Setting the scene (or not)

Here follows another attempt at defining role-playing, how it works, or not. Looking at any GM’s guide, the stuff they write for you in the basic rulebook, they will always tell you be very descriptive. It’s funny, but pretty much every rulebook I’ve read, which is a few by now, GMs must be descriptive. Describe the character’s surroundings. What do they hear, smell, see etc? In combat, don’t just say you hit him. Rather say your axe lands with a meaty squelch. But the funny thing is, I don’t know a GM who runs like that.

Is it an experience thing, something you try to start with? But in that case, surely you’d get better with age…I have, once or twice, had a GM be very descriptive, and all that extra faffing about (you can tell I’m not a descriptive GM) can help with the atmosphere. Particularly with horror games. I can understand how describing everything that happens will make the game better, it’s just I can’t be bothered. Sometimes I tell myself I’m going to try, but it’s like going to the gym, one day Rosie.

So, my group tell me I’m a decent GM. Ok, they do pretty much have to say that, but they come back for more, which is a promising sign. And by rulebooks’ standards, I’m rubbish. Does that mean if only I could be  a proper descriptive person for the whole session, I’d be an awesome GM? Or does that mean the rulebooks are wrong? Mind you, rulebooks never talk about booze, which can really influence the game. When your players are practically high on alcohol and the absurdity of their actions (the guilty parties know who they are), the GM doesn’t need to be descriptive.

This is basically me asking a question. I don’t want to get all Parker on you, but I would be interested in people’s opinions. Even if they do tell me everything I’ve done is wrong…

2 thoughts on “Setting the scene (or not)

  1. Guilty ones? Us? No..
    I think descriptions work but as you said it does depend on the game being run. Do you remember Werewolf? Look how descriptive not only the GM got but also you players!


  2. Fair point, but from what I can remember, we were basically playing a story, with very little if any game mechanics (I don’t think we had character sheets). In that situation, you have to be desciptive, because there’s nothing else…
    Proper storytelling.

    Liked by 1 person

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