Saturday, July 28, 2007

GMless or Automatic GM games

I came across this post on the Braindump blog and it got me to thinking about GMless games.

I've heard of the product he mentions before and have been vaguely intrigued by it in the past, though still not enough to plonk down any money for it.

Back when I was little, I used to run solo Tunnels and Trolls dungeon crawls for my character, using a set of tables to generate the dungeon, though I can't remember if they were tables I'd found in some rulebook, or ones I made myself.

I also ran some sort of trading game using the rules from the Republic of Darokin setting from Basic D&D's Known World setting.

These were pretty simple affairs, just rolling dice and making decisions based on the outcome, no plot complications or character developement.

There were also Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, in which the book took the role of a GM, much as a computer does with CRPGs.

Anyway, enough nostalgia, on with the plot.

How would a modern Automatic-GM work? One that can handle and generate more complex situations than killing things and taking their stuff?

There seem to be a few indie/alternative games that are geared towards the players providing most if not all of the content and complications, but I'm aiming for an Automatic GM that acts more like a traditional GM - it provides the nature of the complications, and the solutions remain up to the player, though obviously the player needs to stat out the complications as and when they occur.

A basic flaw of an Automatic GM is that it can only provide a narrative framework, with no real details unless it's coded to deal with a specific system and setting or type of adventure - any colour must come from the minds of the players or it just turns into an exercise in dice rolling and maths.

There isn't anything wrong with that but it's not everybodies' cup of tea, and is one of the reasons I stopped my T&T and Trading games. It could also be argued that many computer games are just dicerolling and maths in a pretty outfit.

My next post on this topic will start with the barebones of an Automatic GM system.

C&C welcomed.

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