28 Feb

GM Analysis Paralysis…a Solution

So last post I mentioned that I was having a bit of GM Analysis Paralysis (GMAP). Basically, I was pretty much at a stand still for what to run and what to do with Pathfinder. We took the night off from rpgs, played Order of the Stick instead, and drank quite a few beers (well, we normally do that but this time we had a few more than normal). We also had a chance to chat for a bit about gaming and what we might do moving forward. Everyone was quite understanding at my relative ennui with our game and with Pathfinder. I talked about various systems that I’d like to try out and see if they might fit both me as a GM and them as players. These included: Castles & Crusades, Myth & Magic, AD&D (or OSRIC)…sense a pattern yet…and Savage Worlds.

We also talked a bit about what I felt would be the best fit for me as a GM. The following day, I posted a list of the things that I identified as what I was looking for. These included:

  • I want a system with a relatively easy, unified mechanic for resolving things when the dice need to come out.
  • I want a system that is easy to tweak and add house rules as we see fit (e.g., tweaking any sort of “Vancian” or cast and forget magic system).
  • I want a system that doesn’t require a high degree of “rules mastery” on either your part or mine in order to be played effectively.
  • I want a system with a simple character sheet and where the focus of the game is on what is happening at the table rather than what is written on the character sheet.
  • I want a system where monster stat blocks aren’t one or two pages long and still require that you have memorized or look up abilities that are only listed by their name.
  • I want a system where a core design philosophy and style is not on what a character can’t do but on letting characters try pretty much anything.
  • I want a system that is very easy for me to improvise and run on the fly without a lot, if any, prep ahead of time.
  • I want a system where it is easy to use material, specifically adventure material, from various editions of D&D since I’ve got a bunch.
  • I want a system that doesn’t place a heavy emphasis on detailed, tactical combat but recognizes that combat is just a tool to support the exploration, roleplaying, and other such elements of playing in a campaign.
  • I want a system where neither the players nor GM need to be looking up rules or other things in a rulebook on a regular basis.

Not too much to ask for, right?

Well, as I thought (and thought and thought and thought) about it during the day, I realized that I already had a game that I felt met all this for me and, perhaps with a slight amount of tweaking, would work for my players. Wait for it…wait for it…

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25 Feb

GM Analysis Paralysis

We’ve continued playing but with some larger periods of time between sessions than I prefer.

We finished up Entombed with the Pharaohs awhile back. Or, more precisely, Entombed with the Pharaohs finished off the players. One encounter resulted in a TPK even though the PCs were, if I recall correctly, pretty much rested up. Of course, having a creature that everyone, except the fighter, needs to roll a 20 to hit and can do nearly 150 points of damage in one round against a 6th level party is probably going to lead to a TPK. 😉

We started a new Pathfinder campaign three weeks ago but haven’t played since the first session. That’s not a good thing for me…I need to get into a campaign for it to really work and take off. This kind of gap almost always kills a campaign this early on.

Even worse, I’m pretty sure that Pathfinder just isn’t going to be for me. I’ve tried…I’ve really tried…to embrace Pathfinder but it has all the issues that I didn’t like in 3.5. To house rule it to make it a system I would want to run, even with the Beginner Box, is just going to be way too much work. Plus it’d probably be so far removed that it wouldn’t be recognizable as Pathfinder and the whole point of playing Pathfinder, to find new players if needed, would be lost.

I’m missing the relative simplicity and openness of Savage Worlds, for example, but I kind of want to stick with a D&D type game too. I miss the good old days of D&D too.

So here I am with our first session in three weeks just a few hours away, and I have no idea what I want to do…I’ve got GM Analysis Paralysis (GMAP)…ugh…good thing my players are a forgiving bunch…or, at least, they damn well better be! 😉