The Iron GM

I’d love to try my hand at the Iron GM challenge. What is an Iron GM?

The Iron GM tournament turns adventure-making into competitive sport and rewards GMing talent with phenomenal prizes…

…GMs are randomly assigned to a table of Players. Next we reveal our three secret story ingredients.

…GMs have sixty minutes to craft adventures, placing the secret ingredients at the nucleus of their games, while Players have sixty minutes to build characters.

…However GMs are only permitted to say three words to players to guide character creation.

Its seat of the pants DM’ing an RPG. Playing at the bleeding edge for both the players and the GM, where a non participant at any point might dissolve the story. It sounds as creative and challenging as being a GM could get – Theatre Sports with dice.

I’d hazard a guess this started as a silly idea, became a bet, and has gone on to form some seriously great freeform rpg sessions. Good to see too that the games are also of limited duration, so that a story arc is assumed in what is being crafted by the 60 minutes of planning.

The SRD 3.5 rules are used as a baseline system, but honestly I think you’d be better off staying well away from the mechanical heavy stories for a challenge like this.

It would be darn tough on many levels. I’ve heard producers talk about it taking hours to construct every small 5 minute chunk of TV time, and “content creation” for a good rpg story is also a huge time sink – IF you pre-plan.

If you run seat of the pants, move the story controls into the players domain to a large degree, and nudge them to steer the story, then I think you’d have a blast watching them reconcile their choices with the outcomes.

Nice also to add an element of the BOFH in there too, so the GM becomes the malevolent storyteller which the players wish to keep out of the steering role. Oh wait – that just describes the Paranoia RPG!

This would be fun. Found via the Fear The Boot Podcast, who are certainly worth a listen for any avid gamer.

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2 thoughts on “The Iron GM

  1. I’ve done it three times, and I have to say I see the best results when I come to the game with an adventure in hand. Pregenerated material means you can focus more on making the game fun, which is essential for IronGM.

  2. I also offered pregen characters, which allowed the players to focus on customizing characters and getting familiar with the personalities. That worked quite well.

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