Episode 64: GMless Games

Episode 64: GMless Games
Hosts: JOHNKELLY, Rob, Majdi, Scott, Todd, Timo, Megan

Hello darkness my old friend. . .
Megan laughing
Todd’s freaking chart!
Examples: Fiasco, Shock, Polaris, Grey Ranks, Hell for Leather, The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach

Rants
Scott: Stories from the L: Check your fly
Majdi: Geese and Sparrows
Rob: The Warriors
JOHNKELLY: Jared Cole, this is for you
Megan: JOHNKELLY is dumb
Timo: clomid effect on men GMs don’t hold a story together
Todd: Swear in front of your kids

Wait for it…

You have been listening to The Jank Cast, copyright 2010 under the creative commons license. You can find out more about us at jankcast.com. All the music in the show is from the song, “Jank is a Dork Word” written and recorded by Todd and is used with his permission. You can send comments and feedback to feedback@jankcast.com Again, we are sponsored by Chicagoland Games, and this is JOHNKELLY reminding you to support your local gaming store. Now go out and roll some dice.

7 thoughts on “Episode 64: GMless Games

  1. Hey guys, I really enjoyed this episode!

    You talk at one point around 34:00 about the necessity for making bold moves in GMless play. So true, but in many cases this should be coupled with making the *obvious* move.

    A lot of the techniques you guys discuss for making GMless play great – editing, jumping around in time, endowment, claiming bits of the fiction as your own – are usually the exclusive province of the GM. A table full of people using these tools, which anybody who has ever GMed is familiar with, tends to rock pretty hard.

    Another interesting observation – many of these techniques are intuitive, and when you play with people who have never been exposed to roleplaying games, they find them perfectly natural and jump right in to GMless play.

  2. It’s ironic that they started this episode talking about cum Jason, because to me a rules-lite, GM-less game still sounds like a big circle jerk. If everyone at the table has that much control of the fiction, where is the challenge? I admit that one of the reasons I love this hobby is that you’re left with memorable stories afterward, but without the “game” aspect of RPG’s, aren’t you just doing a collaborative writing project?

    Maybe I’m just too old school… I’ll listen to those upcoming reviews and if I can talk my regular group into trying 1 or 2 GM-less games, maybe it’ll alter my opinion.

    Todd: I’m way ahead of you, my friend. My daughter will be well-educated in ALL words, swearing and otherwise. I’ve even taken her to CLG already to get a good earful, although I didn’t dare stay long because creepy Timo was around. (Kidding!)

    Nicely done at the ending! As long as you’re on Queen, I’d like to request the opening strains to “Princes of the Universe” for next week.

  3. Timo said “hi” to me! On a podcast! In his creepy voice! I feel touched. Bad-touched, but still. By the way, there was a sweet, young, innocent gamer being all indie-curious at the store yesterday. And because you weren’t there, he wound up playing his very first story game with that Edwards person. “Have you ever heard of a Bang, Jimmy?” Oh, the humanity.

    Re: the challenge of GM-less games – for me it lies in telling an entertaining story together. I don’t think of it as a collaborative writing project so much as a return to playing let’s pretend, with (occasionally) more mature ideas and images, and a few rules to resolve “I shot you!”/”No, you didn’t!” arguments. I really want to excite, amuse or move the other players, and I want to help them excite, amuse and move me. I love when we hit a groove, or when someone comes up with the perfect line or bit of action or twist in the story.

  4. Hey Derek, it is just a different distribution of authority. You can still suck the fun out of a GMless game if you are creating and resolving your own adversity, so most of these games are designed not to allow that. The challenge, beyond the “we’re all working hard to make this a memorable story” challenge, is brought to you by a friend at the table – just like it is in a game with a GM. Only instead of one dude dishing out that adversity, everybody at the table has a hand in it. Once you get the hang of it, five brains are generally better than one!

  5. Lol well Dave, I certainly can’t argue with that. Let the first one among us without a sticky hand throw the first stone, I guess…

    I believe almost any game can have that creative storytelling and “let’s pretend” element in it Joe, if the players are challenging themselves to do it (witness the talk of roleplaying Candyland in this episode), but I’m thinking of the challenges your character must overcome that Jason is addressing in his last post. Of course, being the GM also has it’s own set of challenges and rewards, which I would think must certainly change quite a bit or even disappear in a GM-less (or GM-full) game. It’s the rules in the game design that prevent the fun-sucking that I’ll be keeping an eye out for, Jason.

    I think it’s probably just personal preference where somebody falls on the scale between GM-centric and equal distribution of authority. I’ll go to my background in music for an analogy: It’s like having a preference for classical music vs. jazz, or vice-versa. In both styles, the musicians are all bringing their own personal interpretations and contributing to the overall “story”, but where a classical piece stems from the ideas of one composer, in jazz the musicians compose parts of it as they go along (within certain boundaries). Of course, it’s entirely possible that someone might wind up loving both styles.

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