Okay, so at this point the title is an exercise in hyperbole. I get that and I hope to be back to normal (…) soon. Being sick is officially not fun anymore.
I read another interesting post today from Trollsmyth and it’s exciting how sometimes I find myself blogging about something and along come others writing about the same (or similar) things. I love how that happens. Check out what he has to say for another interesting read (and you can keep following the chain back to the post he was responding to…)
But, to get to my point — I think a lot of what people worry about (both GMs and players) is that heavy-GM involvement in the game will somehow “ruin” the fun. Trollsmyth encourages “situation not story” which I think sums up my GMing style for the best games I’ve ever run, but I also think that it doesn’t go far enough… I think the situation IS the story — GMs set up the pins, players knock them down — and as a game grows up, the players will have more pins of their own in play and can start to be the ones setting up the pins AND the ones knocking them down.
I made mention yesterday to the idea that a big part of my character’s story in the Jedi game evolved out of the GM creating an NPC he felt very comfortable with and my character becoming very involved with that NPC — long-term and romantically. But I have also seen a throw away NPC that was never meant to stick around be latched onto by a player (or a whole group) and become seriously important to the campaign over time. So, take that as you will.
Ultimately, what has me going on and on about this is — I want to run a game with a lot of secrets. Secrets kept from the players. Secrets about their own PCs. I want the game to run similar to the mortals games I mentioned before — the PCs are seemingly normal people, living seemingly normal lives (but they all know that they are different in some way and work together to hide that subtle difference). Over time, the problems start to stack up, they begin to have visions of pasts they don’t remember living, and their weirdness begins to grow — creepingly — until they are ultimately forced to face the unknowns around them. I don’t want to say too much because if potential players read this I don’t want spoilers…
But I’m afraid to run this game. I don’t know that it has any chance of working.
1. If your GM pitched a game full of secrets where you played a pregenerated character, would you be willing?
2. Would you be interested in a game designed to run for a while in order to unravel the layers of your personal mystery?
3. What if you didn’t have any say in your background — but were asked to take up the challenge of playing a character handed to you by someone else?
Sounds pretty daunting. I’ve done exactly that several times and had amazing gaming experiences come out of it — but I’m a gamerholic — I’ll play anything. I see this as a tough sell to most of the gamers I know or interact with on a regular basis. Nothing wrong with them, it’s a lot to ask.
I’ve been thinking about some ways to get around this — doing joint sessions for character creation where everyone defines the group dynamic together and then having breakout sessions with individuals — kind of a riff off of the Prelude-style of WoD.
I could also let each player define some aspect of what the initial “weird powers” of the group are and let them be involved in designing some of their surrounding NPCs (like their families) but this presents its own problems with adding to the player workload.
And then there’s the loss of control when it comes to advancement. Players will have only partial control over “spending XP.” I will be the one manipulating and advancing their powers/weirdness as the game goes on.
So, I’m afraid to try this experiment. I don’t want to front load the work in my already insane schedule for a game that never gets off the ground. I dunno — any other thoughts, ideas, suggestions, wicked condemnations? I’m ready.
Thanks again for reading.