Thursday, January 3, 2013

Choosing a New Game

Choosing a New Game
by Tobie Abad

It is an inevitability.  Your group either decides you want to try a different game, or you realize you want to try a new system.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to try something different.  There is no harm in exploring a whole new world either.  But many game masters have mentioned concerns in Google Plus on whether or not a formal pitch is necessary to introduce or offer a new game system, or if it can be something just informally thrown forward in the sense of just saying, "Okay guys, starting this weekend, we play this."

Here are my two cents on the topic:

When I find myself having the opportunity to run a whole new game system, or at a point in my gaming group where we have to decide what new game to try, I don't necessarily find myself struggling to create a "pitch" for them to read and decide upon.  Instead, I find myself wanting their input in the decision making process.

by Gruntzookie
I tend to ask the basic things:
1) Is there a game you want to try or a game you want to play again?
2) Is there a mood/theme you want to explore?
3) Are you willing to let me surprise you with a plot? Or do you have a specific direction you want to go towards?
4) Will this be a heroic story narrative, where we know the heroes 90% of the time survive since they carry the plot, or will we accept player character death can happen, and that means create a new character if you die?

In answering those questions, I find my group ends up creating a "joint pitch" so to speak of what the game will be about. 

Players tend to be a very easily satisfied lot, and frankly many of them just want to have fun and not necessarily search for challenges in a game.  But yes, occasionally a game master is blessed with players who like getting challenged and search for chances to play roles that are very different from what they're usually used to.  My suggestion is to recommend to them to stick to what they prefer and to explore and try new roles only during one-shots or limit run sessions.  The last thing you want, after all, is to prep a whole new campaign with a player exploring a new concept, then have that said player tell you two or four games into the story that they just "don't feel it."

But yes, exploring a whole new game system should always be fun, and players should have a say if they want to try it.  My players, for instance, 99% of the time trust me in throwing them a new story that they would love to explore.  But even with such trust, I know I can't just opt to run them a Wraith: the Oblivion game set during the Holocaust nor my humorously action-packed Models game.  I still need to make sure I hit what they find interesting and see if it coincides also with what I want to run.

Because yes Game Masters, Storytellers and Dungeon Masters, it has to ALSO be a game you WANT to run.  You're not paid to run that L5R game if you don't feel like exploring stories concerning Samurai, Ninjas and Ronin.  You are not beholding to run an Exalted game focused on the Lunars if deep down you feel you rather play Weapon of the Gods.  When it comes right down to it, if you and the players don't find a consensus on what to play, then guess what:  don't start a new campaign.  Role-playing games is a collaborative effort.  And it must always be fun for all parties.  If at any point it isn't, then by the gods why are you punishing yourselves playing it?

Role-playing games is about having fun.
If it isn't fun anymore, why torture yourself?


  1. Agree. Because of time and life commitments, campaigns (a series of sessions tied together) are so 1980's. It's better to either run one-shots or mini-campaigns (I find 3 - 5 adventures are enough).

    Keep the faith! Love the blog btw :)

    1. HHEhehehe, I will admit, however, my group still has long term games. As you'd see, the Agenda game which spans the Trinity timeline of White Wolf uses Adventure (1920s) Aberrant (1990s) and Trinity (2100s) in one long game storyline. We're currently in our 10th episode.

      But yeah, mini-campaigns and one shots are good ways to keep the gaming love happy even with lots of real life commitments that demand for your time.

      Thanks for reading!


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