Chris Sniezak

Author's details

Name: Christopher Sniezak
Date registered: February 6, 2012
URL: http://misdirectedmark.com

Latest posts

  1. GenCon Panel: Media Tie-In: Story to Game with Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Steve Long, and Fred Hicks — August 16, 2014
  2. GenCon 2014 – Evil Hat’s Under the Hat Panel — August 15, 2014
  3. GenCon Day 1 Audio Interviews — August 14, 2014
  4. MMP #124 – MMP gets ready for GenCon — August 13, 2014
  5. DwD&D#3 – Inspiration, OP Frequence of Play, & GenCon — August 13, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. MMP #111 – Atomic Marvel Dice Masters and Fudging Part 2 — 11 comments
  2. A Rant on House Rules — 6 comments
  3. Episode #85 – Fred Hicks and Con on the Cob — 6 comments
  4. Episode #105 – The New GM and Moving Day — 6 comments
  5. Introductions to Words from Chris — 5 comments

Author's posts listings

Aug 16 2014

GenCon Panel: Media Tie-In: Story to Game with Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Steve Long, and Fred Hicks

Media Tie in Story to Game with Correia, Butcher, Hicks, and Long

Aug 15 2014

GenCon 2014 – Evil Hat’s Under the Hat Panel

Evil Hat Panel edited

Because this isn’t as hard as it used to be here’s the Under the Hat panel from Evil Hat where they talk about how Evil Hat does business behind the scenes.

Aug 14 2014

GenCon Day 1 Audio Interviews

Here’s the four brief chats I had with Ken Hite and Robin Laws of Pelgrane Press, Eloy Lasanta of Third Eye Games, and Bard Talton of Level 99 Games. Enjoy.

GenCon Day 1

Aug 13 2014

MMP #124 – MMP gets ready for GenCon

MMP gets ready for GenCon

Hey Folks. This week we’re packing for GenCon and are looking forward to seeing you or telling you all about the best four days in gaming. I’d write more but gotta get packed. Talk to you all from Indy and beyond.

Bar

News

Players Handbook is out there
The Strange RPG is being delivered and will be for sale soon from MCG.
Evil Hat’s Guide to GenCon
3EG GenCon Schedule
Finding Phil and Chris at GenCon:

GenCon Events: PM Talk, Play Better Games, Dammit, The Harvest, ENnies
Hanging out at the Westin
Phil will be posting on G+
Facebook Group

RPG Podcaster Awards…its a Thing
Fate Mass Effect is out
Tenkar and the Badger

Crowdfunding

Agents of Smerch
Tact-Tiles are backGnome Stew Review
Designers & Dragons

Local

Queen City Games is under construction.
RonCon

Rapid Fires

Ryan Macklin – Success at a cost with Defend
Greater Than Games looking for a Graphic Designer

Gameroom

Phil

  • D&D 5e-  TPK
  • Hillfolk
  • Star Realms
  • Blood Bowl
  • Minecraft

Chris

  • A!C Character Creation and session 1
  • Hillfolk
  • D&D Character Creation session
  • D&D TPK x2
  • Dungeon World didn’t happen but Tony Had a baby. Welcome Lincoln.

Geekery

Guardians of the Galaxy – Just go see it.

 

Aug 13 2014

DwD&D#3 – Inspiration, OP Frequence of Play, & GenCon

DwDnD3 – Inspiration, OP Frequency of Play, and GenCon

Hey Folks. This time on Down with D&D we’re talking about the D&D events going on at GenCon, chat up the Inspiration mechanic, and talk about the structure of the organized play programs, how they seem to be built, and what it means for players and hopefully out in time for your Wednesday GenCon trips.

 Show Notes

Coming soon

Aug 07 2014

MMP #124 – Happy Jacks in the House and other Tangents part 2

Happy Jack in the house and other tangents part 2

Hey Folks. This week we continue our rampage through the show with the guys from Happy Jacks RPG Podcast as we get onto the subject of armor, which Stu breaks out the good stuff to keep his nerves calm, and then make our way to the Geekery for some good old fashioned geeking out since we recorded just after comicon. Feel free to tell us how we’re doing at chris@misdirectedmark.com.

2:30 – Gameroom Continued

  • Stork doesn’t like Numenera

13:29 – The Garage – All About Armor

1:13:30 – The Geekery

Afterlife with Archie

Grammar Girl does not like Word Crimes

First picture of new Wonder Woman

New Wonder Woman costume reminiscent of the costume my wife did for Rainfall

Mad Max Trailer

Green Arrow Season 3 – Ra’s Al Ghul and Oracle.

Walking Dead Season 5 teaser- is the series losing its appeal?

Aug 01 2014

MMP #123 – Happy Jacks is in the House, also Armor and Other Tangents Part 1

Happy Jacks are in the House also Armor and Other Tangents Pt1

Hey Folks. This week the Happy Jacks gentlemen, and I use the term loosely, come on over to the Misdirected Mark house to drink our beer, tangent our show, and make us laugh a ton. We get to RPG stuff in this episode and many other things. I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave feedback at chris@misdirectedmark.com.

Sponsors – Collectors Inn

2:52 – Intro

31:50 – Bar

News

 Crowdfunding

 Local

  • Collectors Inn: Everyone is Dead they’ll be resurrected soon.
  • Gateway 2014

Rapid Fires

1:14:08 – Gameroom

Phil

D&D 5e
Airy Peaks
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Savage Elhal
Fate of Elhal play testing
Minecraft

Chris

D&D 5e
Airy Peaks
Snappy Card Game
Ascension Realms Unraveled
Marvel Dice Masters
Alhambra
Sentinels of the Multiverse

Stu

Legend of the Five Rings campaign
Moment of Truth conspiracy game
Mongoose Traveler Star Wars

End Part 1

 

 

Jul 30 2014

DwD&D #2 – Breaking D&D is Bad and Backgrounds, Bonds & Flaws

Breaking D&D is Bad and Backgrounds, Bonds & Flaws

Hey Folks. This week Swingle is in the house with Cindy and we chat up some news, Co-operative D&D, and Backgrounds, Bonds, and Flaws. Please send us feedback at chris@misdirectedmark.com.

News

Co-Operative D&D

Backgrounds, Bonds, and Flaws

 

Jul 24 2014

MMP #122 – Tsunami Con and Character Development

Tsunami Con and Character Development

image001Hey Folks. This we we have Erik Carl riding into the Misdirected Mark on the most marvelous Prismatic Tsunami to chat with us about his convention Tsunami Con and character development in games in our workshop, don’t mind the bloody chains in the corner. So I hope you enjoy this longer show and let us know what you’re thinking and feeling. I meant about the show. If you want to tell us how you’re feeling and what you’re just thinking in general feel free. We might even give our thoughts on your feelings.

Show Notes

1:27 – Intro – Erik Carl from Metagamers Anonymous and Prismatic Tsunami

10:55 – Bar

News

Rapid Fires

23:28 – TsunamiCon 2014

55:53 – Gameroom

Erik

  1. Zeitgeist
  2. Sentinels of The Multiverse Enhanced Card Game (2nd Edition)
  3. Once Upon A Time, 3rd Edition

Phil

  1. The Hood
  2. Savage Elhal
  3. Lords of Waterdeep
  4. Fiasco – Channel 6
  5. CoD – Modern Warfare 2
  6. Star Realms
  7. Minecraft – Xbox 360

Chris

  1. Mario Kart 8 – Nintendo Wii U
  2. Ascension Chronicle Of The Godslayer
  3. Summoner Wars Master Set

1:17:17 – Workshop – GMing Character Development scenes

1:59:33 – Geekery

Captain Carl’s Tuesday Night Blues Band

Weird Al – Word Crimes

Thor is now a woman

Jul 18 2014

D&D – Inspiration

So Drew Smith, the MMP’s secret weapon, mentioned he liked the Inspiration mechanic and I wanted to talk about it with you guys a little more. I’m a fan of it but for those who haven’t read it I’ll throw it up here.

Inspiration is a rule the Dungeon Master can use to reward you for playing your character in a way that’s true to his or her personality traits, ideal, bond, and flaw. By using inspiration, you can draw on your personality trait of compassion for the downtrodden to give you an edge in negotiating with the Beggar Prince. Or inspiration can let you call on your bond to the defense of your home village to push past the effect of a spell that has been laid on you.

Gaining Inspiration
Your DM can choose to give you inspiration for a variety of reasons. Typically, DM’s award it when you play out your personality traits, give in to the drawbacks presented by a flaw or bond, and otherwise portray your character in a compelling way. Your DM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game.

You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile mulltiple “inspirations” for later use.

Additionally, if you have inspiration, you can reward another player for good roleplaying, clever thinking, or simply doing something exciting in the game. When another player character does something that really contributes to the story in a fun and interesting way, you can give up your inspiration to give that character inspiration

Now I want to look at what this does a little bit. “Inspiration is a reward for roleplaying.

I can get behind that. I like games that push people to play towards their characters, both the positive and negative aspects of them. I’m a fan of games like Fate and Cortex+. Savage Worlds has the benny which can be implemented this way which is cool. Other games have this too, so not original, but I’m more interested in playability than originality, so I think the idea is a positive one.

Your DM will tell you how you can earn inspiration in the game.

I like this. This means a conversation must be had to determine what is going to be important to the game. It provides modularity and customization. The thing I like less about it is it says “the DM will tell you”. I think, and would suggest to the people playing, that you should collectively decide what will garner inspiration at your table.

You either have inspiration or you don’t – you can’t stockpile mulltiple “inspirations” for later use.

Awesome. That means people should use it and then work towards gaining it again. In play this should mean that Roleplaying will move to the forefront because there is a tangible reward for doing it and the reward doesn’t suck and yet is not “game breaking”

Additionally, if you have inspiration, you can reward another player for good roleplaying, clever thinking, or simply doing something exciting in the game

Awesome once again. It’s a mechanic that encourages us to not just be engaged in the game but to help engage others in what is happening at the table. It looks like a simple mechanic but it could be a powerful tool for play for all the players at the table (I’m including the DM as a player here)

In total I’m a pretty big fan of the Inspiration mechanic and can’t wait to see how it works at the table. It should help promote a storytelling environment and make the bits on your character sheet come to the forefront more often. More important, if you don’t want it in your game just leave it out. That’s what this new version of D&D is all about. So those are my thoughts on Inspiration. What are yours?

We’re having a discussion over on the Misdirected Mark Facebook page about this right now. Want to be a part of it. Just come on over and ask to join the group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/271946122876896/730597237011780/?notif_t=like

 

Jul 17 2014

MMP #121 – Chris and Phil Throw down about Story, Drama, and Emergence

MMP #121 – Chris and Phil Throw down about Story, Drama, and Emergence

Lets get ready to Rumble! That’s right, everything seemed right in the house of Misdirected Mark and then they broke out Story, Drama, and Emergence and the battle was on. In their first disagreement on the air Chris and Phil throw down hard. Catch it all inside this weeks episode of The Misdirected Mark Podcast.

Sponsors – Collectors Inn

0:47 – Intro

4:05 – Bar

News

The 2014 Ennies Nominations are out

Local

Collectors Inn and the M15 release plus so much more

Rapid Fires

Engine Publishing is now selling all 5 books on their Online store.
Unframed hard copies are showing up for those who pre-ordered.

58:19 – Garage

Drama vs Story vs Emergence

1:39:40 – Geekery

Phil
Minecraft PE 0.9 releases tons of new features.
The Strain aired on Fx on Sunday

Chris
Taste of Buffalo
Epic Rap Battles of History: Season 3 Finale

Jul 16 2014

DwD&D #1 – Dragons, Tiers, and Diversity

Dragons, Tiers, and Diversity

Hey folks. Chris here with the newest show on Misdirected Mark Productions “Down with D&D” and no, we’re not down on D&D but down with it. My Co-host Cindy Moore is the newest addition to the Misdirected Mark family and together we talk about The Tyranny of Dragons, Tier’s of Play, and the Diversity section of the basic rules. Let us know what you think and we’ll talk to you in two weeks.

Show Notes

Tiamat Tuesdays Building Adventures : Mike Mearls Legends and Lore ArticleThe Basic Rules are only version 0.1
DnDadventurersleague.org
Breaking D&D is Bad on Critical hits.

Jul 15 2014

102.X The Lounge with Russell Zimmerman on Strays and other things

Stray’s and Russell Zimmerman

Hello folks. On this episode of the lounge we have Russell Zimmerman on to talk about his career as a freelancer, how his job as a history professor and the study of history has influenced his game writing chops, his time spent with Shadowrun and other games, and his new endeavor as a game publisher with Stray’s for Fate Accelerated.

Show Notes

Spinespur
No Quarter Magazine
Monsterpocalypse
Shadowrun

Elven Blood
Neat

Stray’s Kickstarter

dice

Jul 10 2014

MMP #120 – The Improv Tool Kit and Creative Constraint

The Improv Toolkit

Hey Folks. This week Chris and Phil chat about The Improv Tool Kit and Creative Constraint while things are heating up with the yearly story as the villain makes their first appearance on the mics. Hope you enjoy and feel free to leave feedback. We always want to get better.

Bar

News

  1. L.U.G. Con (Let Us Game: All day and all night Convention!)
  2. Mechanical Bard: Ninth World Tales
  3. Evil Hat is looking for Playtesters for War of the Ashes
  4. D&D Basic Rules
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: Fantasy Roleplaying Fundamentals (D&D Boxed Game)
  6. Blood Bowl coming soon on iOS and Android

Crowdfunding

  1. Zombiecide Season 3 
  2. Stray’s – Kid friendly Fate Accelerated
  3. Short Order Heroes – Locations:
  4. Ross & Sean’s Big Denver Adventure happening this week.

Local

  1. Pro Level Gaming’s D&D Starter Launch Party
  2. Collectors Inn

Sunday July 13th – UFS demo’s at 2pm.

Saturday July 19th – Golem Arcana Demo’s at 3pm.

Rapid Fires

Gameroom

Phil

  1. The Hood - slow start, but solid session, tensions building
  2. Airy Peaks - good god what a great session
  3. Shadowrun Returns – loving it, but had to rewind
  4. Minecraft – Diamonds Steve’s best friend.

Chris

  1. Airy Peaks,
  2. The Hood
  3. Shadowrun Returns
  4. Lords of Waterdeep: A Dungeons & Dragons Board Game

Workshop – Improv Tools and Constrained Creativity

Recent Gnome Stew article: http://www.gnomestew.com/gming-advice/improv-toolkit/

Geekery

Phil

    1. Drone films Fireworks

  1. Blame Sage event  (why others should do the same)
  2. Dice Shaming Lighting Hand dice shame

Chris

  1. Monster Hunter Nemesis (Monster Hunters International Book 5)

Jul 04 2014

102.8 The Lounge – Joe Loveric and Collectors Inn

Joe Loveric and Collector’s Inn

Hey Folks. This week we have Joe Loveric from Collector’s Inn. A game store in Western New York, to talk about his experiences running a games store and what he’s got going on during business hours. Hope you enjoy.

Collector’s Inn Facebook Page

Jul 03 2014

MMP #119 – Aspects Everywhere

119 – Aspects Everywhere

Hey Folks. This week we enter the house and find it covered in Aspects with a menacing trend. I wonder if the house is trying to warn us about something. In any case, after the news we chat about Aspects as a mechanic, the idea itself, where it came from, how it transitioned into other games, and a few tangents around the concept. Hope you enjoy.

Sponsors for the Show – Level 99 Games, Evil Beagle Games, Collector’s Inn

0:37 – Intro

3:14 – Bar 

News

D&D Adventurer’s League Update

D&D Basic Rules Update

13th Age and Eye of the Stone Thiefstone thief dungeon

Play testing for Pelgrane press:

Your dead eye’s my mirror for Fear Itself

Afterlife for Esoterrorists

Truth and Reconciliation for Ashen Stars

 See Page XX

Pandemic Legacy!

D&D Events At GenCon

 Crowdfunding

NPC Cards

Fragged

The Misdirected Mark Patreon Project

The BattleCon: War remastered

Local

Collectors Inn – Mention the MMP and get a discount

 World Board game Championships 

 

30:22 – The Garage - Aspects

Ryan Danks article

How they work 

 

1:17:21 – Geekery 

The Atrocity Archives (A Laundry Files Novel)

Epic Rap Battles of History!  George Washington vs. William Wallace

Solar Frickin Roadways

Guardians of the Galaxy

Jun 26 2014

MMP #118 – Dangerous Space Jail and the War Room

118 – Dangerous Space Jail and the War Room

Hey Folks. This week we go to the lab to talk about Encoded Designs first project Dangerous Space Jail but before that I return to the War room to get ready just in case the problems of this seemingly normal day get loose.

1:14 – Intro

2:43 – Bar

News

Crowd funding

Local

Rapid Fire

20:24 – Gameroom

Phil

1) Airy Peaks
2) Minecraft – new world
3) Breach & Clear – New Map (Columbia), new weapons, units, etc.
4) Shadowrun Returns (damn you Chris)

 Chris

1) Nile de Luxor
2) Tahiti
3) Manhattan Project
4) Dungeon World x2
5) Played James Mullen’s Tech Support
6) Golem Arcana
7) Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
8) Shadowrun Returns (Suck it Vecchione)

41:11 – The War Room – What Mini’s Bring to the Table, Where to Check out Miniatures, Color Theory

miniature market
cool mini or not
Bones reaper miniatures
Impact Miniatures
Mantic Games
Wyrd Miniatures
Games Workshop
The War Store
Color Wheel

1:12:15 – The Lab - Dangerous Space Jail

1:51:14 – The Geekery

Phil

1) Reading Monster of the Week
2) 3D printing
3) Edge of Tomorrow

Chris

1) Mirror Sight: Book Five of Green Rider

Jun 25 2014

102.7 The Lounge – Brad Talton and BattleCon: War Remastered

 

Brad Talton and BattleCon War Remastered

Hey Folks. This week on The Lounge I have the man who’s level’s have far surpassed the 99 that is company is known for, the one and only Brad Talton from Level 99 games. He’s here to talk about what’s been up with Level 99 games since last year when he was on the show and we get specific on about his current kickstarter BattleCon: War Remastered. I hope you enjoy this episode and let us know what we could do better.

Links

Jun 18 2014

MMP 117 – The Railroad with Garrett and Drew

 

The Railroad

Hey Folks. This week I hang out with Garrett Crowe from Threat Detected and the MMPs secret weapon Drew Smith. We get into the idea of what the railroad means to us and some ways to avoid and deal with it along with many of the regular segments and a visit from Friend Computer.

Sponsors for the Show: Level 99 Games

3:49 – Intro

9:28 – Bar

News

Chris

Garrett

Crowdfunding

Chris

Drew

Local

Drew

Rapid Fires

30:01 – Gameroom

Garrett

1) D&D Encounters

2) Deadlands Noir

3) Cthulhu Wars

Chris

1) Minion Games – The Manhattan Project

2) The Hood

3) Race to Adventure Board Game

4) Marvel Puzzle Quest

5) Bastion

6) Artemis

Drew

1) Eldritch Horror

2) Android Netrunner: The Card Game

3) Star Wars Edge of The Empire Campaign

4) Storium

46:47 – Workshop - The Railroad and what does it really mean?

1:12:12 – Geekery

Garrett

1) Timey Wimey Puppet Show, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Season 1

Chris

1) The Apocalypse Codex (A Laundry Files Novel)

Drew

1) Apocalypse Codex

        - GOD GAME BLACK – Laundry Files RPG source book from Cube 7

2) Game of Thrones

Jun 17 2014

102.5 The Lounge with Andrew Medeiros on Urban Shadows

urban shadows

Urban Shadows

Hello Folks and welcome to the lounge where we go deep to discover something new in the gameosphere. Today I talk with Andrew Medeiros about his new game being kickstarted right now called Urban Shadows. It’s a Urban Fantasy take using the Apocalypse Engine from Vincent Bakers Apocalypse World and being published by Mark Diaz Truman’s Magpie Games. Pull up a comfortable chair, grab a drink, take a listen, and let us know what you think.

Jun 12 2014

MMP #116 – D&D Cometh

D&D Cometh

Hey Folks. This week the Mad Wizard Merwin is back into the house and bringing some of his magical mayhem to talk about the newest version of Dungeons and Dragons. There also might be a troll sighting. Enjoy and feel free to leave feedback here and let us know how we’re doing.

2:29 – Intro

3:40 – Bar

News

Shawn

Heat kickstarter by Dave Chalker – It’s over but you might be able to get a copy if you contact Asmadi Games

Chris

Evil Hat Project Status

Phil
Ryan macklin’s Fateful Concepts
Rob D blogging about Dungeon World

Crowdfunding

Chris

Elven Papercraft Tower & Wall Set
Eloy Lasanta’s new Game Infestation

Phil

Urban Shadows
Primetime Adventures

Local

Gameday at Dark Forest on Saturday

Rapid Fires

Unframed Pre-orders still open
Recorded Lounge interview with Martin Ralya

25:16 – Gameroom

Phil
1) Manhattan Project
2) Airy Peaks
3) Minecraft

Chris
1) Manhattan Project
2) Airy Peaks
3) Marvel Puzzle Quest

Shawn
1) Love Letter
2) Lords of Waterdeep/Ascension for iOS
3) D&D 5e Playtests

40:49 – Workshop – D&D Cometh

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/tabletop/11554-Inside-the-Launch-of-the-New-Dungeons-Dragons-With-Designer-Mike-Mearls

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/news/advleaguewelcome#93073

1:35:13 – Geekery

Phil
1) Finished Unframed

Phil & Chris
1) Xmen days of futures past

Shawn
1) Maleficent

 

Jun 06 2014

Directed Questions

Last time mentioned I would get into directed questions as a the next part of my foundational improvisation so let us begin.

Directed question are questions that are loaded to provide the player who answers them a connection to something you want to explore in the game. Say you have a problem with a dragon cult then you can turn to our virtual player Jim and ask him,

“How is your characters family connected to the Dragon Cult?”

This question has offered Jim’s characters the idea that his family has something to do with the dragon cult and lets Jim know the dragon cult will be important to the game to come. If Jim wants his character to be more pivotal to the experience the game is going to create then he should accept the offer and build on it by saying how the cult is tied to his family. What you’ve done here is create investment for Jim in the game because he’s created something for the experience making him an active participant instead of just along for the ride. You’ve also taken the burden off yourself for creating some NPCs because Jim’s characters family will now be there for you to use. To make things even easier for yourself you can now follow up that question with other questions based on the answer you received to help you flesh out the pieces of the setting for you to use.

These questions are easy to construct too. They’re just the who, what, where, when, why, and how type questions using the parts of the game you know you want in the game to tie the PCs to them. The best thing about this is once you’ve asked all your players one or two of these questions each then you have enough of a foundation to start playing if you’re comfortable enough with improvising scenarios. If you’re not then soon we’ll talk about improvised scenario building but next time we need to talk about the rest of the foundation and why it’s so important.

Talk to you soon,

Chris

Jun 04 2014

MMP 115 – Powered by the Apocalypse

115 - Powered by the Apocalypse

141x141MMlogoHey folks, this week we get down and dirty in the workshop first talking about a little about designing games with professor McGowan and then Phil and I go inside the apocalypse engine and how it is an awesome game for getting you to be an excellent GM faster. Hope you enjoy.

Sponsors for the Show – Level 99 Games

0:53 – Intro

1:55 – Bar

Chris

 

Phil

Crowdfunding

Chris

Phil

  • A!C Fate Keepers Guide has released to backers.  This completes the Fate Set making A!C able to be run in three systems.

Local

Chris

  • Dark Forest Games is having a board game day on Saturday, June 14th this month.
  • RonCon is the 19th at 168 Payne Avenue, North Tonawanda, NY 14120. $5 donation for the space

Phil

  • QCC Planning meeting this past Sunday

 22:39 – Gameroom

Phil

1) Savage Elhal – more swing ness at the table

2) The Hood – setup of the game

3) Minecraft – more exploration

Chris

1) The Hood

2) Disaster at Descent

3) Marvel Dice Masters

36:13 – Workshop one

Conversing about designing games with Professor McGowan

1:00:59 – Workshop two

Apocalypse World as a way to better GMing

Reference

1:48:24 – Geekery

Phil

1) Epic Rap Battle of History Season 3

Superman vs. Goku

Stephen King vs. Poe

2) A metal tribute of video games

3)  Another trip to Madness Games

Chris

1) Skin Game

Jun 04 2014

Foundational Improv

Last time I mentioned it’s been over a decade since I ran a game that was a story I laid out. Since then I’ve developed what I call foundational prep which gives me the tools I need to improvise sessions.

First off, if I have a location I know what’s going on there. I hate static dungeons, towers, spaceships, warzones, whatever. There needs to be something going on in the place that the PCs need to deal with. It also needs to be something that has a real conclusion if the PCs don’t mess with anything in it. If you’re not running a location based scenario then come up with some solid motivation and goals along with an understanding of why the bad guys or gals want to achieve it, and how they go about doing it. For longer games I drop in more locations within the place, have a few more threads of events going on, and mix up the previous two ideas. A great example of this is in the beginning of Masks of Nyarlathotep. The final and most important piece to this is to make sure the characters are tied to the troubles that are about to happen or build your adversary faction with pieces the PCs want to interact with. There are tons of ways to do this but directed questions work pretty well for me which is where I’ll pick up next time.

Talk to you then,

Chris

Jun 03 2014

Why I Think Improvisational is Better than Story

Last time I said,

“I wish the gaming norm was collaborative when everyone seems pretty content with the dictatorship of the GM.”

So I think that might be a little out there but then again it’s not. Now this is all anecdotal evidence from the games I’ve played in over the last 20+ years. When an indoctrinated player sits at a game table they defer to the GM and wait to be spoon feed what they’re supposed to do. When a player joins a group and is more willing to be involved I find they either leave the game or conform and that bugs me as a norm for most traditional game tables. I work pretty hard to include players into the process of crafting our experience with a Role Playing Game, traditional or not. It matters to me because I don’t want to tell a story. I want to be part of the experience; sometimes facilitator, sometimes active spectator, sometimes active participant. We use storytelling ideas because we’re comfortable with them, and improvisation acting games and techniques when we know them. Heck, sometimes we use them even when we don’t. Sort of a discovering or inventing of something that already exists and we just didn’t know about it. Either way, having learned more about improv, how it works, its principals, and usable improv techniques at the table, I can say my favorite gaming moments in RPGs are a direct result of improv, second to the drama of the dice, and almost never because a story played out the way the GM thought it should, including when I was the GM. I love those games from the last category but looking back I know they were forced. Even if the players had fun with the experience I laid out their choices and when they made their own that conflicted with the story didn’t really have an impact. It cheapened their and my experience.

It’s been over a decade since I ran a game like that and next time I’ll talk about how I set myself to be able to use those improv techniques with something called foundational improv.

Talk you you then,

Chris

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