I will be playing in an Old School Hack game tonight, so I’m posting some reminders for myself that probably apply to most people who run a game more often than they play in it.
- You are a visitor here. This is not your game world. Just because you think that causality works a certain way, and that NPCs and monsters should make decisions according to your criteria, and signs point to only one possible conclusion (if they were your signs), that doesn’t make it so. So, when the world behaves differently than you would make it behave, relax. Pay attention. Try to figure out if this world works differently, or if you are getting plot clues from aberrant causality. Above all, don’t try to force the world to conform to your vision. (Imagine you are a visiting tourist in a country that speaks another language–eat the food, try the local customs, don’t try to make everywhere look like where you’re from. Just be grateful you get to travel.)
- Rationalize helpfully. We humans can rationalize anything. When you are playing in someone else’s game, try to rationalize why your character would do helpful things, not how your character must behave in ways that wreck the group-ness and enjoyment of the experience (blamed on the hand-tying “staying in character” excuse that dodges player responsibility).
- Know your character. Sure, you can handwave and fudge when you’re running the whole game world, but here you need to know what your character can do. Don’t make things up on the fly, don’t be obnoxious asking for nitpicky rulings on something ambiguous. Don’t expect your house rules to carry over.
- Scale your response. As the one who often runs games, you’ve probably put a lot more thought into running the game than new DMs or occasional DMs. Please, please don’t get confused and think you’re a connoisseur who will evaluate the quality of what you are served, possibly for a write-up in a magazine. Enjoy the game for what it is, focus in on its strengths, plan to have a good time. Yes, if you feel railroaded and abused you’ll have the itch to wreck the whole damn thing and bring it down in flames, and as a wily DM yourself you’ll know how to do it. Resist the urge. It is not a contest or an exam; friends together having fun. So get together, have fun.
I’m looking forward to playing!