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Keeping the Peace: Applying Social Sanctions

There are a lot of things a GM does to run a great game: straight man, creative enabler, spinner of fantastic yarns, tactical challenger, person who makes all the funny voices… But there’s one job that I see GMs forget to do more than any other, and that’s keeping players in line. Oooh, shades of […]

Ben Robbins | April 30th, 2008 | the basics | 5 comments

West Marches: Running Your Own

Alarming fact: brave GMs all over the place are taking up the torch and starting their own West Marches games. Scary isn’t it? I’ve already had some private email conversations about how one would actually build and run a West Marches of their very own. Maybe you’ve got the bug too. Early symptoms include a […]

Ben Robbins | May 12th, 2008 | grand experiments | 291 comments

The Colony: Strength vs Beauty, Truckers vs Slugs (Follow at Go Play NW, part 3)

My third game of Follow at Go Play NW. The very last slot of the con. The slot that has no lunch break before it. Traditionally that means people will be a little logy, a little tired, or maybe if you’re lucky, laid back and serene. That was our first real life “what makes your […]

Ben Robbins | August 28th, 2016 | follow

GMless Role-playing Games (PAX 2011, part 4)

Continued from part 3. We’re halfway through the workshop. We started off by making a list of all the things a GM does, then condensed that list into a few core activities. We’ve been going through each item and looking at how games with no GMs get those same things done, or in some cases […]

Ben Robbins | September 20th, 2011 | game theory | 3 comments

GMless Role-playing Games (PAX 2011, part 3)

Our workshop continues from part 2. Who Gets to Talk Okay, so we were talking about world creation in Shock. One thing we kind of hinted at is that each of these games approach these critical questions in ways that are sometimes extraordinarily different. Like world creation. If you’re playing Fiasco, which is a massive […]

Ben Robbins | September 16th, 2011 | game theory

Happy Birthday Olivia!

Game two of our excellent StarCraft-analog Microscope game. In the first game we established that along with the humans and the Swarm, the third race were the mysterious Wan, sometimes called the Voi. In keeping with StarCraft tradition, while the Swarm are a horde of monsters, the Wan are a highly advanced species, technology far […]

Ben Robbins | November 19th, 2009 | microscope actual play

Initiative: the Silent Killer

“The main thing to remember is to do everything in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. Deal with your players’ actions and reactions one by one instead of all at once, or you will never be able to keep track of what round it is, and who’s doing what when.” – Dungeon Master’s Guide, 1979 In what’s […]

Ben Robbins | August 9th, 2007 | syndromes | 32 comments