Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exercises in Insanity (Or Why You Should Buy Your GM Something Nice. Right Now.)

Being a GM, DM, Marshall, Storyteller, etc is hard work. Probably the hardest job I've ever had, necessitating long hours of research, writing, photoshopping, learning (simplistic) code, drawing, figuring out new gaming systems, and occasionally standing in the shower for seventeen extra minutes staring blankly at the slightly grimy white tiles because I need to figure out how to make something in my games work just right.
What's even worse about all this prep is that, for the most part, 90% of what you do will never be seen by characters. It's the curse of over-preparedness. Running a World of Darkness sandbox-ish style game, I have two hundred named NPCs in the background of the world. Fifty businesses, a hundred street names. All for a fictional city in central coastal California. I have an enormous, half-finished post-it map taking up an entire corner of my apartment. A smaller version sits a few feet away from it, holding Sharpie markers for when I have the time to add more.
Oh, why don't I have more time to add to the map? Why, because I'm making a BRP system conversion of 2e AD&D Dark Sun, which will see at most a half-dozen sessions in the next calendar year. Or perhaps it's because I'm learning the Savage Worlds system so that I can run Savage Fallout, because fuck you Fallout is amazing. Actually, it's because like a crazy person I'm already mapping out both Dark Sun and Fallout games with Fog-of-War style effects to enable my eventual players to have an open-world experience, which translates to a few hours of time in Photoshop trying to make hex grids fit a pre-drawn official WotC map.

Or overlaying google maps of Southern California on top of geological figure maps that can represent a wasteland that's been ravaged by global nuclear war, and then figuring out that a good portion of the original game maps took interesting liberties with the spacial organization between Mt. Whitney, Bakersfield, and wherever the hell Vault 15 was supposed to be.

Twenty years of cRPGs are telling me that Vault 13, the NCR and Vault 15 are supposed to be in a straight horizontal line. And because this is in photoshop, perhaps they will eventually be. However, the above image is just a small part of the playable areas of Fallouts 1 and 2. I've added Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Colorado to the playable areas, so I'm in the process of generating lore for them based off 1950s locations and perceptions. The likelihood is that players won't even get to the edge of the map, unless they really want to.
If this sounds like complaining, and it probably does, it's not really complaining. It's something I do because I enjoy WorldBuilding as much or more than I do CharGenning. And chances are, if you play in an ongoing game, you know how much work your GM does to prep for you each week, whether through constant updates to an Obsidian Portal site, or an active email correspondence with each player when they have questions.
We do this because it's what we love doing. But do you know what we also love?
Cake. Or Pie. Pizza. Or Donuts.
Or Miniatures. New dice.
Gifts. We love being appreciated.

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