Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2017-02-06 3

Another week. Another missed deadline. Ah well… My weekends are usually jam-packed with goodness with the family and friends and gaming and such. This weekend was no different, but we also had prep for the Super Bowl and gathering together to watch the event. This added to the crazy of the weekend, so here I am at the Day Job with a chance to relax and type this up. (Also, my usual time for prepping this article on Friday afternoon/evening was consumed with crazy at work and a busy evening.)

On with the links!

Locations: Finding the lay of the LAND

LAND: Location Type, Areas, Natives, and Disposition. This is a brilliant and simple approach at developing a setting. This is not only going into my GM’ing toolkit, but my writing one as well. This is a fantastic approach at creating a setting.

Why Are Stories So Important In Video Games? A lesson for RPG Campaigns

Mike hits the high points on why story is important in video games and brings it home to talk about the importance of story in RPGs. This is a great article, but I’m going to take my comments in a different direction. There are only so many types of plots (3, or 5, or 7, or 11, or 21… depending on who you ask). However, there are an infinite number of stories out there in the world. The stories are in the execution of the plot. If I were to give a plot idea (or even a serious outline) to two different writers, I’d get back two different stories… with some similarities. This means that just because “it’s been done before” doesn’t mean you can’t sit down and tell your own story based on past ideas or concepts. This also means you can sit down, come up with a “it’s been done before” campaign or adventure seed, and then execute it in your own way. It’s the storytelling that is fun and exciting, not the plotting part. (Confession: I actually enjoy plotting, but not as much as writing the story.) So… Find those plots you love, adopt them to your game table, and see what sort of storytelling fun you can have with your friends at the table.

Fun Winter Themed Challenges

I needed Matt’s article about two months ago. While it’s late spring in my game’s timeline, the group is atop the highest mountain in the area during a storm. This means lots of snow and ice and cold and other wintery goodness. When they found refuge in a giant cube (eighty feet per side) made of obsidian, I went with strange and weird body-horror golems as the inhabitants. I think a better theme would have been the winter themes Matt talks about in his post. Now to save up these ideas for a future set of encounters or an adventure.

Ask The GMs: Shared Worlds and Co-GMs

I’ve only tempted to share a non-published world with my fellow GMs once. We got so bogged down in the world creation (and waiting for the late submissions from some of the less productive GMs) that we never got the world off the ground, let alone started gaming in it. I’ve also never co-GM’d a game before. I’ve seen it done. I’ve been a player in one game that was run that way, but I’ve never shared the GM creativity side of things with someone else. I guess that’s because I’m a wee bit of a control freak. I guess I’m more of a “control monger” than a “freak” about it, but the concept still prevents me from diving in. However, I’ve been part of a shared-concept anthology (I was editor, publisher, and one of the authors on the project). That was quite a bit of fun, but each story is self-contained and only loosely tied by the anthology’s theme. Could I co-GM or co-create a world? Even though Mike’s article is packed full of great advice, I don’t think I could bring myself to do it. Just not my cup o’ tea.

Running a Sandbox Campaign: Explain Everything

This is a neat concept of explaining the consequences of actions before the dice are rolling. It amps up the tension of the die roll quite a bit, but it also tears down the “fourth wall” of gaming and makes the little lump of plastic more important than the story being told. I do like this idea, but I think I’ll make sure I reserve the “explain everything” approach for key moments when the fate of a character, important NPC, or the entire party is on the line.

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3 thoughts on “Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2017-02-06

  1. Mike Bourke Feb 6,2017 6:59 PM

    Hi JT,

    I find that the number of “basic plots” is largely a question of how severely one generalizes, or perhaps, overgeneralizes. Take, for example, the “quest” plot, in which difficulties must be overcome in order to achieve a difficult objective – distinction is rarely made between plots in which those difficulties are external (terrain, enemies, security, etc) and those in which they are internal (confidence issues, commitment issues, etc), and yet I would consider them to be quite different. So I always take such summations with a grain of salt. (Maybe I should write an article about that sometime…)

    Be that as it may, I think you need variety of plots in a game; endlessly recycling just one or two can become boring. But, even more boring is not having a story at all…

    As for the Co-GMing – you might be surprised. I would have described myself in very similar terms before I tried it! The original intent was for me simply to add a little game-mechanics and plotting expertise, but my co-GM was insistent that I should be a full collaborator, and has been proven right. I still do most of the talking when we’re behind the screen together, but when he speaks up I keep my mouth shut. And the fun you can have as two NPCs in conversation more than makes up for the minimum amount of control conceded.

    • J.T. Evans Feb 6,2017 7:49 PM

      I agree that trying to limit the number of “unique plots” is a fruitless effort. That’s why I stated a wide range of numbers. It really depends on who you ask and what factors they’re trying to take into account with filtering all of the plots that exist down into a finite number.

      If I can get a large enough group together, I might try it. I do have a large group for my monthly Pathfinder game, but unless I just flat quit as GM, they’re not going to step up and try to run a game. I don’t even think they’d be interested in co-GMing. They’re more “casual players” (which is what I call folks who only look at the dice/books/character sheets/etc. when the game is ACTUALLY going on.) If I could get a group of “serious” (strange to call playing a game serious…) players, then I might bring it up.

      I can see how having two NPCs conversing in front of the group would be a hoot! That’s great. I can already visualize it happening.

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