FOR THE WANT OF A CRIT
Once again I got the opportunity to talk gaming alongside some incredibly smart people. Richard Rogers invited me back for another session of “This Imaginary Life” this time talking about how GMs should think about/handle the impact of bad rolls on a session. There’s at least a couple of moments during the segment that made me go “Oh yeah, jeez—that’s a much cooler way to see that.” You can check out the video below.
I’ve been thinking about one particular bit in the conversation. We talk about GM modelling- essentially the GM demonstrating through play how they handle things. With a new GM and/or new game, a player has to figure out how the game’s actually played- what’s valuable, what’s viable, what’s the game’s focus. Even on a micro-level, they have to uncover the mechanics: what happens when the die falls off the table, how are perception/reaction checks handled, how are checks involving group work handled? Usually these approaches come from the GM (or the culture of the table) as the authority.
How does a player model play for the GM? Does that just mean playing well- or are there play methods, goals, objectives- which the player can act out to help the GM get on their wavelength? Maybe?...like a player taking NPCs seriously demonstrates that the GM ought to take them seriously as well. But does that work in reverse? If that player just kicks NPCs in the shins, should that be an explicit message to the GM to give up on deep background characters? I suspect that I’m overthinking this; I bet player modeling is just about playing well. GM modeling is a distinct beast. I’m a GM who has moved to give more and more authority to the players, but this may be the place where I draw the line. I model those elements I’m pretty set about the authority I want at the table.
Anyway- that’s a more than a little off the topic. If you watch the video you can see some smart people (plus me) talk about gaming.
GAMES ON DEMAND
As I mention in the video, I’ll be running at Games on Demand this year at Gen Con. I’ve run at cons before- I used to help with Eden Studio demos, ran a couple of local conventions, and GM’d at Gen Con way back in the early ‘90’s. But it has been a several years since I’ve done full-blown con sessions. And I’ve never done GoD before. So wish me luck, and if you’re at Gen Con be sure to stop by and say hi.
Last year I ran sessions for RPGGeek’s VirtuaCon online and loved it. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do this year. Ideally I’ll run three sessions- a kind of trilogy of games if possible. Right now I have three sets of ideas:
BUILD A WORLD WORKSHOP
Last year I did a session of Microscope in which the players created a semi post-apocalyptic world. You can see my post on that. It went well- though Google Docs ended up being more a problem than an aid. We put that world together late on Friday and then I created and ran a Fate session based on it for Sunday. I was thinking of doing the same thing again this year, but adding in a twist. I would also do a session of Kingdom set somewhere in that created world. It might take some figuring out- and I figure even if I can’t come up with something for the Kingdom session, we can still play using another playset.
Games: Microscope, Kingdom, Fate Accelerated
This is stolen from a suggestion made by Tom Tyson. Run three different superhero games, each using a different system and each representing a different era (Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Modern, etc.). It would be a shared superhero world- with loose connections between the stories. It would interesting to do something with a “Freedom Force” style supergroup which examines different eras. Three sessions would be enough to build an interesting world. It might even be fun to see if other people might be running superheroes and get them together on that. Or perhaps even use Microscope to create a shared setting to run from.
Games: Three different superhero games (M&M, Marvel Heroic, V&V, Champions, etc).
The last ideas involves finding three different “hacks” people have written and running sessions of those. Last week I read through Brennan Taylor’s hack of Legend of the Five Rings to Apocalypse World and it looks pretty cool and playable. I think that could be amazingly fun. John Wilson created an adaptation of Golden Skies Stories to Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll tales. It has been some time since I’ve read those, but I love them. That could be fun. I’m not sure what I’d do for the last hack- maybe something like Cthulhu Vice, a really funny Savage Worlds setting which combines Cthulhu an ‘80’s sandal-wearing cop show. I've also been thinking about doing Nights Black Agents, but using James Bond 007.
A quick reminder- if you’re looking for AP videos of games, I’ve recorded a number for my non-monetized YouTube channel. There you can find my Changeling Lost Vegas FAE sessions, some Mutants & Masterminds sessions, and one shots for Microscope, Kingdom, Fate, and Base Raiders. I watch other GM’s sessions from time to time- it’s a great way to pick up ideas and back-seat drive.