Friday, August 31, 2018

Improvisational Game Theater - Thoughts

I originally wrote about Improvisational Game Theater on my blog in 2006. I subsequently wrote a number of posts, either as comments or supplemental explanations of why I think IGT is likely to become "a thing" in relation to Professional Gamemastering.

There have been a lot of GMs that have come to the Professional Gamemaster Society wanting to make a living doing Pro-GMing.  Their idea, as has been mine, is that it would be absolutely fantastic if we could turn our favorite hobby into a career somehow.  Like artists and musicians, and other performing artists, we'd like to do what we love for a living.

Now a number of people have pointed out that the economics of Professional Gamemastering do not seem to work all that well, especially at the small scale of local tabletop RPG games with a handful of people, and it's hampered a lot of potential Pro-GMs because we don't see a road from here ($) to there ($$$).  For most, not only is it hard to imagine how to make any money at all Gamemastering, but the the notion of making substantial money seems a pipe dream and beyond the realm of possibility.

I do not think so.

Again, and for the umpteenth time, the answer is in Professionally run Improvisational Game Theater.  In 2006 I sketched out a modality by which I would do it for my own world of Elthos.  Since then, I've not had the ability to sling it together because I have other work under the umbrella of the Elthos Project to tend to first.  And of course, it goes without saying, again, as usual, I am the worlds greatest slow poke, so please don't rush me.  Nothing good comes from rushing.  Of course, in the meantime, there have been a number of enterprising people who have raced ahead of me and produced variations on the IGT concept, and some quite successfully.  Critical Roll comes to mind as an excellent example.  Kudos and congratulations to all of those fine people!  They're doing a great job, and I'm thoroughly impressed, even while being jealous and annoyed that I'm such a super-slow-poke at all of this. But I digress.

At any rate, I want to talk about this again because I read a post by RPGPundit who is railing in his own way against one aspect of Improvisational Game Theater. His gripe is that what people are watching it for is entertainment, like watching a Soap Opera, or Serial TV Show, or something like that, and is largely divorced from the actual game of D&D. A large percent of the people who are watching IGT on twitch are not watching it because they play RPGs, or even intend do to so... they are watching it because they are interested in the Characters being played and their stories. And yes, very much like like people who watch Soap Operas.  And it annoys him.  Ok, my guess is that he's annoyed for certain reasons, though he doesn't quite elaborate on what those reason are exactly, and I'm not going to speculate about that. And this post is not a rebuttal to his point.  I agree with him completely.  I simply don't share in his angst about it.

The reason why is because, as I've made the case to the Professional Gamemaster Society before, this kind of viewership is exactly what is required for Professional Gamemasters to make real money Gamemastering.

No, it is not the same thing exactly as standard table top role playing.  I know, it isn't.  And the reason why is because with a generalized audience which includes a large number of non-role payers, the story and character development that would go on in a good IGT game is what that audience would be most interested in.  Random Character deaths would, in all likelihood, irk them, especially if the randomness was too extreme, and/or their favorite Characters get killed by a random (read stupid) die roll.  Nor would they be likely to be very into the rules, or watching the usual D&Dish rules banter, or much of the OCC activity that usually attends most tabletop role playing game sessions.  What they would be looking for, instead, is a compelling story where the results of the actions of the characters is both interesting and meaningful within the context of the World being played.

Improvisational Game Theater, in my opinion, will evolve into one of the major forms of entertainment of the 21st century.  It's taking time getting there, and even the best of the current efforts have self-limiting flaws in their implementations, but as everyone can see... progress in the direction of successful IGT is being made.

Personally, as soon as my other project work is complete, I hope to join these efforts with my own attempts at this thing.  I believe that those who can really pull this off will be at the center of the entertainment world in due time.  And really, I think it is just a matter of time.  People are already doing some great things.  And audiences are already being primed for this through the activities of shows like Critical Role.  Everything is slowly moving in the direction of a fusion of entertainment and gaming.  And no matter how much RPGPundit gripes that it's not real D&D ... it will nevertheless become an enormously rich, diverse and fabulous form of entertainment, and sustain many awesome career arcs for Professional GMs of the future.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Elthos RPG - Dry Patch Update

Ok it's been a while since I posted here so I want to just put a quick note up to let folks following me here know that yup, yup I'm still working on Elthos and making progress (albeit back to museum speed since I got my new job).  I haven't been posting much about progress because I'm on a dry patch in terms of "oh that's interesting" stuff to say on it.  I've been busy for days updating the Core Rules Book to make it finally ... er ... well Final. 

The good thing is that I hadn't looked at it for six months and so I got a chance to read it fresh.  Up until now I've been snow blind on it and every time I read it I was like "Ok I can't read this sentence any more times... sheesh" and so I wound up skimming it and never really got a solid edit in from the "Well how does this actually read" point of view.

Now that I'm reading it fresh, I must say... wow.  It was pretty sucky!  haha!  But yeah, there's a few crucial spots where after a series of edits I had trimmed things down to the point where it was like ok I accidentally took out the key information that you'd have wanted in that spot.  Man!  So yeah, now I'm working on it and fixing it so that it's lucid enough to use as a rules book.  My overriding objective before was to Keep It As Short As Possible.  I figured a simple rules system should prove its simplicity by being as short as possible.  Which is probably true.  But ... when I started the Elthos RPG "One Die System" in 2007 it probably was among the lighter weight rules systems... but by now, nope it's not anymore.  Other people have come out with even more light weight systems.  On the other hand my goal with it was not to create "A light weight RPG" but rather to distill the former Elthos Prime System (from 1978) down to it's absolutely simplest form without losing the core mechanics.   So it's medium weight.  And no, I didn't need to make the rules book As Short As Possible.

That said, I'm still keeping it the same page count.  I'm just revising text so that the necessary information is there, and it reads nicely, and is even a little bit entertaining and hopefully useful in terms of advice on how to run the thing.

Anyway, working on it, but there's nothing much to show yet.  I'll of course let people know when the rules are actually Finito!

Thanks, and Game On!