Saturday, November 1, 2014

Running Tianxia - the session that brainfaded

Last Wednesday I was supposed to be running my somewhat weekly Tianxia game. This time I canceled the game, since not only were attendance a bit spotty, but the main reason was I was totally out of ideas. Now the question rears up, should a total brain fade on the GM's part be reason enough to cancel a game night? Can you not just plow on, or is it indicative of something being done wrong?

In theory you just show up for a game, explore the hell out of the secondary world and fun things happen, right? Pure sandbox enthusiasts talk about that as the bees knees, but I've never been able to make it happen. Either it's me not being able to make the sandbox enticing enough, or the people I play with just aren't that good at go and make the world their own. Considering the fact we are all busy people, who drink beer and chat during the the game on a weekday night tired after a day's work, I guess the latter is a major part. My limitations I am well familiar with, so I leave them out for this time.

So, what do you do to give the game some structure? Previous sessions I've set up a location with some people in it and written up some goals for them, and then it has just evolved naturally from there. I wrote about that, the plot triads, and how well it worked before. This time I had the location, but just couldn't invent any interesting people for the life of me.

Thus I turn to the game system for a lead. When you play Fate you can be sure of one thing, it's covered by the rules somewhere. It's the most comprehensive rules set I've played so far! Guess what? I have not read chapter 9 of the Fate Core rules yet...

Looking in that chapter I find a handy little list.

Creating A Scenario:
  • Find Problems
  • Ask Story Questions
  • Establish the Opposition
  • Set the First Scene
There's one way to start off that first bullet point, start with the aspects. Naturally. Everything is about Aspects in Fate.

This kind of brings home how important it is, and hard, to create good aspects. Now when I sit down and look at them, some of these I should be able to use, shouldn't I?

Always in Trouble, Watch Your Tongue, Unwilling Mentor, Paladin in training, These are sad times, Righteous Anger, Scumbags gets what they deserve, The Good Fight

I know where I want the action to kick off, in the governor's palace. Using that I guess the list above should be able to tell me something about the potential conflicts and opposition.

I wonder if it's because it's so formalized that it feels hard? In the end I still think this will make me a better GM. I usually never think things through like this, and when lightning strikes I am cooking with gas. When there's no lightning it will be a dud. Hopefully this will teach me something.

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