Looking back at my 2016 Resolutions, I don’t feel very accomplished. In fact, I’m not sure I managed any of these well or consistently enough to check them off the list. So this year, I’m attempting a much more modest list of resolutions.
Less tactics, more theater of the mind
I can trace a definite change in my style of play before and after working for the RPGA on the Living Greyhawk campaign and Dungeons and Dragons 3e. The two games I ran prior to 3e were 7th Sea and Dragonlance 5th Age (SAGA). Neither of these are heavy on tactics or power-creep. After a few years of D&D 3/3.5 and nearly a decade of Savage Worlds, I feel like I’ve gotten as far away from that as possible. Witch Hunter reeled me back in a bit, but playing B/X D&D with the kids at the library really revealed how cumbersome these games really are! I’d really like to get back to focusing on cool stories at the tabletop instead of worrying about creating adequate challenges for the heroes. It’s one of the many reasons I’m excited to try out the new edition of 7th Sea for more than just a one-shot. Will it bring me back to pre-3e fighting form? I’ll let you know in 6 months.
Prep less, improvise more
I’m not sure I was ever really a “prep-lite” GM, but looking at my session and development notes for Witch Hunter, I can see where things got a bit out of hand here and there. Last year I would tell you that prepping a historical game can be a lot more work than your typical fantasy RPG, but I’m not entirely sure that isn’t a load of crap. So this year I am purposefully going to experiment with some “prep-lite” GMing techniques and see what happens. I’m really hoping I learn a few new tricks that I can take back to my Witch Hunter game so I spend more time being a cool dad and less chasing details online and frantically scribbling away in the notebook.
Villains that do things, not skulk in the shadows
Prepping for 7th Sea, I’ve come to the horrible realization that sooooo many of my villains have been Orcus on his Throne. That is, they hide in the shadows as the heroes dance around them like tops bobbing about the ripples they create. There have been one or two instances where a villain was front and center. These ALWAYS resulted in memorable game sessions. My Witch Hunter game is no exception, with a dozen minor villains circling a shadowy uber-villain who is never seen and seldom heard from. No surprise that when the players are planning their next step, the big bad isn’t remotely included in their plans. So this year, I resolve to put my villains front and center. Let them act with abandon. Let the heroes cut them down…if they can. But let’s give them some screen time, too.
Try new things as a GM
As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m planning on trying out new techniques for both our 7th Sea and my Regime Diabolique games, including using Index Cards, the 3x3x3 method, and a handful of other tricks I’ve read about but never employed.
Go to a con…and PLAY
I haven’t actually been a PLAYER in an RPG for a few years, and DFW and Austin has no shortage of good cons. I’ve been meaning to go to NTRPGCon for years now. All part of the process of becoming a better GM this year.