GM Approaches Strike Back

Some great discussion over on Google Plus about yesterday’s post made it pretty clear that the idea has some legs, so I’m going to drill down and talk about it a little bit more.

First, a little more discussion on how these GM approaches are used. When I came up with the list of GM approaches, I did not base them on things that GMs can do (that’s a larger list) but rather, I specifically limited them to consequences, with an eye on how to handle the player losing a roll. Things like harm, loss of resources, misinformation and so on are all non-blocking consequences of things going wrong, and the approaches reflect that.

This is a big difference between these and the GM “moves” of the *World games. Moves are much broader and cover things both in and out of conflicts, while approaches are fairly conflict-centric. It would not be impossible to extend the approaches into a set of move equivalents, but you’d need to expand to include things like introducing a fact, foreshadowing the future and so on. Coming up with that list might take a few minutes – less if one wants to just lift the list from Dungeon World – and the bonuses might not be relevant, but that’s probably a subject for some consideration.

An additional difference is that approaches are primarily reactive rather than proactive. They can be used proactively, in a “guy with a gun kicks in the door” kind of way, but they’re primarily used in response to player actions. After the player determines their action, the GM considers what sort of outcome might be the most interesting and how hard it should be, and picks the approach that lines up with that.

Second, GM approaches need not be the only factor in play when coming up with the net difficulty. They make a good baseline, but scene-specific elements can influence things. Oe easy way to do that is by giving NPC’s stunts and aspects, so that the underlying approaches are the baseline, and the stunts modify those.

Alternately, you could combine GM approaches with NPC approaches. If both are rated from +0 to +3, then you can get a totally difficulty from +0 to +6, which is a pretty robust spread.

Third, the idea of GM character sheets ended up surprisingly toothy. Specifically, the GM stunts were pretty awesome as people started coming up with their own. I hope that some other folks decide to chime in with their own.

A few fun ones:

From Seth ClaytonCliffhanger – +2 to Escalate at the end of a session.

From Matt Wildman: I Can Think Out Of The Box Too – +2 when I introduce something even the players weren’t thinking of to steer the story in a new/different direction.

Mine: Charming Adversaries – +2 When I use an NPC to misrepresent the PCs as bad guys.

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