Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just Go Ahead and Try It

This article was inspired by a comment from +Cavin DeJordy on a previous article. "I suggest that any GM try these ideas, and not to be discouraged by failing to please your players. Any feedback is good feedback, and broadening your storytelling range is never a bad thing."

That is a superb attitude to have, sir. Failure doesn't have to be total, and it certainly doesn't have to be totally negative.

I consider myself a pretty good Gamemaster. I've gotten quite good at rolling with the punches and reading my players to make sure everyone's happy: I've only gotten this far because I tried a ton of shit that just didn't pan out.

Here's a list of (some of) my more recent failings:

  • I've been trying out new systems lately. (Due to my mission from +Gnome Stew 's New Year New Game challenge/blog-a-thon.) Savage Worlds was one of them. I attempted to keep all the rules in my skull. I thought I had. I hadn't. This only led to some mild confusion, a mid-session "oh shit this works this way" incident, and one long tension-wasting moment as I hurriedly looked something up. Lesson-Learned: When trying a new game, make a brief cheat-sheet of basic mechanics "for the players" (but actually for myself).
  • I tried to use the Puddle (a pool variant) for a Dungeon Crawl.* Granted, it was a weird dream-state nightmare dungeon; nevertheless, the Puddle doesn't lend itself to rolling for skill and stat-check type things. It's just not for that. This made for a lightning quick dungeon run... 3 hour session (including shooting the shit and humorous asides). Lesson-Learned: You wanna have a quick-ass dungeon run? then pull out a high-concept, low-granularity story-game.
  • Same game as above: I thought everyone had a basic understanding of how non-granular (including myself) the Puddle was... Nope. Lesson-Learned: Sometimes you just have to dive right in to really understand something.*
  • IRL I tried to make focaccia bread and reinvented hard tack. Lesson-Learned: Your character should never be okay with only eating iron rations! 
If there's something you want to try, try it! No amount of reading about it, talking about it, or considering it will give you the same visceral & direct feedback. Dive right in, ya'll. A good game can survive much more failure than you might expect. When it doesn't work? Just be guy/gal enough to admit you failed, try to fix it, definitely learn from it, and move right on. 

Til next time, May you roll max crits in times of need, and never be ashamed to roleplay to the hilt, really ham it up.

*Actually all these examples are from the same game. (The game I was running in my Southern Marches microsetting.) That's a lot of failure in just one short campaign. If anyone is interested, the game started in Savage Worlds and switched to the Puddle for the finale. The conversion was ridiculously easy. Character creation in the Puddle essentially consists of writing down 6 things about your character. The session went well, despite our lack of understanding and my lack of preparation. Sometime in the distant future, when the stars align, we may pick these character's up for more adventure. (And if the players don't totally capitulate, I may ask them to convert the characters to my system, Grit.)