Game Mastery

game theory

A quick observation on what the players get out of the game.

by on Oct.24, 2011, under game theory, GM, observations

I finally hung out with my players again.  Game ended two months ago and I’ve been reclusive since then.  They were telling some other friends stories about the game.

Without fail, all of their stories were player driven.  None of the plots that I wrote were retold.  Everything the PCs told our friends was a situation where they decided something had to happen and took the initiative to see it through.

I’m not griping that they don’t appreciate my stories, quite the opposite.  I’m proud of them for leading the narrative.  And I’m pleased with myself for giving them the opportunity.

But I want to emphasis that GMs who shut down their players in favor of a preconceived story are selfish.  Your players are not an audience.  If they want a story on rails, they’ll read a book, watch a movie, or play a video game.  They’re roleplaying because they want control over the story.  They’ll remember those times you let them drive the story.  They’ll also remember those times you shut down their plans to go off rails, but not in a good way

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Counterintuition – save time planning by writing more plots!

by on Aug.04, 2010, under dnd, game theory, GM, observations, organization

An odd thing happened in the shower today. I had an interesting realization about the way I run my games. That wasn’t the odd part. The odd part is that I remembered it. Showers are not conducive to notebooks or iPhones, so most of my hygiene related epiphanies go down the drain.

Anyway, what I realized was that my style of writing complex games with lots and lots of subplots may actually be easier to write than the simplistic one plot at a time approach.
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I like my games with a side of fudge.

by on Jul.30, 2009, under game theory

One of the more controversial topics in table top RPG gaming is the fudging of dice. Some GMs feel it necessary to adjust dice results. Other players would leave the table if they found out the GM even thought such a practice could ever be acceptable. There’s no right answer to this debate and it seems like almost everyone has an opinion, so here’s mine…

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GNS Theory

by on Dec.04, 2008, under game theory

So I’ve been putting some thought towards GNS Theory lately. As usual, it was instigated by a forum post, which got a little heated and so I post here.

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Roll for conflict

by on Oct.27, 2008, under game theory, links and articles

Haven’t posted in a while.  Sorry about that.  Work has been busy and I’m trying to give my carpal tunnels a rest when I’m at home.

I stumbled upon this article which discusses the idea of rolling dice only to resolve conflict.  It’s kind of a back to the basics thing.  Anyway, I liked it because of its consistence with my first post on this blog regarding a diceless system that uses bid based mechanics for resolving conflicts between characters.  Basically the idea is that your ability to climb a tree has no effect on the story and should not result in a die roll.  Your ability to punch a attacker in the face does change the story and you should break out the dice.

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Alignmental Musings

by on Sep.26, 2008, under game theory

I did a bad thing on the bus this morning.  I tried to apply D&D alignments to some characters from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.  Characters in that series are all shades of gray.  Even the most evil bastards seem perfectly reasonable when you see things from their point of view.  You just can’t fit those characters into one of nine alignment slots.

So instead I tried to fit alignment around those characters.

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The function of the game rules

by on Sep.15, 2008, under game theory

At the most basic level, RPGs are like playing make believe as a little kid, but with rules such that conflicts can be resolved without cries of “I hit you,” “no, you didn’t,” “did so,” and “my dad can beat up your dad!” This is pretty much agreed upon by most roleplayers.

What I did not realize was that the place of the rules is something that varies from player to player. I’ve always been of the opinion that the characters I play are characters that can be transported from one story to another and are playable in any system. Granted some characters are more effective in certain settings. But by and large, I play a personality and choose to represent him in whatever system is available. This means that I choose whatever actions I want, and then apply the rules at hand to resolve those actions.

What’s been coming up more and more in some forums I read is the idea that the rules exist as an exhaustive list of what actions you can perform with your character. Some players even go so far as to say that their characters are aware of the list of available actions and the mechanics behind them. If a game system doesn’t include rules for pinning a grappled opponent, then you can’t pin (at least until a new splatbook comes out explaining the new pinning rules).

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