Personal Gaming Style

The problem with taking a break from blogging, is getting back into it after a hiatus. I honestly don't know what to talk about today, but if I don't do something, then I won't do anything.

I suppose a good topic for the day is my own personal style, and how I like to run my games. It is pretty straight forward, I think that starting a character off on 1st level, and working your way up is more rewarding then starting out at some mid-level. I also strive to keep things as close to the core as possible, within the limitations of the game itself, and the players themselves. I'd like to have all of the characters roll 3d6 when creating a character, but I find that there are just so many mental blocks with that system. Players feel that if they don't have high stats then their characters are worthless. I honestly don't think that this is true, and folks have played with high stat characters for so long that they are used to having bonuses for everything, which is the root of the problem. High stats make the game easier, and I think that we DMs do a disservice to the game by allowing everybody to reroll ones and twos, or however else we've figured just to make players happy, but on the same token, if we don't make the players happy, then we won't have any. Thus, I usually allow the players some leway, but I don't allow super-characters with that method.

My daily sessions are fairly easy to manage. I decide the theme, which is in direct relation to the setting. I use long term goals, as well as short term goals. Sometimes something doesn't work, so the next game, I'll focus on how to improve things. For instance if the characters are on a ship, and it just doesn't feel like they are traveling on a ship, then I will brainstorm fun ways to figure out how to mold day to day life on board of a ship, and intermingle it with adventure. Figure out a few pitfalls, and how the players can work together to survive or what have you.

I don't run modules, and I have strayed away from fixed story-lines, however not completely. I feel that any extreame is a bad thing for the game. If we spend to much time writing an unmutable story, then we don't have any true encounters and we've turned the game into simply dice rolling which looses its fun after a while. But on the other side of the coin, if we allow to much freedom, then we aren't as prepaired as we should be, and the players may become lost, or not know what to do all the time.

One of the most annoying kinds of DM's to me, are the lazy ones. The ones that expect you to do all the work for them, and that just isn't the players job. The kind of people that just sit there, and expect you to figure out what you want to do that day when you have no idea as to what the setting is, or what is in the area. I do my best to avoid doing that. I'll figure out what short term goal can be accomplished in the next session, and build it up. If I feel that we've done something for too long and we could use a break then I'll write up a quick mini-plot. Failure to achieve the mini-plot will cost the team a little bit, and success will give them a slight edge, but it is more about the trip itself. Each session must have something to do, and I honestly rack my brain to make where they are appear to be as real and as fleshy as possible.

I prefer to have a nice map in front of me, a list of NPC enemies, I figure out their goal, and what would happen if the PC's never got involved. From there, I can determine what each NPC is doing, and allow them to react to the Players plans, whatever insane crap that they can come up with. I don't know about anybody else, but my players can put a wrench in any idea of mine, just by showing up on Game Day. Stuff that I just never figured out and wasn't prepaired for, like throwing rocks through the window of a wererats safe-house. That simple decision changed everything imidiately, but thankfully I was prepaired for anything and the game turned out to be one of the funnest to DM.


Timeshadows said...

I have thought, from the beginning of reading your blog, that you show enormous love and passion for the game, and that your foundational belief in having a consistent ruling, straight from the core, has been straightforward, and laudable.

I'm not that keen on 2e, but I do have some good memories of it. That it is your chosen system, and that you have such encyclopaedic knowledge of it demonstrates the calibre of GM you are.

I would gladly play in your game, were I given the opportunity. :D

Tala said...

You should try living with him sometime :) I remember way back when, when he and I had first met, and me and some of my miscreant minions reintroduced him to the game. By that time, I had been gaming for what had seemed like forever, and had cut my teeth on AD&D. At that time, I was just switching over to 2e. A lot of us took turns DMing, and when Rip decided that he wanted to give it a go, we let him. He did ok at first. He really got wrapped up in Ravenloft and had DM'ed that setting the most. The only bad part, was usually I was the only consistent player at every game. Rip was still getting his feet wet, so at the time he liked to throw the Night of the Walking Dead module at them. I couldn't tell you how many times I had played that module. It would make you sick. However, like a good friend, I sat there and played stupid and played through the game.

Since that time, he has turned into one helluva DM. He's taken some criticisms well, and others, well let's just say there's been some serious discussions between us over disagreements. ;P As far as a DM, if we the players have a disagreement with something that is going on during play, we can for the most part argue it out and he will listen. It might take some major convincing because he can be so damned stubborn, but if we can prove our case, he'll let us have it.

I'm really proud of the DM he's turned into. He knows how to produce a good story line and get us wrapped up into it. One game that we've had within the last year had such a good story to it, that myself and another player were able to roleplay our characters for well over an hour, without a single dice being thrown. We just took what he gave us and ran with it. One of the more memorable games I've ever played in. That's a sign of a good DM. He forces us to use our brains more than relying on die rolls. That's the stuff I love.

Thanks for the great games honey! Can't wait to get back to London...;)

RipperX said...

Thank you Timeshadows, the highest praise in these parts! I know that the internet has improved my game considerably, and you are teased by wishing to play under many of the DM's running these blogs. And thank you to you too, oh wife of mine, those are some sweet words, and I can't thank you enough for putting up with that mod, I wouldn't had gotten my crap together without your help:)

Valandil said...

Darn it,after two comments like that I´ve got nothing...
Jokes aside,its always nice to know this kind of stuff from the authors,it allows every reader to know a few things that cant be seen otherwise,things that make understanding your articles a bit easier. As always,a very interesing post Mr Rip.

RipperX said...

Thank you Valandil, it is always an honor to have your presence felt here, not to mention all of the support which you so graciously offer.

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