The GM's World, the Players' Campaign

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I am a big fan of improvisational GMing myself but I find it easier to do if I'm adlibbing off of and building onto something. My views as a player are pretty similar. The sort of complete blank slate you seem to be advocating would likely leave me with very little in the way of places to set my feet. Different people will want and/or be good at different things and that's fine.
Sure. i understand that. I just want to point out that the "blank slate" lasts only as long as it takes the group to decide on the first component (usually genre or game system). Everything flows forward from that. You may be surprised at how quickly a setting, characters, motivations and even broad story coalesce. I'm talking minutes.
 

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Sure. i understand that. I just want to point out that the "blank slate" lasts only as long as it takes the group to decide on the first component (usually genre or game system). Everything flows forward from that. You may be surprised at how quickly a setting, characters, motivations and even broad story coalesce. I'm talking minutes.
The last time I was part of a group that played Fate we tried that. It took us two sessions to get enough of a setting to play with using the rules and systems in the Dresden Files game. I suppose 480 minutes is still minutes.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
The last time I was part of a group that played Fate we tried that. It took us two sessions to get enough of a setting to play with using the rules and systems in the Dresden Files game. I suppose 480 minutes is still minutes.
I can only speak to my experience. I have had had groups develop enough to get seriously going in less than an hour on multiple occasions. There are a million potential reasons that could account for the difference so it is probably not helpful to speculate.
 

pemerton

Legend
The last time I was part of a group that played Fate we tried that. It took us two sessions to get enough of a setting to play with using the rules and systems in the Dresden Files game. I suppose 480 minutes is still minutes.
For me, this is very striking.

It's true that I don't know the Dresden Files game, and have only read the Fate Core rulebook. But 8 hours seem very long to me.

I feel a strong contrast with games I've played where things have started moving pretty quickly. In Cortex+ Heroic I brought along PCs I had written up to be usable either in a fantasy Vikings or a fantasy Japan situation, the players opted for Vikings, chose their PCs, I asked them what the trouble was that had brought them to the village ready to head out on a quest, we spent again maybe 10 minutes triangulating their answers, then I framed the first scene (I drew on some basic imagery from D&D module G1).

In Classic Traveller, the PCs rolled up PCs, I rolled up a starting world, we spent maybe 10 minutes setting the scene, then I rolled up a random patron and we went from there; I had rolled three worlds in advance, and used them to help frame the situation.

We've also started Prince Valiant and Torchbearer with PC gen then go!, though in the first case I used some scenarios from the core rulebook and the Episode Book, and in the second case I used the Tower of the Stars from the Cartographer's Companion book - though I did make up a social encounter that is not in the book to be the first scene of the game.

It makes me feel that situation rather than setting is what takes precedence in my RPGing.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
For me, this is very striking.

It's true that I don't know the Dresden Files game, and have only read the Fate Core rulebook. But 8 hours seem very long to me.

I feel a strong contrast with games I've played where things have started moving pretty quickly. In Cortex+ Heroic I brought along PCs I had written up to be usable either in a fantasy Vikings or a fantasy Japan situation, the players opted for Vikings, chose their PCs, I asked them what the trouble was that had brought them to the village ready to head out on a quest, we spent again maybe 10 minutes triangulating their answers, then I framed the first scene (I drew on some basic imagery from D&D module G1).

In Classic Traveller, the PCs rolled up PCs, I rolled up a starting world, we spent maybe 10 minutes setting the scene, then I rolled up a random patron and we went from there; I had rolled three worlds in advance, and used them to help frame the situation.

We've also started Prince Valiant and Torchbearer with PC gen then go!, though in the first case I used some scenarios from the core rulebook and the Episode Book, and in the second case I used the Tower of the Stars from the Cartographer's Companion book - though I did make up a social encounter that is not in the book to be the first scene of the game.

It makes me feel that situation rather than setting is what takes precedence in my RPGing.
It's all that advice about "only prep what you need for the next session" writ immediate. Create what you need to frame that first scene and GO.

I know that is not easy for all GMs, and some players would be unsatisfied with the inherent lack of depth in the setting from the jump, but for me is create an exhilarating unscripted experience.
 

pemerton

Legend
some players would be unsatisfied with the inherent lack of depth in the setting from the jump
I don't accept that there is an inherent lack of depth in "just in time" setting development. I don't think a setting is richer or deeper because the GM has imagined stuff about it that is not part of play.

A player might be unsatisfied for whatever reason - eg they don't like the approach to action resolution, which necessarily must be based on something other than GM extrapolation from established setting - but I don't think depth is an element.
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
I agree the PCs should be familiar with their part of their world. I think it's up to the GM to make sure the players have adequate information to play that.
Or you let the players make up the relevant details that are within their purview (the names of their hometown, their home region, important NPCs that they've met or are strongly familiar with, etc.). This helps to avoid the isekai effect, as @Campbell mentioned upthread.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I don't accept that there is an inherent lack of depth in "just in time" setting development. I don't think a setting is richer or deeper because the GM has imagined stuff about it that is not part of play.

A player might be unsatisfied for whatever reason - eg they don't like the approach to action resolution, which necessarily must be based on something other than GM extrapolation from established setting - but I don't think depth is an element.
That strikes me as an indefensible position.

Let's take the GM out of it and use a pre-published setting like the Forgotten Realms versus one we are creating in play at the moment. Some players like knowing there is a deep well of world lore and detail that is always within reach of discovery. That is WHY some players engage with RPGs at all, in fact. Those elements -- by definition -- do not exist in a create as you play game. And for those players that think the depth of a setting is a key component of the joy of play, they are not going to be satisfied with the ad hoc nature of setting development happening at the moment at the table.

This isn't to say that the setting we are creating as we play will not become deeper and more intricate and full of nuance and lore. If we play long enough and engage the setting between sessions, etc, of course it will. But to deny that particular roadblock is going to exist for some people seems naïve at best.
 

I don't accept that there is an inherent lack of depth in "just in time" setting development. I don't think a setting is richer or deeper because the GM has imagined stuff about it that is not part of play.

A player might be unsatisfied for whatever reason - eg they don't like the approach to action resolution, which necessarily must be based on something other than GM extrapolation from established setting - but I don't think depth is an element.
I think it is pretty inevitable that a setting mostly improvised on spot will on average have less depth than one that is planned with time and consideration.

If one could improvise equally good stuff than one can plan with time, why on earth do authors spend years, in some cases decades, crafting their books instead of just improvising a complete work in hours?
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
The last time I was part of a group that played Fate we tried that. It took us two sessions to get enough of a setting to play with using the rules and systems in the Dresden Files game. I suppose 480 minutes is still minutes.
Was it a case were not all the participants were familiar with the Dresden Files setting, and a lot of time was spent bringing them up to speed? That was definitely the case when I played in a DF game, not everyone knew the source material which made the game not as engaging as it could have been.

I could also see a case where everyone was a big fan, and simply had very different opinions on the way they thought the game should go.
 

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