Bang bang bang

I’ve talked (a lot) in the past about running games that are essentially built on nothing but Bangs (or as SotC would have it, decision points). In (very) brief, this is a mode of GMing in which (most commonly) you come up with dilemmas that the character has to deal with, somehow. That’s actually simplifying it: Bangs are about creating a situation in which the reaction says something interesting about the character.The elements of this situation (and this is important) have no ‘right’ choice in mind.
In game, play progresses up to this situation, then the situation is presented, then the player(s) look at their options (probably inventing new options as well), and make a decision. We all (even the player) learn a little something new about that character in a backhand way, and play continues in the direction their choice and actions dictate. *
I haven’t always explained the technique very well, despite using it pretty much exclusively for a number of years. Thankfully, someone else stepped in to talk about it.
Mike Holmes is one of the best GMs I’ve had the pleasure of playing it, and he is something of an expert in this style of play. During a recent discussion of ‘what a Bang is,’ someone asked Mike to start up a new thread in which he breaks down all the different kinds of Bangs you can bring into your game.
He took up the gauntlet here: Story Games for Everybody – Bang Types. Good stuff, presenting even more variations on the theme that I plan to shamelessly rip off, because there’s a BUNCH I hadn’t really considered.

* – This can be kind of seat-of-the pants GMing, since the character’s decisions can move play into in situations you did no prep for (“But I didn’t stat out Don Malone and his goons!”). That sense that the group is ‘going off the map’ can make the game-runner (G.R.?) a little panicky and instinctively resistant when things get funky.
I counteract this emotional reaction by not prepping anything but the Bangs themselves, so no choices make me feel like that more than any other. 🙂
((I joke, but only a little. 🙂 ))

One comment

  1. In a different thread, someone asks how Bangs are different than the classic concept of “story hooks” that have been around for ages… some enticing thing that happens that will pull the players into the situation the GM’s prepared.
    Go with a fishing analogy: a “hook” fails if it isn’t responded to predictably. The whole point of a hook is to get a predicted response out of players: you want the fish up on the shore, in your bucket.
    A bang doesn’t care what happens next. You’re fishing with dynamite — fish are gonna swim away, fly all over out of the water, maybe do something completely unexpected… and the cool part is seeing what the reaction is. The bucket isn’t going to get much use. 🙂

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