Game Design – The Story of a Session, Part 1

While this doesn’t directly effect the conflict resolution system itself, one thing I’d like to come out of this game design is a game that can tell a story in a single session, with minimal prep – or carry itself over a multiple sessions. Yes, you can run a pre-generated one-shot adventure in Dungeons and Dragons, and most other RPGs, but that’s really an open-the-box-and-go experience. Even a premade adventure takes a significant amount of time for the GM, and new or lapsed players will spend half the session trying to figure out what, exactly, they can do.

With this in mind, I’m setting up a few scenarios to evaluate ideas against.

First, we have the Randoms. This is a group of friends who play games regularly but do not generally engage with RPGs, as they’re seen to take too much time and prep work. This group does, however, play Legacy games as a semi-stable group. They’re able to complete a game (or two) in a given session, with occurs once every month or two. There may not be a permanent GM with this group. This is a younger group, a relatively diverse as far as race, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Second, we have the Dungeoneers. In one form or another, they’ve played RPGs, possibly going back decades, in various groups. Now older, this group has coalesced from their current social circumstances. They’re a regular group, generally playing one game at a time, with one GM, until the story completes. They’re past ‘power leveling’ as a way to mark achievements, but appreciate progression as a marking of progress at some lecvel. This group is probably far more homogenous than the Randoms.

Third, we have the Streamers. This is a group that plays every week on a fixed schedule, with fixed roles, and is invested in the creation of a story and a world as a long-form piece. I call this group the streamers after groups like RollPlay, Critical Role, Dice Camera Action, or Acquisitions Incorporated: C Team. These players are into the characters and story above all else.

One group I’m not considering are the hard-core dice rollers – the power levelers, min-maxers, and spreadsheet gamers for whom combat is the primary activity, and stories are an excuse for violence. Without meaning much judgement, whether you’re a wargamer or an old-school RPG player, you’re well covered.