Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who's Telling This Story Anyway?

I love reading other blogs and forum posts of AD&D players and DM's.

Some are so creative, witty and into the role playing that's it's hard not to be swept away in the story.

As I read, it occurs to me though, how much of a game can be "owned" by a charismatic DM.

Some DM's are so "into" their story that I have noticed that on occasion, some players feel like bit roles rather than the leads.

Of course, a lot has to do with how imaginative each individual player in the game is and how much they "get into" role playing.

Some DM's are so story oriented that instead of giving simple answers to incidents such as a thief wants to pick a pocket, they don't simply tell the player "yes" or "no" in terms of being successful.  The DM can go on with a lengthy full blown narrative about how the thief went about the action and thereby indicating for the first time, even to the player, if it was successful.

In many ways,  I think this is great.  Especially if the DM is a particularly good story teller/narrator.

In some ways,  I think this might be too much.  Particularly if the player in question is really wanting to describe the scenario them self because they have it completely visualized and are really into character.

Sometimes a very verbose DM can run over the players like a train because they get used to being the one to keep the story moving.  It sucks to be sitting there, describing an elaborate scene and filling the background with great detail.  Adopting the voices and personalities of 8 different Non Player Characters only to have a table full of players sit there and reply "Ok, So I hit the___".

It's enough to make a grown DM cry when confronted with such a lack of Imagination.  So, they get used to carrying the story and leaving smaller roles for the un-unimaginative slugs who sit there and roll dice.

I think though, it behooves a good DM to stay on alert for that sudden spark of creativity in a players eye when suddenly they have something in mind that they themselves can and want to tell in detail.

When players are all participating in the narration of their own characters role in the larger story going on,  I find it makes my job as DM both more easy and fun.

It adds an element of surprise and allows for a plot twist that the DM might not have considered before, essentially making it a bit different story than the DM had originally planned out.

I find those situations incredibly fun.  It makes me, the DM, have to always be prepared to "wing it" and create on the fly.

When I run a game, I always try to make sure to leave room for the player's characters to be stars and not supporting actors.  If the players just aren't being very imaginative that day, I fill in more of the narrative myself.  If I see they are really getting into things, I sit back and let them take over when it's their time to fly.

Still, it's always great to see a DM who is a real storyteller and narrator take a "game" and turn it into something more.

An adventure.

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