Well, it has been quite a bit of time since I’ve been able to write about #RPGaDAY. Truthfully, I was busy laying out roleplaying game books and other miscellany. One of these projects was Unknown Armies, which has a group setting and character creation section that’s really fun, which leads into this day’s question about the role of a GM in your games.
I started gaming in the 1980’s. Back then, the way to play roleplaying games was you players were just that: playing in the GM’s story. The person making up the game world and the story was a Dungeon Master or a Game Master. That guy was never referred to as a “player”. Most games didn’t allow for any player to affect the world except for reacting.
Oh, I love this question (again, supplied from Tracy Barnett): How did the RPGs I’ve played shape the gamer I am now? It’s a different question from the real question for day, “Which gamer most affected the way you play?” But there is a bit of overlap.
There are moments in one’s gaming life where something clicks and is so profound it changes how you run (or play) the games you enjoy so. Here, I’m thinking about five different games: InSpectres; Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; (a game session of) Shadowrun, 4th Edition; Burning Wheel; and Apocalypse World.
So, Day 23 is Perfect Game for Me on #RPGaDAY2015.
I’ve been paying attention as I’ve been writing, and common themes come up:
Player investment and ownership in what happens at the table, outside of just reacting to the setting and story.
A fast-playing system for what goes on under the hood. Something interesting to interact with but not so elaborate that it detracts from the story formed at the game table.
A game system that informs the game’s players what the game is designed for.
A low prep time for the game’s facilitator.
Three games instantly spring to mind: Inspectres, Lady Blackbird, and Primetime Adventures.
InSpectres really shines with the Confessional bit where characters reveal that the game is a reality tv show and they can introduce elements into the “now” that weren’t shown on screen earlier. It’s also a fast system with very little prep from the Ghost Master (or whatever the GM is called in that game). Get it now for $10!
Lady Blackbird does a similar thing that InSpectre’s Confessional Scenes do with the refreshement scenes — especially the scenes that are done as flashbacks. Both games’ scenes increase the player’s investment into the game and let the players dictate how some of the story is going. And a bonus: neither game needs any prep. Get it now for free!
Primetime Adventures doesn’t need any prep, either. Just show up and run. Plus, the game is set up to have the players create a great deal of the story, force the GM to focus on all characters equally over the course of a series, gets the players to reward each other for entertaining everyone at the table , and there’s also the Audience Participation rules that lets everyone play the game. Get it now for $10!
Did I mention there’s no prep for these games? I really don’t have much time to prepare for a game; these three games are literal time-savers. InSpectres is great for (Ghostbusters-flavored) comedy, Lady Blackbird is great for action, Primetime Adventures is great for drama.
Edit: You know, I’m going to add Apocalypse World to that list. It hits everything, except for generating the fronts after character generation. But once that’s done, it’s smooth sailing from then on. AW also has my favorite game system, but you can read more about that on an earlier day’s entry.
Remember that the GM — or whatever term you use for that facilitator role — is also playing the game. [↩]
Although the “once per game” or whatever limitation the Confessional Scenes has in the game is fun-limiting. Just go to Confessional whenever the players want. [↩]
InSpectres is available in PDF only through that link. I am not sure where you can get a physical copy. [↩]
Which will probably come up again in Day 24’s “Favorite House Rule” post [↩]
It is a $25+ for a physical copy of PTA, depending on where your mail box lives. [↩]