Thursday, September 11, 2014

Your Consistent Game

What is your greatest tool as a GM? It depends on the situation, of course, and in general it's your imagination and ability to convey details that conjures the imaginations of your players. In almost every situation, in fact, that's your best tool and really what you should focus on developing, because a player will forgive every other gaming sin so long as they have a good time.

But not today.

Today, we discuss what is arguably even more important than imagination. You can evoke cinematic moments and sprawling vistas to varying degrees, but there's one thing you need every second you run your game: consistency.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Uncertainty Principle as Applied to Gaming

The uncertainty principle is pretty simple, at least at its most basic form: the physical properties of a particle can occupy all possible complementary variables at the same time until observed.

Uh, so maybe not so simple. But if you oversimplify it, you get the following: nothing is certain until it's observed.

This is a major key to world-building in games. Players aren't going to see most of the work you do, so if you make a decision about the world but it never comes up, you should consider yourself free to change it. Did you plan on that desert continent having a thriving dragon population? Well if nobody mentioned that to the characters (at least, nobody reliable) feel free to ax it before the PCs get there. Weren't planning on having the main antagonist be involved in a particular adventure? If it serves the story better, time to have his ship land right next to the group's.

When you're sitting at the head of the table, your butt is planted firmly in the hot seat and it can be hard to see things from the players' perspective. It's outright anxious being there with your entire creation under such heavy scrutiny. But you have to remember the players see less than you think; even if you let the curtain slip and show the machinery a bit, they won't care and might even ignore it. So if something doesn't come up or it's not set in stone, don't be afraid to play around with it.

That said, if you state something definitive about any given part of the world, the players will expect you to keep your word. While the best way to deal with this is to make sure everything is consistent from the word "go," it's also a good idea to keep notes about yourself, what you say is true in the world and what isn't. Saying it through an NPC is one thing -- they could be mistaken or simply lying. But if it's coming from you, it should be gospel.

Your players there to have fun, same as you. Give them the opportunity to have some, but leave enough space left that even you can be surprised and delighted by turns of events.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Game Before the Players

There's a fire in your blood. The itch has started behind your eyes. Your eyes keep flitting to those thick, dusty books on the shelf, to the felt and canvas bags full of dice. Like a wolf in the night, gaming is calling out to you to return to the pack, and this time, it's your turn to buy the pizza.

All right, so maybe for other people the urge to game doesn't come on like a cocaine addiction, but to me I can't imagine anything better in life than sitting around a table with friends, eating and drinking and rolling dice. But there's some prep work to be done, and it can get intense.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Shift in Tone

Short post for now, but I figured I'd mark for posterity where the blog changed focus.

Previously, this blog had been called Captain Raspberry Blogs the Universe, as it was mostly a blog about my struggles with writing and the components of storytelling. I've had some good times with it, but keeping it updated has been a hassle.

Now, however, there's going to be a change. Starting today, the blog's new title is The Captain's Table, and its primary function will be about discussing gaming -- of the tabletop and video variety -- and the storytelling components therein.

(I'm also leaving myself plenty of wiggle room to talk about anything else that comes up.)

Based on my previous experience, I'm going to set an update schedule of Mondays and Wednesdays. We'll see how long I can stay on that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gaming in Franchises

Never believe a word I say about updating on time. It's all lies.

What isn't full of deception, however, is the content of my posts. I do care a lot about writing, and I've been gaming a lot recently. Let's talk about that second bit.