In the last two years, we have organized 2,498 game sessions on Gauntlet Hangouts. Those sessions were run by 115 different GMs and facilitators, and played by 415 unique players. I think some people see how much we game in The Gauntlet and it intimidates them; they think they won’t be able to keep up or that they aren’t “skilled” enough to play. But, in fact, those numbers are the best evidence we have that playing games with The Gauntlet is very easy and accessible.
In this blog post, l’m going explain some of the reasons you should try gaming with us, and will do my best to demystify certain aspects of Gauntlet Hangouts.
We are extremely nice and helpful
This is the Number 1 thing you need to know about Gauntlet Hangouts. Everyone is just really darn friendly. Our play culture is one that values being helpful and kind. We're going to do our best to not overwhelm you when you join Gauntlet spaces, but if you need assistance or a kind word, we’re there. In a Gauntlet Hangouts game, folks are usually just excited you are there.
Our play culture accommodates a wide variety of schedules
Most games on Gauntlet Hangouts are organized in series of 3-5 sessions, or quarterly campaigns of roughly 12 sessions. Generally-speaking, these games are what we call “open table,” meaning you can attend any or all sessions. So, for example, if you can make Sessions 1, 2, and 4, but not 3, that’s ok—you can still sign up for those you can make. For the quarterly campaigns, sign-ups take place each month, and you don’t have to have attended in Month 1 in order to sign up for Month 2. “Open table” also means we disallow fixed groups. So, if you want to play with the same group of 4 people, you can’t organize those games on Gauntlet Hangouts.
Another thing that makes it easy to find a game to fit your schedule is that we have games being offered in many timezones. The Gauntlet has an international membership, and so there are plenty of non-US timezone games, particularly UK/Europe and ASPAC.
Safety is a priority on Gauntlet Hangouts
We take safety in games very seriously. In fact, much of the modern discourse about safety tools in TTRPGs comes from conversations we have had in The Gauntlet.
The X-card is the absolute minimum in a Gauntlet Hangouts game. All GMs and game facilitators have to explain the X-card and how to use it in the online gaming context (and if you are ever aware of someone not doing that, we want to know about it). Most game facilitators use safety tools in addition to the X-card. In my games, for example, I do an expectations-setting procedure called CATS, and part of that procedure (the “S” in the acronym) is a Subject Matter discussion. There, I discuss the types of content players can expect in the game, I explain the use of the X-card and the open door policy, and then I go through Lines & Veils.
The technology isn’t as daunting as you think
You need a stable internet connection, access to a web browser, and a mic. If you want to appear on video, you will need a webcam. We mostly use Google Hangouts On Air for our games (but that is changing soon since—surprise—Google is killing the product). If you don’t feel comfortable with your tech setup, people from the community are happy to help you test it out before a game begins.
We’re very good at online play
We’ve been running TTRPGs online since mid-2014, and in those 5 years we have developed a lot of tools and techniques for making the process as friction-less as possible (such as our famous Character Keepers that we make for most of the games that get played on Gauntlet Hangouts). Every new GM on Gauntlet Hangouts has to have been a player for awhile first, and before they begin running games on Gauntlet Hangouts, they have to be familiar with these tools and techniques. In other words, by the time someone is running a game on Gauntlet Hangouts, they have the skills needed to get others up to speed.
Our play culture prizes commitment
One of the biggest issues with large online game organizing spaces, such as Roll20 or the Paizo Forums, is that games frequently fail to make because players drop out or because the GM can’t get their act together. That isn’t much of a problem on Gauntlet Hangouts. For starters, most people are paying a small amount of money each month to game in our spaces (see the next section), and people tend to take things more seriously when they pay for them. Also: it’s just a very fundamental part of our culture to take attendance and preparation seriously. Even when folks have to drop from games, they’re really good about getting the spot filled or letting the GM know so they can get the spot filled or adjust.
And now for the tricky part: getting into games
The trickiest part of being involved in Gauntlet Hangouts is simply being able to get into a game. For most games, the demand is very high. For the better-known GMs and facilitators, the demand is in the stratosphere (and those games fill in literal seconds).
So, what are some tactics for getting into games? The best move is to be a member of our Patreon at a level that gets you Early RSVP Access to Gauntlet Hangouts (currently, that’s the $8+ pledge levels). Holding one of those Patreon spots in and of itself doesn’t make the race to RSVP much easier, but what it does do is give you access to the wider community, particularly our Slack group. Our Slack has a channel where new games are announced, which is how most people find out about games. If you have that channel set for high priority notifications, you stand a better shot of getting into games. The Slack also has a channel where people can post when they need players. So, if someone drops or if space otherwise opens up in a game, you can get in from that channel. People also use that channel to organize off-calendar games, a frequent occurrence in a community that is obsessed with play. The Slack is also where we advertise games that are exclusively for new members, as well as where we organize Gauntlet Games Now, our on-demand-style program. In short, the Early RSVP Access you get from your $8+ pledge is just the beginning—we have several different ways for you to get some gaming in.
If you aren’t a member of our Patreon, you can still get into games. If you go to the Calendar view of the Gauntlet Hangouts RSVP site, you can see events have either a red dot or a green dot. Green dots mean there is space in the game. Note: when you sign into the RSVP site, please use a good email, since that is how the GM will contact you. No one except the GM for a game can see your email address, and if you prefer to go by a different name than the one associated with your email account, you can change your display name in the My Account section.
Hopefully that will dispel some of the mystique of Gauntlet Hangouts. There are many, many people playing games with us everyday, and we’re always excited to welcome more.
You can learn more about The Gauntlet, including Gauntlet Hangouts, on our FAQ page.
And if you think you might want to grab one of those $8 spots, they can be found on our Patreon page.