09 August, 2016
#RPGaDay 9: Beyond the game, what's involved in an ideal session?
This really depends on the game.
The simplest answer is... the right people.
I can handle games with high or low preparation. I've really enjoyed high prep games with pre-defined background scores, elaborate miniatures and terrain, player hand-outs, and carefully pre-considered relationship maps... and I've really enjoyed low-prep/no-prep games spontaneously started at a moment's notice.
I can handle high crunch or low crunch games. I've similarly played many games over snack food, with others held over elaborate multi-course dinners, and many with no food at all. Some games have been good, some games have been bad, but there is no specific correspondence between game quality and most other factors. It's the people who make it or break it in my experience, which may be a part of my belief that roleplaying is all about the social experiences and ethical dilemmas explored through the liminal space of the game (combat systems and magic basically just support those situations and give variant tools for exploration). If you trust the people you are with, your exploration can be deeper and more personal, and if the people around you are aligned with the game system being played, then it can be explored more deeply and interfaced with more closely.
The one game I really want to run, is a combined multi-form using LARP and miniature conventions. Elaborately planned and orchestrated with play unfolding across a goblin labyrinth between two or three distinct settlements. Play would be for control of objectives across the labyrinth, and it would be more political and socially oriented than combative, but there would be wandering monsters and other menaces scattered through the maze, along with treasures and rewards that would tip the game's balance one way or another. The whole thing would be an open sandbox format, with a loosely plotted timeline, but with outcomes very dependant on the players involved. This game would require a lot of work and a specific mindset of player to work in the way I envision.