Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rotating GMs

Funny thing happened - we decided to rotate GMs for our new Rogue Trader campaign, after I asked for some time off from GMing this system and theme. I was asked to create a character, and walla! I was min/maxing like hell and diving into the rulebooks looking for the most potent combination of skills and talents to impress my friends at the table (who am I kidding? I wanted this poor GM to get a taste of his own medicine...).

Diving into rulebooks? Optimizing? exactly what I, as the GM, ask the players NOT to do. I keep on going on rounding the characters, thinking about role-playing and character interaction - but as soon as I got the Player's Handbook, the first thing I looked for is the most damaging weapon available...

It was an eye-opener. Almost to the point were I was tempted to say: "Forget it! I'm GMing it!"

It occured to me that I wanted some time off GMing in order to improve my GMing skills. I've been GMing since I remember myself, hardly being a player at all. So rotating GMs, at least for a short, mini-campaign or a serie of adventures is a great way to view the table from another angle. Also, by playing with your "Ex-Players", you are now exposed to all that player talk, those little conversations you ignore as a GM, either because you are busy reading your notes, or because they take place when you are not there...

By rolling up a character, it suddenly occured to me that I want this character to be successful and useful. I wanted the other players to feel that I contribute to the group, I wanted to show off my role-playing skills and bring this character to life. No wonder I want the best possible armor, I want this character to live to see another day!

So maybe the key to being a good GM, is being an occasional, good player?
Can you be a good DM without playing at least part of the time? Or maybe you don't have to be a construction worker before being a good architect?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reality Shift

What happens if while writing your novel, you suddently have a great idea for another novel?
Here goes all the rush you had over the current book, because the new book suddenly looks like a much better project to work on.

I have this issue with my role-playing campaigns. I'm starting to write this new, cool, unique campaign, spending a month or so thinking about it, spending another month writing it, and then BOOM! A new idea takes over and the old campaign looks boring and trivial.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Jeremiah Mekler - the Interview Continues

Continuing my ficional interview with the protagonist of my novel, Jeremiah Mekler, here is the second part of this ongoing writing excerise.

I fumbled with my notepad, trying to fold the top pages neatly while exposing a fresh, new page. Each time I did I swore to dump those sheets of paper for a shiny new laptop, but for some reason the notepad stuck around. Maybe I'm old fasion.

Jeremiah looked at me with a smile. "Sorry about that," I said, realizing how much noise I made with my papers. "I'm ready." I drew my pencil and placed the notepad on my knees.

"How old are you?" I asked Jeremiah, hoping that my smile eased him. He looked relaxed as he answered.

"I'm seventy-three," his voice was clear, but not strong, and the weight of the years was audible in the way he pronounced himself.

"Are you married?" I asked, knowing the answer but wanting to see the way he'd handle the question.

His old face moved through a full spectrum of emotion. I saw a small smile, then his eyes lit up, then a hard swallow and a painful expression. He closed his eyes for a brief moment, and shook his head slightly, as if trying to get rid of a mental image that troubled him. The whole process took less than  a second.

I jotted a note on my notepad. A lifetime experience in less than a second. Is that what we get in the end? Images of past experiences that we want to get rid of? Our past is there to haunt us, so it seems. I suddenly felt cold. What about my past, I thought. What about my images?

Jeremiah cleared his throat. "Well, she died last winter," he proclaimed in a soft voice. "But she lives in my mind."

I looked at him and wondered. It seemed to me that much more lived in his mind. I better get more penciles.