The Seven-Sided Die

GM advice, industry musings, and storming

Posted Saturday December 20, 2008 at 07:53 AM

Despite being finished school, I've been busier than ever. My family is taking a lot of my attention, and getting the house into better order than we were tolerating while I was consumed with school is being alotted the remainder. Then, of course, there is the holidays. Failing a thoughtful post, I can give you some links that are thought-provoking.

I was looking for GM advice earlier today. (More on that below.) By some tangents I came across the site of Greg Stolze, who is the most interesting RPG designer who I've ever been only vaguely aware of. (He's no longer in that category since I've absorbed his page and starting paying better attention to him.) If you enjoy reading industry-insider reminiscing and introspection about game design, you'll enjoy reading Stolze's pages devoted to talking about the games he's worked on. As he notes, they're marketing-pitch free unless you click the links to the products' own pages. He writes about good design, bad editing, a young Jonathan Tweet, the companies that come and go, and what it's like to write the RPG for a franchise he loved as a teenager. I usually balk at reading screens of non-blog home pages, but his are well worth it.

A later tangent found me reading Communicate: Understand the Lessons You Will Teach Each Other, an old guest article at Treasure Tables. Good advice there about considering what styles of play and group behaviour are rewarded by the choices and events the GM brings to the game. Along a similar theme I found Expectations, Conditioning and Your Game: Examples and its follow-up, Rules of Thumb, over at Errant Dreams. They address the broader but more practical techniques for setting the group's expectations for a new game (or resetting them in an established one) through deliberate crafting of an introductory session and making a themes reference sheet to keep the game on-track thereafter. It's one of those ideas that only seems obvious after it's stated.

Returning to industry reminiscing, I found an archive of John Wick's entire series of "Play Dirty" articles for Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid magazine. It's badly formatted, alas, because it's in the form of an email attachment that someone once sent to a fellow gamer, which itself has been archived on the web. It's well worth reading, although I admit I only got through the first few (long!) articles while Mr Baby napped on my chest earlier today. It has a massive word count. Those of you who aren't fans of Wick should probably take it in small doses, though, because he's his usual unsettling self. People seem to either love him or hate him. He's made some great games, though.

And that wraps— wait, what? Oh, right. That game on Wednesday I promised to report on. Um. Let's just say that parts of our group—myself included, much to my chagrin—are entering the storming stage. There's a reason I was looking for GM self-help and self-improvement articles... On the plus side, storming means that norming is on the way!

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