Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DM's and the Novelist Impulse or The Play is the Thing

Its my contention that many GM's have the impulse to be novelists , some are frustrated novelists, some dabble and may have this or that published and others are actual novelists (Kerr, Butcher, et all) .

This is not a bad thing unless it creeps too far into your game.

The fact is when it comes to gaming, what really matters is what goes on at the table, not your flavor text or game-fic. Unless you are an actual novelist, maybe.

Still there is a place for both of these and that place is making play better.

As an example, if I were to read 5 or 6 paragraphs about the nature of Neo-Hellenic magic and how spells worked in my Angel 2075 game, my players eyes would glaze over and everyone (that is the other six players) who is not playing the Neo-Hellenic_Goth-Witch would be bored silly.

This TMI habit dates to the early days of gaming where information was limited to a few books and we had no Internet and had to walk miles in the snow to get to school and fight off angry dogs (literally in my case).

Back than people couldn't just Google it and as such, those paragraphs had a lot more value.

Now however, its a lot simpler to let interested players do their own research and just get playing.

What i do is trim information dumps to a minimum and allow the illusion of flavor to creep in.

In the case of the Angel game it was by renaming a prosaic list of spells with cool Greek style names, saying one statement about it.

#1 you are part of the Hellenic Pagan revival, something happening in the real world. You mostly worship Hecate in Ancient Greek BTW but give respect to the other Gods as well.

Boom thats enough to get started and L, the player can research more or make stuff up or just ask if she wants.

After that I took her spell list and renamed it.

The basic list utility spells, common to many games

Radiant Armor
Lighting Bolt
Solar Blast
Speak With Dead
Dispel Known Spell

they became

Aegis of Glory
Hecate's Mirror
Borrowing the Thunder of Zeus
Tasting the Presence of Apollo
Plea to Persephone

viola, 1 paragraph and a few words and everybody gets the Greek thing without a lot of time investment.

This allows me to give other players more attention, concentrate on actual play and still give the illusion of immersion.

The same rule can be applied to the history of a land or any other facet of a game. More on that in a follow up post.

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