Saturday, August 23, 2014

Honest Questions

And honest answers, hopefully.

Hey, all.

I was hearing that you had gotten books, you were reading them, that things were great - and then nothing.

What's up?  Is there any news?


Alan Harrison said...

Don't be so needy, Alexis.

You've loosed your baby on the world, and it's doing its insidious work. Time will tell the outcome.

I got about six chapters in and found I needed to stop and think and experiment and implement before continuing to read.

Ozymandias said...

I'm sorry, Alexis, I've been crawling at a snail's pace through the text. I love what I've read so far. I started Chapter 5 today, with the intent of getting through several chapters, but found myself drawn back to my NPC database. When you talk about the "Here and Now" approach to DMing, I find myself contemplating how I would prepare for a session. How can I present a variety of NPCs in the here and now if I haven't written them out ahead of time? And if I write them ahead of time, how can I accept that my efforts will be for naught when the PCs ignore the NPCs? In order to avoid this, I need a database of traits/characteristics that I can use to generate an NPC on the fly. Thus I can run my game in the here and now.

In other words, when I read your book, my thoughts begin to race and my blood begins to pump and I'm compelled turn that energy into something productive for my game.

Perhaps I should write a review for each chapter as I get through 'em...

Arduin said...

I gifted my copy to another DM is what happened. It was a good read, I enjoyed it, it was helpful, and I decided to spread the good word.

Alexis Smolensk said...

LOL, Alan.

Just now, the loosing of the baby depends upon the word being out there as much as possible, on the internet and elsewhere. As it stands, my word on the book's value means nothing. I need critics!

Arduin said...

Also, ditto Ozymandias. I had the same issue getting through it. I said it before in the review post: this book is hard to get through because it is inspiring. It made me want to get GOING on my game.

Jeremiah Scott said...

My world and campaign were impacted immediately in (at least) two ways, namely, because of your discussions of cognitive ergonomics and freely sharing information.

My world has superficially different geography from earth, but is nevertheless very earth-like in its physical processes and even biologically. Even the societies of the fantasy races share deep similarities to real cultures. But, because it was a fantasy world and humans were visitors who came to the world millennia ago, I wanted it to seem unique and alien. So I created a new calendar, elaborate additional vocabulary and languages, new (but very similar) technologies, and even a fantasy system of weights and measures. That was all well and good fun for me, but it was murder on the people who were supposed to play in my world. The learning curve was too steep, and mostly geared toward stroking my ego. So I "rebooted" the world using imperial weights and measures and made many changes to more closely align my world to reality. This has given my players the freedom to concentrate more on actually playing the game instead of memorizing minutiae.

Previously, I kept information about the world secret from the players that the characters wouldn't have access to. Now I share freely everything I am making as I make it. (With the exception of things that should be kept secret for tension purposes, of course.) I have to say, it has vastly improved my game because now the players are more excited to investigate the world, rather than waiting for it to be spoon-fed to them.

It wasn't discussed in the book, but based on the arguments you've laid out on the blog, I've taken steps to ensure that I don't inadvertently revert to old, bad habits and squash player agency. For example, if something comes up in the course of a session that I hadn't thought of in advance, I will candidly tell the players that is the case. Then I allow them to come up with a couple of reasonable possibilities and I come up with a couple reasonable possibilities. Then I roll a die in front of everyone to resolve the unknown situation. And I stick faithfully with the result. No one ever accuses me of railroading anymore.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Always feels good to know I'm changing the world. Thank you Jeremiah.

Dave Cesarano said...

I've been too busy to read it straight through but I've spent quite a bit of time jumping around through it, reading a whole chapter here, sections of another there. All-in-all I really like it, especially the stuff about player management and world-building.

Eaterofkittens said...

I am on my third day with the book and should finish it tonight.
I wanted to rush strait to the world building but I know how you like creating tension so I took the long way.
I am an experienced reader but not an experienced player.
I would compare it to Sly Flourish's books and say while slys books tell you how to prep for a game, how to prep a story, it doesn't have anything to say about players.
This is the only book of its kind.

The main idea I get from the book and your blog is that the DM must be forever learning because such expertise shall serve in the real world and the fictitious ones.

Scarbrow said...

I read it already. I've been very busy with personal matters, which translates as: I haven't run or played any tabletop RPG in several months.

I was going to offer a review of the book... but the first one, by Jeremish Scott, said exactly what I was going to say, down to the typos. But in short, it was just what I expected from you, and the only problem I found was that it was not *long* enough.

I will gladly refer it to the few DMs I know. I also expect I'll be needing to read it again in a few months' time.

James said...

From a design perspective, I found the idea of domains most enlightening. It streamlined my design process and narrowed my focus, allowing for more effort to be expended on more fruitful projects. Also, it sounded so simple, but even the idea that you should just focus on the immediate area of interest to the PCs first was useful.

As for the DMing advice, the discussion of pace and tension was instructive. I am a really level-headed and relaxed person, but I can see the discussion of stress and its detriments being really useful for people who have trouble managing.

My biggest "complaint" is an idiotic one. I read your blog and read your essay book, so I have trouble recalling what I read where, if that makes sense. It makes criticism difficult, because I can't recall if a specific issue I had was from the blog or one of your books.

I got through the book fairly quickly. I thought it flowed nicely and made for a fast read. The pacing of the book itself was well-done, it never lingered on any one topic for too long and the summarizations will be valuable I imagine if and when I refer back to the book for guidance or inspiration.

Most importantly, it made me eager to start playing again, which is useful as I am already planning to start a campaign in September.

Zrog (ESR) said...

Well, I must admit that I was avidly anticipating the book, but then the first bit on "player stereotypes" turned me off. I've read this kind of stuff before (and not on your site), and it didn't really encourage me to read more. This isn't what I would consider an "advanced" concept - any DM with several campaigns of experience is going to know about differences in player goals and gaming approach.

Maybe my expectations weren't appropriate for what I thought I was getting - I like your blog because of how deep you delve, in an objective manner, into the details of gaming rules and settings. I didn't get that feeling from the first chapter of the book.

I will give the book another chance, and hopefully it will diverge into other ideas less known to me, but I wanted to give you my first impression, based on having put the book down for awhile, and why.


Alexis Smolensk said...

Thank you, Eric. It affords me the opportunity to confirm a negative opinion of the book.