Saturday, August 05, 2006


Late again, I know. While the hottest weather broke to something more manageable I haven't been able to shake the unwell feeling. Any way, here we are with an other exciting entry into the dark abyss of my mind. Let's take a step away from making or designing role-playing games for a bit. It's very good to be working on a play by email game again. It provides its own rewards and challenges over just plain writing.

On the easy front a role-playing game comes with a setting, character archetypes, and most of the time plots. Well, sample plots, or implied plots, and of course with adventure books and other resources actual plots. Having a ton of setting information ready and at hand is a blessing. It gives me a huge sigh of relief. Certainly it never encompasses everything and as most gamers know there are several more tons of things you add in to personalise things. Depending on the type of game it is will determine how much extra information you can add. Anything with a modern setting with elements that are only slightly outside of normal gives less room to make things out of whole cloth; a bonus, or a detriment depending on what you're trying to do.

The biggest challenge comes from the process requiring something of a new skill not used in regular writing... interaction from other people, the players. In live, table-top, or even chat, gaming the players can interrupt whenever as they see fit, just like people do when one or more of them are talking. Doing it by post, or by email, the Game Master has to learn when to let the players in, when to leave things dangling, and how to craft everything so there are all of the ins for the players to get into that they would do as in a live game. Immediately this begs that the play by email GM (PbE GM) have at least some experience with live gaming.

Now, are the players a help or a hindrance to PbE gaming? In all honesty I would say equally both. They first off provide less work for me in the writing. Second they always bring something different to the game with their characters. As many characters as a writer can make distinct, your players can pretty nearly duplicate, even though they do it one at a time (usually). Sometimes the players can really go the distance, being both a benefit, and a challenge--by making the GM have to keep up--at the same time. The skill to know when and how to fit them in to the game is hard to master at times and can make you feel really limited. Then of course there are the times when you and the players are at cross-purposes, or on different wavelengths altogether, or one or the other just can't understand what is needed. Lastly, sometimes what works well when just writing to make a great story isn't exactly as well for the game. Of course that is true of any role-playing.

Mood: low.
Music: Tonight by Twisted Sister and Sea Of Madness by Iron Maiden.

Twisted Sister: Love is for Suckers
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Iron Maiden: Somewhere In Time


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