Monday, September 24, 2012

GM Hint: Simple is Flavorful

One of the things I've learned over the years of GMing is that complex info dumps simply don't help.

They do not bring players into the world and in fact they can be very boring causing people to pull away from the game, not only missing the immersion but the fun too.

what works for me is keeping it simple, a few words, a phrase ,a definition, a description something like that. If later the players want a lecture or to read a long paragraph, great let them. But otherwise be efficient.

Let me share a few examples that worked for me

Blog Standard Fantasy

"The innkeeper gives you a sour look and pushes a simple wooden platter forward. We've goat if you'll eat it. little else with the war on."

This tells people that a: people poor, goat is not a popular food stuff many people won't eat it and there is a war all in one sentence .

Trying to read a long paragraph about the Kingdoms War and Food Habits of the 20 Kingdoms would put most players to sleep but that simple phrase gets them asking questions and that moves them into the game.

Another "Post peak everything post CW2 Buffy"

You middle school aged daughter comes into the room "Ah hey dad, do you think you could help me I need to work on my knife fighting elective."

This sentence earned me a "buh wah?!" look from the player but served well to tell everyone about the world, that they still consider it a useful skill for youngsters to know and that they don't mind girls taking it either.

When the player asked about it (he didn't have the skill with knives ) I could tell him a bit more about the world "Oh you didn't have those courses you went to a progressive school"

This served to cement the idea that "This isn't now" and helped flush out his background in ways that longer charts simply can't do.

So my advice is this, try keeping it simple. You might be surprised how well it works.