My philosophy as a game master

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willpell
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My philosophy as a game master

Post by willpell » Fri May 11, 2018 9:30 pm

This will be an archive of things I have written over the years which specifically pertain to the Game Master's art in D&D or similar games. Everything I say here is my own opinion, and others are welcome to disagree; this is just what I feel to be correct in my own personal experience.

"Fun" is not an incredibly difficult thing to achieve; children have been playing with blocks and dolls and toy guns for many years, having "fun" without anyone having to go to any great effort or feel any pride in their accomplishment. So when I bust my hump and wrack my brain crafting a D&D world, I aim for something a bit more highfalutin' than "fun". "Magnificence", perhaps; a glorious achievement of superlative storytelling, which inspires awe and delight in those who see my world come alive in excruciating detail before their eyes. Of course, I have trouble reaching a bar that high, but at least I've got something to work toward.

The White Wolf splatbook model would apply well to D&D, with race books, class books, and environment books. However I would deviate from their precedent in one respect; critical setting information which potentially affects all splats should never be hidden away in a topical sourcebook, where the generalist GM will never find it. Instead, the contents of the book should be all perspective or localization, showing how a single scenario is viewed through different eyes. The use of a timeline and a map is useful for this; have the dates given different names and the maps drawn in different hands, but with enough recognizable parallels that they piece together into a cohesive whole, if anyone cares enough to add a given segment.
(2018 Will talking here. I would add that since the company's goal is to sell books and employ writers, this sort of thing works at least as well from that perspective, but vastly improves utility to the players. Instead of putting elf-only feats in "Racebook: Elves", just write a really detailed series of story vignettes, which someone who doesn't know how to roleplay an elf can use as a primer for bringing their character to life, filling them with plot hooks and story seeds but avoiding actual rules data.)

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Sturm
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Re: My philosophy as a game master

Post by Sturm » Fri May 11, 2018 9:59 pm

I'd like once to have the same high aim, but now I think that strive for fun is better, as unfortunately narration is for most people not as immersive as video or games, and they have difficulties imagining in details and focus on their character and the setting, so they prefer a more "mechanical" game with easy to follow rules. Unless you have players who really like narrations, but I think it is quite rare.
I like many things of WW supplements but not the fact they were difficult to use quickly. You always needed to read them carefully to extrapolate possibile adventures from them. Not all people have so much time so I would have liked more to discover the informations through examples of play and adventures.

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willpell
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Re: My philosophy as a game master

Post by willpell » Fri May 11, 2018 10:09 pm

Sturm wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 9:59 pm
I'd like once to have the same high aim, but now I think that strive for fun is better, as unfortunately narration is for most people not as immersive as video or games, and they have difficulties imagining in details and focus on their character and the setting, so they prefer a more "mechanical" game with easy to follow rules. Unless you have players who really like narrations, but I think it is quite rare.
In the few games I've been up to the effort of running, I seemed to be able to strike the right balance.
I like many things of WW supplements but not the fact they were difficult to use quickly. You always needed to read them carefully to extrapolate possibile adventures from them. Not all people have so much time so I would have liked more to discover the informations through examples of play and adventures.
Right you are. They were very much a product of their time - after the success of D&D, but before the boom of modern roleplaying. The way they tried to be different and unique, without having a lot of data on what would and wouldn't work, explains both their successes and their failures nicely.

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