Wednesday, 31 August 2016

RPGaDay 2016: So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen Goodbye

30. Describe the ideal gaming room if the budget were unlimited. 

My fantasy gaming room is about the size of a large meeting room, with a long table and 6-10 comfortable chairs around it. One of those expensive custom-made gaming tables would be lovely, of course, especially with all of the built-in drawers for storage, but a straight-forward utilitarian table would be fine.

The room would be dedicated gaming space, with no extra distractions like a home theatre set-up, although I might want a digital projector so that I could show images or maps to the players. It would have good sound baffles, so that it would be quiet and we could raise our voices all we like when getting into character. There would be little recessed speakers all around the room that I could use for music or sound effects as needed. The lights would be adjustable, so that we could play in dimmer lighting if necessary, possibly with small lights at players' seats so they could still refer to papers.

I'd have shelving for all of my gaming books and a filing cabinet for all my various paperwork. Maybe a big whiteboard on the wall, or even a wall painted in that expensive magnetic whiteboard paint.

And central air to keep it cool in the summer.

31. Best advice you were ever given for your game of choice?

I think all of the advice / rules given to MCs in Vincent Baker's APOCALYPSE WORLD are great, stuff that reframed the hobby for me in a lot of ways. It probably happens to be at the top of my mind right this moment because I'm reading through the latest revisions of the 2nd Edition of that game.

Some highlights:

Play to find out what happens.
Always say what honesty demands.
Ask provocative questions and build on the answers.
Be a fan of the player characters.
Sometimes, disclaim decision making.

Why do I think this is great advice? It frames the role of the GM/MC in a very particular way, which I think is pretty much optimal for my kind of game play.

These rules explicitly state that you're not the players' adversary; you're a collaborator, a fan of the characters, and a partner in building the story rather than an authority. These are things that every GM should know in their bones, but they're easy to forget.

Being honest to the players about their characters' circumstances and letting them make meaningful contributions is absolutely essential to good, deep play. Rather than dropping plot on them, letting them build story out of the answers to provocative questions is very powerful stuff. Players feel important and invested in a story that they're allowed to have a strong voice in.

If you didn't buy into the AW 2nd Ed Kickstarter a while back, and you haven't already drank the Kool Aid from this particular game, I recommend it highly when the new print hits store shelves. It will change your game and make you a better GM.

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