Posts Tagged ‘musings’

I’ve been absent from the blog for a bit of time due to sheer work, but I’ve had a little time to myself and I’d like to take a moment to put my thoughts to paper with regards to something my wife and I were talking about the other night.

She’d mentioned that ever since she’d given birth to our (now 2 and a half year old ) little boy, I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for certain games that I long considered my specialties. Among these would be Mage: the Awakening and perhaps to a lesser extent games like Exalted.

Still love this image, though

As with most things, she’s right. It was a strange phase in my gaming career as a GM where I couldn’t really get my head in the game. And it was only a few nights ago, over dinner that we were able to determine why.

I’m currently running two campaigns: an all-Scorpion Clan game of Legend of the Five Rings, and the stellar Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign for Call of Cthulhu. And in both of these, my wife felt that I was much more my old self. That got us thinking about why that was.

Ultimately, we settled on the fact that my outlook on life has been altered somewhat by the birth of our son. Before then, I was perfectly happy to run games that was full of darkness and vain hope. John Constantine’s Hellblazer was a big thing for me, and a part of me actually enjoyed the fact that the Exalts were doomed to repeat the mistakes of their past in Exalted.

It finally dawned on me as to what made playing these games (CoD, WoD, Scion and Exalted) so difficult now: The player characters are essentially their own worst enemy. Each one of the characters are fundamentally flawed to the point that they are doomed to sabotage their own efforts at finding happiness.

And I can’t subscribe to that mindset anymore.

But now that I’m caring for a little version of myself, I find it much for more difficult for me to get into that headspace. Instead, I’m gravitating towards games where the player character motives are ultimately better than those of the bad guys.

Prettier too

So where does this leave me with regards to those other games then? Well, for now, they’ve earned their place on my shelf, and I’ve made many, many good memories from running Mage and Exalted. But that said, I think it’s time for me to retire them from my rotation for now, and focus on learning (and running) other games, like Modiphius’ stellar lineup of games like Star Trek Adventures, Conan and Achtung! Cthulhu.

I’m also looking into learning games I’ve skipped before during the haze that was my wife’s pregnancy and the first year of my son’s life. I’ve been reading up on 7th Sea in hopes of being able to run it, and Shadowrun 5th Edition has been something of a personal challenge to figure out.

In any case, all of this thinking has left me somewhat more optimistic. There’s a huge amount of RPGs out there that are worth checking out, and if anything I’ve found a new kind of freedom in this new state of mine.

Onward, and upward we go!


Musings on GMless Games and Giving Up Control

Posted: January 9, 2014 by pointyman2000 in Roleplaying Games

GMing used to be about control. In early RPGs, the GM is the ultimate End-all-and-be-all, the Alpha and the Omega. As the ultimate authority in a game, the GM enjoyed the final say on how things were in a game.

Recently however, that attitude has begun to relax, as systems start shifting towards games which share control among the players to varying degrees, ranging from giving players the ability to edit a scene or change elements in a game, to removing the need for a GM altogether.

As a GM who became fully committed to the hobby back in the 90’s, I’m not quite old enough to say that I’m an old school GM, but I can say that the systems with a much more relaxed attitude is new to me.

Ultimately, the difference between both schools of mechanics is an issue of responsibility and control. In the traditional setup, the GM is beholden to the players. Since he’s responsible for everything, he has to spend his free time plotting and planning and statting up challenges that will entertain his entire group. As payoff, he gets to make the final call on how things happen, as that power is necessary for him to fulfill his responsibility.

With the other method, the players share this load of responsibility and control upon themselves, with each one now having to think not just of how their characters behave and react, but now have to find ways to engage their characters in adventures as well.

My personal preference lies towards the traditional method, as it preserves the ability to surprise people. In a shared system, there are no real surprises beyond the dice roll. Without a central GM to think up of plots and schemes that you don’t know of, the element of surprise and discovery is muted. Certainly there can be entertaining twists and a game of that method can be entertaining, but sometimes being taken by surprise is a good thing.

That’s probably why I like the traditional method best. I enjoy the fact that I can’t tell what the GM has planned, and have many great memories of when a GM pulls a fast one on me. I’ve not played that many games (having GMed most of my gaming career) but the moments where a GM springs a surprise are among the most memorable and entertaining to me.

But that’s me, what do you guys think of relinquishing control? Is it better than the traditional method? Do you have any stories to share about how a game like that turned out great? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

Hey everyone,

Apologies for the extended absence, but with my wedding last weekend, the past few days have been a blur. I’ve moved in with my wife and I’m adjusting to life in a single-bedroom apartment and having a cat as a constant presence. Things are shaping up pretty well, and I’ve managed to more than double the number of books in her bookshelf, despite having to leave a great many books behind.

There’s a good number of things that have yet to be done, but things are looking good. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into a rhythm of posting regularly again, starting off with a First Impressions review of the Fading Suns Revised Player’s Guide. Something I’ve been meaning to work on after I did the Blue Planet article.

Outside of the blog, I’m trying to get a gaming group together again to play something. Question is: What to play? I’ve a few friends who seem particularly interested in playing Qin: the Warring States, as well as Fading Suns. They’re also the same two players who will be out of the country for a few weeks, to visit the US. I suspect that they’ll be scouring bookstores for a copy of the new Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG as well.

So my choices so far are Asian Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Supers and Horror. It’s quite a spread, and I’m trying to come down on a decision of which game I’ll be able to do the most justice to. After all, I don’t want to offer up a lackluster game, I want something as interesting and awesome as my “Never A Dull Blade” campaign for Legend of the Five Rings.