Sometimes “yes, and” or “yes, but”. I had the absolute pleasure of listening to an actual play of Star Wars d6 RPG the other day that is on RPG Gamer Dad’s podcast and I heard RPG Gamer Dad say something to the effect of;
I take out the capsule that fits in the tooth socket and rub the two gels together to set off the thermite reaction. Or I would if I actually had it. Do I have it?
He is a very entertaining person to listen to, especially as his grizzled old bounty hunter perfectly counterpointed by his faithful droid. Then the GM says;
Sure. Let’s assume you do.
That is true GMing talent right there. It made it awesome for RPG Gamer Dad and it made the story move in a different direction, but more importantly a cool direction.
As a GM I used to get tied down in the stuff that I had written down for the night. I had a plan as a GM and that plan was written in pen and ink after careful consideration of my players situation. And my players were going to meet the plan or else.
No more though. I have learnt the wonderful skill called learning the adventure as it develops. That does not mean that you can’t plan though. Heck, I love my planning. I am eager to get this post done so I can do some planning in Shadowrun for next week. I want to create my Johnson or Fixer (not sure what role she is going to fill yet but I have a name and a vision – Fat Charlie the Arc Angel). I can even plan out scenes and probable path just as I used to. The only thing that I need to change are the things I do when I run the game. Take as an example my Dungeon Crawl Classics game last Monday night in which I had planned out the initial entrance to Biehl and meeting some of the NPC’s. The plan went to hell and I mentioned that in the post on Tuesday and I had a response from one of my players on the post that I display below.
The players got to the gate of Biehl and refused to enter because of the tax. I had hoped for a funny scene as they tried to dupe the guards and run into the city, but instead they decided to turn around and go to the ferry five miles back. Now the ferry was five miles back to encourage them to move into Biehl but that backfired. I was left a little high and dry. But I wanted to learn where this was going to take me.
So I used this opportunity to flesh out the tensions between North and South Biehl, introduce some humour (“Hi I am Oswald the Dry, unlike my brother Ronald the Wet I will get you across the river safely for 2 Silver a piece), and give them a challenge (bandits on the other side of the bridge that I foreshadowed at the gates of Biehl).
Now I had some bandit stats written up from one of the previous games and because I use Fantasy Grounds they were all still there. I just had to change the token from a rat person to a human bandit. The last time I ran them it was a deadly fight so I reduced the numbers and had them come out in a stand and deliver movement.
The battle was great. The players won and did not immediately slaughter everyone. In fact they managed to take a captive and convince him to join them as they questioned him about South Biehl and found out that the tax to get in there was one gold extra. They also quizzed him about other areas in the region (and heard about the towns “Captivity” and “Larceny”) but then heard that the captive knew a secret way through the sewers. They entered and heard some noises ahead when…
I left it on a cliffhanger. So the game was 75% made up. People ask how I make these things up so quickly and I can’t give you an idea. Just run with your first response. Always be thinking just ahead of what could happen. Toss out the boring and keep the cool and then your players will never know when you are taking a left turn at Albuquerque! When the players add to the story, just say Yes in most instances – it makes them more involved and gives you material to work with on the fly!