Friday, March 30, 2012

How is this game different from all other games?

I recently submitted an invitation for an RPG I want to run to a group of people. It's part of the process of game management my co-author and I are developing. In this case, the game serves as a test not of a system, but of how to start and run a role-playing game. Response has been slow, for a few reasons, and my co-... John, okay? Let's call him John. I'm writing this book with a friend named John; that's so much easier to type and less awkward to work into a sentence.

So, John and I have been engaged in an ongoing discussion about what might be going on here. The individual reasons aren't important to this post. What is important is that role-playing games aren't like many other games, and it requires things from the participants that are sometimes overlooked. As my group moves through the initiating phase of this game, some of these requirements are coming into focus, and I'll be putting them up in posts as they do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's This Game Management Thing?

If you've been playing RPGs for any length of time at all, you've already read some advice on game mastering. Just about every role-playing core book has a section on it. Maybe it's just how to GM that particular game and work its quirks, maybe it's a whole treatise on game mastering in general. There's no shortage of material out there on how to be a game master. Some of it's okay, some of it is excellent. So why write another book on the subject?

I'm not. Game mastering is a well tread ground and it's a rare text these days that says something other than the same old tired, worn out common wisdom. The gaming community doesn't need more of that.

What I'm writing about is game management. This project isn't going to include anything about typing your players, creating decision trees or illusions of choice, how to make memorable NPCs or any of that. That's game mastering.

So what's game management? The basic premise is that if you treat the hobby a little more like work, you ramp up the fun quotient dramatically by sidestepping a host of common issues that routinely crop up because of the miscommunication and ambiguity that a traditional "let's just game" approach causes. From dealing with characters that don't fit your game to managing conflict at the table, game management shows how if you treat your campaign like a project and put yourself in the role of project manager, you can run a game much more likely to end because you want it to, not because a handful of players decide they can't deal with each other anymore and quit in a huff after swearing they won't talk to each other anymore.

More later. Though in the meantime, I welcome you to leave your gaming horror stories/sticking points in the comments section of this and subsequent posts.