Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Casting Call

I'm having a bit of trouble these days. I can't seem to get a game running. My time is fairly limited by my square-john job and so I can't just do a pick up game any time I'd like. (I miss those days.) I have maybe 2 days out of the week when I could comfortably run a game. And that's it. Some of those days are taken up by the extremely well run Larp that I play in. So, as it happens, my gaming regimen is fairly go or no-go.

Add to this unpleasantness, Other people's work schedules and private lives (Oh, for the times when my entire circle lived in the same dorm.) and the fact that my long time Co-Gm up and moved to Godawfulmiddleanowhere, California...Well, you can see the bind I'm in.

But these aren't the real problems. Longtime Game Masters will know what I'm talking about here. I came up with an idea for game that I wanted to run. I called it the "Downtown" Chronicle. It was to take place in the undercity of new york and the bulk of the players were to be Nosferatu, with maybe a Setite or Samedi thrown in. Hardcore grimy gritty Vampire at it's best.

Some of my players are simply not in a Vampire place right now. I can understand that, and that's O.K. But most of my players thought this might be an excellent type of game to play. There was only one problem...

Out of all the players I polled, only one of them actually wanted to play a Nosferatu. One wanted to play an Assamite. One wanted the Setite slot I had set aside. One wanted to play a ghoul, Each had interesting reasons and back story's for why they wanted to play something other than what the story called for and some were pretty good. But I think I would have a hard time running an all-Nosferatu game with no Nosferatu in it. Call me irrational...Many do.

It can be discouraging. Many is the time when I think I have a goddamn good idea for a game and my regular players either go of in different directions from what I've got in mind or they dislike the idea entirely. You would think after all this time, I could get a little trust. I get very frustrated. I realize that players want to play what they want to play. I don't got no trouble with that. But they also have to realize that I want to run what I want to run. If Game Mastering isn't fun for me, why should I do it?

Game Mastering is a creative process. It involves a lot of time and effort to do right and it involves a bit of experimentation and experience to do easily. If you as a GM are feeling creatively stifled then you are going to lose interest in the game you are running no matter how cool your players think it is.

So it might behoove some of you players out there to give him the chance occasionally to run something a little off the beaten path so that he can try something. Give him a little leeway to try new things and you might be surprised at how they turn out. Suppose you have a Game master who is in love with the idea of running a Hunter the Reckoning game for 3 sessions. You might loathe and despise Hunter, but maybe you should give it a try. At best, you might find you like it and want to do more, at worst, your GM gets it out of his system and what have YOU lost?

Of course I am assuming that you have players that are actually going to listen and/or care about your needs. Not everybody is so blessed.

If you are a GM who feels the need to jack something of your shelf and run it before you die regardless of how stick-in-the-mud your players are being...Then I have a possibility for you...

Con Games.

Go to a Convention,(hopefully there is one in your area) or go to your local game store and put up a flyer for a one to three shot game. (make sure to mention that pregens are being used.) and then find a place to set up shop.

Con Games have a number of wonderful things about them that not even the best regular game can boast:

-They are finite. They can be scripted (if not necessarily controlled) from beginning to middle to end.
-The origins of the Characters are under your control. You won't have some numbnuts show up at a Werewolf game wanting to play a Vampire...(" Well then if HE gets to play that, then I want to play a Kuei-Jin...")
-You can create an actual unified group of characters that are a real team from the get-off. Unlike your usual set-up of having to figure out how the players are going to meet and whether or not they're going to get along. Werewolf Packs should be a unified concept, Sabbat packs too. Mage Cabals, and Camarilla coteries have a bit more flexibility, but they should still have some reason to hang together.
-Nobody is going to be playing with some weird power that you've never heard of unless you've put it on their sheet yourself. Which aint likely.
-in that same vein; You don't have to break your back bringing every book you own to the game. Take the core books and make copies of relevant pages from other materials if you have to.
-You can use Con Games to fill in the history of the game world you use for your regular players to stumble over.( If you dig White Wolf like I do, then Sorceror's Crusade, Dark Ages,Wyld West, Great War, and Kindred of the East are spectacular for this.)
-Con Games can be run over and over and be fun in different ways for lots of new people. Admit it, you have probably played Castle Ravenloft more than once. It doesn't make a bit of difference does it. With minor tweaking, that whole scenario can seem like new every time. In that same way, players will bring something new to the table every time. It can be disconcerting when a player manages to talk the main antagonist out of the big apocalyptic battle that normally happens at the end of the game...Doesn't mean it can't be fun, and you've certainly learned something haven't you?
-You can invite the lone friend who is actually interested, so that he can see that you really can GM that other thing too. If he's going on about how cool that game was to the rest of your circle, then maybe they'll try it just to shut the both of you up.
-If you want to use Miniatures, you can be prepared ahead of time. (An idea just occurred to me. You can go out and buy figures and paint them and then use them for your game. Then, at the end of the game you may offer to sell them to the players for a few buck to go along with the character which you give them for free. It might offset some of your expenses for con-going, and if they don't buy? Well, you can always use a few new figs right?)
-You are in the position of setting up the story in such a way that the players gain all the back story and background information...Eventually, thus seeing what a genius you are, instead of having to be stingy with information, like in a regular game.
-If you're playing in the Con Game, you can always crib the basic idea for campaign someplace down the line.

You get to tell the story you want to tell, and if it goes well then you feel better. And if it doesn't, look upon it as a learning experience. See what to do differently next time.

Sono Finito


At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Acid Reign said...

.....Last con I went to in Birmingham had more crack than dice, and guys were pissing off the top of the hotel onto 20th street. The cops got called repeatedly. And one of my buddies (whom I could have killed at the time!) bragged to our first round D&D tournament ref about what bad-asses we were, and how we going to trash this module, and pointed at me and said "HE WON the New Orleans con role-playing award last year!" Oh, this ref couldn't wait to screw us, but he didn't have to. We tore ourselves apart arguing and picking fights! Ehhhh. I haven't been back in 15 years. Too embarrassed!

.....I know about the time issue. I'm a father of two teenagers, a full-time industrial employee and we home-school (because Alabama is DEAD LAST in education, my boy was reading three grade levels behind and making B's when we pulled them out...) I manage to run a game (old Chicago by Night setting, Capone's Prince now, and REALLY IS seeking Golconda, but no one believes it!) maybe twice a year, and play in two others regularly. I've never LARPed. I have a poker-face whether I want to or not...

.....Nosferatu is GREAT to play in a rough and tumble game. There's nothing quite like the sound of someone's brains bursting when you invisibly smash a concrete park bench down on their head! And a pack of these little devils should terrify ANY kindred!



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