Wednesday September 21, 2011-Goofy Things We GMs Have to Think About and Do.

Today I am going to combine two topics; first, I am going to dust off the topic of props within RPG and second, the weird interpretations of Game Master’s responsibilities.    

I enjoy having some props during our role-playing game, but it has been a long time since I wore a costume or brought weapons to the gaming table.  Why have I stopped? Because, the stuff was quickly forgotten during the game.  I think that the problem with most props is that they are actually decorations not props.  After all, props are used during a performance to enhance the action.  You may pantomime pouring a glass of water or throwing a credit stick at politician; but there is more weight if you actually pour a drink or throw a pencil at the GM.  Add to this, the fact that RPGs are verbal where everyone is mostly sitting around; there is very little performing action.  Hence, things you may bring to a gaming session that enhances your performance is limited and why so many things end up just being decoration. 

One of the tricks, anyone can do, is to turn a decoration into a propby using it with the game’s system.  Make the item into a tool, or decorate a tool for the game.  We are already doing this with maps, miniatures, and character sheets.  If you are playing Star Wars and find a lightsaber pen, use it at the game; or put your character on a ipad-they look like data-pads.  Make your GM screen into a castle. 

This brings me to my second topic-the weird interpretations of Game Master’s responsibilities.

Over this last weekend, I was thinking about the chips I use for the Dresden Files game to represent Fate Points and how my brother didn’t really use them.  Glass beads or golden coins, it did not matter, they just disappear on the table, despite whatever color the table was.  Let’s not forget, players only do stuff their characters can do when they remember that they can do them.  My hope to remind my brother that he has Fate Points by using chips, instead of a marking them on a piece of paper, didn’t seem to be working.  I realized that perhaps I should take it up a notch.  After all, I feel it is my responsibility to encourage using the game’s system during actual play, it is part of that “education process” that is expected by a Game Master.  Yet, at the same time I do not want to be overt, heavy handed, or direct; because I might be railroading or spoiling the illusion of the story.  Furthermore, an idea that is concluded by a person lasts longer than an idea that is told to the same person. 

Basically, I do not want to ask “Do you want to spend a Fate Point on that” every time there is a die roll.  I want him to tell me when he instinctually feels it is that important.

As a GM, I have a need; a mechanism that reminds the player that they have Fate Points without my direct involvement.  Small and simple objects are not successful; therefore we need to try larger and complex objects.  What can make tokens larger and complex? Decorations or props can make a token more complex; and thus, the two topics are combined. 

Tomorrow-The hypothesis and primaries to the experiment.

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