Every Friday night I run a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game for my son and his buddies using the edition of the game I first played back in 1981.
Every other Sunday I run a game for my son and his buddies and some of my gaming buddies (read other 40-something geeks). We use the current (5th) edition of the game.
The Friday night game started with an old-school, open sandbox style module, but quickly has devolved into me completely making stuff up as I go. I do probably less than 15 minutes of prep for this game every week.
The Sunday game, I am running one of the published adventures for the 5th Ed. game. As written, it’s very railroady. And focused on running the players through a story.
The roleplaying game phenomena has an interesting timeline, which I won’t go much into, other than to say it has produced some distinct styles of play. I’ve spent plenty of time in the “collaborative story-telling” school of play (hell, one of the more popular RPG systems is called The Storyteller System), and as much time in the “it’s a game stupid” school. And in all the space in between those two extremes!
Oddly, I find myself mostly in the game-ist side right now.
Because I am currently writing a post about the similarities in my writing process and my gaming table.
Right… I probably should get to that.
What I have found… I’m at my best when I am mostly winging it at the table. This shouldn’t be much of a revelation. The best game I’ve ever run was nearly 10 years ago (yes I remember a single night of gaming a decade ago), and I’ve come to refer to as the Doppleganger Murder Mystery extravaganza. For that game, I created a handful of 7-sentence non-player characters. Gave the players a situation, and let them have at it.
Today, in that Friday night game, I’ve been known to create the dungeon whole-cloth as I’m drawing it out on the map for the players. No prep whatsoever. Just, what would be cool right now?
Sunday game with the pre-written adventure? We’ve spent 3 sessions in the “episode” that allows the most free-styling in the whole adventure. And next session will be in that episode at least partially as well. I don’t think there’s any coincidence there. (I obviously don’t want to leave this place). But even when we are “on the rails”, my favorite parts (and I think the players’) are random encounter rolls and when the players completely go bat-shit crazy off the tracks.
What this all comes back to… why am I surprised? Even as a Dungeon (Game) Master, I want the experience to match the players’. I don’t want to know what happens, and I certainly don’t want to know how things end. It’s a game after all. Not a story. <grin>.
But since, we’ve mentioned story. When I’m the Dungeon Master of my novels, stories, etc. I don’t want to know how the games end, either.
In both cases, with players and readers… I strongly believe, if I don’t know where things are heading there’s a good chance they don’t either. If they do? More power to them. They’re smarter than me. And I’m okay with that.
Both of my books are widely available, and I would love to have you as a reader. Universal links: