I’ve had some thoughts since I recturned from my recent trip to Scotland from Bahrain for Tabletop Scotland. Traveling with the intention to roleplay can be a little daunting depending on the system and what you plan to use for your game. Dice, books, props, battle mats, dry erase boards, more books, character sheets, etc all add up in added weight before considering things like clothes and toiletries.

If you’re flying to have to consider if your props will get you flagged at security if you are only bringing a carry-on. If you are checking a bag, do you have a back-up plan if your luggage doesn’t make it to your final destination?

If you’re traveling mostly by public transport, is your stuff going to unwieldy on a crowded train or bus? Is it going to be heavy to hold it for however long the trip is?

Considerations for Military Game Masters

My experience as a TTRPG player and game master while in the Navy has been an interesting experience. I’ve learned a lot in the past 13 years and I wanted to share some advice based from my experiences being a player and GM on the go with limited space.

How big is your personal storage space once you get to your deployment location or duty station?

There are space and weight restrictions for Household goods, luggage, and berthing areas. On a ship, you will not have the space for your entire physical gaming library, your clothes, toiletries, and etc. On deployment, you will likely face similiar space issues.

Some Solutions:

PDFs are great space savers but depending on where you plan on playing, you might not have access to electronics or a wall charger.

Only bring what you need to run a game. This can be a Corebook, a GM’s guide, a player’s guide, and whatever scenario you want to run. Bring a bag of dice and install a dice roller on your phone. If you’re on deployment getting to gaming or comic store to find dice is an adventure on its own. It’s possible but a massive pain.

Where are you planning on playing?

If you have a mixed gender gaming group, you will need to play in a public space that everyone in your group can access. Consider hours, noise levels, and who is going to be around you.

If you have a mixed Rank group, you will need to extend the invitation to everyone in your work center and play in a public area. Your officer and NCO friends might not be able to play with you out of fraternization, favoritism, undo conduct concerns. If they can’t you might just need to wait until people transfer and play over a Virtual Table Top (VTT) like Roll20, Foundry, Tabletop Simulator or over voice on Skype, Zoom or Discord. You could even play over Microsoft Teams if you all have access to that software. I will talk more on VTT later.

If you are in the library (which is always beside the chapel on a ship), you need to consider your language and subject matter might not be appropriate for passers by. You will need to moderate your group’s volume and will need to consider breaks for snacks / food.

If you are in space with limited open hours like a ship’s mess deck, you’re going to deal with all kinds of people stopping in to gawk and listen in. Again, watch your content and your language. Mess decks in non-chow hours are noisy and busy in liberty ports and in evenings.

I’ve had some interesting games playing in my office spaces and in the middle of a cruise line waiting area in Indonesia because that’s where the primary just off the ship liberty area was. It had food, power, and bathrooms, so it was a good option. I’ve also taken overnight liberty to play games with my friends in an apartment hotel or a large hotel suite.

More in Part 2