Thursday, November 14, 2013

What I Want When I Game

  • I want to be able to explain how a game's basic resolution mechanic works to someone who has never played a game, let alone a specific game, in under 5 minutes.
  • I want to be able to roll up a character in 5 minutes.
  • I expect some chance and fortune to come into play when using these resolution mechanics or when creating a character. True, this means not all characters at every table will be made equal, but....
  • Neither will the threats they face, and...
  • There's nothing preventing every character from still being PLAYED equal.
  • I want to be able to, in theory, put everything I need to play on either side of a single piece of paper, and ideally a medium-sized index card.
  • It should not be essential that more than 1 person own the game being played.
  • It should not be essential or expected for people to do studying and homework regarding a specific setting or campaign world, but this material should be generally available.
  • I don't expect anybody but the GM to have a book open while the game is in progress. If we have to stop and have a pass-around or read-along to clarify something, so be it.
  • I don't expect to have to do that often, though. If something can't be worked out between GM and player, the rules should be the arbitrator, and if they are unclear, the GM's discretion should be relied upon. Sometimes that means waiving rules for a common sense reason in a situation, and sometimes that means the players don't get what they want.
  • I expect goals provided to players to be clear, and expect a clear way of determining how to achieve other goals.
  • I want goals to be earned, rather than given or withheld.
  • I expect choices that the players make will matter in how/whether something is resolved.
  • I expect those choices to be clear and meaningful choices and not boil down to "Door A or Door B" whenever possible.
  • I embrace that actions have consequences, because that's how things work in real life AND games AND fiction. They're not always big or dramatic but they're real.
  • I embrace that actions often have unintended consequences, because that's how things work in real life AND games AND fiction. They're not always big or dramatic but they're real.
  • I embrace that failure and inaction both have consequences, because that's how things work in real life AND games AND fiction. They're not always big or dramatic but they're real.
  • I understand that I may not be entirely aware of the full range of consequences any action/inaction/failure might have at all times, because that's how et cetera.
  • I don't believe that every obstacle present in a situation (enemy, wall, mortality) is one that you SHOULD ALWAYS be able to be overcome.
  • I do believe that the possibility of overcoming any obstacle does always exist, and should ingenuity and fortune allow then that obstacle should be overcome.

  • I accept that whole sessions or even several sessions will go by without the GM throwing me or my character a bone, because this is a group enterprise and not all about me.
  • I accept that I have a responsibility to bring my own awesome to the table and attempt great things.
  • I believe that I also have a strong duty to support my fellow players, in and out of character, in being awesome.
  • I believe that GMs should reward people being awesome, regardless of what other rewards the game or situation provide.
  • I believe that rewards shouldn't be based on how much time or money you have to stack the deck in your favor, but on how well you play the hand you're dealt.

  • I will play in anything, though I may ask someone to make my guy for me.
  • I will run only what I have and feel I mostly understand.
  • I will not run a game when it inconveniences my wife, because I got into this hobby as an activity the two of us could do together, and it should never be an impediment between us.
  • I may play in games, though, because I do believe that I take on responsibility by joining a campaign and I owe the GM and the other players my best effort just like a company softball team. Playing in games also usually doesn't involve our living room, so is less of an inconvenience for her.
  • I expect my players to have similar Hard Limits, but also expect them to have that same kind of loyalty and to do their best to make it to games, and on time, like I do. I wouldn't leave a buddy hanging if we were going to see a movie, and I wouldn't want that same buddy to flake out on something I've put actual effort into. I have little love for the guy who guesses they'll show up and play if something better doesn't come along, because who likes to be settled for?
  • I expect players in my games to give the game, me, and their fellow players their full attention, as I give my fellow players when I play.
  • I expect players to provide the GM snacks if asked, or at least take care of their own snacking needs before the game begins (for the most part; if we all break to order a pizza, fine, but don't make it so we HAVE to break to order a pizza).
  • I expect the table to be a mostly clean space, reserved for character sheets, dice, writing implements, and like a drink and your cell phone. The GM needs room to put down cool things like maps and minis and terrain, or, if not, then it's just nice not worrying about something extraneous getting in the way.
  • I expect everybody sitting down to play next to one another at a table to be freshly showered and toothbrushed if at all possible. We all have times where we play straight from work, I get it, but other times it's just courtesy. I've never been at a table where this hasn't been the case but I have been part of conversations where this was seen as downright Hitlerian.

  • I expect a clear line of communication and feedback going both ways between players and GMs. I expect open communication among players.

  • I will never run a game I dislike.
  • I will never run a game I don't own unless paid.
  • I will never badmouth a game to a customer, instead I'll help them find something they'll enjoy.
  • I will never purchase or play a game for art alone, but I will ALSO never purchase or play a game if I feel like I could have drawn better art. This disqualifies shockingly few games.
  • I will never have my character do something they would never do (barring mind control and shit of course).
  • What my character would never do is arbitrated between the GM and me.

  • I look for games (movable bits that set off other bits in unexpected ways, a combination of strategy skill and dumb luck) that a story can be told around because that builds UP infinitely. I don't usually like to tell a story (real or imaginary people and actions with a beginning middle and end) whose twists and turns are defined or restricted by a game, because that's LESS freedom than just sitting around with your friends telling stories would afford.
 
  • I want my character sheet to tell me who my character is, not how they will behave.

  • The fewer dice a player needs, the better.
  • The fewer standard rpg dice they need, the better.
  • The fewer nonstandard rpg dice they need, the better.
  • The fewer dice the GM needs, the better.
  • The closer to $0 that the entire table has to spend on a game and all its supplies, the better.

  • I like games that let me decide when I've won.
  • I will always play to win.
  • I will always help my players win if I can, but I will not just gold star sticker them and tell them Mister Rogers is still alive.
 
  • Campaigns are meant to end, and sometimes that's decided for a group.
 
  • Rules are meant to be changed.
  • Settings are meant to be changed.
  • Maps, monsters, traps, riddles, science, physics, religion, and above all PLANS only live through change.
  • The universe is chaos.
  • You don't have to know what you're doing to have a good time.
  • Neither do I.
  • I may not always play rpgs, lord knows I haven't always in the past.
  • I WILL always try awesome things.
  • RPGs are about always trying awesome things.
  • If your game isn't, you're playing something else.

  • Nobody ever runs out of "Why not?"