All RPGs and Storygames by Tod Foley are now available at DrivethruRPG and RPGnow. Bring these games to your table!
I was talking to a fellow GM recently and they said (paraphrased): “You know what I like to do when I GM and you should write an article about: I like to sprinkle in random dressing and clues with no pre-planned purpose in my world and see what the players make of them and maybe retroactively make their theories correct.” I suggested that they write it and submit it as a guest article, but not everyone is as comfortable with their imposter syndrome as I am apparently.
So, on the one hand, I think this is an interesting technique and I can see a lot of value in it. It would certainly cut back on prep to just drop in a strangely worked sword, an odd mural, a mangled corpse, a whispered rumor and then only expand on it if the players show interest and use their speculation to guide how you do so. It also would make your players feel clever that they “figured it out” if you keep mum, or feel like they’re contributing and that they’ve had a good idea if you flat out tell them you like what they came up with and are using it.
On the other hand, my gut reaction is that this feels an awful lot like “cheating”. First, placing random stuff in your game with no clue as to what it is and where it came from seems like lazy GMing, but that might just be my nitpicky drive to over prep. Second, taking credit for your players’ speculation and playing it off like you had it planned all along seems like borderline asshattery, though I suspect there are both good and bad ways to do this.
Some of my reaction is certainly due to a GM I played under a few times years ago. One of those who thought he was God’s gift to game mastery, he would often launch into self congratulatory musings over how he actually planned out very little and just listened to table talk and swiped player ideas, took credit for them and let everyone think he was the most creative GM ever. (Not that I suspect he actually got accused of that all that much.) His games weren’t BAD mind you, but he wouldn’t shut up about how great of a GM he was and that he had nothing to learn and that everyone always gave him praise and it was both hard for me to listen to and for him to live up to that sort of hype. Side story: when he started GMing for our group, he used to have us fill out a little post game quiz before he handed out xp bonuses for MVP etc. The last question on that quiz was “What could I have done better?” I always tried to put in some polite constructive criticism there. (Nothing too harsh. Like I said, his games weren’t BAD, but everyone has little areas they can work on.) About the third week, that question disappeared from the quiz because “No one was putting anything down for it.” So, asshole that I am, I wrote it in and kept providing constructive criticism. It was worth it for the looks he gave me every week.
I think the technique is self explanatory, so if you haven’t already, give some thought to if it would enhance your game. Ultimately, my misgivings only matter in my game.
So I put the question to you dear reader: Is this technique fair or foul? And if it’s on a scale, where is the fine line between the two? And if you like to use it, give us your best practices and a few table tales.
P.S. Also, if you want to tell me I’m a big jerk for giving that GM a hard time, feel free. Totally guilty.
Short recap of an interesting discussion during today’s UX meeting.
About inserting media items from within the WYSIWYG editor. These could be different types of media files, like images, video and audio. You could even have different flavours for the same file type. For example with images, you might want to store different information and metadata on product images than on images used in press releases or for the company blog posts.
The question was how to provide the starting point(s) for this. Of course the goal would be to make this as transparent as possible, reducing the amount of administrative busy work to the required minimum. But, structured content does not yet create itself automatically, we do have to provide forms that present the required fields to fill out when adding a media item.We discussed two basic approaches
There are likely more and there’s room for subtle variations inside these two as well.Option 1: start with a single button to add media
- Click 1 generic “add media” button in the WYSIWYG editor that launches a media upload form
- Upload the media (image, video, audio, …) you want and save
- Figure out the media file type and present the corresponding form with the required (meta)data fields in a second step
- Save and return to the editor
- Find and click the add button for the media you want to create. There would be separate buttons for inserting an image, a video, an audio item
- Because the type is known we can directly show the form for the required (meta)data.
- Save and return to the editor.
(Although this list only goes to 3 instead of 4, there is a bit more work for the user to do in step 1: finding the right media button to click)
After a bit of back and forth we chose option 2, because:
- A one-on-one relationship between WYSIWYG button and media type to create is easier to understand
- The upload process can be contained within 1 step because the system knows upfront which form to show for the required info.
- With this one-to-one relationship, per media type permissions can be handled more elegantly (you either have a audio upload button or you don’t)
The trade-offs are:
- it’s not super elegant to require the user to do the upfront work of explicitly choosing the type of media to create.
- With multiple types of media available we’ll have to see how to expose all those different options in the WYSIWYG editor toolbar.
I spent the last 8 days of 2017 not touching my computer. Except for one night, after a few old fashions in, I decided to upgrade my MacBook to High Sierra "for the hell of it." Then New Years came, and we are riding into 2018. I'm going to also try to focus more on blogging. This was my goal for the end of 2017, but I did not stick to it. However, a tweet sent out by Dries resonated that goal and is something I plan to work more on.