Today’s offering is a guest post from a friend who I’ve asked to write about her experiences running a game for the first time. Its been so long for me, I wanted a fresh take on life behind the screen. She’ll be visiting us when she can… Enjoy.
What was I thinking? I mean… really?
So I’ve been doing the regular gaming thing for about a year and a half now, apart from a single disastrous session of Dungeons and Dragons during my sophomore year of college with my good friend Samantha. (Note to readers: Never try to reason with a dire wolf. It’s still a vicious, vicious animal.)
I have played Amber, 3.5 and 4th edition D&D, Battletech, and a number of other games that all come with their own very full, colorful worlds and strange mechanics with various levels of complexity. I have played characters that ranged from a tiny, red-headed chaos sorcerer with a cowardly dragon familiar, to a sociopathic troll that screams in Japanese and wields a deadly katana. In other words, without going into long-winded reminisces about my (better than yours) characters and the shenanigans that we got ourselves into, I’ve done the player thing, and felt like it was time I took the next step. I decided to take a stab at the game master thing.
I decided that, for my first game ever, I would run a Shadowrun campaign with players from RG’s (Rhetorical Gamer… Michael) old Shadowrun game. It’s probably my absolute favorite role-playing game (Amber just relies so much on a good group).
The world is exhilarating. There are dragons running cities and corporations. There are Corporations that run countries and organized crime families. There are troll mages with human twin sisters that build drones, drive tricked-out vans, antagonize elf-gangs and perform heists. The players experience magic wards, matrix manipulators, shape-shifters and cyber ware enhanced combat monsters that try to keep you from exacting justice, or just making a quick nuyen (money) in the future’s dark underbelly.
The mechanics are exhausting. I watched a game master and a player character do algebra for an hour once just to figure out the right amount of plastic explosive used to blow off a car tire. Combat rounds that last three seconds in the game world can take up to 45 minutes of real time. I have never seen anyone play a technomancer just because the GM’s have begged them not to. I played a rigger whose drones worked, basically, on sheer willpower and love because a whole gaming group could not really figure out how they worked. By the time we really understood it, the game was over.
My point is: Should I have picked a less rule-intensive game to run my first time around? I picked it because I was passionate about the game, knew a lot about the setting, and have seen two good game masters with very different styles run the system. I am (overly?) concerned, however, about my lack of quick-knowledge about the rules. As the game progresses, I guess I’ll find out.
Right now, my players have all played at least once, and built their characters with that experience. I’m both amazed and a little intimidated.
Questions I will be addressing soon based on experimentation:
-How much preparation is really necessary? Thinking about the paths the players could choose: Contacts, fights (you’d be surprised where players decide to pick a fight), random NPCs in bars and restaurants, etc. I will keep in mind that players will always find a way to do something that makes you face-palm or laugh out loud in incredulity.
– How much fudging will I actually do during a game? Rules and Rolling, Correctness over quickness, keeping players happy and having a good story vs. actually playing it out the way it should/would happen, etc.
-Does “mood music” add or detract from the gaming experience? Distracting? If not, what kind of music would be appropriate?
-How will my players affect the game pertaining to their level of role-play and knowledge of the mechanics? I really hope I answer this question with some really interesting anecdotes… actually maybe I don’t hope that so much.
I’ll be addressing many more questions and obstacles that I run into, and sometimes I’ll just discuss some of the unexpected, ridiculous things that I’m sure will happen. One session down and I have already been caught off-guard by my players.
Until then! Wish me luck!