How to I step back up to the gaming table?

It’s been a while since I ran an rpg. And then even longer, as in a decade or more since I did it regularly. It is a worrying commitment to make, but I used to be ok so it probably will be ok again.

To start off I’m thinking about a short run game. A few sessions, nothing major, a story on rails, and a very narrow vision. The goal is to start small an bite off chewable problems.

As I thought about What to run I also thought about Who can play in it.

Firstly my old group have lives now so getting us together is a mongrel. But as it’s small the game probably needs only two or three players. It could be a solo game, or if we get all the players and some bonus folks it could be a romp. It wouldn’t affect the story too much.

A play by email or forum game allows for very detailed and creative story, but is downright dull for game mechanics. Pbp also kills acting skill. A table session is better for actual roleplaying; and that is what really appeals.

Secondly some of the group like rolling, others like acting, and only a few like both. Shamefully I’m not the best mechanical gamer at the table, or the best actor, or any role really. So frankly, it is scary.

We’ve creating the characters and I’ve sent out a quick teaser, so there is no avoiding it now…but that only helps create more apprehension in my mind about quality and a positive experience.

The prep for this game is far more detailed than I used to do, so that might be a saving grace – the plot has holes in it, but not the huge gaping holes that myy normal “seat of the pants” stories had. I think the worst I ran was an RPG using the Palladium engine and trying to replay the UltimaV pc game storyline. It got weird really quickly.

I guess I’ll just look forward to having a beer on the other side of the games, and seeing if they sucked or not. #holdingmybreath #theEmperorProtects

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J is for Just in Time

Just in Time….(sigh). For me being either a player or a GM in rpgs is all about doing your prep and play Just in Time for when it is needed. I used to over prepare, detail large areas, define everything for NPCs, etc. The players typically didn’t go the direction I intended, or went there in a way that made the prep valuable, but not directly usable.

This theme also applies for when you’re playing too. You can have a plan for how and what your character will be doing, and what their motivations are, but going to too much detail just restricts perspective. Better to plan your responses just in time. See what other players might bring, see the reactions, watch the non-vocal language in a group for triggers and hints.

Planning (almost) be damned.

Well, the idea is really to plan what needs to be clearly defined, what needs to be known in brief, and what rumours abound. Planning is key to finding that line between too much information and too little. A world is as full or hollow as the players perceive it, and you’ll never get a perfect balance.

Part of the Blogging A to Z initiative, is to create an A-Z list of some sort, and I’m posting what ever random thoughts pop into my head for each letter of the alphabet.

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.