Spontaneous Gaming Week 1 - Role With It
Welcome back to the Four Horsemen Blog, hosted by our friend at DriveThruRPG.com! Gen Con 2016 is in the books and we had a fantastic time. Gen Con is usually a looot of work for us, discussing new projects, meeting a growing circle of publishers, developers, designers, artists, and more. And making friends with all of them. After all, we are totally the friendliest evil outsiders.
Gen Con is also a place where crazy fun, great memories, and improved gaming skills wait like Pokemon to be captured forever. A remarkable moment in my Gen Con life happened when I joined my buddy Death (Dan Dillon) for a game of Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying. One of the staffers at Alderac Entertainment ran the game, and we were allowed to create our own characters. That’s always a good time for me, and the L5R universe is fascinating, so I was feeling pretty good about my next four hours of gaming. Then our GM did something amazing. He had no notes. No plans. No adventure module. Just a knowledge of his world and a desire to see us have a great time. So while I constructed my Scorpion clan bushi and the other players made their characters, he just started asking us questions. What’s the most important part of bushido to your character? How do your characters feel about lesser clans? Are any of you making a duelist?
Aaaand he then ran one of the funniest and most interesting four rounds of gaming I’ve ever had. I began to see that, though I thought of myself as a decent and energetic game-master, I was really limited in my skills and my players could have it better. There were people I could learn from and they needed no rules or preparation to drop a better game than I could. Wow!
Since that time, I stumbled upon an outstanding event called Iron GM, where I compete every year against some of the best storytellers in gaming. The event forces them to craft a story from three previously unknown elements, and their players judge them based on use of those secret ingredients, knowledge of the game, the encounters they crafted, and general panache. I was hooked from the beginning, but to be sure I was very mediocre my first year. I learned how to deal with surprises, reject ideas and replace them with better ones, and more just by competing in this event once a year on my own. I’ve since won the event twice (Pestilence won the first time he tried. Ugh. Yay!) and continue to learn good habits for totally unprepared gaming.
So much impromptu gaming happens at conventions we thought we’d spend the month of August giving advice related to unplanned gaming events. It’s our hope some of these nuggets from our own experiences will allow you to spend more time gaming and less time talking about gaming!