Tuesday, August 7, 2018

#RPGaDay 2018 Day 7: How Can a GM Make the Stakes Important?

Yesterday for #RPGaDay, I talked about how it was important for a player to free their mind, embrace the portal of opportunity the GM provides, and develop/own a portion of that as your. 

For Day 7, "How Can a GM Make the Stakes Important?" is complimentary to the player's goal.  Create doorways for characters to embrace the world or even change it.

I said yesterday that Powered by the Apocalypse games (PbtA) actively engage players with open-ended questions, forcing the players to think on the fly all the while forcing them to ponder the consquences of their actions.

Recently, my 5e online group had some scheduling issues and I was granted a filler session for a one-shot.  With the only guidelines involving the words "Gilligan's Island" and "native to the area," I grabbed "Clean Up Aisle Four," by Michael LaBossiere, and set it up in 1994 Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

With some basic CoC stats (representing Canadian college versions of Gilligan, Skipper, and a First Nations Secondary Ed - Science major) these fellows were simply stopping by the local Mac's Convenience Stores after a winter's night of imbibing.

With limited characters and limited setting, I relied on open-ended questions to lure the players further into the game.   Something as simple as "What do you want to grab at the store?"

PC Alan:   A day-old hot dog and some Funyuns!
PC Bob:  Not food   but I wonder if these Magic cards finally showed up in town, I picked up some starter decks when the family visited Calgary over break.
PC Russ:  I'm not too hungry, but I do have a thing for the cashier....
GM:  *checking basic notes* Russ, so there's two cashiers working Saturday night.  Is it Timmy or Robert you're interested in?
PC Russ:  *pauses* Definitely Timmy, he's a much nicer and he's got a good fashion sense.

Now, I may have stuck to my guns a bit much, keeping the cashiers male, like they were in the scenario, but the player could have continued to embellish their opening, "I do have a thing for the cashier, Sarah... forcing me to change the storyline, or even taking my follow-up, "Ugh, neither of those neanderthalls, it's ________.... "    My follow up questions aren't meant to be rock solid "No and" style of GMing.  Collaborating with the player creates the agency that makes future actions that much more engaging.

And those questions and answers helped decide Russ perishing, Bob walking out with lovely young lady with potential Daddy issues, and Alan taking home his fill of Funyuns.

Medicine Hat will never be the same again.

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