GM Struggles

Struggles, wins and losses of a gamer

Category Archives: Struggles

Dungeon World: I Didn’t Get it at First Too

Dungeon World is a little far from my usual games and from many systems I have heard. While reading it was kinda obvious to me that there was a different logic to the rules, but I didn’t get it at first. I mean, I understood it, I just didn’t get it.

The system’s logic is not something you transition into by just reading if you have the same kind of background that I have regarding RPGs. The best advice I can give you to help you get it is, whenever you feel the game doesn’t cover something as you read the book, put it aside and ask yourself: “How would that happen in a story?” this simple question will throw images in your head, and maybe you will find that thing that makes the system click, and all of a sudden you will just get it.

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Trying a New Game: Transition Plans

On my last post in the series of Trying a New Game (Selling the System), Undreren talked about Dungeon World being hard to pitch. I think a lot of the pain in pitching the system itself (since the game frame is the same as D&D’s) has one basic opposition: habit.

In Dungeon World, unlike many systems out there, the actions taken are defined by how the player describes them, by their actions and intent, this is not mechanical. Meanwhile my players and many others out there are used to framing their thoughts and actions in a game through the system mechanics.

Completely different filters are in effect, by wanting to play and run DW I also want them to think on the character’s toes, to make them act how they want them to, and not make a choice in the character sheet or on the basic moves sheet, but after so many years of playing D&D, Storyteller and GURPS, there is little chance that will happen spontaneously.

How I plan to make it work then?

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Expectations: Being on the Same Page

I have been debating to a friend about Dungeon World, the system’s simplicity and he compares some things to Legends of Anglerre (which is powered by FATE), a point of central debate we had was how he could see frustration arise from how something is handled, like an arm being ripped off. In Dungeon World there is no hard rule for doing it, and he saw the messy tag alongside the 16 HP dragon example as something that can arise way too often, in LoA such a consequence is first and foremost chosen by the player, and only to avoid being taken out, as such he sees no chance for frustration.

My point was pretty simple though: it can be frustrating in both cases, the greatest difference is that in DW the GM has to make an effort to be on the same page as the players, there is no other way it can work at all, otherwise he will be unfair and deviate from what the group want  very very fast, in LoA he can present me that this kind of thing is part of the game upfront, and I can just say I am not interested right there.

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Trying a New Game: Selling the System

This is the followup to the previous post, which you can read here: Trying a New Game: A Matter of Trust.

I talked about how trust developed through quality games plays a role in what a GM can present a group, how I don’t have that trust from half of the group, and I ended it saying that I want to GM them a game of Dungeon World.

In order to have them be truly willing to try something, and not just willing to prove to me that a new system is not a good choice, I have to sell them the system and the game idea, and sell them well.

System Update

System Update (Photo credit: bovinity)

The two players that I have to yet get the trust from are reluctant to even try a new system, and I can’t say they have no reason to. Gaming time is harder to get by as we grew older, and learning a new system takes time and effort. In fact when I talked about this to one of them he stated he is not really in favor of trying new systems exactly for that reason, time and effort spent for little gain, he doesn’t really believe in an evolution in game design, he believes in knowing a system. Both are the same in that regard, they are happy with the systems we played together, which are GURPS, Storyteller and D&D from 2nd edition to date.

The flaw in their reasoning, in my opinion, is the fact that none of those actually work well with the group we currently have, in fact in the last 4 years we had less than two good games and a lot of short term tries that didn’t quite cut it, and of the two, one required one entire evening of talking about the problems we were facing with the fun in the game and how we could go around it.

I am trying to find a system that works well for us. Enter Dungeon World.

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Trying a New Game: A Matter of Trust

A smiley with glasses.

A smiley with glasses. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, last time I talked about my Seed for the Dungeon World game I am planning. What I haven’t talked about is how it ties into what I see as needs of my group, my own needs, and everyone’s expectations on the table, this was supposed to be  a single post, but since there is a lot of different topics to cover I have split it into parts.

Anyone who GMed a game they can be proud of, or played in one they had a blast can see where I am going here. When you enjoy that kind of game and have that kind of experience, you trust your GM to provide you with another game like that without even realizing it. We associate the good game with the person “in charge” of it, and are willing to accept more deviation from our preferred style/tone/system when playing.

It is not a problem, much to the contrary, it is a great thing, it gives the GM more room to actually work on something he has more interest while still being able to provide you with a game you want to play. The only problem is when you want to GM and you lack that kind of trust.

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Dungeon World: seed for the game

I am preparing myself to GM a Dungeon World game, two advices given in the book (which is filled with good advice) are: play to find out what happens and draw maps, leave blanks. I am a bit of a control freak when it comes to prep, as I said earlier, so in order to let myself go while still leaving most of the work for the game itself I decided to get started on a premise for the setting.

Dungeon World, like D&D, thrives on having ancient ruins from long forgotten civilizations right beside newer ruins and living, breathing towns, villages and cities. This can be a little odd when confronted though, how come those civilizations come and go, what happened to them? This is my premise here. The world needs those to have interesting things to be done, and dungeons everywhere is a good thing for this, as a result, the world will be one made on apocalypse.

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Save vs Death or Safe from Death

Minifig Characters #6: Death

Minifig Characters #6: Death (Photo credit: minifig)

“It’s completely OK to run games where you flat out tell people “Your characters in this game will not die unless you do something immensely stupid or you say out loud that you’re willing to take the risk”.

Saves a lot of hassle.”

From: RPG.net user KemperBoyd

This is an interesting take to things. I always thought there is no real reason for conflict if there is no risk of death, but truth is, conflict has meaning if failure means something. Death is just the end of a good character, of a personal story, it might be the appropriate failure, sure, but it is hardly the one and only meaningful choice or good story one can tell.

The way I see it, it is always hard to keep a game fun and interesting if we focus on a single option, this is the stuff railroading is bad for, if a single plot, a single way of bypassing, a single ending is all you got, then your game lacks possibility right? Same goes for death. The very same thread has some other very good advice that elaborates on this general idea:

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Dice are random right? riiiiight…

I have two opposite players in my table, they are friends, they enjoy much of the same thing, they game well together, but whenever they pick up the dice, things go south fast for one and heavenly well for the other. Sounds unlikely right? Ina  recent game one of my friends was GMing, we were all playing newly awakened mages in a Mage game.

During our training, he informed us, we would make different tests and he would have the results stored, he recorded the amount of successes from each player and made some kickstarter-like rewards that were unlocked the higher our number of successes. I don’t have the exact numbers (though he has them in excel) but it was something like this:

  • Standard Success Rate in NWoD ruleset: 30% (7-10 on a  d10)
  • Lucky Guy success rate: 60%
  • Player A: 35%
  • Player B: 33%
  • Me (my rolls are like proof of statistics): 30%
  • Unlucky Guy: 20%

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My Struggles, mine, my own, my precioussss

Time to get started!

A little bit of why: I have been reading a lot, finally going back into the GMing mood after reading Dungeon World (that is a topic for a specific review), I feel the need, the urge to take the seat and share with my players what is in my head, to get their ideas fuse them to mine and get an epic game, but I also know it won’t be easy.

My Gaming group is composed of friends, one is living on another town now, and even though he hasn’t managed to play with us yet, we plan to have him through skype. This is one struggle right here, but one I got experience with (will share that in a later post as well.

The second struggle that presents itself is that my group of friends have very different tastes when it comes down to following a plot and exploring the world. 1 is a total sandbox adept, he has a hard time following plots simply because he likes to make his own, I have a player that loves a good plot but never lets his own goals out of his vision, the other one is a harder time, he has a lot in his mind lately and is around to hang with us, he usually focus on roleplaying more than exploring or following a plot, the last player loves a good plot, to him they are naturally put in the spot and he rarely creates anything that changes the direction of the game.

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