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Bad Gamers - The Sequel - Eric's House Of Ego
March 24th, 2009
04:21 pm

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Bad Gamers - The Sequel
I didn't like the way that went.



My friend Matt and I were looking for new people to game with. Much of the old game group had ended up in Chicago, but most of them moved away after awhile. We talked to a guy who used to come into a game store I worked at and decided to give his game a try. We met up on a Saturday afternoon and went through a kinda odd scenario. We were in a border fort that was about to be under attack, but it was unlike any border fort I had ever seen. The walls were about the area of a large football stadium but only about 15 feet high. There were a couple dozen people there to guard this enormous place. And they were all sick. Matt and I (mostly Matt) worked out a plan where we pulled everyone into a central keep, undermined the walls of the entry hallway so they would collapse when we fired a cannon (there were cannons) through them and left the outer walls to the invaders. This all took most of the afternoon. After a certain point it was agreed that the day was over, and we would meet again the next weekend. The GM started the session by saying "I didn't like the way the last part of the session went last week, so we're going to do it over". He didn't like that we had basically set things up so we were going to be able to defend the people there, apparently there was going to be some big rescue scenario, and we had ruined it for him, so he wanted us to go back and do it his way. Matt and I looked at each other, looked at him, and without a word to him or each other ... we got up and left. He actually asked me a few weeks later if we would consider coming and playing again.

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From:polyfrog
Date:March 24th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
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It's important, if you're a GM, not to play with players a lot smarter than you are. Or if you do, not to design scenarios that hinge on your cleverness.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:March 24th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
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I loved to run games with players who were smarter than I was. Made me work harder.
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From:polyfrog
Date:March 24th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
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I said "a lot smarter."
I've met people smarter than you. I think I could count on one hand the number of people I've met that I would call a lot smarter than you.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:March 25th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
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I can think of a dozen or two just in our immediate circle of friends ...
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From:polyfrog
Date:March 25th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
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Either you are too modest, or your definition of "a lot" is different than mine.
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From:filkertom
Date:March 24th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
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Rule 1 of being a GM: Your players will not follow the script. Grin, suck it up, and adapt. Your game will likely be better for it.

Rule 1a: If it's really important that the story come out the way you envision it, write the story. Don't play the game.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:March 25th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
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I ran Stover (who is the Matt in this) for years. One of the things that I did, and that he finally realized, is steal ideas from my players. If they had a better idea than I had, I put it into the game. Planning is the key to a good game, improvisation is the key to great gaming, bringing everyone into the game is the key to a perfect game.
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From:filkertom
Date:March 25th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely. It's really improvisational radio theater.
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From:bammba_m
Date:March 24th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Sooooo.... i've probably played around ten actual RPGs. Seven of those were demo games that took about two hours, one was a one-full-day adventure of Paranoia, and the other two were actual campaigns that lasted for weeks.

I'd like to game more, but there never seems to be anyone around willing to run a game. So i'm going to run a game. It seems that "flexibility" seems to be the key for that. i've got a scenario, with a set-up and goal, and a couple ideas for encounters. But no real clue beyond that. (Except a KICK-ASS npc idea.) i figure the players will help me out by going for the encounters, or going the other direction, at which point i'll punt. ("Yeah, all right. So you stand around the charred remains of the gazebo as the cavalry arrives.")

i guess i can see if you've married yourself to the idea of a scenario working out a certain way, but if you guys had worked out a successful plan, then what's the big deal with the rescue operation showing up just in time to not be needed? "Hey! You guys call for a medic? Like four months ago? Yeah! We're so here!!"

If i fail miserably, i plan on bribing everyone with rum and ice cream. That should pretty much cover all my bases. (Which are belong to me. HA!!! i kill me.)
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From:ericcoleman
Date:March 25th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
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I would set up a story line ... and try to follow it. But be willing to improvise within that. My story lines would extend very far forward into a game, and were rarely the same at the end of the game as they were at the beginning.
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From:bammba_m
Date:March 25th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
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Yeah, i'm a little more worried about not having enough to do, and less worried about people straying from my "plan."
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From:almeda
Date:March 25th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
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I would totally play that game as a character. :->
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From:bigblued
Date:March 24th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)

Not just in RPGs

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Next time you are in a bookstore, pick up a copy of Blink (Malcolm Gladwell) and read the chapter on Paul Van Riper.

In 2002 the military did this huge war-game thing that was supposed to simulate the US going up against a Mid-East despot. The US had massive troops, many war ships, and modern computer technology. The despot, played by retired Marine, Lt. General Paul Van Riper, had...cunning, and not much else.

Of course cunning trounced the US forces. He did a pre-emptive strike using civilian boats, communicated via motorcycle messenger(so the US couldn't use evesdroppig technology) and generally played to win.

The war-game organizers didn't like that. They re-set the game to the beginning, told him what he could and couldn't do, and scripted his forces movements.

He got fed up and quit. They wanted to prove their new toys worked and when they didn't work they set up the game so that they did work.

It's a fascinating read, fun too.
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From:almeda
Date:March 25th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)

Re: Not just in RPGs

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I loved Julia Ecklar's Star Trek tie-in novel Kobayashi Maru for just this sort of thing -- each of the main characters tells the story of going up against The Unwinnable Scenario in Starfleet Academy (deliberately unwinnable, so the profs can see what you do when you fail). And how two of them managed to win, by using ways that acknowledged it as a simulation, and that would never have worked in real life. :->
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From:jupiterinmo
Date:March 25th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
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My very first session as a GM was playing Vampire. The characters didn't follow this lovely script I was in, so when they went to a store for supplies, I blew it, and them up. Oops! LOL!!!!

About 10 years later I had the chance to DM again. I was following a module, and it was funny as hell, because what they did would have caused the airship they were on to explode, or it should have, except the module was written so that it wouldn't because they were meant to use the airship as a base of ops later. But I was cackling, because I was like "hey, it's not my fault!!!!!!" Phooey on the module writers. LOL! And no, I didn't blow it up. But they did ditch it, which would have ruined the module anyway.
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From:daddy_guido
Date:March 25th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
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We had a sadistic GM in college who ran us through a Cthulu by Gaslight campaign - there was an annoying raven following us around, and reporting our position to enemies.

We threatened to blow it away with shotguns (it spoke english)when it followed us onto our airship, and it croaked "nevermore" whereupon we blasted the little fuck.

On our Airship. Our Hydrogen-filled airship.

Nevermore, indeed.
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From:phillip2637
Date:March 25th, 2009 02:26 pm (UTC)
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I once started a campaign as a GM by having players arrive in a large town. (I'd never done an urban FRPG before and wanted to see how it went.) Being a complex environment, it had a number of things going on that I thought could lead to adventures. I'd assumed the players would choose one or another and go for it. Instead they combined all the hints and leads into one meta-plot that I had never imagined and *that* became the campaign.
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From:cjfringe
Date:March 25th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
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When I GM I like to have an overall goal or arc for the campaign, and then individual plot points (per character) for each session. The rest is often improvised, since players will almost never follow your script. You just need to adapt as best as you can.

of course, on the flip side, I'll do the same thing. When I play I play in character, and even though the GM wants me going to the big main building with the neon lights and arrows, if my character wouldn't do that, I'm not gonna force him to. :D
Eric Coleman, Curmudgeon Powered by LiveJournal.com