Monday, September 8, 2014

The Mummy's Mask Experiments

A brief mention of how I used and manipulated players for my enjoyment and gigglement.  Hee hee.  Gigglement.

A friend got me together with some others over the Intertubes, to set up a game.  I more or less volunteered to Game Master, mostly out of a urge to get back behind the screen.  I hadn't been game mastering at all for the last while.  Game Mastering and me are like turkey and the best turkey gravy you've ever concocted: savory.  Its one of the three things I love doing, and on top of everything else I know how to do, its on the very short list of things I'm good at.

So we started a group.  I used my usual conventions for starting game: all of which confused/bewildered those unused to my style.  For example, I never let players make their characters in a vacuum- I always run character creation in its own session.  I also enforce a group concept.  All of the characters have some core reason to work together, even if its vague and wishwashy.

This tends to guide the progress of people's characters toward being cooperative, not competitive.  Its a base instinct as a GM I fight to have my players ignore.  When players make characters focused on utility and self-sufficiency, while ignoring what others at the table have made... welp, then you're going to get people clashing.

Since my goal is always enforcing rule #1 (have fun), I've developed tools to make it easier to get to the fun and skip drama and awkwardness.  Right now, the Mummy's Mask game has entered 'Ok, this is working' territory.  Enough that I've already started the process of using it for experimenting.

EXPERIMENTATION AS GM

If you are going to Game Master, you need to be open to experimentation and deviation.  Its part of a scientific approach to Game Mastering- you need to experiment with new ideas and you need to analyze how they impact the game.  So, even before you begin to experiment, you need to establish a few good habits.

At the end of each session, you need to talk with your players.  You need their input.  It doesn't help to record or take notes of their input either.  Your players and yourself at the only ones who'll be able to provide the best possible data on what worked and what didn't.  Don't use platitudes or let inference color what you think- try to get observations.

At the end of each session ask your players how the session went.  What they liked, what they didn't like, what they hated.  Take this information and use it.  Its data you need to build an understanding of how they view the game.  Remember that if you can get more minds to think on the game, the better the end result you get!

Whenever you experiment- with rules, with roleplaying, with plot or whatever- make sure you also ask your players about it.  Ask them about the session regardless of whether or not you experimented too.  You want your players to be used to giving their input.

This is why I think of it as Scientific.  You need observations.  You need to experiment.  The only way to accurately experiment is to use player data to engineer experiments.

In our most recent session, I had decided to create more backstory for the players' party without having me do it.  I also wanted them to Roleplay more heavily, and figured improv was the best way to get them to do it.  I felt that some players were wanting more Roleplay and more direction on what other characters were like.  So I decided to create a scene that'd allow that.

I used a flashback.  I set up a scene and ask two players to use that seen to RP into a solution for that question.  In the process, the players got to roleplay more.  Ultimately it did as I intended, although player input wasn't strongly supporting that.  My players weren't sure of the end result.  I think I'll be having to continue to see what that results' effects on the game state are going to be.

Experiment, observe, repeat.