TRPG Team Building

In the current COVID19 environment, engaging in TRPG team building is a great way to stay connected, engaged, and learning, even for first time RPG-ers!

Overview

TRPG Team building combines the creative power of tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons with leadership coaching and team development. Bowaikit Talent offers a unique combination of experience and expertise in leadership, group dynamics, and gaming. This approach maximizes benefits so your team will have fun, build meaningful relationships, enhance creativity, and develop leadership on many levels.  Facilitation can be offered virtually or in person and is customized to each client's goals and situation.

Why

​It is just as, if not more, important to maintain positive team cultures, connection, relationships, and creative collaboration in online settings. Playing a collaborative storytelling game (especially when facilitated by an expert leadership game master) naturally facilitates these group dynamics in a context that is fun and conducive to learning. Even when playing a game, group dynamics will emerge, and a specially trained Bowaikit Talent Facilitator will be able to sense and work with these dynamics in both game and work settings.

Goals/Outcomes

The game and facilitation are customized to meet the goals of each team and individual. At its simplest, this is a great way to be social and connect. Team building happens naturally through having fun together while collaborative storytelling adds meaning to the experience. Specific team outcomes can be incorporated and/or the Bowaikit Talent Facilitator can use the game to naturally allow positive team dynamics to emerge and be nurtured by in the moment coaching. Individual leadership coaching can be added for deeper leadership development. 

Players

4-6 is ideal per session. Small teams may elect to have the whole team at each session while larger teams can schedule more sessions and have 4-6 players at each session interchangeably with discussion forums or other cloud communication tools keeping everyone updated about events in the game throughout the week/month. This is a great exercise in virtual collaboration and creativity.

Format

Zoom and gaming sites like Foundry VTT with DnDBeyond are perfect for creating an environment that is fun and naturally builds relationships through virtual means. Group chats like Hangouts or Discord can be used to facilitate communication between sessions and Drive or other cloud services provide tools for collaboration alongside the game. Bowaikit Talent Facilitators are intentional about creating group environments using video chat and other virtual tools. Face-to-face games are great too when there isn’t a pandemic!

Time

2-4 hours per session with several sessions occurring over the course of weeks/months or longer. 1:1 coaching with the Bowaikit Talent Facilitator acting as a leadership coach can add to the experience for most client’s situations.

Session Zero

The initial meeting with a team will establish goals and ground rules and create an environment that will foster fun, meaningful, and safe role-playing. The facilitator will help everyone learn how to play and guide each group through the process. The group will create characters and start building a fantasy world together!

Ongoing Sessions

Generally, each session will start with a check-in, an introduction to the game session, playing the game, a break, and a discussion to help process and transfer any team learning that happens.

What is a Tabletop Role-Playing Game

There are many individual titles for games that are considered examples of tabletop role-playing games (TRPG) including, Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: The Masquerade, and Pathfinder to name a few. Many editions of D&D have been published that each feature a different variation of rule systems and various iterations of lore. The most recent and popular edition of D&D is 5th edition (D&D 5e). The game is flexible, and rules can be used in whatever way best serves the story (a highly useful approach when working with teams).

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), initially published in 1974, is the first formalized game of this type and is perhaps the most widely recognized name. In a game of D&D, players act as characters that (usually) work together to complete quests and achieve both character and game objectives within the imaginary world. The designers of D&D state that adventure is the heart of the game and is made up of three pillars: exploration, social interaction, and combat (Mearls & Crawford, 2014). Exploration is about creating and discovering an imaginary world. Social interaction focuses on interacting with characters and objects in the imaginary world. Combat is a structured contest in which characters strategize to defeat opponents. Each of the three pillars of adventure come together to contribute to the overall adventure experience and form a story.

D&D games typically involve 4-8 players, one of whom is designated in a facilitator role often called a Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM). This person serves as a narrator, author, facilitator, and referee among other roles while the remaining players take on the roles of specific characters.
In D&D, a group of characters (role-played by the players) embark on a quest. Each character has their own background, motivations, personality, and unique abilities that they use to work together to overcome obstacles (fighting goblins, sneaking past monsters, and persuading guards) and interact with other characters on their journey. The human players are each responsible for creating, improvising, and role-playing as one character (except the dungeon master who acts as a facilitator and narrator). General plot elements are determined in advance by the dungeon master. Some gamers create their own settings and stories while others use published adventure modules written specifically for D&D 5e.

Players are afforded agency to improvise and interact as they feel their character would respond to the various situations that arise. D&D players are driven by various motivations, using multiple strategies to relate to a mental concept of their character held in their subjective experience (Banks, Bowman, & Wasserman, 2017). The dungeon master is responsible for preparing and role-playing as the non-player characters (NPCs; like a guard, villain, or bartender) and other elements of the environment or setting such as describing the landscape or culture of the fictional populace. As the game and story progresses, players build onto their characters’ personalities to account for the improvised experiences that unfold (a character may develop a fear of water after almost drowning during a mission) and also add abilities to the character’s repertoire (ex. a wizard will learn more powerful spells as the game goes on).

​A common routine of gameplay might begin with the dungeon master narrating to explain a setting and situation. Players can then interact with NPCs, each other, or fixtures of the environment (ex. Talk to the bartender, open the door, check for traps, attack the goblin) by describing their character’s actions to the group. The dungeon master adjudicates outcomes to the players’ actions using dice according to the rules of the game. Rolling higher numbers helps convince the bartender to tell you some secrets or makes it more likely a player will defeat the goblin while lower numbers will bring less favorable or even detrimental results. Each action is then followed by a description of the outcome and more choices for how the players might respond and proceed. Eventually, the story unfolds through a combination of functions: the players reach some predetermined plot points (completing objectives or overcoming obstacles), the outcomes of player actions and dice rolls create unforeseen outcomes, and players improvise scenes while interacting with each other role-playing as their characters. Together, the players achieve game objectives while also creating a story. In doing so, they make meaning from the experience for both themselves and their characters.

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