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Putting John in the Book

I playtested Act 2 of Curse of the Yellow Sign last night. It went remarkably well: far better than I expected. I was only half-prepared and didn't have everything I wanted. I had to improvise around a lot of holes. Makes me think about things I've said about directors like John Carpenter: the less money you give him, the better movie he makes.

 A lot credit for the session's success goes to the people involved. The scenario needs at least six people (you can have seven). I had seven really good players. And when I was done, I realized that ninety percent of what was happening was because of decisions and improvisations I was making.

Reminded me of a time long ago when we were first developing the L5R RPG. John Zinser read a draft and came into my office. "I don't see it," he told me. "I don't see how to run this."

I said, "That's because I haven't written the GM chapter yet."

He shook his head. "I want to play it," he told me. 

So, I organized a session and ran the game. Most of the mechanics weren't fleshed out just yet, but we had an incredible time anyway. Afterward, John asked me, "How do we get you in the book?"

I told him, "I haven't written the GM chapter yet."

For Act 1, almost eighty percent of the scenario is just GM advice. Putting me in the book.

I honestly don't know how to put me into this one. This is gonna be hard.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 7th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
I think that's going to boil down to variants on the theme of, "Don't be afraid to improvise". Ask Ro what she saw while watching the game in progress.
Jul. 8th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
aww I feel special being mentioned to ask
Jul. 7th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
It is going to be hard :-P. Fabien and I were talking about how this one would be much more difficult to GM. Act 1 really does play itself out, since so much of the conflict is with with other players.

I was also thinking how other different people playing characters would effect what happened. Having played Act 1 twice, I was able to see how different people interpret things. I could see things going south faster if someone else interpreted my character. Or not so fast at all.

It is a huge improvisational piece. And props are mandatory. and low spooky lighting. and scary bathroom/mirror scenes.

and yes. this one is much spookier than the first one. darker. and if I dare say so. Better.

I can't wait for Act 3.
Jul. 7th, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)
John, if truth be told the best GM section I have read in any book ever (inc Play Dirty but excluding The Prince, The Art of War and The Book of Five Rings), was your section "For Your Eyes Only" in the L5R GM pack. With hindsight I think I would have reached the points you make there in my own time, but the reason it was shch an influence is that it felt like you (the you in my head when I read your work, not the you at the other end of this computer reading this post), was sitting there having a conversation like I would hae with my friends about GMing, or discussing how things went after a game.

[aside: Writing this has had me grab down and read my L5R GM pack for a laugh]

Thinking in this it is the main reason I like reaing your work. I'm not sure if this is of any help to you, but if you feel that you need to communicate with folks that will be GMing D4aDG Part II I couldn't think of anyone I've read that can meet that challange. Look over your past GM sections and capture their tone and everything will be just fine...
Jul. 7th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
I am soooo looking forward to this. You're demented, disturbed and brilliant. Or maybe disturbingly, brilliantly demented. Should be good fun.
Jul. 7th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
every one shush. no need to stoke his ego anymore!!! lol
just kidding.

John, just write what you want to tell people, you have no problem expressing yourself and have your voice come through in your writing. The conversational style of HotB is evident of that.
Ask for the feedback from your players, have a 3rd party watch and listen and note what worked and what fell flat. If this is game was the one we talked about at randomcon, i'm certain you can put it to paper. I would be happy to read what you've got similiar to the first act and see if you provide enough info to run it as printed.
Jul. 13th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
I doubt I'm gonna come up with something you haven't already come up with, but still: What about giving the GM for the 2nd act some open/broad lines along which he can improvise?

I still haven't had the chance to run act I, but precisely one of the things I've liked a lot is that the plot in a way is very open ended, and that you gave a lot of advice about which is the best direction to push it, without strictly "closing" it.

Also thanks for uploading the soundtrack. It's really awesome!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )