She has a deep love for playing randomized characters.