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  1. Replies
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    So, my game group is now two sessions into our...

    So, my game group is now two sessions into our GURPS supers game (basic setting is Brandon Sanderson's "Reckoners" universe).

    And here's the thing that keeps coming to me time and time again ---...
  2. The biggest problem with the popularity of urban...

    The biggest problem with the popularity of urban fantasy is that vampires aren't cool anymore. There's a dearth of original media material.

    Twilight, the execrable films moreso than the books,...
  3. "I'd Never Normally Play This, But . . . ." -- i.e., That One Time You Got Talked Into Going Way Outside Your Comfort Zone

    For 3 or 4 months now, one of my game group buddies has been asking to run a campaign after our last Savage Worlds campaign finished up. Well two weeks ago, the SW campaign ended on a high note.
    ...
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    Just thought of one more --- Warhammer 40k,...

    Just thought of one more --- Warhammer 40k, whatever version (Dark Heresy, Trader, etc.)

    This is one where I'm not even sure I've picked the book off the shelf to read it. The cover art alone is...
  5. Wow, 19 pages in . . . . So um, maybe I'll just...

    Wow, 19 pages in . . . . So um, maybe I'll just answer the OP's question and slink away . . . . :cool:

    Age of Sail. Hands down, no questions asked, if D&D wasn't "medieval fantasy" by default, I'd...
  6. To say nothing of the fact that class/level based...

    To say nothing of the fact that class/level based systems require vastly MORE up front work for long-term play, because you have to constantly be looking ahead 2-5 levels to make sure you're hitting...
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    Oh man, the d20 Wheel of Time system was a hot,...

    Oh man, the d20 Wheel of Time system was a hot, flaming mess on a poopstick. We actually tried playing one session of it, and even the player who was a die-hard Wheel of Time fan basically agreed it...
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    May I highly, highly recommend the Interface Zero...

    May I highly, highly recommend the Interface Zero campaign setting for Savage Worlds?

    The Interface Zero 2.0 campaign book is one of my favorite RPG sourcebooks of all time. It's seriously...
  9. But on a certain level, this essentially...

    But on a certain level, this essentially validates my point.

    D&D 4e failed at the MAYA principle because it was too unfamiliar. You immediately reverted to something that more closely resembled...
  10. (emphasis added to quote) The one thing about...

    (emphasis added to quote)

    The one thing about D&D that has essentially become a deal-breaker for me is the class/level paradigm instead of point buy. The idea of rigid "adventurer roles," the fact...
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    -Anything White Wolf --- At least ten or twelve...

    -Anything White Wolf --- At least ten or twelve times over the last 15 years, I've wandered into a game store and picked up a White Wolf title (oWoD, Vampire, Mage, Werewolf), and started thumbing...
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    See, this is one of the really funny things about...

    See, this is one of the really funny things about the gaming group I used to play with who loved GURPS ---- they completely played away from its strengths.

    They were so in love with GURPS as a...
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    In short, no. To "get to" GURPS from any...

    In short, no.

    To "get to" GURPS from any starting point, you have to convince the group that the end result in play is worth it.

    I don't care for GURPS in the least, but if I were trying to...
  14. Using @Umbran...

    Using @Umbran's evolution analogy, it feels like the RPG landscape is somewhat solidifying around five or six fairly distinct "genetic pools" in terms of rules systems. These are the ones where when...
  15. The MAYA Design Principle, or Why D&D's Future is Probably Going to Look Mostly Like Its Past

    Had to share this article, as it pretty much sums up the last 10 years of the D&D product line. In fact, the very first consumer product that came to mind when I read the MAYA principle was Dungeons...
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    Cubicle 7 has just been so all over the place...

    Cubicle 7 has just been so all over the place with this product line.

    Much like my vehement opposition to Fantasy Flight spreading out the new Star Wars line over 3 core books, I never thought...
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    @Celebrim...

    @Celebrim sums it up pretty well here, with the key idea being, why the need for complexity? What does the complexity actually positively accomplish either at or away from the game table?
    ...
  18. I didn't claim that there were more jerks in our...

    I didn't claim that there were more jerks in our hobby than others. I claimed that there is long-standing, continuous narrative in our hobby of "jerk GMs" causing problems within the social fabric of...
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    Welcome all!

    Welcome all!
  20. See, there's part of me that wishes this to be...

    See, there's part of me that wishes this to be true, that the vast majority of the "jerk GM" stories out there are just hearsay and rumor, with just the tiniest bit of "true anecdotes" thrown in.
    ...
  21. Why does the stigma of the "jerk GM" still persist in our hobby?

    I began reflecting on this while authoring a reply in this thread, and it's stuck with me since then.

    Why is it that this particular hobby is so prone to producing narratives that involve having...
  22. It was definitely hyperbole. Purposefully...

    It was definitely hyperbole. Purposefully hyperbolic. ;)

    And I'm not sure it's entirely untrue.

    Look, I'm not equating bad GM-ing to any sort of actual social issue requiring philosophical...
  23. Because for nearly the entire history of RPGs,...

    Because for nearly the entire history of RPGs, the authority to say "No" has been abused by far too many GMs, in far too many games, producing far too much un-fun, un-interesting, Mother-May-I? kinds...
  24. I realize the thread has moved on quite a bit...

    I realize the thread has moved on quite a bit from this post, but I'm feeling the need to "unpack" this a bit.

    To restate---in your view, "Say 'yes' or roll the dice" principles meaningfully...
  25. I should report you for trespassing, for clearly...

    I should report you for trespassing, for clearly you were lurking in the room during every GURPS campaign I ever participated in*.


    *(not as the GM, for the record).
  26. Good questions. Let me see if I can thoughtfully...

    Good questions. Let me see if I can thoughtfully respond.


    1. In my experience, scene framing encourages player exploration, most commonly within the context of what's been set up as the...
  27. Wow, I . . . actually learned something today....

    Wow, I . . . actually learned something today. Atomic clocks. Who knew? ;)
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    I can only echo the sentiment of Celebrim, which...

    I can only echo the sentiment of Celebrim, which is that absolutely everything surrounding this fills me with melancholic sadness.
  29. Well, to answer the last question first, in my...

    Well, to answer the last question first, in my experience players generally will try to bend the fiction in their favor because they think it will either be A) fun in the moment, or B) have a future...
  30. Sorry, it's taken me a while to jump back in to...

    Sorry, it's taken me a while to jump back in to this thread. Lots of tangents and interesting responses.

    I'll try to answer this as succinctly as possible. Don't want to derail the other trains...
  31. I've bagged on GURPS a bit in this thread...

    I've bagged on GURPS a bit in this thread already, but to me GURPS is an exception. It very much feels designed with "realism first" as a primary goal, with the assumption that "realism" and "fun"...
  32. It's funny, I was going to make a similar comment...

    It's funny, I was going to make a similar comment about how D&D often feels at-odds with itself when it comes to realism. Some of its mechanics are clearly trying to present real-world analogues;...
  33. Apologies, Bedrockgames, I should have added...

    Apologies, Bedrockgames, I should have added like, ten or twelve more smiley faces to the GURPS comment. It didn't come off nearly as lighthearted in writing as it sounded in my head. ;) :p

    Mostly...
  34. I'm certain there's a player base out there that...

    I'm certain there's a player base out there that actually wants "really real realistic reality realism" as the sole and complete focus of their gaming experience.

    For all seventeen of those...
  35. I appreciate your opinion here, but truthfully,...

    I appreciate your opinion here, but truthfully, never ONCE since I began implementing a more player-centric, scene-framing approach to GM-ing has a player EVER at my table said, "Wow, that's really...
  36. Maybe six or seven years ago I had a conversation...

    Maybe six or seven years ago I had a conversation on these forums about this very topic around why I felt 4e was giving me such a poor play experience.

    My view at the time (and still remains) was...
  37. Off the top of my head: Savage Worlds...

    Off the top of my head:


    Savage Worlds (we're now in our 3rd campaign that's lasted at least 15 months)
    Pathfinder
    Star Wars Saga Edition d20
    D&D 3.5
    GURPS (-ish, sort of kind of, the GM...
  38. This isn't an entirely unreasonable way to look...

    This isn't an entirely unreasonable way to look at it, and I certainly do this regularly, though since I use Savage Worlds and don't get to roll a d20 that often anymore, I typically do a straight...
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    I do a ton of frontloading when I start a...

    I do a ton of frontloading when I start a campaign. I'll prepare a series of fairly well defined "fronts" (as they might be called in Dungeon World), with the names of a few key NPCs, descriptions of...
  40. Exploration is such a weird, interesting thing...

    Exploration is such a weird, interesting thing for me, because I've always LOVED the sense of exploration in every aspect of gaming.

    Take two recent video game examples:

    I've been playing...
  41. The topic of granularity, as you mentioned,...

    The topic of granularity, as you mentioned, certainly is a part of it. In addition to some of the earlier ideas I've taken note of---(A) Incorporate challenges/obstacles into player resource and game...
  42. To answer the OP, forty-five years of this...

    To answer the OP, forty-five years of this particular element (level-based progression and its resulting complexities) remaining in place seems to point pretty strongly that regardless of what anyone...
  43. The issue of "Mother May I?" is muddy, obviously....

    The issue of "Mother May I?" is muddy, obviously. That said, from my perspective there's a clear set of procedural steps, or sequences, that seem to be common to it:

    1. Player proposes an...
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    I've never had more than two dozen or so hard...

    I've never had more than two dozen or so hard copy books at any one time. The most books I've had for any system was 3.5.

    About four years ago I sold pretty much everything that I knew I wasn't...
  45. I agree, Bedrockgames, that it's probably less of...

    I agree, Bedrockgames, that it's probably less of a black-and-white binary than the issue is often presented.

    There's a definite middle ground between "No, you can't do anything that doesn't...
  46. First off, thanks to everyone who's responded so...

    First off, thanks to everyone who's responded so far. These are exactly the kinds of ideas and discussion I was hoping to foster. I suppose I should add that despite my recent concerns, the...
  47. Introducing Complications Without Forcing Players to Play the "Mother May I?" Game

    So I've been having a bit of an internal struggle recently over some of the challenges I recently introduced to my players.

    One of the players has been clearly signaling throughout the campaign...
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    Almost anything I can think of that would fit...

    Almost anything I can think of that would fit this list fall under the general category of, "Stuff someone would do when he or she thinks they (and their fun) are more important than the group."
    ...
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    I'd been running Pathfinder following its release...

    I'd been running Pathfinder following its release in 2008 for close to a year, but the cracks in the system were already showing when the characters hit level 8. Having to "Christmas tree" every...
  50. Was WotC On to Something When They Dumped the 3.x OGL?

    I ask this question because I'm curiously interested as a non-vested observer of what's happening with Pathfinder 2. More and more it feels like that the "lock in" to the 3.x OGL is going to be...
  51. I know Critical Role played and streamed a...

    I know Critical Role played and streamed a Deadlands Reloaded one-off several years ago. Deadlands Reloaded is built on the Savage Worlds Deluxe game system, and IMHO Savage Worlds is pretty...
  52. Interest level significantly piqued ---- I bought...

    Interest level significantly piqued ---- I bought Night's Black Agents a few years ago, and though I haven't run it (yet), GUMSHOE seemed very fun conceptually.

    This is definitely going on the...
  53. In my view, all game rules are "descriptive," in...

    In my view, all game rules are "descriptive," in that they "describe" acceptable end states.

    When I consider the purpose of rules in a game, ultimately the intent is to describe (define) what is...
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    One thing I've noticed too is that the player's...

    One thing I've noticed too is that the player's perspective on the level of freedom available to them can change if a player determines that a character is "bought in" to whatever stakes are at hand....
  55. Thoughts on this, in no particular order: I...

    Thoughts on this, in no particular order:


    I am supportive in general of ENWorld's attempts to publish salient, relevant content that connects the gaming community / gaming culture to broader...
  56. *Burning Wheel -- I've owned Burning Wheel for...

    *Burning Wheel -- I've owned Burning Wheel for three or four years now, and would love to try it . . . . but I know for a fact that my group would never, EVER go for it. I'm pretty sure this one will...
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    In the fall, I ran 4-5 sessions of Dungeon World...

    In the fall, I ran 4-5 sessions of Dungeon World (I can't remember exactly how many) with my group. Overall they seemed to enjoy it, but it's a MASSIVE shift in mindset for players to really get the...
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    There's lots of subtexts running beneath this...

    There's lots of subtexts running beneath this topic of player agency vis-a-vis narrative pacing.

    Maxperson 's question of, "Why not start your scene frame here instead of there?" is a good one,...
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    You've lost me here for a bit, @pemerton...

    You've lost me here for a bit, @pemerton --- "Is there a vessel in the room that would allow me to catch the mage's blood?" isn't an action declaration, it's a query --- I'd call it a "scene frame...
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    GURPS' basic resolution system is actually quite...

    GURPS' basic resolution system is actually quite simple . . . until combat starts.

    At that point, dear merciful heavens . . . .

    I'll never forget the one fight when I was a player in a GURPS...
  61. @aramis erak...

    @aramis erak --- how often do the rules mandate adding/removing or upgrading/downgrading dice? Is this something commonly done in play? Is it primarily when applying the effect of a talent? This does...
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    I think my post earlier, talking about example...

    I think my post earlier, talking about example "scene frames," was very much looking at this is the same way. It's a very difficult line to draw to say that NOTHING can be secret from the players if...
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    Another idea that I have had to come to grips...

    Another idea that I have had to come to grips with in this thread as well---is there a difference between "secret backstory" that negates player agency, and "scene frame maneuvering"? In other words,...
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    This is a good question. But it does tie in...

    This is a good question. But it does tie in somewhat for the need to define just what the difference is between "worldbuilding" and "secret backstory." Where is the line drawn between them? I think...
  65. Quick comment on the Fantasy Flight narrative...

    Quick comment on the Fantasy Flight narrative dice system---

    It took me a couple of times of reading through the Genesys core mechanic section to fully grasp it, but once I understood the basic...
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    I think my idea here, though, was to demonstrate...

    I think my idea here, though, was to demonstrate that the number of ways the fiction can be constructed and still maintain widely plausible "causality" are generally much, much greater than we often...
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    To carry it a bit further --- let's suppose that...

    To carry it a bit further --- let's suppose that there's far more options available to "forward" the fiction than even that.


    The orcs immediately band together and go on a raiding rampage to a...
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    At one point in my RPG play and GM-ing...

    At one point in my RPG play and GM-ing experience, I would have felt that the bolded part of the quote above was paramount to my enjoyment of RPG play. "Believable" and "immersive" play was the whole...
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    I've played both. DC Deckbuilding is the more...

    I've played both. DC Deckbuilding is the more simple of the two, but also far less fun, due to the way card purchasing works. In 4 or 5 playthroughs, it always just felt very random. By the end I...
  70. I don't know if there's a "system" out there that...

    I don't know if there's a "system" out there that I'd refuse to play in, depending on how it was presented to me.

    There are, however, campaign settings that I wouldn't play in, just because I...
  71. So here's the follow-up question to all of this: ...

    So here's the follow-up question to all of this:

    What would it take for a roleplaying system to completely, fully supplant D&D as the clear market leader?

    It's a curious question to me,...
  72. I can very much appreciate your feelings on this....

    I can very much appreciate your feelings on this. I could counter by saying that the only time the "randomness" of Savage Worlds really comes to bear is in damage dice, but it probably won't make a...
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    That's . . . a pretty accurate assessment. I...

    That's . . . a pretty accurate assessment. I think that is generally @pemerton's position. It may not veer into "introducing entirely new elements" most of the time, though, but merely "re-frame an...
  74. Couple more things have come to mind through this...

    Couple more things have come to mind through this conversation---

    1. The novels.

    Oh dear heavens, how did I forget the novels?? I must have read Dragonlance Chronicles, Legends, and the Legend...
  75. So what, then, do we make of the short historical...

    So what, then, do we make of the short historical period when D&D wasn't the undisputed king of the RPG market---the mid/late 90s White Wolf incursion?

    Was it actually the case? Were more people...
  76. While I think there's a lot of truth and good...

    While I think there's a lot of truth and good ideas in your post, I do have to call this particular point out. Yes, Savage Worlds very much caused me to think differently about how I prepare for and...
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    While I think this statement is true, I also...

    While I think this statement is true, I also think @pemerton's whole point is that the bolded section in your quote should be used with extreme, extreme discretion. There's a mindset for many GMs...
  78. I don't have any experience to compare how Fate...

    I don't have any experience to compare how Fate runs versus how it "reads," but it does bring up an interesting point---does D&D's popularity remain strong because on the whole, it generally DOES...
  79. I XP'd your post, because I can appreciate having...

    I XP'd your post, because I can appreciate having different tastes. I do wonder sometimes why Savage Worlds doesn't seem to connect with more people. For me, Savage Worlds is the first system that...
  80. I'd say this is likely true for a large majority...

    I'd say this is likely true for a large majority of players. D&D may actually be the right "fit" for some, but as you say, most could find a game they like better if they'd just take a chance.

    But...
  81. So what exactly is the root cause of the D&D rules' staying power?

    So I made my first real RPG purchase in over three years this week---I picked up a copy of Genesys RPG.

    I think it's pretty well known around here that I'm a big fan of Savage Worlds. Reading...
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    This rings so very true to me. I think the...

    This rings so very true to me. I think the proliferation of Marvel universe movies is a glimpse into this mindset---the de rigeur line of thinking that the players are going to be the...
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    This is actually a fairly salient point. Even if...

    This is actually a fairly salient point. Even if you accept some of pemerton's postulates---and I'm not saying that anyone has to---as a GM, I'd still want to have some practical line of demarcation...
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    @pemerton...

    @pemerton's point still stands, though---the character's ability to find out if there's a bribeable NPC solely depends on the GM's discretion regardless. If the GM decides before hand (i.e.,...
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    So, this is the crux of @pemerton...

    So, this is the crux of @pemerton's problem with pre-authored backstory, especially the first half of your signature---The PCs searching for weeks of game world time, with the players making a...
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    So, I think there's several trains of thought...

    So, I think there's several trains of thought scattered throughout all the responses that answer @pemerton's original question, "What is worldbuilding for?"


    To add immersive flavor -- to spur...
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    I was going to comment on exactly this. Be...

    I was going to comment on exactly this.

    Be careful, pemerton , not to mistake "world building" as "just the stuff I, the GM, have to make up in my head." One of the powerful effects of using...
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    Here's my take, @pemerton...

    Here's my take, @pemerton ---

    Interestingly, I think worldbuilding is actually ONLY relevant in the context of playing a character, in the sense that you care about the character's motivations,...
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    This thread contains a poll. One of the main GM tenets of Dungeon World is...

    One of the main GM tenets of Dungeon World is that "Everyone has a name."

    Anyone to whom the PCs actually speak a line of dialogue should have a name, and at the very least a basic motivation for...
  90. But on another note ---- wouldn't it seem that...

    But on another note ---- wouldn't it seem that BattleTech is exactly the kind of intellectual property that is absolutely ripe for a full reboot?

    If Weisman wanted to get out from under the...
  91. Uh, what? In PC gaming circles, the...

    Uh, what?

    In PC gaming circles, the Mechwarrior 2 video game was hugely influential in ushering in the 3D acceleration era of gaming by having its own "3dfx Voodoo" edition, that only ran on 3dfx...
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    For all the reasons to dismiss Savage Worlds as a...

    For all the reasons to dismiss Savage Worlds as a system---and even though I'm a fan, I recognize the system isn't perfect---the initiative system would have been the LAST thing I'd have thought...
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    What in the . . . how did you . . . holy cow, in...

    What in the . . . how did you . . . holy cow, in four paragraphs you've summed up my friend's gamestyle so perfectly, it's as if you were sitting there watching our group. Even to the "silly voice"...
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    Well, it's funny, because unless I was completely...

    Well, it's funny, because unless I was completely mis-interpreting what was happening, this is how my players felt playing Dungeon World. Here I was, trying to go completely out of my way to give...
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    So this is a really interesting topic, especially...

    So this is a really interesting topic, especially considering what happened with our group recently. After 15 months of being a player in a mostly-okay-but-somewhat-uneven Shaintar campaign in Savage...
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    Full disclosure: I am a white, American male. ...

    Full disclosure: I am a white, American male.

    It is never my intent to offend anyone of a different culture, race, or nationality. I work for global, multinational corporation. A good 75% of the...
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    To understand hit points, you have to understand...

    To understand hit points, you have to understand what they're actually modeling: the status of a given entity to operate at a minimum level of nominal effectiveness.

    When you see it from a war...
  98. Yep. Human nature tells us to "do what we know."...

    Yep. Human nature tells us to "do what we know." Stick with the familiar. It's less risky, and it leaves us less vulnerable and less open to critique.

    A GM who's not confident in their ability to...
  99. Celebrim, thanks for the words, I'm trying to...

    Celebrim, thanks for the words, I'm trying to think of another way of using the metaphor of directing a theater production (of which I've acted in two dozen over my lifetime) . . . .

    Think of it...
  100. GM-ing is hard. Correction: GM-ing well is hard. ...

    GM-ing is hard. Correction: GM-ing well is hard.

    If being a good GM could be directly correlated to "prep," then most of us would have good GMs all the time. And based on what I read here and...
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