Mar 262013

RPGBlogCarnivalLogocopy1-227x300Kobalt Enterprises are hosting this months RPG blog carnival, and I’ve been wracking my brain to think of something suitably epic to qualify. True, there have been some excellent moments in games I’ve been in, and I don’t want any GMs to feel bad for not being the one who got a personal mention. That is why I have made a very self referential decision and decided to show off about one of my moments of epic GMing.

I know this is going to sound big headed, but please, bear with me. As I wrote recently, I was not the easiest gamer to get along with back in the day. I thank all of my current friends for sticking with me as long as they did, giving me the time to grow into the capable and socially aware gamer/GM I am today. The reason than I’m picking a moment of my own GMing for consideration is that it came during this rather bloody awkward phase of my life. I had bought my first full RPG system, the original Deadlands game, and had been running it for a few months with mostly positive results. I then decided to try something a bit different, and if it had gone wrong, it could have been catastrophic. What I did was simple in its way. I invited the players to tell me stories instead of having me tell them one for the night. It was a bit more involved in than that, and if you want the full details, and maybe even to try it out for yourself, then head on over to Stuffer Shack where I wrote about it as part of my weekly column.

It went superbly, and I can’t thank the players enough for joining in. It might seem like quite a bit of extra effort, but trust me, the pay off is worth it. So there you have it, a moment of GMing epicness, and it came from a rather annoying young man who had only just discovered the thrill of being a GM. Take from that hope, all new GMs, that when you have a crazy idea about doing something that seems totally off kilter, it could just end up being something that people still talk about for years to come.

Nov 122012

I almost didn’t write about this topic because of some slightly flawed logic. I reasoned that if this was a good idea, someone else must have had it already. So either the work had already been done by someone else, or it just wasn’t a good idea. In the end though I figured that even if it had been touched on in the past, other writers could have gotten to this point by following a different path. Also, if there are people who don’t like the idea, then at the least, I should explain to them why I like it based on my own experience.

This comes on the back of the first couple of sessions of my current campaign. The characters were all created in a vacuum because of the way the game was going to start. Details are through the previous link, but short story is that the characters don’t have a clue about the world they exist in. This meant that it was totally possible for someone to lovingly craft a character, and after two sessions realise that it is almost totally untenable based on the world they now find themselves in. I knew this could be an issue so I have offered everyone the option for a bit of a rebuild after the next game, just in case they’re unhappy.

I know from reading other blogs and opinions that there are people out there who might think I’m being a bit soft on my players. I’ve created “3d6 in order” characters in the past and had to struggle through with crappy stats. I know that sometimes these can be the most fun characters, but they can also be a total pain if you really don’t want to play a certain type of character. It’s why I always prefer the point build to the dice rolled character. My reasons for offering this concession are simple; running this game the way I am doing is a bit of an experiment for me, and if bits of it don’t go the way I want them to, then there’s no reason that the players should suffer. I want them to have fun, and if shunting a skill point or two round is going to help that happen, and as long as it does nothing to mess with the game for anyone else, then I say go for it.

The other way I could have done it, and this idea sadly came to me a week and a half too late, was to let them play the first game with just a character idea, and a few notes about what they would like to be. Any dice rolls would be random ways of determining things where a cut and dried yes or no wouldn’t make much sense, or I just didn’t want to assume automatic success on something plot related. Everything else would be up to the story each person wanted to tell about who their character was. The next week they turn up and we start putting points down for stats and skills, but would almost certainly carry on some light role playing as we did this to give everyone more chance to decide what direction they wanted their character build to go in. I would like to think that my players wouldn’t push their luck on this, and would see it as a fun way to end up with a character they were happy with.

Now, a few weeks back I said that this blog wouldn’t become just a vehicle to talk about my Cyberpunk campaign, so I thought I would try and apply this to a game I’m thinking about running in the future. Deadlands. If that word means nothing to you, click this link and read all about it. The time will not be wasted, trust me.

The plan is to run a military style campaign, with the player characters on one side of the civil war, fighting against the other. I’m not going to decide which side they’re on, as I think they should be able to pick that for themselves as a group. The game would start a little in the thick of it. The players’ unit already in trouble, in the middle of a fight, either trying to break through to an objective, or fleeing as their own lines have been shattered. Everyone would have a rough idea of the type of character they would like to play, but have no character sheets in front of them. Taking it a little for granted that they all survive – and since dice rolling will be to a minimum and the action more story based, it shouldn’t be too much a problem – then the week after, we start character creation. This has several positives; for the players it means they won’t be screwed by a character build that they loved before the campaign started but has no where to go in-game. There is even a bonus for me; in a military game, the chain of command will be important, and if I choose to let someone have an NCO rank, I will be able to pick that character after watching them in action. It’s much easier to asses who has any leadership ability after you’ve seen them under fire.

So, that’s the basic idea. Have any of my readers tried this? Did it work? Am I taking a huge risk? Do you think I’m an idiot? All comments welcomed, but keep the name calling to a minimum.