Wednesday September 7, 2011-Share the World, Share you Character

Over the last month, I have been working on a Dresden Files campaign for my older brother.  I have to admit that I am finding many of my GMing habits need to change with this indie game.  Although I have played several different RPGs; today, I realized that all of them have been one-shots.  I have never run a campaign with an indie system.  Despite all the little changes, which I might address later; I feel that there is one large encompassing abstract issue that I am struggling with; the illusion of control.  Control over what, you might ask? Well, everything. 

Being one of the disgruntled old-school gamers from the early 80’s, I have always been looking for new innovative games that went beyond the dungeon crawl.  Matter of fact, part of the reason I started GMing was to figure out a way to play something more than just hack n’ slash.  Being an unhappy product of the old-school, I advocated player control and anti-railroading by the GM.  I wanted players to contribute more to the adventure; because as a player, I felt that I was not allowed to contribute much.  Back then, I had to figure out what the GM thought was the right answer, instead of having any other options. 

As I delve deeper into the Fate System, I am beginning to realize that the GM has much more control over the Player’s character.  True, players have their own systems to create elements within the world; however, with the way Fate slings aspects around, I am noticing that a GM has a direct way to tweak characters.  A GM for D&D only had to throw monsters and traps at characters, GMs that had heavy-handed and extreme consequences where considered dicks-Never touch a golden duck you just know something bad is going to happen.   With the Fate system I can inflict several different aspects onto a character; like “Afraid of Colonel Mustard” or “Miss Scarlett Always Sounds Right.”  The amazing thing is that it is completely okay within the system.  I feel a slight conflict of motives here. 

I guess it is a little ironic that the first real indie campaign I am running allows the players to share the story with the GM, but also allows the GM to share the character with the players. 


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3 Comments on “Wednesday September 7, 2011-Share the World, Share you Character”

  1. boccobsblog Says:

    “Being an unhappy product of the old-school, I advocated player control and anti-railroading by the GM. ”

    Have you found any systems that fight this this rail-style trend, or is it all DM style?

  2. phlophouse Says:

    There are many GM-less RPGs out there, Bully Pulpit Games specialize in them. Their most popular game, currently, is Fiasco: a Coen Brothers movie style RPG. Shab-al-Hiri Roach: which is a silly horror RPG. Gray Ranks: A dark depressing RPG which you are part of the polish resistance during WWII.

    Also, there is Zombie Cinema.

    Most GM-less games are one shots and rules light; however, Gray Ranks takes a few sessions to play.


  3. phlophouse Says:

    Nearly all Indie games rally against railroading in some form or another. This usually clips the GM’s wings to a degree and also empowers the players. By moving away from the traditional D&D structure, designers have to come up with more innovated game systems. The GM-less game is the extreme anti-GM railroading. Yet you still have other games that are creative and still has a GM; like Dread, a horror RPG that uses the Jenga tower as a resolution mechanic-when the tower falls a character dies.

    Most games places control of the plot more into the players hands. Luke Crain’s “Burning Wheel” system and the Fate system, does this. The GM’s job is more about creating situations and NPCs. Games like Mouse Guard cannot really have a detailed plot before playing. A GM doesn’t have to go into great detail on how and why there is an invasion force; but instead determines an NPC’s motivation and their initial plan. From there, the GM just has to react to what the players do. Also, many of these systems indirectly include a plot structure within the system, Dogs in the Vineyard is a good example. The GM has a town sheet which he fills out before the game, detailing a sin within the town and who is involved in it; the Dogs have to go into town and resolve the sin.

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