do (as well the demands of HQ), the result was far a more nuanced approach than what was produced by the poor overworked GM. I used a similar trick during another campaign. The campaign had reached its finale and the final battle was at hand. The characters had lined up their troops and had been generally talking rather high about their chances. We were playing in a club that had its own bar and all was relaxed and good
with an enemy who was not out to provide a challenge or serve the interests of the narrative, but who was genuinely invested in killing you. It was a great session.
5. Player agency and the necessity for free will
In a high fantasyland there are orks and dragons but there are no steam trains and, consequently, you can railroad the players quite a bit. In high fantasyland, the players are playing half-game, half-communally-told-saga. The unspoken contract of the game is that the GM wonâ€™t starve your character to death (point 1), kill you for being unlucky (point 2), routinely torture you with deadly environmental hazards (point 3) or hire mercenary gamers to murder your character in his sleep (point 4). But, as part of that unspoken contract, the player will often be willing to cede some control of his character to the GM for the good of the communally told story. This cannot happen in a survival horror game.
fellowship. The mood changed, somewhat, when I drafted in some of the local wargamers to command the bad guys and put a two pint bounty on each of the players. Not only had the responsibility for commanding the bad guys been taken out of the hands of the overworked GM, but the NPCs had just been given real motivation to go for the PCs. What the players had happily expected to be a walkover became a hard fought, gritty battle
Free will, baby, itâ€™s all about choices
The players are matched against the enemy, who are powerful and overwhelming, the environment, which is deadly. Their resources are limited and they can only rely on themselves. The characters may be limited by resources and circumstances, but within those limitations the players must have complete freedom to choose what to do and how to do it. I think of no other genre of RPG that is so suited to player-driven and sandbox style play. When I first began to write scenarios and run a regular weekly game, I often sketched out a couple of scenes, likely avenues that the players might explore or solutions that they might pursue. The problem was that after a while, I found myself unconsciously trying to steer the players towards what I thought they ought to do rather than letting them muddle through on their own. Eventually I stopped
The Gazebo is a free, quarterly e-zine dedicated to gaming in the UK and Ireland.