Friday, September 18, 2009

Two Variations on a Theme

I started today reading this at Grognardia:

Well, MY players loved to roleplay (acting), and so do I, so I played the NPCs to the hilt, and prepared for hours beforehand and afterwards, knowing my players wanted to find out which NPC was related to which other NPC, what scandals had gone on in this village thirty years back, and so on and on and on . . . so I gave it to them. They always wanted to TALK to everyone, and there were nights (six or seven hours of play, with a tea-and-chips-and-chip-dip break in the middle) when no player character even drew a weapon; it was ALL intrigue and roleplaying conversations, confrontations, investigations, trade dickering, and so on.

This doesn't surprise me much. Greenwood had a profound influence on my gaming, especially his "Seven Swords" article.

And over at I Fly by Night, we have this:

This situation is set up by looking at what the NPCs are trying to do and their resources, and with them creating a situation which the PCs must in some way react to. The PCs react to this situation with energy, pushing it out into an action. I see how the NPCs will react to the PCs' action, and apply resources and organization in the way they would, based on their goals, motivations, and personalities. This back and forth act, react, and react to the reaction process can last a good many sessions.

You can sum up a lot of the way I GM with these two articles. A lot of knowing Who and Why, with the What primarily being inspired by the actions of the PCs.

UPDATE: Even Carl "Mutagenic Substances" Nash has been wallowing in this sort of play. He adds this thought:

One thing that has come of all these combat-less sessions is that I have completely abandoned the experience tables in the Mutant Future rulebook and have gone to free form experience awarding. I wouldn't feel right to not award experience for all these sessions of brilliant role playing. The party could easily have been killing things left and right but that would have accomplished very little and I want to reward role playing, not discourage it. I now evaluate what the party accomplished last session and give out a reward that I feel is in keeping with what happened, whether or not any monsters were killed or any treasure was found.

Yeah, I've been facing similar issues myself. Not sure yet how I'm going to jump, but I think I'll dig up an old article by Katherine Kerr on this subject, as I recall it went pretty far towards creating the EXP system I used during my college games, and it was viewed pretty favorably by the players.


Rusty said...

I think I'll dig up an old article by Katherine Kerr on this subject

I'd be interested in this. I have been using an encountered-based method, that I have been moderately happy with, but I am always looking for a way to improve in this area. This is one of those really important things that no one blogs about. Here is what I have been using:

Simon said...


Natalie said...

I think this explains what went wrong with the Traveller game. This is normally the way I run games, but I never quite got into the rhythm with that one. Hmm.