Monday Lab: GM Half Full

Looking at the topic of distributing GM-tasks all sorts of different ways, which we all know well, but maybe its widespread use doesn’t reflect enough of its potential.

Anyway, although Champions Now is more visible, I’m also working on Cosmic Zap for Chaosium, and the GM-task technique is reeeeeally its own thing for that one. Two of the people in the discussion are current playtesters, so they’ve seen me wade through a couple of cognitive steps to get it right.

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7 responses to “Monday Lab: GM Half Full”

  1. Ars Magica, and (maybe) we’ve always been GM-ful?

    I think I talked more in this one, which probably means I care about the subject but also that I'm confused/uncertain … so of course, I've kept thinking about it.

    Once again, I think Ars Magica needs some historical credit here. I didn't/haven't played it, but you do hear about it, and even without players sharing the Story Guide role, there are the PC "categories": Magus, Companion and Grog. I'll point to that and say that you really can't even HAVE those types, and have players portray them, unless players are taking on some GM-like behavior.

    My current thought would be that while I've seen "GM is (some kind) of God" and "players just Immerse (whatever that means)" play, I've rarely played close to that model. And except for that style, the issues around sharing "GMing" are not philosophic at all – it's all about matching suitable procedures to the desired play-experience.

    Well, that creates a bit of a foundation to build on, for me anyway …

    • I’m not convinced regarding

      I'm not convinced regarding Ars Magica without some informed play discussion. At my most cynical, I suspect that a few games get routinely referenced as having this-or-that quality just because everyone is used to saying so.

      However, I completely agree with your general point, that GM-ful technique has been around for a long time, likely since the first tables of the hobby. Certainly what I used to call Director Stance has been; you can see it in various text examples and in plenty of rules like Luck in T&T, and that's just a skip away from expanding into a more acknowledged or formal version that applies to events and scenes.

    • I’m pretty sure 90%+ of my

      I'm pretty sure 90%+ of my Ars Magica info comes via anyway (which means some combination of Vincent, Meg, and Emily). So … someone learned some things about distributed GMing starting from there, but how many someones, I'm not gonna argue. And as I recall, the anyway quotes are more that Ars Magica (in some edition) said "try this!", not really so much what to do to make it work …

  2. Testing this Weekend

    This topic was very apropos for me, as my main WiP is a GMfull sci-fi game. I'm going to steal some of these ideas and try to test them out this weekend, at GoPlayNW con here in Seattle. I'd like to let y'all know how it goes after, and maybe you can help me analyze it afterwards. 


    • Of course! Post about the

      Of course! Post about the ideas and session in Actual Play, and I'll look forward to it.

  3. GMfull not equal to Story Game

    Back in 2009, when I started grad school, I passed the ownership of the Seattle Story Games meetup to couple of younger enthusiasts. When I started the meetup, I had envisioned it as being a place to experience Story Now play. Myself I associated "Story Now" with "Story Game." Turns out that few other people shared that understanding.

    When I returned to just offer a game of PTA in 2012, I learned that they had banned games with traditional GM roles — one had to offer a game with rotating GM tasks. Somehow "story games" had become associated with "GM-less" and this was identified as the big radical player-empowerment revolution. I was rather annoyed and tried to articulate what my objection was, but at that time could not. I felt that my original purpose– Story Now — had been lost. Hearing you say that GMfull design is in some sense a trivial design choice helps me understand what I might have argued back then. 

    • That opens a lot to talk

      That opens a lot to talk about, maybe too much. I tried to explain the mismatch of "story game" to "independent" and "Forge" in my Metatopia interview a couple of years ago, but the damage is so pervasive that I doubt it can ever be met sensibly.

      For now – just thanks. I appreciate that point very much.

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