06 March 2007


As I alluded to below I am about to run an RPG game for the first time in a good 18 months to two years or so. This is not something that causes me trepidation, as such, in itself - I have GMed before and been well received before - and I am looking forward to it, but as I am wont to do I am submitting to self doubt about how well I can communicate my ideas and whether it will live up to the billing it has in my head.

Specifically I wonder if the pitch is right for the players and whether I am attempting too much - a common problem, as there's a lot that I would like to try. Thankfully tomorrow's session, the first, will be primarily taken up by Character Generation, a process which will take some time but should also give me a touch more insight into what the players are expecting from the game. I will, again, be hoping to conduct actual play reports for the sessions - both here and over on RPGnet, and with that in mind I shall leave the writing of premise, pitch, situation and cast until I am ready to put the first post up there - save typing twice, or having to excise stuff from this entry.

What I will say is this: I shall be running Warhammer, in all its fantasy renaissance glory. WFRP won out because I love the setting, not because the system is great. On the plus side most of v.2 comes down to simple percentile rolls so its not as arduous as all that (despite the piles and piles of tables in the book!) and it is of course up to me to decide what will and will not be thrown out as we go. So far, so confident.

I also have my major NPCs in hand, notes on personalities, wants, weaknesses and so forth and a full conflict web (to date) so I'm well prepared on that score. Furthermore I have bookmarked a number of discussion threads, tips, tricks and so forth that are applicable to running intrigue and politics so I'm covered in advice. I'm not sure I can carry it forward convincingly though and this would be a major failing in the game as conceived. Not that that matters - if the concept fails it will be tweaked to something easier and more suited.

As things stand I have everything but a full cast and an opening situation. The reasons for this are twofold: characters are not completely created as yet and the game - whatever else it will be - is not designed or lined up as a plot-driven game. The idea, which may be abandoned, is for a series of individual scenarios, each resolvable in a single session, that knit into order to produce an over-arching series of events. I would also like to introduce some elements from less "standard" or "traditional" RPGs - such as distinct player-set scenes. I have already thrown out the idea of asking for a Primetime Adventures-style screen presence arc; though I would be very keen to try it, I suspect it would be trying to push too many boundaries at once. I am hoping each player character will have something approaching an Issue in the PTA sense, or at least things I can exploit in return for interesting plot or narrative advancement. I would also like to try to have thematic episodes, where the situation and events are all consistent with an identifiable theme but these are niceties, not necessities.

It is likely, given the short sessions, that episodic, resolvable plots may well not work. In that case I shall have to fiddle with my ideas some to even come close to making the game work, but I'm prepared to do that. I have a rough arc in mind and it could easily become sequential and continuous, but this would finally kill any talk of themes. I have hopes to keep the game about individuals, power, and what they do with it rather than letting it become a "we three together" traditional "party" situation, and to that end I will specifically stipulate that IC conflict is a good thing. Of course, this too leads to pressure GMing: it is hard enough to keep things moving without having to keep 3 separate things moving for three separate people! I hope that each can become invested in the other's affairs - both in and out of character - by virtue of interest in events, standpoints and how they knit into one another and how they fit with the bigger picture.

In any case, it feels good and energising to be in the GM's chair again. I hope I can communicate that and use it to my advantage. I hope, too, that I will be able to keep things moving and engaging without resorting to a tight "plot" and rails. But most of all I'd like to nail intrigue right. Political machinations and the wheels within wheels have always been staples of my interest. Active minds need active pursuits and everyone is up to something in the cold, damp castles. The key will be control of information: hold back enough to drive interest in discovering it and yet provide enough that there is ample of directional clues on how to find it.

I just need to figure out how to start!

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