Friday, January 11, 2013

Between Game Updates

One of the thoughts that pops into my head from time to time is the idea of doing between game updates. This wouldn't be a play thing, but rather a way to further express the world - and what is going on in the world - to the players. Essentially, it would be a way for me to GM more and present more fluff to players outside of game to show what could be going on. Today, I figured would be a good day to talk about this, the challenges it could have, and other things that could come up.

The Good
The good of this should be fairly obvious. It is basically free monologuing at the players with important things going on in the world. You get to create the feel for the world away from the antics of the players and help to set the tone for things. Beyond that, you can also show further reaching consequences of actions, or also give a shout out of some sort to a player during a session. For example, in my Shadowrun game on Wednesday a player was attacked in an airport bar by 3 people. The player escaped and left two of the attackers in critical condition. Odds are that a news story of some sort would be generated by that, and in writing that article - or even just a brief snippet - I could show the PCs how the world is viewing their endeavors.

There is also the possibility of seeding adventure ideas. For example, through the news blurb I could lay groundwork for an upcoming corporate merger. Maybe CapsTech is looking to buy out CoreSec and there are some news stories about that. The next thing you know a Johnson from Coresec is hiring for a mission to sabotage a financial endeavor by CapsTech. The money is there sure, but for those savvy to the news maybe they think it is an attempt to stall for time on the buyout. An entirely new angle to the game world can be present just by discussing it briefly in the news.

Finally (for this post at least) it gives the players a chance to be more pro-active. Done right, jobs could be seeded into the write up. Alternatively, things that hook the players could be looked into. Maybe the PCs like how CapsTech is handling the buyout and they want to help, so they go actively looking for work to help CapsTech endeavors in the city. Maybe the PCs don't like what a news reporter is saying about their actions and how much information they're giving out, so they decide to do a run for themselves to intimidate the reporter. Lots of options for pro-active PCs.

The Bad
The big bad for this comes in the form of time and whether or not it is worth the time to do this. Content generation takes time and planning, especially if you want to do it right. It also takes time to consume. If only some players consume it and others don't you could be left with an imbalance in your game - which would be on the players in this case. However, if no one reads it, or it just gets casually dismissed, it could be detrimental to the GM. How so? Well, for one it can be a confidence hit to put work into something just to have it be ignored or insulted and discarded by the players.

Other problems can come in in the form of puzzles. It can be tempting to have a puzzle or situation that is best solved by knowledge of what is going on in the world. The problem then comes in when the players don't pick up on something that the GM feels they have very clearly inferred or said. Like any mystery, this can really stall things out only it can be worse as it could make the GM think players aren't paying attention to the extra work. Meanwhile, the players can feel trapped in a situation because they don't see a way out no matter how hard they look.

Finally, there is the idea of homework. For both the GM and the players this can begin to feel like homework. The GM may get frustrated and feel obligated to do it even when she's not sure she has the time or material to do it with. The players may feel weird that they have to read this thing, and analyze it, outside of game in order to keep up.

All in all
All in all I think it could be a good thing but if you wanted to do it you'd need to do a few things up front. First, make sure it is something your players are actually interested in. Most groups will be, but  it is still worth asking in case someone really doesn't care for it. Second, be clear that it won't be an always thing but an "as you can" thing. The idea is for it to help enliven the world, not be a chore to do every week. Third, when you do it have fun with it. If it stops being fun, stop doing it.

You can also mix it up a bit by giving players facts to run with and have them write articles for specific reporters and let them filter the information with you just having to proofread, slap it together, and pass it out for everyone. This can have it's own problems (differences between written and edited version,) but at least gets everyone more involved.

Your thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment