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Gaming Away from the Table

July 7, 2012


As a Game Master, I often have a lot of goals in mind when I create an adventure or a campaign. First and foremost, I want people to have fun. I want to create a coherent story that isn’t lame. I want to challenge the players (and their characters). Sometimes I even want to try something new behind-the-scenes that the players aren’t even aware of but makes my job easier. I don’t have to tell you that life behind the screen is busy.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’ve met that goal–short of outright asking people if they had fun or if the story is lame. Many times my players communicate with me on a “if we’re not giving you hell, we’re not having fun” level–which is great, but sometimes confusing for the GM with the glass-ego quirk.

But the one moment when I know I’ve hit all the right buttons, that whatever I’m doing is on target, is when I get those emails from players between sessions asking for in-game information on the campaign. Or when my wife starts outlining all of her character’s plans to me while I’m driving her to work.

Those “gaming away from the table” moments are what keep me coming back to the screens.

It’s easier now that we have mobile communications out the wazoo. We can email each other, text each other. Our group has even been using forums on Obsidian Portal to keep up in-game conversations between sessions to get to the action sequences faster. And though I do use in-game incentives to encourage this behavior (Plot Points for everyone who posts between sessions), if people didn’t care–if they weren’t already into the game–they wouldn’t do it.

It’s incredibly gratifying and reinforces my firm belief that even though I’m the Game Master, it’s ultimately our game. We’re all creating something greater than the sum of its parts. And that’s pretty damn special.

From → Ramblings

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