Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who to game with? Part II

So, in my last post I presented the gaming styles that I'm interested in as a GM and the playing styles of the gamers in my existing group. There are some clear ways in which there isn't a perfect match between my GMing desires and my players. There are two philosophies about how to resolve these apparent differences. The first philosophy is the first rule of GMing as proposed by one of my friends, "Give the players what they want". In this philosophy I have two choices, run a game that my players want, or get a new batch of players to play the game I want to run. In the second philosophy I observe the wisdom of many collective GMs and prevent burnout by focusing on the game I'm interested in. This doesn't necessarily conflict with philosophy number one, it just trends toward getting the group of players that are willing to play the game I want to run.

The problem with abstract philosophies like this though is that they don't take the human element into account. In my situation it boils down to this: I don't want to eliminate my time with my friends by creating a new gaming group to play out my ideal vision for a campaign style nor am I willing to decrease my enjoyment of my gaming time by totally sacrificing my ideal vision for campaign style to accommodate the first preference of my existing group of potential players (who are also my friends). In other words, my goal in creating the campaign is to find a way to both have the style of game I'm interested in and to generate a game that my players will enjoy. The trick is to find a way of accomplishing those goals and I think that this human principle will be one of the guiding motivations in the subsequent discussions. How can I generate and maintain story deep enough to bring me joy and provide enough power, crunch, and butt kick and that my players motivated in that direction will still be interested.

So are some of the ways I'm hoping this gaming group can come together. (1) The cross over player will be leaving the groups and moving out of the area in a few months. This is a big key because as mentioned he is very opinionated about GMing. Without him in the group, things I do outside of his style will not be objected to immediately drawing more focus and attention of the other power gamers to those points. This will allow me the freedom I need to develop a GMing style outside of his expectations and more in line with my own. Also, without him as the ring leader of discontent, I hope to be able to meet the needs of the other power gamers and to focus on story. (2) I really want to find a way to bring Man 3 from the GM group (remember he's the Method actor/Storyteller) over to the player group. This will add another actor/story teller combo over to the group and balance out of the two remaining power gamers. Even if (1) and (2) don't happen I think it is still possible for me to have the GMing experience I'm looking for provided that I do the following step. (3) Introduction and expectation setting at the beginning of the campaign. I think that this is going to be huge in terms of preventing dissatisfaction and in helping everyone co-create a gaming experience with the same goals in mind. The introduction should include everything from the gaming world, the tone (horror, tragic, or heroic), the power level progression, the presence or absence of character death, the reward system (e.g., storytelling emphasis), and a few more elements.

In order to accomplish this communication, I will have to be clear first about what I want so that I can present it and once I'm clear and I'm ready to bring my ideas to the group, I need to be ready for their input. Again allowing them to cocreate expectations but from the initial position and trajectory that can satisfy my GMing desires. The next few posts will be my process of getting clear about the elements that I'll need to communicate to my group in order to make the expectations of the players fit the campaign I'm willing to run.

1 comment:

  1. I think number three is hugely important. I'd even get a bit of a contract written up, so that when/if bitching happens, you can whip out the contract and have a discussion about the previously agreed upon parameters of the campaign.