Episode 152: Open-Ended versus On-Rails Scenes

Hosts: Todd, Timo, Scott, Megan

What did we play? (6:50)
Dungeon World: Todd, Megan, Timo
Marvel Legendary, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Scott
Star Trek Expeditions:

Megan, Timo

Main Topic: Open-Ended versus On-Rails Scenes (24:55)
When looking at scene framing, there are often times when pre-planning the elements of the scene can take the excitement and enjoyment out of playing those scenes. We talk about how particular types of scenes can demand certain things to happen, and what that means about framing and developing those events.

Rants (58:15)
Timo: I’m a terrible communicator
Scott: After Sandy Hook, I’m done with the Willie Wonka meme
Megan: Public Service announcement: Pregnancy is catching
Todd: Batman Arkham City: You can call a woman something other than bitch.

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7 thoughts on “Episode 152: Open-Ended versus On-Rails Scenes

  1. I like that the conversation went towards getting into the mindset of playing for those surprise moments. One of the challenges of mc’ing AW was breaking out of the old mindset (“brain damage”, as it was once referred to) or as Yoda would put it, “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

    The concept of “surprising yourself”as GM I found very interesting. While I believe I completely get what you’re trying to say in one sense, if you approach it literally, how do you surprise yourself within your own mind?

  2. What I would say is that, while yes, it’s coming out of your own mind, it also has a bit of a life of your own. So using the Dungeon World example, I didn’t see coming that…

    a) there was a race of mer-people who were ransacking the village, and
    b) this was because someone in the town had stolen their orb.

    Yes, it came out of my head, per se, but it was so spur of the moment that my reaction was “whoa, that’s crazy. Who would have thought?”

    It kind of requires two things- you let your imagination run wild, and you let the fictional space sort of have a life of its own.

  3. Right, I think we’re thinking of it the same way. I believe Joe had a moment like that in his game when it hit him that the lost elven sister’s soul was what was powering the magic that held the demons captive, and that came in part from some of the “a-ha!” moments we had already had while coming up with the characters’ backgrounds and relationships.

    It’s a hard thing to put a name to, but I think if there was a list of skills and talents that make one a “good” GM, this would be on it, and Apocalypse World-ish games really give it a workout. By contrast, while I was running Marvel Heroic I was thinking it was almost too easy, even though I was new to the system, because almost everything was pre-scripted.

  4. I heartily endorse any beard-growing.

    Susan Storm Richards is the best superhero ever after Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost and maybe Jean Grey.

  5. And, yes, practically everything in the Dungeon World game Dr. D referred to was seat-of-the-pants riffing. When it comes to GMing, I think I’m a jazz man, rather than classical.

  6. You just blew my mind, Joe. That’s a future cast topic: What is your gaming genre?

    Jazz- make up virtuoso performances from a series of repertoires as you go along.

    Classical- play the great works exactly as their written.

    Pop- play something easy and generic, but fun and familiar.

    Punk- just do whatever, even if it’s ugly, as long as everyone has fun and gets an equal say.

    Metal- hit everyone with everything you’ve got, as over-the-top as possible.

    Folk- play quiet and raw, with your soul exposed.

    Ska- get no respect from anyone, look like an idiot, have too many people at the table, and be completely forgettable, disposable, and boring.

  7. I love it. Here’s a few more for possibilities:

    Blues- Play a game that describes how bad and miserable things are for everyone, then in the last act describes what the players are going to do about it (and possibly make it worse.)

    Marching Band- Play a game with all the players on the same team (or wearing the same uniform) with strict rules for movement and length of turns.

    Circus Music- PLAY LOUD AND FAST AND REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT!!!

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