In our ongoing effort to expand our offerings to the gaming public here at the Illuminerdy, we bring you another new feature this month: a new column from Alpharalpha on making sure you’re bringing your best game to the table every week. In short, we’re here to help you Bring the Awesome. -Ed.
We all play role playing games for different reasons, some people play to blow off steam, some for escapism and some people play for the joy of interaction with others. Indeed; the goal is to have fun for all who play, no matter what form the fun takes.
Imagine the typical combat for an intrepid group of adventurers and their novice players as they encounter orcs in the dungeon: initiative is diced for, combat order is set, modifiers calculated, dice are rolled, damage added … repeat ad nauseum … until the orcs are defeated.
This is fun on its own level, the “kill something and takes its stuff” level. But once you have experienced playing with an awesome player or GM there is another level. When playing becomes as thrilling as a movie, but with the unknown and unexpected thrown in. When you do not know what your fellow players will do, but know that each action will help to defeat the orcs in a story-worthy and awesome way. To turn a phrase, it is that moment when the joy of playing in a great game far exceeds just the visceral feel of dice rolling and clattering across a table. When the laughter and joy exceed the simple expectations of the participants.
But how do you get from the simplicity of a “roll” player rolling for hits and damage to that epic and awesome level of play?
Make it Great
My friend, who goes by the online handle of “Rel”, put it very succinctly this way:
That means that as a GM you should:
Rule in favor of the awesome instead of the perfectly consistent BUT try to make it clear that “awesome” is not the same as “insanely gonzo” (unless your game is meant to be insanely gonzo).
And as a player you should:
Seize the moment and be awesome whenever possible BUT try to look for ways to share that spotlight with the other members of the party. Awesomeness shared is awesomeness multiplied!
To put this into practice, imagine this simple encounter with Orcs during a dungeon crawl.Instead of simply hack and slashing the orcs until their hit points reach zero, try to do something beyond that. For example:
The thief, who had providently slipped into the shadows when the orcs appeared, crawled low behind the biggest orc, who was engaged in combat with the groups’ fighter. A timely shove by the fighter and the orc thug was sent sprawling, making him easily dispatched.
Do you see how this is more about the players helping each other, as opposed to slashing away in a hit point grind until the targets are defeated?
Then the GM throws in a little more, rewarding good play with more good results:
The orc thug lost his grip on the cleaver when he hit the rocky floor. The cleaver bounced into the ankle of the orc shaman, The slash was not very deep, but the sharp pain distracted the shaman, breaking the spell he was about to cast.
This was not over-the-top cinematic action, but it was a step beyond the simple “hack until it is dead” play style. And this was all without using any special abilities or magic. Nothing so insanely gonzo that it needed special die rolls or GM fiat to resolve. But a mundane encounter becomes much more involved, partnering the characters better and serving to heighten the action in the buildup of dramatic tension to the final encounter.
In this series of articles, I want to explore ways to improve the improvisational skills that everyone brings to the table. Improving the experience for everyone and heightening the fun. Some might argue that improv cannot be taught, let us test that idea in these articles.
In your next game challenge yourself to bring the awesome and watch the fun happen!