Friday, April 8, 2011

Discussion: Problem Areas

For today's discussion, I wanted to talk about problem areas. Every GM has an area of gaming that they are just not comfortable with. Every GM has a weak area and a strong area. As people, we like to focus on our strengths to give the best we can, but addressing our weaknesses is a key step to improvement. After all, it is only after you recognize your flaws that you can fix them.

For me, it is fairly simple. I absolutely suck at beginnings. Not even just beginning campaigns, but starting sessions. Once I get going, I tend to do ok, but those first opening minutes are excruciating. This can be a major problem, as a strong beginning is needed to pull people into the game and get everything set to go. Without a strong beginning, you can have a bad pace for the whole session.

How am I addressing it? Well, I try to end games on hooks where the beginning for the next session is clearly laid out. This makes it easier, as I can just jump into the middle of something. The tension has already started, people slip back in and it goes. For other things? I try to prepare more, but still end up floundering at least somewhat.

Another problem I have is being pumped for information through NPCs. This has been more of a problem of late, because with time constraints I've gotten a little lazy in my preparation. I prep the big events, but don't take the time to give some consideration to what certain NPCs may know, and how much they're willing to share.

This is easy enough to fix. I just need to put more time into my NPCs. Amusingly, my players say I do NPCs better than I think, so I tend to trust them, but I know I could be giving them better. That, is on me.

What about you? Where are you weak? What are you doing to shore it up?


  1. I think my biggest weakness is that I am unable to run light games and have to rely on my players entirely to break tension. I am working on this by trying to do more planned story structures instead of relying on going with the feel of the flow entirely. I figure by having planned structure it will be easier to not go too deep into tension without a break.

    I am not sure how to start working on dong more light hearted games since I end up with heavy games even when running things like Serenity.

  2. part of lighthearted can just involve going a bit lighter, or in different directions, with consequences and where you focus the attention of the action.

    If you focus the attention on the grizzly details, it will be darker. If you focus on something else, it won't be. For example, in the epic masterpiece (bleck) 2 Fast 2 Furious, there is an action/race sequence in the middle that is fairly light hearted and fun...only, 3 people die in this scene in horrific car accidents. Thing is, the camera doesn't focus on the crashes (aside from to show the car went under the truck) so it doesn't really pull the mood down too much.

    Players staying up-beat can also keep things more light hearted. But tone is definitely a give and take between GM and Players.

  3. I'm mostly incapable of telling if I've provided adequate information to solve a mystery. I think it should be plain as day and everyone is still scratching their heads. I try to give a little more information and I end up giving it away.

    I've also been writing more stories lately and oddly it's making it hard for me to tell a story in an interactive way. I've gotten used to being the author and it's hard to go back. I hope that's a temporary setback though.