Dreifaltige Rollenspiel-Lektüre

Drei Falten mit einem Rollenspielerkopf dahinter, ergibt einen nachdenklichen, amüsanten und relativ bodenständigen Blick auf das was war, ist und möglicherweise in der Szene los sein wird.

Freitag, August 17, 2007

[Rant] Respecting your players- How many people wanna kick some ass? I do (but I’m really just a sensitive artist).

Meet the armchair GM. He is a really great guy, running an awesome campaign for his group for years, giving them exactly the type of game they enjoy. That’s why they always let him sit in the comfy chair during their games.

He’s a great guy and he knows it.

He has heard of some new games out there, maybe even tried one or two of them. He also heard about shared narration or similar techniques that differ from the traditional way of running a RPG (traditional in the sense of how he does it). Maybe he even tried adapting these techniques for his own game.

Finally he- based on personal experience or just plain dislike- he decided that these newfangled games and artsy-fartsy techniques are not for him and he heard similar opinions in his group.

That’s cool.

Now our GM doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Every once in a while he attends a convention, running games for others or even playing himself. Maybe he even takes an active part in the local RPG scene, meeting up with other roleplayers and talking with them outside of a game. But most likely he does what is easiest concerning his free time and the amount of time needed to prepare games for his group: he goes online, visiting RPG forums and websites.

That is where his problems begin.

Not only does he see many posters describing play styles distinctly different from his own, he also sees many threads complaining about games that went “wrong”. The number of these threads is due to the talk-show-like nature of the internet, where the most disturbed people get the most attention. People don’t want to hear about games running perfectly smooth, but about horribly fucked up ones. Also, GMs and players running games going perfectly well don’t have reason to post online about their exploits (except maybe they like to brag and/or are posting in those special “actual play” forums to have the others tell them how they managed to rock so well (yes, there are some awesome GMs who can’t describe what makes them awesome)).

Our armchair GM, however, comes to a very different conclusion:
Giving the players more control over the game is in some way an inherently “bad” thing and GMs who fail do so, because they don’t manage to properly “rein in” the game.

This is a load of bull, of course.

But our GM is not used to being wrong once in a while and him being the sole authority in his group works out well doesn’t it? Why would anyone want to share the distribution of narrative control he worked so hard to achieve in his games? Surely “shared narration” is something a great part of the gamer are opposed to and only a conspiracy of non-gamers are trying to force it down their throats.

Well, it may be, that they don’t want it all the time, personally I’m just as happy to ride along a game with a GM in the drivers seat as am I to strain my mental faculties to keep up with the imagination of my co-players to craft an appealing and entertaining narrative. It all depends on the mood I’m in at the moment.

And so far every single time I demoed Primetime Adventures the players latched onto the concept of shared narration and began to explore it. Those sceptical of the concept go through a couple of phases before they finally embrace it, but they all go through them the same. The first phase is Disbelief (“No, this can’t be! Surely there can’t be a good game if the players are in charge”). The second is Ridicule, where the players try to test the limits of their narrative freedom (“Hey, lets make a completely bogus series about underwater cops battling the evil terrorist Skelleton… to save their girlfriends!”(1) ), expecting that at some point the GM will step over what they created in order to make something more sensible out of it. If this doesn’t happen and the Moderator just rolls with the concepts they create, it begins to dawn on them, that they are the sole authorities responsible for the consistency of their game world- a phase of intense Fascination. Realizing they have creative control goes a long way towards phase four, where the players a are gripped by the creative fervour of Achievement and get really wild with breathing life into their creation, beginning to add little facts and factoids, cool scenes and other neat things to embellish the work. Finally, after all is done and the session comes to satisfying conclusion, the players get the sense of Contentment in seeing how things worked out from the simple beginnings to its great result.

But gamers who haven’t played the game usually don’t get to this phase. They huddle in the relative safety of their “gated communities” like therpgsite and are trying to come up with reasons why this game cannot work. That even associating with someone who espouses these ideas would be somehow dangerous and detrimental to “the war”.

Here’s a question to you dweebs: when was the last time you actually WENT OUT and demoed your favourite game to newbies? When was the last time you where actually playing YOURSELF? When was the last time you actually thought I wish the GM would shut up, because I don’t want to know about the details of how we open the door- I want to see what is in the very next room. In fact, wouldn’t it be cool if it was XY, because this would totally rock on toast?

This goes double to you guys at rpgnet: Stop blabbing about how cool game XY is, GET OUT THERE AND PLAY IT, DAMMIT. Don’t waste your time trying to convince newbies on the internet to give it a try, because they are not going to understand why the game is so much fun in this way. And most of all: don’t argue with idiots dissing the game, because on this territory it’s a war you can’t win.

It all comes down to respecting the choices of the players and in this vein it is a moral choice: Do you trust new players to make up their minds THEMSELVES about what kind of games they want to play? Or do you think they need to be “protected” from the “dangerous world of RPGs” and carefully initiated, lest their fragile minds crumple and they ditch the hobby forever.

If you think the latter I think you are full of shit. Yes, I’m also talking to you, Mr-beginners-and-girls-should-only-play-rules-lite. Heres a news flash: there are girls who can kick your ass when it comes to math. And there are nine-year-olds who master quadrillions of pages of Magic and/or Pokemon rules without breaking a sweat.

Think your measly little brain poses a challenge to them?


Yeah, didn’t think so, too.

Thanks for the attention. Class dismissed.


(1) I totally ran this once. And would do so again, anytime.

1 Kommentare:

Anonymous ghoul meinte...

:-)

August 25, 2007 11:21 vorm.  

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