Monday, March 16, 2009

Session 2

Mostly thoughts about GMing an improv game and the nature of The Armitage Files as such.

To summarize Kyle's input, I'm running the game both too "sandboxy" and at the same time not "sandboxy" enough. Basically, I need to either give the players a lot more leeway, and run with what they do, or I need to more clearly define the boundaries of the plotline.

How to do that?

Bold and __Underline__ and Highlight the major clues and important scenes.

Jamie talking to Dr. Clever at the circus - Dr. Clever didn't have information about the topic Jamie was asking about, but he does have other sinister secrets. But I was too wishy-washy through the interaction.

Interrogation of Olaf Olson - there had been fairly strong build-up to this encounter, but the information offered didn't satisfy. Not in a "oh I guess he's not the guy" sort of lack of satisfaction, but more like "The information we did and didn't get, didn't live up to the build." Olaf was supposed to point to the Circus, but I dropped that clue in small type amidst a long list of non-information, dead ends, and little clues. Without the bold highlight, the Circus didn't seem that important.

Something the Armitage Files is missing: Advice on running an improvised campaign or scenario.

Armitage Files does offer a scenario spine worksheet, but doesn't develop that thoroughly enough for Keepers not experienced with running improv or freestyle-like games. I think The Armitage Files would do well to include an article along the lines of The Three Clue Rule.

I really think that I'm starting to learn that I need to have a solid story idea in mind in order to feel satisfied when running a game. Perhaps that's just my inexperience with improvised gaming. Although...

I think what I did after Session 1, I should have done before Session 1. I think, instead of making cards for every entry, I should have made cards for the entries that I wanted to be important, with notes about the important clue elements. That way, if something wasn't important to the story, I could just gloss over it, and in the meantime, the important stuff would be well prepared, and that would serve to boldify, underline, and highlight the relevant clues.

It would seem that it takes MORE work to prepare an improvised game than a pre-written one. I'd have to try running another improv game or two in order to find out for sure. We'll see...

The lesson from this session:

Identify the Major Clues ahead of time, and when they are encountered, put them in BOLD BRASH TEXT. Minor clues, red herrings, and dead ends, should be in regular text or at least clearly defined as alternative plot-lines not necessarily leading to the Grand Conclusion.

But the most important question...Did I have fun?

Yes. Lots.

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