Lately, gentle readers, I have been thinking about one of my other gaming loves. RPGs. I have recently finished the intro to what I hope will be a long campaign of Fading Suns, a far future setting similar in tone to Dune. Since I’d finished I wanted to reflect on what had happened so far and see if there was anything I wanted to change. In doing so it made me realise that I have a certain style of GMing and so do my friends. Before I continue, this won’t be an exhaustive list of styles just a chat about a few of the ones I’ve been exposed to over the years.
Now you’ll have read articles from Mr Nick on this glorious blog so I’ll start with him. Nick can take a world and bring it to life. For example, the last two games I’ve played of his have been set in cities with full maps, detailed descriptions of the various locales and tons of flavourful characters inhabiting it. In Cyberpunk, we were detectives in Detroit and we could tell by looking on the map how the area would be and how best to deal with the crime in hand (if we were in any way intelligent…which we aren’t). Our precinct was also full of various characters who made us feel like we were in a real working environment. Plenty of insulting banter but they always had your back when the faeces hit the fan. He even had us filling in arrest and incident forms to give it a sense of impotent frustration, “We’re cops, we should be out there catching bad guys not pushing pencils!”. All in all, a great gaming experience.
Taking Mr Straw for a moment (eeeeeewww), he has a very different style. One of his most popular games in our group was a very long run of Earthdawn. This was the glory of epic heroics. Our group, the Torchbearers, was all about fighting the despicable Therans and stopping them from enslaving our fellow countrymen. We travelled all over Barsaive battling against slavers, minions of the Mad Passion Dis and the unfathomable evil of the Horrors. These games were all about moments, I’ll never forget Rukesh’s naming day where I ended up in the rafters of the tavern. Still not sure how I got there but I know we had a good time.
“But what about you Mr P, what’s your style?” I hear the voices in my head asking. I would say that I try to be a very descriptive GM, making sure that I explain what the players can see and hear to give them a feel of the world. On the flip side I’m sure it sometimes can feel like I’m going on too much and my players would rather get on with the game. I also try to have an overarching story that the players can follow but this can mean that I miss out on the smaller details of filling out the world. Nick has said before now that I should have been some kind of children’s entertainer which I will take as a compliment related to my involved GM style.
Of course, none of these is any better or worse than the other but being aware of them means you can tweak your own style to suit your game. Who knows, when the Fading Suns characters arrive in the Bazaar, I might have even drawn up a map?
Why not let us know your style in the comments below? Are you a number cruncher? Is ignorance no excuse? Is the only good game one where all the players die in the first week? The best answer wins the chance to be immortalised as an NPC peasant in my next game of Fading Suns.
Until next time gentle readers.