Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All those "clever plans" - a rant

One big point of disagreement between Old School and New School is the question whether it makes more sense to play the rules or to play the world as imagined in the GM's/DM's head, that is the game engine - a game engine run by common sense and "realistic" behaviour. I am quite New School (not only in regards to this), and here is my train of thought:

I think that most people that are happy with the DM decision engine, are not just able very well to assess the DM as human being with psychological hang ups. Maybe you have just amazing GMs, but I hated for example my group that spent hours planing each session, when I had figured out very fast, that our first plan would always fail, because the GM wanted to fill the session and was full over adversarial energy in the beginning. For me this planning was completely pointless. Towards the end of the session, in 90% of cases, whatever stupid plan we would come up, would have success, because the GM wanted to push things forward.

Not to talk about the DM back in my teens that ridiculed plans by younger players - after all the DM can come up with countermeasures to even the best plan easily - and let them fail most of the time, while he would stare in awe at the plans of our grown up gaming buddies, and let them succeed. He was never aware of that, but after a few sessions it became very obvious to me and I was able to prove my (secret) thesis time after time from that moment on.

Or the DM that loved grimdark plans, because they were "realistic", but would rarely accept plans that involved compromise or bright colors.

With the DM as decision engine, I most of the time end up playing/gaming the DM's psychological structure after a few sessions and not the world simulation. You could argue that these hang ups and the world are the same - the DM after all provides the genre conventions of his game -, but for me it just kills any suspension of disbelieve in the long run.

You can read the whole discussion here on