I like…

Since I’ve got a one-shot game to GM tonight (the first I’ve GM’d with strangers in awhile), and I’m going to want to play around with some of my conflict methods, AND I’ve got a couple long-time players also coming in, I wanted to solidify the things I like in a game, using this The Two-list method of finding your Game preferences
Here’s the first list. Second list will happen in the comments, once tonight’s game is done:


* I like games (wither GMing or playing) where the players have some control over their own success (spending points from a pool to get the bonus that will push them over into a ‘win’, for instance).
* I like games where any player can kick-in details of the setting — especially when it’s supported by the rules, and not just house-practice.
* I have, in the past, thouroughly enjoyed games where the GM is constrained or there is no GM at all (Inspectres, Trollbabe).
* I friggin’ love games using stakes setting and conflict resolution versus task resolution.
* I like campaigns. Mini-campaigns of ~10 session, or even more. Sometimes a lot more.
* I like game setups that inextricably tie the characters into the setting. (Sorcerer kickers, TSoY keys, Heroquest… everything, etc)
* I like “starting-level characters”. As a player. As a GM, I still like them, but I also like proving that such characters can still be awesome.
* I like games that I can play with any of my friends, and I LOVE running new games for people and getting them hooked on something they might not have tried otherwise.
* I hate ADRPG-style drama mechanics. I like crunch. I like mechanics, and I like using the hell out of them to my benefit.


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One Reply to “I like…”

  1. Great game tonight. Let’s revisit this with “because” added:
    * I like games where the players have some control over their own success, because it lets the players tell me what conflicts are interesting to them, personally, or when they’re more interested in the consequences of a contest failing. TSoY was good for this, and I think it’d be even better in a longer running game, rather than a one-shot, where folks really just want to win.
    * I like games where any player can kick-in details of the setting — especially when it’s supported by the rules, and not just house-practice, because it really lets the players buy into the game. This worked out well a couple times during the session, where Randy needed an NPC ‘old buddy’ to talk with and I simply had him tell me about the guy and introduce him — worked out really well. Also, another player used the “Secret of Contacts” for their character to establish that he was an old ex-lover of the main ‘bad guy’ in the scenario, and ended the evening in a conflict that didn’t have any kind of bloodshed at all. Awesome.
    * I have, in the past, thouroughly enjoyed games where the GM is constrained or there is no GM at all (Inspectres, Trollbabe), because it spreads out the authorial control. These are games used to tell stories, and we’re all authors. The traditional “GM makes up the plot, and the players just come up with zingers for their characters while the plot trundles along to it’s inevitable conclusion” is crap. If you have a plot with these kinds of games, you’re screwed: have a situation — set it up, play the hell out of the NPCs, and let the story come out the way all your authors (including yourself) decide. It’s awesome. TSoY did that really well tonight: I don’t think there was one conflict in the whole evening that worked out how I thought it would. Most weren’t even close. The player’s led things along, found unlikely solutions, and succeeded at them.
    Best one: the big bad fight at the end? I just naturally assumed it would go into a “extended contest”. It didn’t. there wasn’t a big fight. Why? Because the Stakes set by us didn’t involve something that *had* to be resolved with a Extended Contest, the players WON the opening standard conflict, and the GM CAN’T CALL FOR AN EXTENDED CONFLICT. I assumed they would, I started working out the details and one of the players said “wait, we’re the only ones that can call for that kind of thing — we aren’t, cuz we won.”
    It really sat me back on my heels, and it was awesome.
    * I friggin’ love games using stakes setting and conflict resolution versus task resolution, because I don’t want to be bogged down in a fucking skill roll for each and every bloody, pointless thing. What do you WANT in this conflict? You want everyone in town to know your name? Fine. One roll. You got it… okay, here’s how it shakes out… here’s the STORY.
    * I like campaigns. Mini-campaigns of ~10 session, or even more. Sometimes a lot more, because it let’s people really get into their characters and the story and get some really solid satisfaction out of it. This game session wasn’t set up for that — it was a one-shot with pregen characters, and we approached with a hard-hitting, learn the rules and have some fun, we’re not coming back to this kind of attitude that played with the bang of a good board game, almost. Very fun, but a different kind of fun. I would totally run this again.
    * I like game setups that inextricably tie the characters into the setting (Sorcerer kickers, TSoY keys, Heroquest) because the very design of the characters means that when you squeeze the setting, the characters feel it. TSoY, as I mentioned, gives this to you in Spades, and the Flags you get from their Keys point you to excellent scenes to help them play the kind of scenes they want to play.
    * I like “starting-level characters”. As a player. As a GM, I still like them, but I also like proving that such characters can still be awesome, because I think that there’s a kind of fun to come from seeing your character advance. I LIKE seeing that progression. I LIKE that rapid kind of change. Having maxed out characters is fun for a little while, but if they’re already really good, there’s fewer ways they can mechanically change, and I LIKE to see that change. TSoY was great for that: advances let you change profound and meaningful things about even the very reasons for your character’s existence. It’s good stuff.
    * I like games that I can play with any of my friends, and I LOVE running new games for people and getting them hooked on something they might not have tried otherwise, because I like seeing the lights come on, and I like providing enjoyment. Tonight was a good time with a new system that we were ALL learning, and by the end of the night EVERYONE was getting the system and seeing exactly how to play the basic mechanics, where the good synergies were coming from and just playing the hell out of the game. Good stuff.
    * I hate ADRPG-style drama mechanics. I like crunch. I like mechanics, and I like using the hell out of them to my benefit, because I like stories, AND I like really GAME-y game-play. The Shadow of Yesterday is great for this — you have Keys, which are the kinds of conflicts you want to be in to give your character xp, which lets you play the mechanics of the system… so you get bang out of the game mechanics by PUSHING your character into the kind of story we already KNOW you like… because those are the kinds of Keys you chose in the first place. Great story-telling/gaming synergy. Awesome.

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