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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Social Procedures in Practice: A report

Not long ago I wrote up a codified version of my social procedures. In addition to posting them to this blog, I shared them with my players. I have run two sessions since then, during which I have taken care to call out these procedures as I use them and make clear how I am interpreting them in play. This is meant both to help my players better understand the game, and to enforce upon myself a kind of rigour in testing them out in this more defined form.

In the latest session, one PC managed to activate every single social mechanic. So here's how that went:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

GM Anxiety and the West Marches

It should be no secret to anyone who's been following what I do lately that I think of GMing as craft. What I mean by that is enough for its own blog post (and also a podcast).

A lot of the talk about the social dynamics of GMing focus on power imbalances, and the outsized influence and control a GM can exert. I agree to an extent, but for reasons that also lie outside the scope of this post, I believe that this imbalance is not as necessarily or intrinsically problematic as some would contend. I also think it can make for a very rich game, and affords qualities of play that cannot be readily achieved through more balanced distributions of narrative control. Again, though, that's another post.

There is also a flipside to the social power arguments that I find absent, or at least underexplored, which is the vulnerability and social pressure attached to GMing. Admittedly, more balanced power dynamics offset this. However, proceeding from the assumption that assymmetry can be desirable, I find a more robust engagement with the subject lacking. These matter have become pronounced of late in my experiences running my home game, which has recently transitioned to a West Marches-style format. In this post I'm going to identify what I consider some significant blind spots in the ways we tend to talk about running this kind of game, especially when it comes to its experiential dimensions. Moving forward, I'll be devoting some thought to how I've been managing these issues in my campaign of late.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Social Procedures

I've been running OSE a bunch lately and decided it might be helpful for my players if there's a codified version of the way I run social encounters for them to consult.* Since I wrote them up anyway, I thought I'd share them here. Link immediately below, brief design notes after the jump.