Wednesday, October 16, 2013

GM's Water Cooler: Clutch Gamemastering

We've all been there, especially as the required duties of life (work, spouses, the kid-folk) start doing the once unthinkable idea of impeding on gaming.

So, it's 6:30pm on a Saturday night, you're already running kinda late to your game group and currently sitting four-deep in the Burger King drive-thru.

A GM full of beef, sugar...and regret.


"Crap, I haven't even thought of an adventure for this game session." you think to yourself, as you contemplate how many extra minutes on the treadmill you'll to have walk to justify that cookies and cream shake you just ordered instead of the Coke Zero.

Alrighty...you've got at least another five minutes before the two soccer moms in front of you figure out where they put their purse and...oh, can they also get a small fry for Jimmy Jr. and extra napkins? Awesome.



We're the bad guys. All your onion rings belong to us.

                            For Brevity's sake, let's say that your group has been playing the same campaign for a while now and the necessary world-building is done and the BBEG has been properly introduced. You've got basically two choices here:

1) Tap into a character-driven session with a ghost of some PC's past coming back to haunt them. Easy enough. Villain X steals or kidnaps a treasured item or favorite wife/husband/daughter. The how and why don't need to be explained until halfway through the game.

I will find you and I will kill you. Hopefully the GM knows where.



Let the victimized player and his follow party members deduce a good reason for why they stole his favorite tankard or kidnapped lil' Ellie Mae. As a GM, all you have to do is figure out where Villain X went and what he/she is going to do to prevent the Party from succeeding.







I mean, SyFy has made an entire industry on the genre!

2) A one-shot. It's easy enough. Pick your favorite movie or TV show as you're waiting for the last soccer mom to put away ALL THE THINGS before pulling away from the drive-thru window. My favorite is the "Monster of the Week" scenario. The party arrives in Town A, late witnesses to the scene of a terrible massacre. Or simply have Monster Y randomly attack the party and lead them on a chase. Either way, you have your antagonist for the night and you can get back to remembering that you forget to ask for ketchup while paying at the drive-thru.





Failing those two. Give the players what they want. If they have been pining to see what lay beyond the misty mountains, go there. Use one of the reasons above and have them plan an expedition. Remember, it's GM-ing...not rocket surgery. You showed fashionably late and have some semblance of a game to run. Now wolf down that burger, shake, and break out the dice...trying your damnedest to not get an ice cream headache.

***
-Dave