Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Problem With An Exploration Focused Game

I spent a chunk of time today talking with a fellow GM and good friend. See, with the recent release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I've been kicking myself about how simple a concept the game's core premise is: you're sent off to explore another galaxy, some stuff goes wrong, and now you have to find a new home while establishing a beach-head of sorts for your people. Exploration type games are things we've talked about before, but there's a big problem with them. Today I want to talk about that, and some ways to address it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Episodic Gameplay

This weekend I got to begin a 2-shot 7th Sea game. It's my second attempt at running 7th Sea, so I'm pretty excited for the chance. The thing is, I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. I knew I'd be running something this Saturday, but which game wasn't clear until Saturday itself. Because of that I went to a more structured setup with a simple phasing in how the adventure would work. Only, when I pulled a step back I realized how well this structure worked for 7th Sea, and how it also works for other games. Today, I want to talk about that.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Discussion: How Much Reality In Your Fantasy?

Like it or not, you need some reality in your fantasy. The question is, how much do you need? Every GM has their own style, and every game has its own version of the Reality<->Fantasy slider set at whatever location the world needs. But how much of it do you prefer? How much grounding do you want in the real world, and at what point do you want to knock that crap off and go with the world?

It seems like a common sense discussion, except for one thing: most fantasy worlds have magic and active gods, which means the type of progress you'd see technologically would be completely different. After all, why waste time inventing guns when you can make magic crossbows that self-load or learn to cast lightning bolts from your hands?

So how much do you like?

I tend to keep things simple. Gravity or something like it exists, and basic Newtonian Physics can generally be counted on for physical objects. Beyond that though? Well, let's just say I'm fond of pointing out to people that our table of elements has 200+ in it, the L5R one has 5, and all 5 can talk to people so we know it's only those 5. If nothing else it makes for more Plato type physics with every element having a rightful place, than the physics we have in the real world.

As for more advanced applications, well, the math for them just doesn't exist. Why would it when there's no need for calculus or advanced physics because studying magic will let you mess with reality as is?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Putting A Game On Hold

It sucks, but sometimes you have to put a game on hold. Sometimes things aren't working out, and among other things you need to analyze what is going on, why it is happening, and how to fix. It could be a bad fit for players. It could be a bad fit with characters. It could just be a bad time to try to do the game considering real world commitments. Today, I want to talk about putting a game on hold and some things to look out for when you do it.

Monday, March 13, 2017


A lot of RPG systems have an Alignment System of one sort or another. Some of them are fairly light and fluffy, others are more in depth. Either way, they do about the same thing: they tell you, and others, about how the character acts. We have different expectations for a "Lawful Good" character than a "Neutral Evil One" in D&D, just as we have different expectations for a "Survivor" nature character in World of Darkness than for one with a "Altruist" nature. However, Alignment Systems get a bad rap as confining and tend to start a lot of arguments around the table. Today I want to talk about them, and hopefully provide a view point that will calm some of those arguments down.

Late Post

My apologies, but the post for today will be a little late. It should be up by noon.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Your Game Should Not Be A Frustration

This is going to be brief, but it's something I need to say every now and then. GMing a game is hard work. It takes a lot of hours. It takes preparation. It takes communication. You have a lot of hats you need to switch through. You're responsible for an entire world and the chief source of adding fun into the game for everyone at the table to enjoy. Given the time and lack of need for funds, and a GM could easily put 40 hours a week into their game and still not have enough time for everything they wanted to do.

Never go into GMing thinking that it isn't work.

However, this does not mean that it should be frustrating.

Yes, you will run into frustrations during a game. There will be annoyances. There will be problems. There will be hiccups and cross communication. However, the game itself should not be a burden. The game itself should not be something that causes you stress or adds to your frsutration.

The difference between these two things is that a frustration in a game is based on some event in the game. Bad die rolls, a quip in poor taste, or a one off incident that can be worked past. A game being a frustration is either something that happens enough it is considered part of the game, or something in the game all the time it makes the idea of game itself less enjoyable.

It could be a problem player, or players. It could be the game going out of control. It could be the players and GMs being at cross purposes on what direction to take the game. It could just be that the game is not the fit you thought it would be. It can happen for a lot of reasons, and none of those mean you dislike your players or gaming itself.

So what do you do when that happens? Well, you need to address it. You, as the GM, should be having fun with games. You being frustrated is not only unhealthy for you, it is unhealthy for the group and the game itself. That frustration will leak through until you find yourself doing things to end the game, or spite it, when in fact the answer is right there: just back away.

Talk out your frustrations with your players. The game itself may have to end, but that is fine. Address the frustration, take a break from the game, and move on. It's just not worth it any other way.

It's not worth putting that much work into something that causes frustration.

You deserve better.