Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The GM as Magician

Just a brief rumination that occurred to me while driving home today. There's a lot of tips about how to GM better games. And that's all well and good. But keep in mind something as you GM - you are like a magician to your Players. Well, I should caveat that by saying that it varies to a certain degree depending on the type of game your running. The more Narrative your style of game, the more Magician you become.

How so? Well you set up encounters. You create Maps. You create NPCs. You act them out improvisationally during the course of the game. No one knows really exactly what is going to happen because the Dice and the Players conspire to change whatever plans we may have had. And so improvisation is required.

But what the Players don't know, and in my opinion shouldn't know, is exactly what's been planned, and what's being improvised. They know its a mix. But they don't know how much of a mix. And that's a good thing, and should stay that way. Because one of the things that brings interest and excitement to the game is the idea that the GM's World is this real "other Place" that you can use your imagination to venture into. And when that works and you achieve some level of Immersion - it's awesome. Provided of course that the GM's World is actually awesome. But that's a different point. What I'm suggesting is that the GM should not divulge to the Players what his 'tricks' are... any more than the Magician will show you how he does a coin trick. The moment he does - the mystery is finished. You may have learned a trick, but you've lost the Immersion.

So unless you are teaching a new GM the tricks of the trade - don't tell your Players anything about what's going on behind the curtain. It's more fun for them, and probably improves the quality of their experience overall.
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