Sunday, August 13, 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 #13

From the #RPGaDAY2017 challenge (info here):

[as I'm starting this thing a little late, I shall be doubling up on my daily posts until I catch up. Early posts will be post-dated to the date they were originally supposed to appear]

Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

Hmm...that's yet another tough question. I suppose they're designed that way, to promote thoughtful responses.
; )

Welp, it's hard to single out an instance of a game experience "changing" how I play. All the experiences I've had over the years, both at and away from the table, have gone into creating my "gaming acumen." Other than growing older and more mature (and perhaps a bit smarter, if not wiser), the way I play these days isn't much different from how I played 30-some years ago. I'm probably less self-conscious than I was in the past, more willing to "step up to the plate" when playing (as opposed to hanging back with a wait-and-see attitude). I'm more "proactive" when gaming, both in stance and action...but that comes with confidence from growing up and knowing yourself and not worrying terribly about what kind of an ass you make of yourself.

Now, as far as running games, there HAVE been ways I've distinctly changed my gaming style over the years. However, most of the ways in which I've changed have come about from things that occurred outside of play. However, looking back I can see at least one instance where an in-game occurrence prompted me to reconsider my approach to running games.

This was circa 1990 or '91 and I was running Vampire: the Masquerade for several high school buddies. It was my last year of high school proper, and these guys: Michael, Mike, and Ben had been my main gaming partners for the last couple years. Usually, I was a player in our games (they ran a lot of Palladium: mostly Heroes Unlimited or Robotech) though I had run a couple one-off games (Stormbringer and Rifts). Mostly, though, I'd been burned out on GMing after years of being a Dungeon Master (I'd likewise burned out on D&D, quitting play around the same time 2nd Edition came out), and was content to simply "ride along" as a passenger in someone else's world. That is, until I found Vampire and was inspired to take up the mantle of "Storyteller." There was a lot in VtM that appealed to an angsty 90's teenager like myself. Plus, I'd been a vampire fan since I was a very, very small child.

[fortunately I went to college before the whole "goth" thing started happening, so I never got swept up in that]

[*sigh* I should probably write a series of posts on Vampire and vampires one of these days]

ANYway...I was running Vampire for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the idea of the types of stories the game wanted to tell. World o Darkness games are all about storytelling, don'tcha' know...they just expect the players to do the work of creating the stories (rather than providing tools/systems to facilitate this *ahem*). So, here I was trying to tell stories of grim tragedy and dark romance and lost humanity in an intimate style that I was used to from my experiences back in the day with my prior AD&D group...and I was doing it with dudes who were, well, not all that into it.

As Ben told me during one session, "Look, man, I'm really not comfortable with this."

Ah, blood bonds. Yeah, they REALLY
weren't into this kind of thing!
My friend Michael was into it...but Michael, like myself, was interested in stage and theater and role-playing and character exploration. Ben and Mike? Ben would have rather been playing Steve Jackson's Toon. And Mike once told me, after I'd taken him to see some Oscar-nominated British drama, "Well, Jon, it didn't have any action, and it really wasn't funny, so I don't get why you think it's so great." Yeah, they collected comic books and they enjoyed a space opera anime liked Robotech (loved it, in fact...owned the whole series on VHS and had watched it multiple times), but they couldn't give a shit about anything other than super-powered punch-ups and giant robots exploding...melodramatic love triangles and mutant angst be damned!

So, I learned that sometimes you can have friends, even gamer friends, who aren't on the same page with you. Like, at all. And when you're running a game for them, you have to take this into account and accept it...or else move on. My Vampire games with those guys mostly involved shoot-outs with cops or discipline-powered duels and diablerie, and that's fine...I was a big fan of Near Dark long before VtM was a game. And eventually I moved on, and found other folks at university who had more of my mind-set when it came to role-playing.

You can't please everyone all the time. Not even yourself.

[folks interested in my "Day 4" post for the #RPGaDAY, can check out this link]

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