I’ve for a while now been on a quest to learn how to run games for the people I enjoy playing with, starting with Dialect, trying to adapt Golden Sky Stories to what I prefer for play, running Trollbabe and now preparing for a game of Primetime Adventures.
While on this journey I also participated in a couple of the courses Ron offers and that has helped me to better understand how I and different parts of role playing that are generic interact.
I don’t think I’m a natural match for these things, I have problems creating content from scratch – as a player I relay heavily on the others around the table to serve me something that inspires my characterizations. I could never make a story on my own in any medium. Why then do I still learn to do it? Well, I have the rather strong urge to enable those who constantly run games for others like me to be able to be a player once in a while.
I had played most of the games before I contemplated to run them which has helped me a lot.
Dialect was relatively easy. The Facilitator in essence makes sure that everybody understands and follows the rules as well as providing the general frame for play as outlined in the book. It also provides a number of questions, answering them the group is able to flesh out some basic things about the specific details of the situation that our characters find themselves in. We played online and had a virtual whiteboard as a table and while I think this game would benefit greatly from being played at a real table playing it online was entirely possible. The thing that I in hindsight think I could have done better? Helping players to jump into scenes instead of “staying in the doorway and wonder if it’s okay to come in now”. In a couple of cases descriptions of circumstances and environment continued for much longer than necessary or healthy for play because players didn’t seem to know how to get into playing.
Golden Sky Stories looked really nice and sweet on paper. The text assumes that the Narrator provides a story and guides the players through it. I should have realized that and even that the mechanics provided need that rigid framework or will not work at all. I did not, so for a couple of months I enjoyed building my own backdrop and setting strongly based on childhood memories. I’m still rather fond of it and I’m sure that the fact that I spend so much time with it helped me when we finally tried playing the game. The player characters everybody came up with were really inspiring and fun to encounter too. My lack of experience still hindered me in trying to run the game. While I think I managed to provide scene openings and opportunities for the characters to interact with I wasn’t able to provide a sense of direction for any of us. In the end I decided not to continue the game after our first session. I think the game is playable and enjoyable with the right kind of Narrator, but that is a person with a different skill set and different ambitions from mine.
Trollbabe was the first game I did try to run at a real table. I found myself a couple of people from the Spelens Hus group (which has grown considerably since the end of last summer) willing to help me give running a game another try. I had a rough time as play got interrupted by life intervening a couple of times, resulting in sessions that had to be cancelled and me getting more and more nervous for no good reason. The group was fantastically supportive of me and with their help I managed to work through my anxiety and continue play with them. The game itself was a good experience all along. I still needed a lot of time to come up with details of the locations – and I was lucky to have two of the players in essence choosing the same place. I found myself lots of inspiring pictures that I continuously shared with the other players and build my world around them. Coming up with stakes that I deemed to have the right amount of impact was a little difficult but in the end I settled for “good enough”. I did struggle with keeping tabs on all my characters as they lived their lives. It wasn’t entirely clear to me how to get them interact with the Trollbabes in a “natural” way at all times, there is a lot of potential for improvement there. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves though and now I have a game that the players want to continue with. We properly set up for a new adventure, the players decided to raise the scale for the next adventure (so it will be on the “small group”/family scale), two of them basically switched places (guess that means that I did a good job with the environment), the third Trollbabe decided to wander of to new pastures. I do enjoy the thought of continued play but I want to develop my skills a little more before coming back to this game. Especially the ability to bring my characters agendas into play in a better way. I also realized that a good game text that is easy to read and comprehend not necessarily means a game suitable for a beginner like me (though it may well be for somebody unlike me).
Primetime Adventures is my newest attempt at running a game. I’m going to try to remember all I’ve learned so far about myself and what I need to enjoy being in the drivers seat, having patience with me, trust in my fellow players and taking things in my own pace. I’m at this point certain I will continue my journey and with increasing experience more and more at ease. So far we have met twice and a preliminary realization is that things actually get a little bit easier for every time you try them.