It is funny that Aki should mention the gaming immersion in his recent post. I encountered some of the problems discussed while I ran tremelus last week.
I had done my homework and read through the rulebook. I had played the game a few times and I had build a framework for the session. But still something was missing. And that was the confidence that is required to run this kind of a game.
Having just recently found the Apocalypse World engine I did not have the same amount of experience from it as Aki did when he ran tremulus. He made it seem quite easy. I found it anything but that. I had to constantly browse through the book to find what moves I could use and how exactly I could do that. I had to consult Aki during the session to get a confirmation that I was doing the thing right. It was a big hassle. At the beginning.
Then I did what I should have done the last time a ran a one shot. Threw to rules out the window so to speak. I wasn’t going to let the rule system ruin yet another session and just lead the game as I usually do. By guiding the flow of events just the way I damn please.
The players where familiar with their end of the system. They new what they were doing but I lost total track of all the tracks and moves I had in my disposal. I just let the things happen the way I thought they might improve the narrative. Was this done according to the principles of tremulus? Maybe not but at least to my knowledge the players had fun and enjoyed the game.
If you want to check out the framework (and maybe give pointers of how to improve it?) you can download it HERE as a pdf.
(Readers: I missed the game Lauri’s talking about, and haven’t actually played tremulus yet.)
I’ve run Apocalypse World a dozen times or so. I’ve found it remarkably easy and intuitive in some respects, but challenging in others – but in a good way! It’s modular enough that I can take it in strides, and improve one thing at a time. I’ve actually gone to some sessions thinking that this time I’ll “barf forth apocalyptica”, now I’ll concentrate on NPCs, that kind of stuff.
The first few times I also took the moves list kind of lightly, and maybe still do. At least in AW some of the moves are really open to interpretation – the best examples are “announce future badness” or “announce off-screen badness”. They’re really most of the stuff GMs narrate anyway, anything foreboding, ominous or threatening. It might be a meaningful, yet subtle emphasis on a word, or an alarm going off in the distance.
I’m sure that running the game makes it easier. Naturally. Reading the whole damn thing again might help too. I just need to grasp the concept of GM moves more precisely. GMing on the budget is an interesting idea in any respect.
You should note that I just do things confidently. What’s the worst thing that can happen? If I don’t screw players over, slight misses with the system are overlooked. And since I’ve started both sessions of tremulus I’ve ran by telling the players that their characters will die, but they do have the right fight back, I think I’ve followed up on this promise pretty well (with one character surviving each game).
That was exactly what I meant. If the players are entertained “slight misses … are overlooked”. I was just “desperate” to get the system right as I was/am considering running a campaign with it. Lets just call it a “learning process”.