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  1. - Top - End - #91
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Gonna arise from my slumber like a vengeful god and slide riiiiight on into here.

    99% of what makes a game easy to prep for is having good tools to assist the GM in running a low-no prep game.

    To call upon a chef analogy from page 1,
    We don't necessarily want TV dinners.
    But if the chef has to kill all the chickens and start a fire and grow the wheat and bake the bread for everyone to have a chicken sandwich, well...
    It will either be the best or worst chicken sandwich you've ever had.

    If the chef has a selection of artisinal breads already baked and some of the people at the table help cut bread and put cutlets on we can all eat quicker and hell, we might make a better product than one chef alone in a kitchen can prepare.

    And if we don't, at least we all got to do something together and it's a less daunting task to try again.


    All anyone on the low-prep side really wants is some proper support. D&D is SO unwilling to tell DMs how best to do their thing that they pretty much just throw options at you and then retreat to a safe distance while crying "but only if you want to" as if we'll all lash out in anger.
    Come to think of it, I've met a lot of D&D players here and in forums...
    They probably would be at WotC's doors with pitchforks in hand if they ever had the gall to say "here's what DMing should ideally look like" even in broad terms.

    Low-no prep is not about making none of the preparation MATTER. That makes for a crappy system.
    Making the system so gutted and simplified that it can't really do anything flavorful ALSO makes for a crappy system.

    But a system with straightforward tools imbued with flexibility and, above all else, deeply ingrained into the flavor of the system....

    That's gold, right there.

    It means I can lay things out in broad terms and fill in when I get there during the session, without feeling like I've been put on the spot any time a player does something unexpected. If a system gives me the flexibility to roll with the punches without having to preprogram every maneuver I can think of ahead of time, I'll have a lot more fun and, in my experience, so will my players. Because a GM who hasn't spent 4 hours prepping the session is a lot less attached to their carefully crafted storyline, and when they know they can roll with the players, you become less of a Rock Em Sock Em Robot and more of a Muhammed Ali.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    I doubt you could find a less sensitive person on these boards than ImNotTrevor.

  2. - Top - End - #92
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    I find it more useful to think about what you specificially need to prep for the type of game you run, so you can focus on that and not waste time on things peripheral to the experience.

    Say you want to run a heist game, where the main draw is the fun of planning and execution. You can reduce what you need to prep for this down to for example just the following, courtesy of the Alexandrian:
    - Blueprints
    - Defensive measures
    - Event schedule
    - Gotchas (optional)

    So intstead of having the lofty design goal of not requiring any prep, be specific about what the GM should prep and provide support for that.

  3. - Top - End - #93
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    I find it more useful to think about what you specificially need to prep for the type of game you run, so you can focus on that and not waste time on things peripheral to the experience.

    Say you want to run a heist game, where the main draw is the fun of planning and execution. You can reduce what you need to prep for this down to for example just the following, courtesy of the Alexandrian:
    - Blueprints
    - Defensive measures
    - Event schedule
    - Gotchas (optional)

    So intstead of having the lofty design goal of not requiring any prep, be specific about what the GM should prep and provide support for that.
    Blades In The Dark is a great example of a game that gives extensive and strong tools for exactly this.

    Including drawing from common elements of Heist stories, such as Flashbacks, to make it feel like a heist story. Basically, even if the PLAYERS aren't expert planners, they still get to have a character who is, because they can spend a resource to basically say "I was prepared for this."
    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    I doubt you could find a less sensitive person on these boards than ImNotTrevor.

  4. - Top - End - #94
    Troll in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Oh, my comments are *absolutely* about system design: don't build a kitchen that cannot house an oven. Understand the types of food that everyone wants to make / eat before you go attempting to design an "optimized" kitchen.

    The worst thing, IMO & IME, is when the rules actively get in the way.
    Rules will always enable some gameplay modes at the expense of others. That always happens. For instance, I'd argue that 3e makes it harder to do improv games (not impossible!) by virtue of the complexity of its stat blocks.

    Not every game is designed for your preferred play style, and that's okay. Not every game is designed for my preferred play styles either, and that's also okay. The beauty is that there are games out there for everyone, and you can just choose not to play games that don't work for you.
    "Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking)"

  5. - Top - End - #95
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Rules will always enable some gameplay modes at the expense of others. That always happens. For instance, I'd argue that 3e makes it harder to do improv games (not impossible!) by virtue of the complexity of its stat blocks.

    Not every game is designed for your preferred play style, and that's okay. Not every game is designed for my preferred play styles either, and that's also okay. The beauty is that there are games out there for everyone, and you can just choose not to play games that don't work for you.
    I agree. Most of this is a matter of taste and preference. But systems should, IMO, make it clear what styles of play they are designed for, and then focus on doing those styles well. People are free to use the system for unsupported styles, but at their own risk and effort.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by ImNotTrevor View Post
    Blades In The Dark is a great example of a game that gives extensive and strong tools for exactly this.
    No, not at all, Blades in the Dark is designed specifically to not have the players plan. Lots of players find the planning boring, so that's a good design choice and it's well executed. BitD is not designed for people who loves to do the actual planning though, which was what I was using as an example. However, I think John Harper was quite conscious about what should be prepped or not for his game, so BitD is a good example for this thread.

  7. - Top - End - #97
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    1. Sort of. What I meant was a system that is entirely built around a single, clearly-identified setting. And at that, a very narrow one. Blades in the Dark is literally one city (and maybe its surroundings). Anything outside is null. There's an invisible wall--if you want to set your game outside of Doskvol, the system not only doesn't help you but actively fights you. You get lots of prep-reduction from it, but at (to me) a gigantic cost. Of course this is a spectrum--even using a pre-written setting gains you something. But IMX, most pre-written settings that are wide enough to actually have diversity don't provide much of the information that you'd need to really cut down on prep. They have lots of high-level information but not enough of the kingdom or smaller level information. And what they have is so vague and useless (just due to page counts if nothing else) as to restrict (because you can't change any of the high-level invariants and still get benefit from a fixed setting) but not help (because you have to make up the internal stuff yourself).
    I am going to focus on this one because I would like to go a bit more in depth and this seems like a good one to do so. Some of the other ones we are already starting to reiterate what games they would be a good or bad fit for and maybe there isn't much else to say about them.

    OK so first off a pedantic note: the walls around Doskvol are not invisible, they are made out of lightning and they keep the ghosts out. But it is mentioned that is the purpose of the ghosts beyond the wall was to keep people from just running away from there problems? Lets say there was a functioning country side and they hadn't created in city greenhouses to feed everybody. So you go out into some little farm town. You are a bunch of criminals, being in a less populated area gives you less people to rob, less crowds to blend into and less low-lifes to recruit (a thing in this game). OK so what about going to another big city? There is a map of the Shattered Islands with rail lines and major cities. Say you set the campaign in South Port. What does that change? If it changes nothing then why do it? If it changes something that will have ripples and so there are going to effect something else.

    So basically I think that the idea of detailing one city is not a bad idea. The amount of detail is actually something I was going to say more about but this is taking longer than I expected and I have go.

  8. - Top - End - #98
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    No, not at all, Blades in the Dark is designed specifically to not have the players plan. Lots of players find the planning boring, so that's a good design choice and it's well executed. BitD is not designed for people who loves to do the actual planning though, which was what I was using as an example. However, I think John Harper was quite conscious about what should be prepped or not for his game, so BitD is a good example for this thread.
    Blades in the Dark reads like the least Heist Game I could imagine. It's all about the execution, and not about the research and planning at all. It's like watching Oceans Eleven or Italian Job ending, then going back and starting again at the beginning (and telling a story) to see all the supposed planning that happened to get you there.

    The sample base break in made me roll my eyes reading it, but only because I'm so used to TTRPG games where the DM runs the environment and the world, and PCs run their characters. Even PtbA doesn't go to this level of environment/world control by the players. It's one of the most "narrative" mechanics I've ever read.

  9. - Top - End - #99
    Troll in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    So basically I think that the idea of detailing one city is not a bad idea. The amount of detail is actually something I was going to say more about but this is taking longer than I expected and I have go.
    Practically speaking, for a given situation (published book, GM doing their own prep, whatever), the maximum amount of prep is fairly constant and restrained by time.

    So the choice is really "do I want one city that's super well detailed with a bunch of hooks and factions and NPCs and stuff, or do I want a bunch of cities with a bare minimum of detail?"

    Limiting the scope of the game isn't a bad idea. Even in games that will grow in scope, starting with a smaller scope is a good idea.
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  10. - Top - End - #100
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I am going to focus on this one because I would like to go a bit more in depth and this seems like a good one to do so. Some of the other ones we are already starting to reiterate what games they would be a good or bad fit for and maybe there isn't much else to say about them.

    OK so first off a pedantic note: the walls around Doskvol are not invisible, they are made out of lightning and they keep the ghosts out. But it is mentioned that is the purpose of the ghosts beyond the wall was to keep people from just running away from there problems? Lets say there was a functioning country side and they hadn't created in city greenhouses to feed everybody. So you go out into some little farm town. You are a bunch of criminals, being in a less populated area gives you less people to rob, less crowds to blend into and less low-lifes to recruit (a thing in this game). OK so what about going to another big city? There is a map of the Shattered Islands with rail lines and major cities. Say you set the campaign in South Port. What does that change? If it changes nothing then why do it? If it changes something that will have ripples and so there are going to effect something else.

    So basically I think that the idea of detailing one city is not a bad idea. The amount of detail is actually something I was going to say more about but this is taking longer than I expected and I have go.
    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Practically speaking, for a given situation (published book, GM doing their own prep, whatever), the maximum amount of prep is fairly constant and restrained by time.

    So the choice is really "do I want one city that's super well detailed with a bunch of hooks and factions and NPCs and stuff, or do I want a bunch of cities with a bare minimum of detail?"

    Limiting the scope of the game isn't a bad idea. Even in games that will grow in scope, starting with a smaller scope is a good idea.
    I agree, roughly, with both of these. It's not a bad idea, just one I dislike for personal reasons. And the decision to tie your game so strongly to that one setting (and a micro-setting with walls) means that it's not much use to me, because a large chunk of my personal fun comes from making new things and seeing what the players do with them. And watching the setting as a whole evolve based on their actions and the world's counter-reactions. And when all the major decisions are made for me, that fun is sharply limited.

    Having too much detail for me means that the holes are filled in. That the unanswered questions (on which hang adventures) are answered. And that, to me, means the setting is useless (or of less use). Because my primary aesthetic is exploration, seeing what is beyond that next hill (metaphorically or literally).

    I tend to build iteratively and recursively. I have a broad-brush understanding of what is most places. But only when the players are moving toward that area do I build the detail, and then only in proportion to how much they get involved. I spend a lot of time getting the metaphysics down cold and understanding the underlying themes and aesthetics. And then time building the ideas behind the various nations, with more focus where the games start and spend a lot of their time. And as people explore, things they don't change but do see get set in stone for the next explorers. So each party gets the benefit of the planning that came before, but still has the freedom to change things by their actions.
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  11. - Top - End - #101
    Troll in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I agree, roughly, with both of these. It's not a bad idea, just one I dislike for personal reasons.
    Sure, generally decisions or even designs aren't good or bad without context. They're good or bad at trying to achieve a particular set of goals.

    (The exception is designs that get in their own way, and have parts that strongly support a thing, while other parts actively fight against it)
    "Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking)"

  12. - Top - End - #102
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Sure, generally decisions or even designs aren't good or bad without context. They're good or bad at trying to achieve a particular set of goals.

    (The exception is designs that get in their own way, and have parts that strongly support a thing, while other parts actively fight against it)
    Agreed. And that's what I've been maintaining this whole time. All the "fixes" I can see (or that have been presented) for the goal of reducing prep come with tradeoffs (as tradeoffs are inevitable just about everywhere). And those tradeoffs may make them less suited to certain people's styles. That is, reducing prep in the abstract is not a context-free "good thing". It's one style, which doesn't fit everyone. So we should understand the tradeoffs we're making in game design and make sure to clearly label what styles we're supporting and do those.

    I could drop my prep to nearly zero by running a pre-made module by-the-book. But I wouldn't have fun doing so. Same with most of the other suggestions. "Prep" is not a dirty word. I'd say I get as much pleasure or more out of prep as I do out of running the sessions themselves, but the prep without the sessions would lose inspiration. Both are needed (so just writing a book doesn't work for me, personally). On the other hand, needless prep (ie 3e-style build-monsters-as-PCs-with-all-the-pieces prep or highly-tactical combat prep) isn't all that much fun. So there's a balance, for me. I don't want a system that makes me do a lot of boilerplate busywork. That, after all, is what I have the system and the printed books for. And I'm happy to use that pre-generated content when it can be neatly fit into a new context or reskinned without issue. It's when that gets opinionated and highly context-dependent that it becomes useless to me. Which is why I don't buy modules or setting books--they're too heavily context dependent to get much out of them without tons of work that I'd rather do on my own foundation.

    I have a long-standing pet peeve when people take matters of taste and promote them as objective values. This is one of those cases--low prep =/= good (inherently). It also isn't bad inherently. Just one choice among many, with its own knock-on consequences.
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  13. - Top - End - #103
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by ImNotTrevor View Post
    Low-no prep is not about making none of the preparation MATTER. That makes for a crappy system.
    Making the system so gutted and simplified that it can't really do anything flavorful ALSO makes for a crappy system.

    Because a GM who hasn't spent 4 hours prepping the session is a lot less attached to their carefully crafted storyline, and when they know they can roll with the players,
    The post that these quotes came from was absolutely amazing. Had it actually advocated specific actions, I believe that numerous readers would have been convinced. You rolled amazingly on your Diplomacy roll there!

    Even I, contrarian that I am, don't so much disagree with the quoted bits, as think that they deserve more analysis. The second one in particular, which sounds like it ought to shield against railroading… I suspect may not be the *best* tool for that job, but is one that I had never considered.

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Rules will always enable some gameplay modes at the expense of others. That always happens. For instance, I'd argue that 3e makes it harder to do improv games (not impossible!) by virtue of the complexity of its stat blocks.

    Not every game is designed for your preferred play style, and that's okay. Not every game is designed for my preferred play styles either, and that's also okay. The beauty is that there are games out there for everyone, and you can just choose not to play games that don't work for you.
    That's not the angle I was evaluating.

    So, big in this thread right now is the concept of a heist.

    D&D - say, 3e - makes most heists pretty simple: Teleport in, grab stuff, Teleport out. There's no real *point* to playing through a D&D heist, for the most part - no real "game" there.

    But how could we make running a heist *difficult*? How could we make a system poorly designed for heists?

    Well, it depends. We could go the D&D route of making them trivial. We could go the BitD route of removing planning - the whole *point*, the whole *game* of the heist for some. But let's not do that.

    Instead, let's imagine a system where *other* scenes have no "game".

    Suppose we start with a system with "guaranteed failure" stealth rules, like 2e D&D, so that every open relying on stealth is guaranteed to fail at some point, and the question isn't "whether", but "when". Well, we haven't really ruined the heist concept yet, just made it very tense, with almost no chance of a clean getaway.

    But what if our movement / vehicle rules didn't have concepts of successfully escaping a chase scene? In 2e, you could only stealth by hiding in shadows when not actively observed - good luck with that during a chase scene. And, if they had the same movent rate, you couldn't lose them that way, either. So 2e rules are kinda a pain there.

    But can we do worse? Can we envision something that makes a "normal" game really easy to prep, but which makes a heist game in the system somehow bad / difficult?

    Personally, I would say "yes, trivially", but I'm not sure if everyone will follow my example: 3e social skills.

    In 3e, you don't do much make and map NPC personalities and motives, you just spam social skills at set DCs. This lack of personality makes it really easy to generate "Fighter 2, AC 12, 15 HP", but really hard to know if this particular guard might be susceptible to a bribe, or what that bribe should look like. Take most any D&D module, and imagine running it as a heist, with the PCs trying to steal something from each city / adventure site. Imagine everything that is missing from what Ocean's Eleven would want to interact with.

    Or imagine that I've used "simplified monster creation" to make my "bruiser gargoyle" that deals 2d20 damage… and then one of the PCs decides to Polymorph into one. OK, how much of that damage was Strength? How much can they lift and still fly? They're made of stone - was their flight magical? At that point, you may as well ask the player, "what would you like the answer to be?", because every answer will be completely arbitrary.

    Understanding the use cases for the system (someone might want to pull a heist, or Polymorph into a creature) is what I'm talking about, not "improv" (which, I agree, 3e makes quite difficult).

  14. - Top - End - #104
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The post that these quotes came from was absolutely amazing. Had it actually advocated specific actions, I believe that numerous readers would have been convinced. You rolled amazingly on your Diplomacy roll there!

    Even I, contrarian that I am, don't so much disagree with the quoted bits, as think that they deserve more analysis. The second one in particular, which sounds like it ought to shield against railroading… I suspect may not be the *best* tool for that job, but is one that I had never considered.
    Giving super specifics is difficult. What works for one system may not work for another.

    Apocalypse World does well in providing broad (but not overly so) categories for what may happen on a failed roll, a wide variety of "threats" and different ways that they may behave, in ways that aren't ridiculous to access during play. (Someone is going out to the Burn Flats? That's a Maze threat, put my eyes on my Threats sheet, looking at Mazes)

    My prep in AW focuses on having broad-view ideas of what happens if the PCs don't stop a particular threat from developing. Within the session, I show what that looks like and with what they do, roll with those punches. And it doesn't really matter if they walk into the local warlord's chamber and blow his brains out in session 1. Power vacuums cause problems, and he wasn't the only problem to begin with. So my campaign is unaffected.

    But a lot of this works because Apocalypse World isn't trying to emulate a Hero's Journey. It wants to express drama in a post-apocalyptic *community.*

    To point to what someone else said, part of what helps is having a clear, narrow focus for what the game wants to be. D&D is neither narrow nor focused, so it ends up needing to be very thoroughly prepped and a significant number of hours are required to get it ready to run.

    I considered adding a "what would I add for D&D" but... D&D is extremely resistant to reducing its prep time. D&D has chosen to go hyper-detailed, so in order to reduce prep time you'd have to reduce detail. Which would mean redesigning d&d.

    I'd rather not, so I won't.

    For an idea of what a D&D-like game with low prep might look like, see Dungeon World or, for a better option, Fellowship. (Not associated with LotR, shockingly.)

    ---

    To expand on point 2, Apoc. World makes it really easy to not get hella attached to your threats because... there isn't just ONE.

    There is no "BBEG" in Apocalypse World. There's a variety of small fires in a fireworks warehouse and the PCs are a bunch of very tired workers with squirt guns. (And maybe some torches)

    Can you do an adventure game like that? Sure. I see no reason why you can't have a variety of villains preparing their world-domination plans and as the PCs single them out they are at various levels of Finished With Their Plan, and maybe they get to one or more just a little too late.

    You could take from City of Mist and their Iceburg setup for Mysteries, but the mystery being unravelled is the identity/plan of the BBEG and how to stop them/it.

    So long as the system was built around it, any one of these could be endlessly helpful in reducing the session-to-session prep time of a system.
    Last edited by ImNotTrevor; 2021-01-12 at 06:44 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    I doubt you could find a less sensitive person on these boards than ImNotTrevor.

  15. - Top - End - #105
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Blades in the Dark reads like the least Heist Game I could imagine. It's all about the execution, and not about the research and planning at all. It's like watching Oceans Eleven or Italian Job ending, then going back and starting again at the beginning (and telling a story) to see all the supposed planning that happened to get you there.
    That actually happens in Ocean's Eleven*, I can't speak to the Italian Job but the Ocean's movies make amble use of dramatic irony where the characters know things the viewers doesn't and they are revealed by going back when - or sometimes well after - that aspect of the plan has become relevant.

    I wouldn't say one is better or worse, I wouldn't even say I like one more than the other as I have only played the strictly forward version.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I could drop my prep to nearly zero by running a pre-made module by-the-book. But I wouldn't have fun doing so.
    Why are you in this thread? This is a serious question because I'm suddenly not sure how to approach this. I can continue to ask questions but if the answer is a blanket "I don't like it." that's not a useful conversation.

    The questions I were going to ask are things like: How does Doskvol's setting get in the way of exploring physics or effects of character's actions? What are the parts of the setting you are less interested in creating?

    On Objectively Better: I did say not having to do work for your hobby is objectively better, but I did call out I am not talking about the parts people are doing because its fun for them. I forget if I explicitly said anything about (traditionally) high-preparation game styles being as good as low-preparation game styles but that is true. I still think it would be cool if I could build tools so that high was not quite as high.

    Spoiler: I wrote this then realized its just me venting a bit.
    Show
    For me its tiring when people respond with my ideas for improvements with talk like I'm just too lazy to be taken seriously (maybe it was accidental, I forget the details I try to tune it out). But the thing is: I have three other hobbies that consume massive amounts of time and energy and various full time responsibilities. My world building has been described with, "You know you haven't really world-built until you have gotten into protein folding." I am in fact aware of the concept of putting in work. Yet apparently to some people feel I don't meet some special dedication threshold because I think it would be nice if it was easier and hence should be bared from the office of GM.
    I decided to leave it in just so I can get this off my chest, even though I think the people who it would be directed at have all left the thread. Also depending how you count this is part of one of those three hobbies so it would be only two other hobbies.

  16. - Top - End - #106
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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Part of the issue is also, what kind of workload.

    I run a dnd game, I have the world building. Npcs, plot hooks,combat. Ect.

    I run cuthulu and it's more, background secrets for the players to find, props, synthesizer sound effects, ect..


    I do find, long term at least, reusable worlds seems to help. I find if I use my "first age" setting for dnd for more than one group, I can just adjust as opposed to build.

  17. - Top - End - #107
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Why are you in this thread? This is a serious question because I'm suddenly not sure how to approach this. I can continue to ask questions but if the answer is a blanket "I don't like it." that's not a useful conversation.

    The questions I were going to ask are things like: How does Doskvol's setting get in the way of exploring physics or effects of character's actions? What are the parts of the setting you are less interested in creating?

    On Objectively Better: I did say not having to do work for your hobby is objectively better, but I did call out I am not talking about the parts people are doing because its fun for them. I forget if I explicitly said anything about (traditionally) high-preparation game styles being as good as low-preparation game styles but that is true. I still think it would be cool if I could build tools so that high was not quite as high.

    Spoiler: I wrote this then realized its just me venting a bit.
    Show
    For me its tiring when people respond with my ideas for improvements with talk like I'm just too lazy to be taken seriously (maybe it was accidental, I forget the details I try to tune it out). But the thing is: I have three other hobbies that consume massive amounts of time and energy and various full time responsibilities. My world building has been described with, "You know you haven't really world-built until you have gotten into protein folding." I am in fact aware of the concept of putting in work. Yet apparently to some people feel I don't meet some special dedication threshold because I think it would be nice if it was easier and hence should be bared from the office of GM.
    I decided to leave it in just so I can get this off my chest, even though I think the people who it would be directed at have all left the thread. Also depending how you count this is part of one of those three hobbies so it would be only two other hobbies.
    First off, an apology. I can frequently be categorical in my speech and writing on these forums. It's a bad habit of mine. Along with long-windedness. When I say "You can't create a vibrant, living world without prep", I did mean that. But the amount of prep needed is not necessarily BIG NUMBER like I implied, and most people can get away with a lot less prep than I put in. And that's great.

    As to my purpose:
    I'm contesting the premise, or at least the one that seems to be implied. Which is that prep is an evil, even a necessary evil. That everyone would be better off if we globally reduced the amount of prep that DMs/GMs did, and that zero (or near-zero) is the ideal.

    Not everyone believes that lowering prep is an inherently good thing. You may like it, or wish it, and are free to find ways to do so. But doing so at a system level usually means that those of us who like prep or who like things that require prep have to fight the system to do so. And that kinda sucks, fighting the system like that.

    I don't think that people who don't like prep are lazy. I think that they have different priorities than I do. Which is fine, as long as their priorities and my priorities aren't in conflict. If they are, I'll take mine...because well....I prefer mine (rather obviously).

    So I guess what I'm saying is that if you're (generic you) so focused on "reducing prep", you're missing most of the variables that matter. There are tons of ways to reduce prep regardless of the system, if that's all you care about. But each and every one of them, like anything else in this life, comes with compromises and trade-offs. No game design free lunches. Some of those proposals have trade-offs I can handle or that don't annoy me (not having to make individual stat blocks for every creature, for instance, is worth the "fuzziness" that results at the world level when every X is basically identical to every other X, IMO). For you, other trade-offs that I can't handle may work. Which is fine.

    The principle is one of Conservation of Annoyance. Every system has approximately the same amount of total annoyance baked in. Not just game systems--this principle was developed for physics models originally. You can't really change that total annoyance. All you can do is shove it around, including places that don't matter for the task you're using it for. Good systems make it very clear where they've put the annoyance (so if you want to do something there, pick a different system). By reducing prep-related annoyance, all you're doing is shoving that annoyance somewhere else. Maybe you don't care about that new form of annoyance, so it's a win. But others do. So by doing so you've made them (ie me) less interested.

    If you give me someone else's setting, with all the meaningful details filled in, I get bored. I need the freedom to create my own universe from the Big Bang Equivalent up. To set the metaphysics with a free hand. To throw out all the written lore and find new (or not so new) explanations for things. To play in the deep back-history as well as the ongoing adventures. To see the thing develop based on the interactions of the players and the emergent story. To learn new things about the world and watch it grow, things I'd never expected. These are intrinsic parts of my fun. Having those fixed in place ruins it entirely for me as a creator. I can play in someone else's setting, if the companionship is genial. But then it's entirely playing for the social aspect--it doesn't engage a large chunk of my soul. It becomes mechanical, rather than engrossing.

    So if you hand me a system that has a fixed setting, or that demands that you use mostly random (even curated-random) methods for generating content, I'll say thanks but no thanks. You've lost me as a customer. It's one reason I like D&D, despite its flaws. It accepts that DMs can make their own worlds, not just their own adventures in a fixed world. If I want to throw out the standard planes or other lore, I'm free to do so (at the cost of more prep, but that's something I'm glad to do). Doing so in, say, WoD means throwing out almost everything. Because it's all so tightly coupled. Same, from what I understand, of Blades in the Dark. Take it out of Doskvol and you lose a good chunk of the system's support structure, leaving you scrambling to basically reconstruct the same thing with the names changed.

    As to Doskvol in particular, it's one city. No matter how big, it's fundamentally one city with fixed metaphysics and philosophy. It's geared around one particular style of play (cinematic heists). Everything about it, from the ground up, is designed to support that. And heists leave me cold. I don't watch the movies, I don't care about the whole genre, and playing in a heist-genre game is a no for me. Personal taste is paramount. Same reason I don't like WoD--existential angst isn't high on my list of things I want to deal with.

    Spoiler: the things I do want to do
    Show

    And I can't do things like
    * What if (a variation on) a 12th-century alchemist's understanding of physical laws were actually true, and what if we weave magic into everything to make it come out right? This is one of the underpinnings of my setting.

    * How can I make the counter-intuitive and "unrealistic" and "gamefied" mechanics of 5e D&D make sense in a world that doesn't actually live by the rule-book (so no 4th-wall-breakage/in-universe metagaming)? Another major goal of my setting.

    * What's over that hill? Let's find out.<---this one's a big one for me. I live for the moment when players look at the world map and go "oh, that's cool, let's go there!" when "there" is somewhere I don't have anything more than a vague idea for." Being forced to map out areas as players approach, especially with particular needs in mind. Much of my setting contains things I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Things that were prompted by a throw-away remark someone made, which then got me thinking.

    I started my rebuilt setting thinking I'd follow the advice to "start small". I built a single village and its surroundings. And immediately the players said "What's over there?" pointing outside the walls I'd built. They wanted to explore, to see new things. To encounter new life and new civilizations. To boldy go...oh wait, wrong genre. But we were hooked. And I gave up the style I had thought I was going to play (more of a west-marches "quest board" game) and went all in with the sweeping travel and reshaping the world as we went style.

    * How will this story evolve, and how will the world change permanently as a result? <---this one is one where heists and other narrow-focus genres leave me cold. I know the only ways the story can end. in essence, they have episodic continuity. Everything will return to the Status Quo Ante after they're done, one way or another. If captured, they'll escape (or we'll pick up with people who didn't get captured). If they succeed, they'll soon be back for another job. Each one is self-contained. I want narrative threads that weave together over many different arcs. I want to find ways of having the PCs act as catalysts of change for the world in ways I can't predict. That's the point of having players in a world, to be the flashpoints. To be the unpredictable element that makes me rethink things and keeps me interested for the next session. Anything where I can plan more than a session or two out gets stale.

    And I quickly found that my players love leaving a mark on the setting. Encountering prior characters, now NPCs. Knowing that the choices they made mattered, that it wasn't just going to get reset for the next group. I've had no murder hobos or even close in over 14 groups, mostly filled with teenagers and new players. And that's been a beautiful thing. And some of them have even said that they respected the setting because they saw that I had poured myself into it. That, to me, is special. And important. And if I can't do that because it isn't my world to start with, because I'm sharing ownership of it and have to work against decisions other people made, especially foundational ones, I can't maintain it. I tried in a shared setting. But we disagreed on aesthetics and goals, so I couldn't continue. I can't run a game in a world I don't enjoy 100%. Full stop.

    * How can I weave these disparate threads the players have handed me into the tapestry of the world, with both being richer for it? I don't want to have the players build the world, because then it's too much in their hands and they're thinking of it as a movie. I want them to live in the world. To sink into it, and by doing so, show me how it can be better and richer. I've been blessed with a lot of like-minded players.

    All of these are personal needs. But ones that most of the proposed "solutions" don't meet. And often for reasons completely indifferent to the amount of prep.


    Spoiler: things I don't want to prep
    Show

    Detailed stat blocks for every thing. Give me a selection of generic monsters and a system that doesn't have a huge gap between optimization ceiling and floor. Give me well-written (or at least simple stat blocks) that don't make me have to cross-reference multiple sources during play.

    Tightly-balanced tactical encounters. Theme matters way more to me--I don't really care about difficulty.

    Tables. I don't even want to reference them except during prep, and only then for inspiration when I'm out of ideas.

    Battle-scale maps, most of the time. I'd much rather just free-hand them on a wet-erase mat. But playing on line makes that rather more difficult. World and area maps are different, because those influence how things play out on a larger scale.
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  18. - Top - End - #108
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Not everyone believes that lowering prep is an inherently good thing.
    Clarification: I argued that reducing work (that is to say the prep you don't want to do) is an inherently good thing, its always going to be on of the positives in a trade-off whether you take it or not. Which does have a subjective component of what does the subject consider work but from there I think we can safely draw a few conclusions. If you have a counter to that I'll hear it but mostly I have just been struggling to get across what I am actually trying to say and people seem to be arguing against a different point. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding them.

    It was supposed to start with that - what I thought was an - uncontroversial premise and then move on to things like talking about the types of preparation, different options for reducing them and when they are appropriate. So far though people seem mostly interested in discussing when they are inappropriate. Which is worth talking about but we can't really discuss trade-offs if only one side of the equation is acknowledged. In hindsight I have kind of been sticking to one side myself as kind of a reaction.

    The principle is one of Conservation of Annoyance. Every system has approximately the same amount of total annoyance baked in. Not just game systems--this principle was developed for physics models originally.
    I am aware of conservation principles in physics, I think they are inappropriate in game design because I have seen a lot of systems and the amount of annoyance in system is not even close to a fixed constant. There are some bad systems out there. Maybe the fact the really annoying systems aren't usually successful might make the range seems smaller than it is.

    Spoiler: the things I do want to do
    Show

    And I can't do things like
    * What if (a variation on) a 12th-century alchemist's understanding of physical laws were actually true, and what if we weave magic into everything to make it come out right? This is one of the underpinnings of my setting.

    * How can I make the counter-intuitive and "unrealistic" and "gamefied" mechanics of 5e D&D make sense in a world that doesn't actually live by the rule-book (so no 4th-wall-breakage/in-universe metagaming)? Another major goal of my setting.

    * What's over that hill? Let's find out.<---this one's a big one for me. I live for the moment when players look at the world map and go "oh, that's cool, let's go there!" when "there" is somewhere I don't have anything more than a vague idea for." Being forced to map out areas as players approach, especially with particular needs in mind. Much of my setting contains things I wouldn't have thought of on my own. Things that were prompted by a throw-away remark someone made, which then got me thinking.

    I started my rebuilt setting thinking I'd follow the advice to "start small". I built a single village and its surroundings. And immediately the players said "What's over there?" pointing outside the walls I'd built. They wanted to explore, to see new things. To encounter new life and new civilizations. To boldy go...oh wait, wrong genre. But we were hooked. And I gave up the style I had thought I was going to play (more of a west-marches "quest board" game) and went all in with the sweeping travel and reshaping the world as we went style.

    * How will this story evolve, and how will the world change permanently as a result? <---this one is one where heists and other narrow-focus genres leave me cold. I know the only ways the story can end. in essence, they have episodic continuity. Everything will return to the Status Quo Ante after they're done, one way or another. If captured, they'll escape (or we'll pick up with people who didn't get captured). If they succeed, they'll soon be back for another job. Each one is self-contained. I want narrative threads that weave together over many different arcs. I want to find ways of having the PCs act as catalysts of change for the world in ways I can't predict. That's the point of having players in a world, to be the flashpoints. To be the unpredictable element that makes me rethink things and keeps me interested for the next session. Anything where I can plan more than a session or two out gets stale.

    And I quickly found that my players love leaving a mark on the setting. Encountering prior characters, now NPCs. Knowing that the choices they made mattered, that it wasn't just going to get reset for the next group. I've had no murder hobos or even close in over 14 groups, mostly filled with teenagers and new players. And that's been a beautiful thing. And some of them have even said that they respected the setting because they saw that I had poured myself into it. That, to me, is special. And important. And if I can't do that because it isn't my world to start with, because I'm sharing ownership of it and have to work against decisions other people made, especially foundational ones, I can't maintain it. I tried in a shared setting. But we disagreed on aesthetics and goals, so I couldn't continue. I can't run a game in a world I don't enjoy 100%. Full stop.

    * How can I weave these disparate threads the players have handed me into the tapestry of the world, with both being richer for it? I don't want to have the players build the world, because then it's too much in their hands and they're thinking of it as a movie. I want them to live in the world. To sink into it, and by doing so, show me how it can be better and richer. I've been blessed with a lot of like-minded players.

    All of these are personal needs. But ones that most of the proposed "solutions" don't meet. And often for reasons completely indifferent to the amount of prep.


    Spoiler: things I don't want to prep
    Show

    Detailed stat blocks for every thing. Give me a selection of generic monsters and a system that doesn't have a huge gap between optimization ceiling and floor. Give me well-written (or at least simple stat blocks) that don't make me have to cross-reference multiple sources during play.

    Tightly-balanced tactical encounters. Theme matters way more to me--I don't really care about difficulty.

    Tables. I don't even want to reference them except during prep, and only then for inspiration when I'm out of ideas.

    Battle-scale maps, most of the time. I'd much rather just free-hand them on a wet-erase mat. But playing on line makes that rather more difficult. World and area maps are different, because those influence how things play out on a larger scale.
    Oddly enough this is actually very similar to my list and the second list is why I stopped playing D&D because it felt like I was hauling around a war game when I just wanted a role-playing game. I do enjoy war games on their own but the fusion of the two never worked for me.

    Anyways I feel like I haven't said much of significance but I have also been staring at this for too long so time for me to go. Hope it's clear.

  19. - Top - End - #109
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Clarification: I argued that reducing work (that is to say the prep you don't want to do) is an inherently good thing, its always going to be on of the positives in a trade-off whether you take it or not. Which does have a subjective component of what does the subject consider work but from there I think we can safely draw a few conclusions. If you have a counter to that I'll hear it but mostly I have just been struggling to get across what I am actually trying to say and people seem to be arguing against a different point. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding them.
    Lowering "work" (prep you don't want to do) is a benefit to the GM in isolation. Doing so may have other consequences which are negative, which can result in it not always being a net positive, especially for people that don't get saddled with the "work". (As a corollary, if you're arguing for high prep and you aren't the one doing the work, maybe you should think about what your position is saying, especially if you're crossing the line from "this is what I prefer, but I can understand why GMs don't wanna" to "no, if you don't do this you're making a terrible game")

    But I'm with you - "less prep" and "more prep" are less interesting to me than "what kinds of prep are useful for what types of game structures?" and "where is the point of diminishing returns?" and "how much prep is necessary before things fall apart" and stuff like that.

    Also "how do you improvise" is an interesting discussion, because I think people that don't know how to improvise think it's some kind of arcane art, and it's really not.
    Last edited by kyoryu; 2021-01-13 at 10:29 AM.
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  20. - Top - End - #110
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Clarification: I argued that reducing work (that is to say the prep you don't want to do) is an inherently good thing, its always going to be on of the positives in a trade-off whether you take it or not. Which does have a subjective component of what does the subject consider work but from there I think we can safely draw a few conclusions. If you have a counter to that I'll hear it but mostly I have just been struggling to get across what I am actually trying to say and people seem to be arguing against a different point. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding them.

    It was supposed to start with that - what I thought was an - uncontroversial premise and then move on to things like talking about the types of preparation, different options for reducing them and when they are appropriate. So far though people seem mostly interested in discussing when they are inappropriate. Which is worth talking about but we can't really discuss trade-offs if only one side of the equation is acknowledged. In hindsight I have kind of been sticking to one side myself as kind of a reaction.
    When I first read the OP, I did not see it as an uncontroversial premise. Maybe because I don't see prep as "work" for the vast majority of the things that I do as prep. And it felt (subjectively, not necessarily intended) like another one of those "oh [D&D | rules-heavy game ] is awful, you should all play <other game> instead" screeds that I'm just so very sick of.

    I completely agree that the conversation got side-tracked. But it felt very one-sided "prep is bad and systems that require it are bad and you should not use them", at least to me. Which provoked defensiveness, and, well, things spiraled downward. At least that's how I see it.

    I am aware of conservation principles in physics, I think they are inappropriate in game design because I have seen a lot of systems and the amount of annoyance in system is not even close to a fixed constant. There are some bad systems out there. Maybe the fact the really annoying systems aren't usually successful might make the range seems smaller than it is.
    One of the funny things about annoyance is that if it doesn't affect you, it's basically invisible. As a tongue-in-cheek, not intended entirely mathematically pseudo-law, the principle of Conservation of Annoyance has worked really well to remind me that there are no silver bullets. That generally when I think I'm making things better with no tradeoffs, I'm really just pushing the existing annoyance into a personal blind spot and might not see it.

    Oddly enough this is actually very similar to my list and the second list is why I stopped playing D&D because it felt like I was hauling around a war game when I just wanted a role-playing game. I do enjoy war games on their own but the fusion of the two never worked for me.
    I think that if I played 2e or 3e (or likely even 4e, if I did it "right") I might feel the same way. But for me, personally, 5e doesn't cause me any problems while giving me what I want.
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  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    What's started to amaze me is how little the major game producers seem to be willing to make things easier. Intent, examples, explanations, advice on best practices, and highlighting important rules. All are missing to various extents in different games.

    I've come to understand developer system blindness. I write and maintain software and websites. The internal website for an organization is for what are essentially "expert" users, people who already know what's going on and how things work. The public website requires a serious shift in thinking, you can't assume those users know anything. The software is the same way. As a developer I know, intimately, what the software does and how it works. So I know what will and won't work, how to hack something to get a certain result. But I also have to write the help files, which means approaching the system from a "knows nothing" perspective. Then you realize that the users don't read in-depth advice and help stuff that isn't presented front and center with highlights and exclamation points.

    You have a system of rules? It doesn't matter if it's software or a game. The users are going to use the obvious stuff you put right in front of them. They'll use it how they assume it works based on previous experience with other systems and based on how it's presented. You cannot assume that they will look any further, read other documents, or look for solutions online. 90% of the users of your system will neither look nor think beyond the first thing they see.

    I'm rewriting a game pdf for an OK but not well presented system. I'm building into that pdf dice rollers and random table rollers. Making things easier. I'm adding 'best practices' and 'if you change this' notes. The stealth & perception? The skills and rules will have a link to (and back from) an appendix page with picture examples of no roll, easy roll, hard roll, impossible, all based on what the system math gives for normal success rates and RL military research of spotting chances. The link in the rules is going to be a bold red "HOW TO".

    This stuff isn't hard, it's starter mid-college unpaid intern difficulty to produce. But as a developer of a system of rules you have to understand that the users can come in knowing nothing and that 90% won't look past the obvious first instruction on the first page (and maybe a chart).

    If your "how to play" section say "only roll when failure has consequences" and you show a chart with an average 15 target number... Well failing to swim risks drowning, thats a pretty severe consequence, so most users will roll. It doesn't matter if there's a note about not rolling sometimes tbat's under the swimming sub-section of the athletics skill in the character creation area, you didn't put any effort into making it stand out and there's no base swimming speed on the character sheet. So that roll? Well if your system does normal as 3d10 explode on 10 then it's an 66% chance, 2d12+3 as normal sees a 54% chance, and a 1d20+2 as normal sees a 40% chance. And because you emphasized "roll for consequences" in your how-to section but put the "don't roll most of the time" in a note in a sub-section by character creation most of your users will be rolling. If that wasn't your intention, you screwed up as a designer.

    Been there, made that mistake. Learn from it and issue a fix rhat the users don't miss or don't get to avoid on accident.
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  22. - Top - End - #112
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    The concept of "conservation of annoyance" encapsulates much of what I was trying to get across, I think.

    Now, there's certainly *wrong* ways to do things. But once you hit a certain level of efficiency, it's all "cost benefit analysis" and "personal blind spots".

    So it *may* be the case that the best tools would be discussions about "how to recognize your planning strengths and weaknesses", or tips like "here's the kind of things you'll likely need to run a heist" and "here's what *not* to prep if you want to learn how to give your players more agency".

    IME, most "tools" of this sort do little more than display the author's biases and blind spots. And make things harder for those who don't share them.

    But perhaps tools for identifying wasted effort, or to evaluate system vs purpose, could be useful. Or perhaps as a group we could write something with less single-author bias.

    But, if you couldn't tell from 2e being my favorite system, yet me going straight to it for examples of "how not to run a heist", I have zero interest in heists, outside the planning phase. So, if we get into the nitty gritty, I'll be as biased as anyone, I imagine.

  23. - Top - End - #113
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The concept of "conservation of annoyance" encapsulates much of what I was trying to get across, I think.

    Now, there's certainly *wrong* ways to do things. But once you hit a certain level of efficiency, it's all "cost benefit analysis" and "personal blind spots".

    So it *may* be the case that the best tools would be discussions about "how to recognize your planning strengths and weaknesses", or tips like "here's the kind of things you'll likely need to run a heist" and "here's what *not* to prep if you want to learn how to give your players more agency".

    IME, most "tools" of this sort do little more than display the author's biases and blind spots. And make things harder for those who don't share them.

    But perhaps tools for identifying wasted effort, or to evaluate system vs purpose, could be useful. Or perhaps as a group we could write something with less single-author bias.

    But, if you couldn't tell from 2e being my favorite system, yet me going straight to it for examples of "how not to run a heist", I have zero interest in heists, outside the planning phase. So, if we get into the nitty gritty, I'll be as biased as anyone, I imagine.
    This is exactly why I prefer small, narrow-focused systems more than large, broad-focus systems.

    I deeply appreciate when a system understands what it is good at, and doesn't pretend it's good at other things.

    Apocalypse World tells you exactly what it's for, and how to GM it to achieve what it achieves. You don't use Apocalypse World for a game about rebuilding the world. You don't use Apocalypse World for a scrappy bunch of survivors trying to survive in the immediate aftermath of the End Times. And it never pretends you could or should. Apocalypse World has a tight focus, and because of that it's able to give you exactly what you need to run it well.

    I would much rather have a system say "Hey, this is what the system does. Here's how to GM it right" so I can say "eh, not interested" or "yeah, that sounds fun" in short order, rather than a system that tries to be "THE RPG for (insert a broad genre here)" and I have to figure out everything else brute-force on my own and maybe end up years later saying "Wow, this isn't what I want AT ALL." (What happened with me and 3.5)

    And here's the thing:
    The ability to look at a system and very quickly decide it isn't for you?
    I consider that a STRENGTH of a system.

    I don't want a system to waste my time. Tell me what you do, tell me honestly, and let me decide if that's what I want.

    I happen to really enjoy the particular thing Apocalypse World does. I will never say "Apocalypse World is good for everyone." It's good for everyone who likes The Thing AW Does, though.

    I've found various systems where I like The Thing It Does. I tend to dislike systems that claim "I Can Do All These Things" because, usually? They can't. Not without me putting in a LOT of effort to fill in gaps.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
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  24. - Top - End - #114
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by ImNotTrevor View Post
    This is exactly why I prefer small, narrow-focused systems more than large, broad-focus systems.
    Huh. So if I want to tell the story of "these characters (in this world)", does that mean that I inherently require "large, broad-focus systems"? (EDIT: or that they have to constantly switch systems? "Oh, you want to pull a heist? Convert your character to…"?)
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-01-14 at 02:50 PM.

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Huh. So if I want to tell the story of "these characters (in this world)", does that mean that I inherently require "large, broad-focus systems"? (EDIT: or that they have to constantly switch systems? "Oh, you want to pull a heist? Convert your character to…"?)
    That's a concern I have as well, one that pulls me away from more focused games. I want to be able to follow the emerging story of the characters and the world wherever it goes. And that might involve changing focus--this part's pure exploration, that part's a hack-and-slash dungeon crawl, this other part is more political intrigue, this other part is PIRATES!, and the last is weird wacky character drama.

    I'm not telling "the story of when we robbed the bank", I'm telling the story of "how Enigma changed the world of Quartus." And since I don't know what that means yet (since they haven't done it), I can't select a narrow-focus game to fit it. And it's overwhelmingly likely that the focus will change multiple times.

    I'm fine with specifying genre and primary focus, as long as it's broad enough. For me, that means that I need a "heroic fantasy adventure" game. Where "heroic" means something like "not gritty/overly logistic" and "fantasy" means "magic and strange monsters, not lasers and spaceships or real-world. and "adventure" means "going out and doing things, often involving strange new places and creatures, including combat".

    So for me, personally, 5e D&D does what I want it to do. I'm fine adding in the rules and mechanisms for social stuff as I need them, based on context. Whereas having large and detailed combat rules helps because I'm worse at doing those in a fun manner. That is, 5e D&D handles the parts that I don't want to prep for me acceptably (for my use case). Even if it's not focused around investigation, social stuff, or whatever, at least it doesn't get in my way when I add stuff in.

    On the other hand, other games wouldn't work for that. FATE doesn't have crunchy enough combat for my players and is too abstract. Plus, in keeping with the OP, I'd have to do lots of work to prep all the people, plots, etc. GURPS is way too gritty and mechanized. More focused games don't handle the focus changes well enough. A slice-of-life character drama wouldn't handle the "epic" delve into Borrowed Song to defeat the demon. A pure dungeon crawler wouldn't handle the investigation of the political situation in Wyrmhold. And the setting isn't post-apocalyptic in the sense that AW needs--basically all the governments are more or less functional and at peace, things mostly work, etc.
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Huh. So if I want to tell the story of "these characters (in this world)", does that mean that I inherently require "large, broad-focus systems"? (EDIT: or that they have to constantly switch systems? "Oh, you want to pull a heist? Convert your character to…"?)
    Depends on how many things you want them to do, and where you want to focus.

    I personally have come to prefer narrow-focus systems and short campaigns (8-16 sessions), where we get to have a beginning, middle, and end without dedicating one or more IRL years, and since we do character-focused systems, we get to explore the hell out of the characters within that timeframe.

    If you want to have a story that could theoretically go anywhere and involve anything, you'd need a system that could theoretically go anywhere and do anything. I don't see that as a controversial statement any more so than "putting things in water makes things wet." It would kinda... logically follow.

    The two ways to achieve that system are "highly specific" and "highly abstract." Fate can do a lot, but even IT has a "pop adventure" aesthetic that leads to most campaigns I've ever done in Fate ending up feeling like Guardians of the Galaxy if it were in different genres. Which is very fun, if that's the sort of thing you like. (It is, for me, so I do like it.)
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    I think at the very least, any story needs to know what kind of genre it's supposed to be. And that's precisely what the choice of rules system for a campaign deals with.
    To get invested in a story, you need to understand its internal logic and themes. I don't think a story that could potentially go anywhere and mignt switch genres at random can really work. Players need some basic assumptions to work with.
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    We do have enough genre switching that generally the focussed systems are not that good a fit and we tend to use systems that can do more things.

    But we still have main themes/genre for campaigns which is what is considered most during character building. It is not a problem if the PCs are like fish out of the water in some sidestory that popped up organically. But it is preferrable if that sidestory can still be handled without changing the ruleset or doing lots of handwaving.
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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Clarification: I argued that reducing work (that is to say the prep you don't want to do) is an inherently good thing, its always going to be on of the positives in a trade-off whether you take it or not. Which does have a subjective component of what does the subject consider work but from there I think we can safely draw a few conclusions. If you have a counter to that I'll hear it but mostly I have just been struggling to get across what I am actually trying to say and people seem to be arguing against a different point. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding them.
    Its also subjective in that "work" and "[stuff] you don't want to do" are not synonymous.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    So for me, personally, 5e D&D does what I want it to do. I'm fine adding in the rules and mechanisms for social stuff as I need them, based on context. Whereas having large and detailed combat rules helps because I'm worse at doing those in a fun manner. That is, 5e D&D handles the parts that I don't want to prep for me acceptably (for my use case). Even if it's not focused around investigation, social stuff, or whatever, at least it doesn't get in my way when I add stuff in.
    Thats pretty shocking, because DND in general and 5e in particular is an extremely narrowly focused game, that constantly gets in the way if you try to step outside what it wants you to do.

    I'm incredibly happy doing what it wants me to do, because I'm either making a character to do that and want to see how they develop within that context. Or running a game and am comfortable with that game style (because it's what I grew up on).

    What it's terrible for is "follow the emerging story of the characters and the world wherever it goes".

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    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Thats pretty shocking, because DND in general and 5e in particular is an extremely narrowly focused game, that constantly gets in the way if you try to step outside what it wants you to do.

    What it's terrible for is "making a character and following their story, whatever they choose to do in the world".
    I'm not terribly familiar with 5e - can you give an example of a system which you consider good for unfocused play, and contrast it with the D&D line to explain your stance?

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