Saturday, March 25, 2006

Taking P&P to the Next Level?

So, as I said a couple of posts ago, how do I take P&P to the next level?

Lets be more specific - how do I create a truly memorable, ongoing roleplaying experience for myself and the players.

The kneejerk reaction that I have is simple - its a professional one - ask the players what they want, deliver it to them. The art of managing exchange - marketing. However, thats something that I want to avoid as I want to be running a roleplaying game rather than a session in wish fulfilment. Part of the joy of roleplaying, in my opinion, is when the Gamesmaster springs the shock on the players and gives them something that they never guessed would happen. Thats not to say that I don't want to give the guys what they want, but I would like to believe that after four-five years playing with them I have a reasonable grasp on what makes them tick.

So, how do I do it?

1. Drama, multiple levels thereof - this has to be the primary contribution to the game. Ongoing, character centred, high drama. Now within this, I have to stop myself from blowing my load too soon. A number of the players have commented that this game could run and run and run and indeed, it is one of the few modern games I have gone into without putting a set number of sessions on the campaign. So, I need to pace my drama a little and resist going for the jugular on each different characters schtick, all at once.

2. Enrich the Universe - I have to make the surroundings of the game come to life with diversity and wonder, and that means that I am going to have to do two things. (1) I am going to have to make each set for each session explicit in my mind and (2) I am going to have to overcome decades of roleplaying laziness and get my head around actual exposition when it comes to describing the surroundings. Generally, I tend to use generic terms for settings and then left the players minds-eye fill in the gaps of the surroundings. However, I think I am going to have to be more verbose in what I do.

3. Not lose sight of the hook of the campaign - Pulsars and PRIVATEERS - thats the emphasis that the game was sold on and in the first instance that should really be the area that I am focusing on. The rest of the game can be being played out around these scenarios. This is akin to the Buffy 'Monster of the Week' motif and indeed, the first season of Babylon 5. Legs. Do Not Cut Them Away.

4. Enrich the environment. We have the airwolf theme tune for the shows intro and exit, but the use of music in the game could be crucial. I have never been too poncy about games and props and such, but I think it could work here. One thing that EVE-online does give me is a plethora of sound clips including LENGTHY space-orientated backing tracks. Methinks I should be using these.

5. An Archive? Those that know me will note that my first reaction to anything tends to be 'make a website!'. I love the online medium and it's ability to blend graphics and information in a globally accessible format, for free. However, the question is, if I was to do one, what purpose would it serve? I think that as the campaign grows, a readily accessible archive of the information that the players have gathered will be a good idea (for them and for me!). Also, a way to transmit ideas and news from around the different parts of the universe would be cool.

Anyway, lots of good things to be done and a campaign to groom to greatness.


1 comment:

TruthDecay said...

A bunch of good points, to be sure, but there is one crucial thing required to make a truly memorable PnP experience.

You need good players.

No amount of work you do on your setting, no amount of practice you do on delivery, and no amount of description, suspense, and drama will do any good if your players are poor roleplayers. It can be very frustrating. I've developed a nice setting with plenty of hooks and opportunities, but my players would rather solve every problem by combat, only persue the immediate goal, and play Chaotic Neutral so they can do a variety of things without endangering their alignment.

I don't mind giving them what they want, but it is frustrating when your work doesn't get a chance to shine.