Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not In A House. Not With A Mouse.

Although the blog itself has been quiet the last day or so, I have not been.

That is to say, I have been working on a number of things, personal and professional and somewhere in between, which have occupied my time offline. Fear not gentle reader, for I have returned and new ideas are a-brewin'.


I have the opportunity to run a one-shot this weekend, a break from our regularly scheduled Ars Magica campaign, and I am trying to narrow down the possibilities.

I am pretty sure I want to do something Science Fiction-y. I am still a bit Superhero-ed out from our Champions game, and I am running Ars Magica with my group regularly and a kind of modern day mythical game with the kids at the learning center on Sunday (sort of Percy Jackson meets Al Shard) so I think my Fantasy quota is more than filled (once again, for a guy who doesn't care much for Fantasy I seem to run it alot).

What Sci-Fi to run? Well that's the hard part...

My players are very particular. I wonder, aren't most players? I mean, my old NJ group was not so particular in the way my new NY group is. I suppose as members of a fandom, any fandom, we all have our specific likes and dislikes and we can abhor one with all the passion with which we love another.

That said, I am not, generally speaking at least, so all or nothing with my likes and dislikes as I find some people to be. For example, I love Star Trek but I don't hate Star Wars. I like Star Wars. I like it a lot actually. I just like Star Trek a lot more. I am a huge fan of classic Silver Age DC Comics but I don't hate modern Marvel Comics. I do vehemently dislike DC's New 52 however. More on this in a few paragraphs.

What I get from many of my players nowadays (except Dave, he's pretty flexible)* is how few things they seem to like. Ray likes Anime and Manga, well mostly Manga, but he likes One Piece and Hunter X Hunter. None of my other guys like One Piece. Ray's not into Mecha/Giant Robots at all (which I personally think qualifies him to be designated mentally insane but he's my friend so I'll just have to deal with it). Lee didn't really see the big deal about Mecha either (the madness may be spreading). Ray also doesn't like Star Wars. I've never met anyone before who actually didn't like Star Wars. Ray has issues (ahhh, teasing. I love'ya man!)

Marcus, well, it's just hard getting Marcus interested in something new. He's a very Green Eggs and Ham type of a fellow. He'll say he doesn't like something he often hasn't really checked out and than when he checks it out, he likes it. He says he's not into Star Trek but I know for a fact he's never tried it in RPG form. He doesn't want to though because, circular logic, he doesn't like Star Trek.

This dynamic is really frustrating to me as a GM who likes to try new things. It's also frustrating because if it were me in their shoes (and it has been as noted below) I would say, "Your last three games were awesome. You want to try Pin The Tail On The Donkey The RPG? I am so there!"

Case in point; I am not a fan of My Little Pony, old or new. When Erin Palette created her game Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome, I wanted to play. Why? Because I trusted Erin as a GM, a fan passionate about the show and a friend.

A few years back a friend wanted me in on his homebrew D&D 3.x game which featured a number of rules changes and additions (with some Pathfinder elements thrown in) as well as his own world. I said yes. Why? Because even though I've played in dozens of D&D campaigns by dozens of Gamemasters and only about 5% were any good (I am being generous), that doesn't mean the next one won't rock. I trusted the GM.

Going some years back (a little more than some at this point), my good friend Keith, who had moved to California, came back to NY after a while. An incredible player, it turned out he now GMed. My group at the time said that whatever Keith wanted to run would be cool with us. He said Deadlands. We all said. "AWESOME!". Then my friend Jason pulled me to the side.

Jason said:

"Why did you agree to Deadlands? It's a Western with Horror elements. You don't like Westerns and you really don't like Horror. How are you excited to play this?"

I replied:

"'Cause it's Keith and whatever Keith is going to run is going to be fantastic."

Keith has never GMed for me before. Keith was simply put, a good friend, a creative fellow and this is what he wanted to run so it was (in my mind) a guarantee it was going to be great.

Sometimes I am right. Alas, not always.** But I'll be damned if I won't give it a shot.

That's what disappoints my the most with my group. It's like pulling teeth sometimes to get them to give something a shot. They all have their particular things they like and don't and they're both kind of narrow and kind of finicky about what they will try outside of their established likes.

Come on gang. Try a game, any game.
No guarantee it won't be lame but surely they're not all the same.
You do not like them but you won't play.
Try them. Try one. Try to play.
You might like one. Try one and you may I say.

Barking Alien

*Dave definitely has his particulars as well but I gotta give it up for the man. He is a lot more willing to try than most of the New York crew.

**Deadlands turned out to be awesome. Keith was a great GM and he altered the setting a bit making it much creepier and more ghost story-ish.

The D&D game I just wasn't for me.

Unknown Ponies was interesting. While I was completely lost with the story of the adventure and how to approach it and the rule mechanic made for a frustrating time, I saw the potential in it. I thought it really could be a cool game onced worked on a bit more.


  1. UPDATE:

    It turns out that the whole of this post may be moot.

    With Dave not available this Saturday (the reason for the one shot instead of our normal Ars Magica game in the first place) and Marcus now telling me via text that he really isn't in the mood for a one shot, this Saturday may consist of me staying home to work on other stuff.

    We'll see. Keep you posted.

    1. This kind of situation is what led me to one of my funnest games ever. Fed up with trying to interest my players with a variety of games, I put the emphasis on them. I said "With this here Savage Worlds ruleset, i'm confident I can pretty much run an rpg game in any fictional world. You tell me the setting and i'll deliver a one or two session game. They went away and agonised about it for ages and then came back to me that they anted to run a Thunderbirds game. I went off and wrote up character stats and a short adventure in a week or so and then ran it. The guys had a great time with it because they'd pitched the idea. I had fun coming up with the stats for it so it was win-win. As an exercise, i'd recommend it to any GM.

    2. I certainly have done this but again, because of the nature of my current group, it's not that easy to pull off.

      Usually they default to the same two or three things since they don't all like the same things.
      It's like this...

      Dave is going to suggest A, B and G
      Marcus is going to suggest A, G and L
      Ray is going to suggest A, G and P.
      Lee is going to suggest F, H and X. But he's OK with G if everyone else is.

      Dave isn't so into H and X and neither am I.
      Marcus isn't into B.
      Ray doesn't like B, L, P or H.

      So in the end it's A or G. Again. Given the option to try again, we end up with A and G, the same old favorites.


      This would not happen with my old NJ group or even my old NY groups from HS to about 15 years ago. Those guys and gals would be like, "Well we all like at least a dozen of these letter choices each so there's bound to be more than two match ups."

  2. Quite diverse gaming group you have there.

    BTW: I don't like Star Wars too.



  3. I'm currently struggling with being a typecasted GM. I've been running a "zombie apocalypse" game on and off for over a year.
    Whenever our other GM needs a break they all beg me to continue my Z game. I really want to run something else, but this game is insanely popular. Im kind of stuck for now.

    What I really want to run is a DC Adventures game. Pre Crisis on Infinite Earths, world hopping game. The enthusiasm begins and ends with me. )-:

    1. I know how that goes my friend.

      The game I am asked to run more than any other but more players than I can count is my D&D homebrew world of Aerth.

      Have you read my blog ever? Do you know my opinion on D&D and D&D style fantasy? Yeah.

      Makes me want to put a Phaser to my head and press disintergrate.

  4. But the beauty of Disintegrate is that it doesn't _need_ to be pointed at your head! Even your foot will do just fine!

    : )

    I deal with this as well. From 2000-2009 my main group was 6-9 people that had widely varying tastes in gaming with D&D being the only common like among them. One female player in particular required special handling to be talked into anything that was not D&D. I pulled off 6 months of Shadowrun and about 2 months of Rifts, mostly because there was enough fantasy to keep her interested, but then it waned and we went right back to D&D.

    Now I like D&D just fine but I like a lot of other things too. Most of the other players trusted me to run something we would all like, but they could only rarely agree on what that should be. So we ended up playing other stuff on a different night with a smaller subset of that group - we managed sustained campaigns of Star Wars, Traveller, Twilight 2000, Gamma World, Shadowrun and others with that and had a blast.

    So maybe part of the answer is to work on a second group?