Taking Inventory of My Abilities as a GM, part 2.1

Forgot something yesterday. Probably many things, but this one popped into mind this morning.

I tend to use too many shortcuts or cut things too short.

For example, last time I ran a game, I started the game at the scene of a crime that had happened two years ago. It was in a house where the characters essentially met each other.

The problem was, the players read this as the whole thing was supposed to happen in the house, whereas I had planned for the village where the house was located as one of the hazards. We never really got out of the house, although there would have been plenty to do out there (not that I had actually decided on anything concrete).

In the end, this didn’t really matter. Good times were had and a narrative was constructed. This doesn’t excuse the fact that I clearly miscommunicated. I like to skip all the bullshit most GMs push into their games to make them more lifelike and immersive, which is usually a mistake since they are actually using precious time to make their games more boring.

If it was really important to include the village, I probably should have started with one of the characters arriving at the village. Even if he met the rest in the house, this would have opened the village as a potential place to investigate things in my players’ minds. With that addition, they might have actually gone to the asylum where the young woman who killed her employers was located.

One miscommunication from me changed the whole scenario totally. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use shortcuts like this, but although stories are in many ways very open, there are also many rules. I tried to break a rule in the wrong place by using a faulty shortcut. I should avoid those, but I don’t always manage to.

3 thoughts on “Taking Inventory of My Abilities as a GM, part 2.1

  1. I’ve to agree here. It was a bit confusing but didn’t affect the narrative too much. I think that what actually hurt the story (and your plans) more was that you did not give any input when I said I gained my character’s “weird item” from the local sheriff. Who was going to be a threat in the framework anyway…

  2. By the way: does tremulus also have the GM’s (or whatever he is) agenda, “always say” list, and the principles? What are they? The other Apocalypse World variants have these, and chief among them is that you don’t hold back information. How about tremulus, seeing as it is an investigative game?

  3. Yes, those lists exist, pretty much in the same form as in AW, but with slight genre differences (and “Always say” is known as The Execution). Instead of “Barf forth apocalyptica”, it says “Introduce the strange, the weird, and the alien at every opportunity”. Changes like that.

    I don’t hold back information besides what’s on the framework, but than again, I don’t have much to hold back. Whenever the player pokes around successfully, the rules require the Keeper to give them something they can choose, so I do. I just don’t know what it means at the time.

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