Archive for February 4th, 2006

February 4, 2006: 3:33 pm: GMing

Over on Deep in the Game, Bankuei has posted what looks like a really great method for running a game.

But that’s not the key difference in play. The difference is that the players have prepared a tool for improvisation -the character. With the character, the players don’t need to prep a list of possible events and responses, they simply use the character as a focus to improvise with. They can make up on the spot how a “hot-headed young knight out for glory” ought to act without thinking too hard.

What the GM needs is to prep tools that do the same thing. Instead of trying to guess what might happen, what the players might do, what they might find interesting, you can instead prep tools that react to what IS happening, what the players SHOW you they want to do.

The GM’s role really boils down to helping make interesting stuff happen. This breaks out into framing engaging scenes (and conflicts) and presenting neat NPCs. So let’s talk about how to make that happen…

It strikes me as a technique that’d work especially well for something like an Amber game (whatever rules system was being used), since I’ve seen the same general sort of advice discussed on various Amber forums for years. Chris really does an excellent job of explaining how the whole thing works, and I’m definitely wanting to try this out with the next game I run (whatever that might be).

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: 2:22 pm: Game theory (or close enough)

Brand has some interesting comments about the evolution of RPGs, and how it is now starting to get into territory where it challenges more than just how people play games.

So as we go farther with this it is inevitable that we will come to cross purposes. Where we will build fully-functional, solidly designed, socially negotiated systems that do exactly what they want to do in exactly the way we want them to do it that will at the same time be absolutely unacceptable and unplayable to a vast number of people.

And I don’t mean “unplayable because they won’t give it a chance.” And I don’t mean “unplayable because it goes against what they think about game.” And I don’t mean “unplayable because of what their past games have made them.”

I mean “unplayable because of who life has made them.” And I mean “unplayable because it goes against what they think about life.” And I mean “unplayable because when they give it a chance it causes them active revulsion.”

Read the whole post, as Brand has lots of interesting things to say. I think I can already see hints in some current game theory discussions that certain designers are heading somewhere I have no desire to go, no matter how good their game design ends up being, because their belief systems and goals are just too different from mine. Of course, there’s also every chance that some other designer will make choices that speak directly to what I believe, so I’m not feeling all that worried about it.

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