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September 24, 2008 / jadettman

Running a Game [1]

When I run a roleplaying game there are two factors that I tend to focus on: situation and motivation.

Situation is, of course, dependent on the game being run but the key to good situation is tension which is usually created from the motivations of the characters involved.

When setting up a scenario, I usually start with the basic framework of a situation but, once I’ve got that essential kernel of an idea, where I focus the majority of my attention is on the motivations of the NPCs involved. Motivation creates situation, especially when the motivations are in opposition.

So, the situation might be that the king has disappeared but that doesn’t inherently create enough tension (though you can see where it might) because you don’t yet have any investment in what’s going on. The tension comes from the fact that one of the King’s sons is moving to take the throne, some of his siblings are supporting his move and some are opposing him.

Thrown into this situation as a player, both factions are going to be either looking for your support, or trying to use you against the other faction, or, quite likely, both. How things play out (for you) in large part now depends on how your character reacts to the situation. Do you play both sides against the middle? Do you try to remain neutral? Do you side with one faction, hoping that it’s the one that comes out on top?

That’s the idea anyway: put player character’s into tough situations, give them plenty of choices, and see what happens.

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