Various ways of setting up and starting RPG play

niklinna

Abstraction is a tool that streamlines gameplay.
Well, this is an imaginary example, but the thought was that it was an adjudicated outgrowth of the fiction and mechanics. In most games this means it's a twist or consequence presented as a reaction to something like a failed travel or journey roll, or a random encounter roll. It depends on the system. What I was getting at was that it wasn't something the GM just decided should happen.
I see my "dependent on further detail" was well placed. :) If there's some established situation from which the bandit attack arises through plausible narrative or mechanics, even though that's the first "action!" that occurs, I wouldn't call that the start. The start is the intial framing of the PCs on the road to the remote town, however long or brief that idyllic picture may be.

So yeah, there's a difference in tone and energy between a game that starts with a kicker (whether mooted by players or GM), and one that starts framed more leisurely but jumps to action, and one that starts more leisurely but gradually turns the heat up. Say the players don't run into the bandits, but arrive in town to find people apprehensive and on edge, and only after some investigation do they learn there are bandits on the road that have been causing trouble. Those games are going to feel quite distinct.

Edit: I usually prefer things like encounters to be an adjudicated reaction to mechanical interaction on the parts of the players, rather than simply a GM decision (or system mandated) roll to see if something happens.
(y)!
 

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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
So yeah, there's a difference in tone and energy between a game that starts with a kicker (whether mooted by players or GM), and one that starts framed more leisurely but jumps to action, and one that starts more leisurely but gradually turns the heat up. Say the players don't run into the bandits, but arrive in town to find people apprehensive and on edge, and only after some investigation do they learn there are bandits on the road that have been causing trouble. Those games are going to feel quite distinct.
If I survey my games more generally, this describes what I do more so than the bandit attack. That was really just an example to clarify the OP.
 


pemerton

Legend
lets say we're talking about an OSR game where the party play licensed adventurers delving into a mysterious and magical woods for lost technology and treasure. Lets also say that the group picked this idea after some session zero discussion and world building. They will begin on their way to a remote town that will serve as the base of operations. Lets also say that as a natural consequence to something that happens on the journey there, they get attacked by bandits (which is essentially then the first thing that 'happens' in the game).

In this case, if someone asked me about the starting situation, I'd say it's being newcomers (perhaps unwelcome) to that remote village and the decisions the group makes about how to settle in, who to trust, or not, and how to go about setting themselves up for forays into the dark and mysterious woods. However, its perhaps just as correct to say the starting situation is the journey north and the bandit attack. This is really a question of scale and teleos, I suppose, but I was curious which one was meant in the OP.
To me this sounds like D.
 

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