Puerco papers for better gaming!

This post needs a preamble. As I was finishing my weekly game in the wee hours of the night (more accurately really early in the morning) I was asking among my players for possible topics they might be interested in reading about. Although some ideas were thrown about I ended up writing the Superhero games are hard! post. After I was done writing I noticed a message from my player and good friend Sara suggesting the topic for this post. Big thanks to her for the inspiration!

Imagine this… “The table is abuzz with excitement. The players are about to make a pivotal decisions that could change the game. They are throwing ideas back and forth and suddenly someone notices the note quietly being passed by one of their own to the nemesis behind the screen… FOUL cry the other players. A puerco paper has been unleashed on the game!”

Call it what you may, secret communication between the players and the Game Master can be a contentious issue. At our table we call them puerco papers, puerco literally means pig, and well paper you get. So it’s meant as a disparaging, and somewhat tongue in cheek, remark on the player writing the note. I don’t exactly recall exactly how the term came about, but I seem to remember my friend Sammy coining it at his table and cross pollinating to ours through mutual players, even before Sammy played with us. It’s part of the unique lexicon, like “Tempus be praised”, “anchorchas” or “chiclán”, that develops among a gaming group.

Players are not the sole perpetrators of puerco papers, Game Masters often find the need to pass along secret information to a player or players, by either passing a note or pulling them aside from the table for a few moments. So it can be either a puerco paper or a puerco meeting, even a puerco session if the GM meets with a group of players outside of the regular gaming session. With current technology the communication can happen via text message, in or outside a session, e-mails, social media, you name it. In my experience players are more forgiving when the GM does it, but when a player passes a long a note it can be the seed of discord and distrust.

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Superhero games are hard!

If you’ve read any of my posts in the recent past you probably know I am currently running a Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition game. After fantasy, which is my favorite RPG genre, Superheroes are my second favorite. I have started more supers campaigns that any other genre besides fantasy. Off the top of my head I can think of eight, and about two dozen more that were planned but never executed. Of those I considered one really successful, well until this one.

My current Dawn of a New Age campaign has become the favorite supers game I have run. Before that it used to be a Heroes Unlimited games that we played for a few months. I don’t recall exactly how long that other game ran (this was in 1992) but I think this one has surpassed it. Last night we played our 30th session, over seven and a half months of weekly games. I think the success is based on many factors. First and foremost a group of players interested and committed in the game.

Secondly preparation and I’m not talking about the weekly kind, but campaign prep. I did a survey to gather information on just what the players were interested and not interested in to use as a guide when preparing the campaign and possible adventures. Discussed their characters, went over expectations, so we all started knowing what to expect.

But you know what they say about best laid plans. As it is inevitable the plan has needed revisions. Players have changed characters, despite discussing expectations they were varied and sometimes contradictory and trying to mesh them all has not always been successful. Overall I think we have stuck to it and every so often there is something of interest to everyone. As will al role playing games not every session an highlight all the different plots for every character but there should be something for everyone to do.

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