Mastering the Game
Elements of Style
From the first awkwardly directed session to the coveted trophy of convention game mastering, a GM searches for qualities that will not only leave players with an enduring desire to play the next session but to develop an illuminating game master style. A style that directs the cooperation of spoken word with enough ability to craft troupe interaction into something that might be labeled a memorable story. Without pretending to be just a little pretentious, gamemasters are left with one question, just what the hell is style anyway? Style in gaming is flair in personal expression, both in the administration of mechanical direction and the culmination of the story while holding the attention of the troupe with enough energetic inspiration to draw that attention into the focus of the mind's eye. To control the passage of that information relies on shards of data that is discussed and verified before being placed back under the mind's eye microscope. It is understanding that each piece of story data is perceived differently, yet constitutes a different visual experience for each and every player. Remember that each piece of information given out by the GM starts out as discussion and is then projected through each player's mental lens to form a personal and unique image of a story fragment. A fragment that is processed and reflected back into play, reprocessed with ongoing game discussion and plunged back into a swirling mental miasma of short term memory. Somewhere between external stimulus and internal thought lies the opportunity for game master style.
Style in game mastering is dependent not only on expressionistic originality, but also with a few definable points of human curiosity exploited for the benefit of the game. While the aspect of developing a GM attitude is genuinely important, it is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Certain areas of human perception and interaction float on the waters of memory recall like a doomed titanic. People have tendency to avoid questioning their senses because it is in and of itself a frightening proposition. To question the veracity of one's senses not only flies in the face of our instincts, but threatens all the mental constructs we deem safe. While the human mind is above all one of creations most remarkable computers, it is however, fallible. Emotions, expectations, and many other unexplainable human qualities push the mind past pure information storage and retrieval into impressionable experiences. We look at the stars, but we see more than stars. We see ancient and superstitious gods as beyond our reach as the stars. Stricken with a drive to anthropomorphically transpose our minds and emotions onto animals we struggle to understand, the learning process starts by comparing what we know about ourselves with what we see. Like familiar shapes in the clouds and ghosts in the night, humans connect the dots to understand the stimulus around us as part of our survival instinct. The only problem is that while our heads are in the clouds pondering the stars, the reality of the iceberg rips apart the self-created closure of external data and internal images. Game master style is somewhere in between the suggestive influence of closure and the sharp edges of that pesky iceberg.
In any how-to discussion, the most important transition is theory to application. The elements of direction will help manipulate game information and cordial interaction, but dealing with the beetles is a bit different. To answer the questions scrawled on the carapaces of our mental scarabs, we must look to the stars.
Stars, My Destination
Before the pall of electric light smeared our nighttime view of the heavens, humankind gazed upon a rich contrast of bright stars in an inky black sky. They provided an abundant source of invaluable information for thousands of years: from the pyramids to Stonehenge, they anchored our perception of the universe with seasons and direction. The stars gave us the information we needed to satisfy our curiosities of the world around us. Somewhere along the way, humankind started asking questions that had no answers. Questions that inspired wonderers to gaze up at the cosmic puzzle with a lens of imagination. The stars became constellations and the skies bore the mark of early gamemasters. Stars became legends; ancient gods and fantastic creatures filled with the extremes of our own emotions. More meaning was needed to explain our perception of reality, so we connected the dots between those in the sky and those in our imagination. What resulted from that fleeting moment are stories that are still around today and represent a dawning of powerful thought in an ancient age of man.
Urged on by the beckoning call of our unanswered questions, the nature of the human mind is profound isolation with only our senses as a reprieve. We struggle against the difficulties of communication and expression trying to be understood by those around us. Everything that is perceived needs to be expressed for validation. That frightening question of perceptual accuracy becomes hinged with anyone who sees the same constellation - - the same internal idea conjured by the same external stimulus - - as a manner of self-validation. This process exists because without the ability of direct mental contact, ala ESP, we are all doomed to our own isolation save conversation with those around us. Gaming is also a part of the process. It's an expressive art form used for entertainment that relies on the same mechanisms. Instead of stars, players are offered words, words that conjure images that must be validated for the story to move on. Gamemasters should harness the flow of expressive potential that lies in the gulf separating raw sensory data and the cry of the human spirit. Beyond the surface level of interaction, each player is satisfying a secondary level based on a need for personal expression. The vessel of that need is the player's character. Transmitting emotional content through the character, a player's interest lies within the satisfaction of fictional content and the ease in which the character may be projected into the story environment. To point at the stars in such a way that each player can see the same shape and their place in that shape is to be a game master.
Connecting the dots is an exercise of the imagination based on what is perceived to be the empirical data of a fictional character. Players absorb the game story illustrated by the GM and then hypothesize with the other players about how to get to the next point. Each point gives the game master an opportunity to validate the story direction and content by reacting to players with the raw sensory data perceived by their characters as the basis for necessary judgment in the player's mind. This point of story manipulation is called critical assumption. As players arrive at story decisions, critical assumption becomes a GM marionette disguised as a player's tool. The mind can only connect the dots it has available - - a situation of supply and demand under the control of the GM. This curious exchange is why learning how to illustrate various aspects of a story is so important. Creative thought is separate from experiential sensory knowledge, yet enough data must be transmitted by the GM with enough power to generate a viable mental image for players to make character decisions. The greater a command a GM has over key details gives a more adept control over story direction and player reaction. Each piece of information is a point of intellectual focus that may be used to make preemptive decisions, using assumed knowledge to form story constellations. Constellations that take on different images depending on your personal frame of mind.
Frame of Mind
At any one point in time, intellectual reasoning is based on successively recalled pertinent details before they can be scrutinized. As each scene takes place, players are working mostly with short term memory relying on the GM for illustration and details. While the GM is most certainly accountable for the consistency of details, the perspective placed on any one scene is up to GM discretion. One of the most unique aspects of adventure stories is the way they are communicated. Mental description is beyond all traditional types of media, freeing story structures from budget limits or page restrictions - - anything that can be imagined can occur as part of a story. The drawback is that without anchoring scenes to details that everyone can visualize in a similar way, confusion and miscommunication will break the game structure down into tedium. Avoid de-stylizing presentation by using a method of explanation that reaches the players. Visualize each scene as a story board as it should be correctly viewed by all the players, and describe it from that point of view. In addition to equalizing the story field among all the players, gamemasters have a new aspect of control to play with. Like an artist or director, the composition of every mental panel may be designed for the most dramatic impact. This technique of framing a scene allows a GM to pick each star in the constellation to insure the integrity of the vision.
Framing a scene is a way of mentally capturing a story picture, or panel, for players to project their characters into for story visualization. The perspective in which it's presented can affect character attitudes, story content, and the reasoning latitude players have to apply the story situation. Each piece of information is a sensory interface between GM to player and player to character. The way a scene is framed predetermines the method in which a player sees his or her character in that scene. This type of character identification is dependent on what information the GM highlights, or even describes. To satisfy the story needs of any one scene requires a choice of many perspectives. Developing this aspect of style takes time and a good understanding of the basics. At any one point players rely on GM description against individual perception and memory to create their own mental story boards. Once it's constructed, it moves from visualization to deed as players interact with the story environment. The way they plan to interact depends on how they visualize a scene and their place in it. Game master style comes into play as a scene is framed in by players to draw attention to specific details or to create a specific mood. Use some of the following elementary components to get into the habit of framing in scenes with a particular purpose:
Salient Description: Scene information is described from the most important to the least important focusing on the salient story components (Person to person, important object to background, event to person). As Hamlet walked into his mother's bedroom, his eyes darted immediately to the lumpy tapestry. As a PC, the attention of Hamlet's player is drawn to the tapestry by describing the method of sensory input and exactly why his ocular apparatus darted to the suspicious rug.
Directional Description: Directional description is a spatial illumination of scene components either from foreground to background, or visa-versa using the PC's as the point of reference. Standing on the observation platform, they could see the efforts of the original genesis project; waterfalls, edible plants, and simple animals living under the warmth of a bioluminescent glow. Starting at the platform for a point of reference, the details are revealed as perceived with the GM identifying the active elements of the scene by description.
Panoramic Description: What you see is what you get. Similar to an open-ended question, panoramic description gives players an impression of an unlimited view in all directions. Players are subject to the randomness of what their character's eye spots and their own method of mechanical questioning, but have free reign in the panoramic view. This type of presentation has a tendency to focus on movement and a high degree of three dimensional explanation. Finally reaching the top of the beanstalk, Jack saw it all; his village, the market and the monolithic castle nestled in the faraway clouds. In this instance the entire description is the frame, leaving the next move completely up to the player, who internally sees their own version of the mental story board.
Ambient Description: This is used to add the ambiance of emotion to a scene. Spooky rooms and romantic candlelight is highlighted by using direct emotional empathy the way an author would. Instead of leaving it open, the GM instills the emotion into the character and describes it to the players. It is an excellent place to enforce non-combat characteristic rolls and character disadvantages. Screaming at the top of it's lungs in utter pain; his guitar was the only respite from the rain that stung his face and burned his soul. Soon, the screaming would be over and the fighting would begin - - the price was Top Dollar. In an adventure charged with emotion, even the subplots and minor scenes can be used to underscore a PC's expression.
Objective Description: Literal translations of objects such as an oak table or stone cabin; anchor details used to make sure everybody visualizes the exact same detail. He picked it up and examined it; it was perfectly spherical with a metallic surface. The mirrored ball looked harmless, until the blades popped out. The best way to get players to react similarly to a specific stimulus is by making sure they all have the exact image relevant to the plot.
Subjective Description: Subjective description moves the point of focus into the character's realm of perspective. It describes how the character internally perceives a specific point of story information. There was no turning back. They knew what they had done, and their only freedom was somewhere in the middle of that canyon. One leap into eternity and the men in their lives would hurt them could hurt them no more. Nestled in the couching of particular phrasing, these main characters were at the end of their line. With hundreds of extras driving police cars, the only option these heroines felt they had left was a blaze of glory at 90 miles an hour off the cliff in the middle of the desert. Not the happiest ending, but a dramatic climax that was congruent with character construction and the story environment.
Metaphoric Description: This is a strong method of describing a scene or element by roughly touching on it's image, but illuminating or hinting at a stronger meaning held within the element. Surviving what he thought was inescapable doom, Sir Gawain stood at the edge of a glowing drawbridge. Suspended in the air before him was a golden chalice beckoning for an answer to a question that rang through his head like god himself, Who am I? Playing out a time honored campaign with knights and armies, Sir Gawain's journey to find the Holy Grail led to death's door where he was faced with the truth of the Camelot's bane.
Sequential Description: Time is an important factor in understanding the logic of events. Story impact can be increased by describing events sequentially as the characters perceive them. Action by action, a game master can build dramatic intensity by mirroring our natural mannerisms. For instance, as people walk into new places, there is a natural pattern of stimulus absorption in an attempt to become familiar with the surroundings. As characters walk into new places, a GM can focus on descriptions that will better illustrate the story. Tex kicked the tumbleweed aside, and sauntered toward the saloon. Spotting a sign above the door that read, The Last Drink Saloon, he knew this wouldn't be an easy fight.
Iconic Description: A loose description of key identifying details for correct player understanding, but leaving the specifics open to personal player interpretation offering as little hard data as possible. Sometimes it's best to leave game descriptions up to Hitchcockian interpretation. Fog rolled in across the beach, glowing and pulsing with evil energy. Faint cries of those who died carried on the wind as the dark messengers of the deep came calling. Using key words and phrases gives the game master a tool of storytelling that help players form their own vision of the story while having all the important information pointed out.
Connective Description: This is a way of reverse engineering scenes as they are played out by using open-ended questions to rely on player perspectives and interpretations to fill in certain scene details by connecting them to previously established anchor details. Taking advantage of critical assumption and player expectation, a GM can push players where they think the story is headed. Describe the key elements to the players knowing that they will interpret this as direct sensory input into the character.
Trapped inside the crypt, the professor quickly glanced around and then looked alarmed. (GM action)
Something was causing the torch light to dim. (player response)
We must be losing oxygen! (GM/NPC Reaction)
No, IT IS I, THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS! (GM follow up)
The torches flare with evil brilliance revealing Dracula, the prince of all vampires!
Sensational Description: Sensationalism is always a boon for ratings, and it will do no less for an RPG. The exaggeration of senses and perception makes everything larger than life, and easy to transpose onto characters during the game. Just be careful not to cry wolf on a regular basis, too much sensationalism becomes mediocrity whether it's justified or not. Wrapped in two thousand pounds of hot metal, Max screamed along in his custom interceptor, mercilessly chasing down the heartless thugs that ripped out his compassionate soul when they killed his wife and child.
Abstract Description: Dreams, mental powers, and other sorts of abstract components to a story can only benefit by abstract description. The best approach is to leave as much detail orientation to the players. Floating in a formless void that stretched on forever, Dennis found himself totally conscious in his own dream world.
Rhetorical Description: Describe an answerable question to accent the end of a story or a poignant moment. The focus is to handle the difficulty of the content as a stylistic scene delivery. The scene should ask the question with a curiosity that will draw in player's attentions. The sage's wise advice fell on clever ears, "What sound does a tree make if there is no one to hear it fall?" The boy looked at his teacher with a smile and replied with a gesture: the sound of his left fingers tap-clapping against his left palm.
Syllogistic Description: A syllogistic description is to describe two arguments (not necessarily the same NPC) that reason from the general premise to the specific premise with deductive logic. It is a larger idea, or premise presented as a statement of fact. The second idea or specific premise is supportive to the first with a logical statement. It can be delivered in-character as one or many characters and also as a GM. In the following example, the two syllogistic arguments are expressed as dialogue between two NPC's to begin a scene with a strong display of story information. The example has been oversimplified for the purpose of explanation: Jeff looked at his friend Erik and said, "All grass is green". Erik looked in the bag, looked at Jeff and said, "There is grass in this bag". Jeff's reply was to exclaim, "Then it must be GREEN!" The larger premise is established as fact while the second fact supports the first allowing a deduction; syllogism.
By defining the manner of perception and rough interpretation, a game master can add new levels of depth to game stories. Words and images become tools that can transmit raw sensory data, emotional content, and/or sub textual meaning. After the scene has been framed, other multimedia techniques can be employed to enhance presentation. Once PC/NPC interaction has begun, gamemasters can keep switching points of view or perspectives to highlight emotional contrast. Opposing senses can be used to isolate key elements or specifically correlate abstract ideas to comprehensible meanings. All the nuances of every style of media are available to tell adventure stories that will have a strong impact. Pull players into the story drama by unifying the property design of the description with the story intent to create a scene in which PC's can be easily transposed. Once the scene and the player character have been united, the next sequential idea can be put in place to keep the story moving.
Role playing games are sequential ideas communicated in stages, each idea forming an integral part of the story experience. The motion from scene to scene is caused by our need for closure, or to connect the dots. Closure allows mental images to flow together to reach a cohesive perception of a story concept. Like moving frames on film that simulate the perception of motion, sequentially communicated ideas can induce a sensation of movement through the story both in terms of plot and fictional time. This is a game flow that should be harnessed as part of a gamemaster's style.
The transition from scene to scene is a key point of focus. Once a player has projected the character into the story, the GM needs to insure the integrity of the identification from scene to scene by metering the nature of the transition. Identify the focus of the scene and carry it onto the next for quick player association. The speed of any game is dependent both on information revelation and player association. Scenes are identified by the element that is pertinent to the story and the ability of players to make that connection. If the GM is incapable of giving players enough transitional data, the session will come to a screeching halt. Prevent this mind-lock by determining a transitional link and stylistically illustrating it to keep the game on track. Transitional links can be objects, events, detail chaining, or anything that helps the players jump from idea to idea. Since everything takes place mentally, details that seem obvious might not be readily accessible due to circumstantial thinking.
The next eddy of mental opportunity available to gamemasters is driving reason. Critical assumption is high during transitions and is part of game momentum. It stems from successive problem solving as part of the need for closure that will lead players around corner after corner to discover what's next. The urge to diminish our isolation and explore the world around us is based on a driving reason to achieve closure. We compare what is known against the unknown until we understand and comprehend the similarities and differences in the situation before us. Driving reason is the instinctive mental push to understand the unknown in order to develop a feeling of safe or known territory both in terms of mental and physical surroundings. As a game master uses worlds to create a story environment from accumulated information, player's move through that environment from accumulated game information to uncover all the necessary data to reach a story climax; a safe resolution. In conjunction with the constant exchange of information and character projection, the need to figure things out rolls into a snowball effect that can help a game master maintain momentum and push past possible slumps. Cumulative reasoning is good for causing player distractions by providing unexpected answers (be careful not to disassociate the players with impossible (because-I-said-so answers). It can also be used to build tension as players figure out the solution as they hurdle headlong into it. Being a game master is largely a matter of crafty negotiating that takes advantage of player idiosyncrasies to amplify the cooperative storytelling experience. A trick of the trade that takes advantage of this position is blue booking. Blue booking is mainly used by players for private character conversations and actions. Game masters, on the other hand, can use it to shift perspective and motivation behind the scenes to raise curiosity levels by tightening the grip of conflict and resolution. Game motion and momentum is the ebb and flow of emotions - - entertainment and satisfaction for players by vicariously experiencing a dramatic story. Dramatic style is the way that story is presented.
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
Understanding the nuances of conversational influence is only part of quality storytelling. A GM must be an author and story coach. The GM must also present the game plot from a challenging point of view, drawing the players into a story that won't be denied. A story so intriguing that the surprise of revelation and resolution is it's own reward. Role playing games should be a journey through mysterious lands and rendezvouses with interesting characters to discover surprising clues. It's telling the players you have an incredible secret just before you announce that it can't be revealed; an exaggeration of details to excite the players with enough synaptic performance to pull them into the story. Stylistic game mastering is being able to tell a story with style. As easy as that seems, it's often overlooked.
Improve presentation by learning how to develop a voice. Learn how to tell a story with a particular sense of presentation. Use inflection and stylistic vocalizations to charge storytelling with sincere emotion. Language should be your tool, not your enemy. Focus on semantics to position powerful ideas into the proper perspective with words and phrases so as to maximize its presentation. Remember that any one individual can only understand what you tell them from their perspective. Take advantage of common clichés and aphorisms to quickly conjure strong ideas on an equal plane. A gamemaster's voice is the author's point of view or a director's flair for camera angles to expressly communicate powerful ideas that brings a production to a pinnacle of interest.
Part of delivering a story is timing. Timing is the punch line that worked or the dramatic revelation that shocked the audience. Timing is hinting at the most interesting information without revealing it, yet insuring that it can't be uncovered. Timing is controlling the outcome of calculated ambiguity. Learn to inspire interest and desire without letting it spoil from neglect. Voice paints the picture and timing takes advantage of the emotion caused by looking at the picture before it happens. Voice is helping players to visualize a dark and stormy night and timing is describing the scene just before lightening strikes in the storm outside. Moving from frame to frame, details and descriptions move from idea to idea until a story ends. When it is over, the troupe is left with fond memories of game play and a lasting impression of story everybody helped to create.
Learn how to manage different story ideas and storytelling routines with Discussion Points. Use Discussion Points to identify key conversational issues of typical GM directions and deliveries. Use mental "keys" to cue up not specific information, but conversational routines to communicate key story issues or “points” of familiarity. These points are mental cues of specific points in a discussion for the purpose of internally managing the material; when you speak to a group, know what you are talking about and how to say it. Avoid reading lengthy material by making bullet lists of key information to be later told as a discussion. Use each "point" as a story telling gateway to tell great stories, but also how to make your point and move on to the next game topic. This isn't so much of a structure, but as an approach to see patterns in the chaos of conversation.
Talking Points: Storytelling, game cues, GM stuff; keep monologues and story telling free form but using solid story details. Make these points the focus of your discussion thread.
Discovery points: Discovery Points are the points in a discussion when players discover information as part of story and game interaction.
Evolving Points: Evolving Points make sense to a troupe over a period of time. Try to keep a mental reckoning of how much information a troupe has on any one complicated issue. Every bit of information you give them completes a mental puzzle. When the puzzle is complete and the question explained, the troupe has an aggregate of information to draw on about any one subject and story complexity can increase based on the deeper comprehension of the subject.
Reference Points: Storytelling and game direction need Reference Points. Reference Points are bits of "story fact", game rulings and source material. Cons ice statements that are part of your routine that clue your players in on specific points of reference without interrupting the flow of a game to go look for resource books. IE References.
Flash points: Part of good game judging demands expedient game negotiations. Try to know where in a story you are most likely to be challenged on an issue and do your research for the game. Use your Flash Points to speed up judgment and the game.
Trigger Points: Players need to know when the story telling ends and the encounter begins. Identify Trigger Points in your story when the game takes over the story and change your delivery.
Control Points: When you set up scenes and encounters, have an idea how you are going to impose the story conditions that need to happen. Pick your Control Points and keep the story on track.
Plot Points: Plot Points are specific plot issues that come up during game discussion. Map out a basic plot structure with plot points and use it to help keep the plot focused and the story comprehensible.
Hard Points: Hard Points are how you are going to deliver the game experience; a prompter for game actions to help synchronize game and story. Notes, memory cues, reminders, etc.
Soft Points: When you plan out an adventure, think about the most probable occurrences by players. As players react to the story, use Soft Points to help create floating reactions in the story environment. All the mights and maybes that drive characters (*cough*trouble*cough*) into the parts of the game you haven't planned or finished yet. Keep a cheat sheet of where you're headed with the game so you can talk it out. Often, player ideas will lead to some of the best campaign you'll ever run.
Edge Points: Out of Bounds; know the weak parts in a story so you can create Edge Points. Edges to your fictional environment that keep characters from falling of off a flat, unprepared, paper-generated world.
Framing Points: Specific descriptions and perspectives that can benefit a story's telling. "Frame" in your mental picture with Framing Points and let players connect the dots.
Moving Points: Motion Points can help create a sense of motion and the passage of game-time during a story. Placed ideas such as NPC's asking what time it is or describing things with a sense of motion can accent story telling by making things seem to crawl when you want the perception of time to slow down or blur by with motion and the perception of motion.
Open Points: "Open Mic" for players. Know when Open Points will occur in a game and have your controls in place. Don't let the game run you, you run the game. Call "open mic" for lively in-character conversation, keep it on topic and help players understand your call to close mic and keep the game going.
Mightier Than the Pen
Role playing takes a step beyond most methods of storytelling because of its interactive nucleus. A nucleus that creates a direct connective interface of story stimulus and response penned in only by game mechanics that maintain a congruent plane of understanding. Outside the mechanics of the game is a maelstrom of creative input by all participants adding to the quality of the production. As both GM and player begin to subvert blatant competition for intellectual maneuvering, the assumed troupe roles can then be used to support each other's strengths in order to illustrate the story. Anything that improves the quality of involvement and participation during the game can only add to the overall experience. It's how gamemasters enforce the rules and deal with story slow downs. How much latitude is given to the players for character creation? Which clues are illuminated to present the core of the plot and how it leads to the climax - - Every rung on the ladder effecting the development of the creative experience. Gamemastering is building a rapport with the people you're trying to entertain and afforded the opportunity of tailoring it for a perfect fit. It's a responsibility, not a right. Behind the game is basic need to find expression and understanding amongst a respected group of peers.
Since the dawn of humankind, expression and understanding has been at the very core of our collective being. From cave paintings and hieroglyphics through the instant mental gratification of television all have one thing in common; they are visualized ideas using a medium of shared interpretation. Technology has improved the presentation of images, but the internal struggle to communicate those ideas remains as potent now as it did when fire captured our interest instead of flickering computer screens. Stories and news swirl in our daily doses of accrued environmental stimulus and internal perception. Somewhere between the naive realism of believing the world to be exactly as we perceive it and the individual incarnations of personal reality constructs lay the battle of imagination and reason. Every battle is a struggle of learning, understanding, and expression. Each victory means strength of mind through accelerated adaptation to our environment while enjoying the learning process.
Basic human learning is absorbing everything that happens to us as perceived by our senses and translated into mental information. Learning to properly deal the massive amounts of information thrown at us on a daily basis is a modern survival skill. The neural imprinting of the information onto the synaptic pathways of our brains depends on the quality of the interpretive process. The physicality of our senses ties our perception to their accountability - - everybody's equipment works differently when absorbing environmental stimulus to create personal perspective, making accountability a matter of individual perspective. Once that perspective is established, that information is forced through the molds of academic education and experiential recall on its way to long term memory. The only way to homogenize ideas necessary to insure the survival of any idea is with dialogue and understanding. Game masters take the whole process and throw it into a blender with rules, mechanics and plot to tell a story. A story of shared ideas and perceptions held to a litmus of understanding, comprehension, and communication. A game that teaches how to win the battles of learning and reason wrapped in the fanciful skews of the imagination. An effort borne from a simple game of dice and graph paper. Rising to a position of constant and instant evolution is a game as vibrant as the human mind. No other venue offers quite the same experience, and to realize a level of skill takes effort. To make it worthwhile takes style. The only thing mightier than the pen is the mind that wields it.
Not Chaos, not
The darkest pit of lowest Erebus,
Nor aught of blinder vacancy, scooped out
By help of dreams--can breed such fear and awe
As fall upon us often when we look
Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man --
My haunt, and the main region of my song.
Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.
After the players have left the table and heavy dust settles on a cold pizza crust; the mantle of game mastering begins to grow heavy as contemplations of story impact and player reaction make you realize that there is always room for improvement. This bureaucratic cloak hangs on your shoulders like the dusty, sauce stained imperial and furry robe of a of a bored barbarian-king: all the unanswered questions of performance and presence scurry about at the edge of a gamemaster's consciousness like starving beetles. Was the story good enough? Why didn't they find the secret note in the hidden vault? And all the conundrums stemming from the game's unpredictability that somehow end up absorbed into a GM's psyche are left to gnaw at the next game's preparation. Some intangible quality that draws an individual to the golden cloak offers only intangible answers for rapacious questions - - an electric void between copious records and experiential memory that has only one answer; style.