Day 10: When did you most recently refuse to play a trad game because the central facilitation role was granted too much creative authority?

This is totally an indie caricature. I’m sure there are die-hards who actually throw a fit or whatever if authority isn’t precisely distributed to their preferences. Whatevs; the world is full of strangeness and wonder.

I will say this though: one of the biggest draws of the past decade-ish of indie design for me has been taking the creative load off me as GM or facilitator or whatever the title might be. Master of Hollyhock.

I’ve put my time in on the full-investment superprep games. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of hours doodling out maps and family trees and everything else. For whatever reason, I don’t actually feel like I’ve given much up by playing games where you can’t prep, or you procedurally generate material and improvise around it, or the prep has already been done.

Maybe it’s not a matter of giving anything up so much as trading benefits: I greatly prefer to focus on the parts of the game where the players are making meaningful inputs and the world adapts to what they do.And not just the game state of “the world” but also the narrative focus, yeah? That’s something about sandbox games that I haven’t loved: you can change the game state but the focus will resolutely remain out of the players’ hands.

Despite the neat tools available in games like Crawford’s OSR designs (Stars Without Number was my last attempt), the sandboxness means the setting is already in motion and the characters live within it. Compare to, say, Burning Wheel, in which the world accretes around the efforts and desires of the PCs. (This is where I know someone will want to start a fight. Don’t.)

Sandplot, this great little bit of jargon Mark Delsing threw out there once, is pretty great: that’s how both Mutant: Year Zero and The One Ring have played out for us here. Here’s the world, and it is proceeding, and within that changing backdrop are your stories, which sometimes impacts the world but the camera always remains on the players.

I don’t have a ton to say about Day 10. I’ll play nearly anything, although I just don’t have the bandwidth or interest to run games that rely mostly on the GM doing the creative heavy lifting. This small shift is, honestly, why my gaming circles got cut in half: not all players actually want to take up that slack.

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