Sunday, April 04, 2010

Balancing Acts: Making the game fun for everyone

This weekend was a bit of a hit and miss. We had finally gotten a chance to get to game this weekend, having been sick for two out of the three past weekends and the third missed weekend due to general grumpiness. Thing was, being the day before easter, the Girlfriend's Mother finally had a chance to be home for one weekend and the girlfriend had to bail last minute but said I should go either way. Then another one of our players had a church emergency of his own, and also had to call it quits for this weekend.

In any case, I still got to spend time with the other two players and introduce the basics of how Mutants and Masterminds works, and had some interesting lessons on what to include for what kind of players...

You see, as the Dungeons and Dragons books detail in their players handbook, you have a large collection of people who play the game, each with their own preferences. I've found that despite how you can have a large collection as detailed by Wizards of the Coast, it all comes down to two people: Those who like detail, and those who don't.

Mind you, if you have any player playing for a long period of time, they'll eventually get into the detail, or in some cases not at all. And in such games, players who are detailed have novels worth of material for just that same character that they've been crunching over for some time.

It really gets me thinking, what can I do to really further the enjoyment of everyone who plays though. The best thing I can really offer is that the more enjoyment the group has, the more work needs to be done on the Game Master's part. In the cases for DnD, there are a lot of pre-made adventures, and in them they have a lot of NPCs and campaign detail, but they don't have much in the way of characters that can  be picked up and played, where all the math has already been done for them.

Mutants and Masterminds gives you all the basics and its pretty much up to either the player or the game master to really simplify things. Luckily, you only have to worry about a single dice, you have two numbers for each power to keep track of, one for your affect, the other to resist the effects of the affect. The rest of the character sheet is simply flavor.

For the player who is purely casual, as a game master I simply have to come up with a character sheet that has all the math done ahead of time. That way, if they want to do something, they simply refer to a list of 4 to 5 options and its done. Those same options are open for interpretation, allowing the player to go outside their norm from time to time and be rewarded for doing so.

Now for the detailed character, I'll have the pre-made character ahead of time as an example of what I expect in the game which helps to guide their character design. The longer I've hosted games though, I've found that I need to be detailed myself, and what I normally do is I set up spending limitations and guidelines to help determine what I'd like for the character to use. In a lot of cases, this helps to let the player be as detailed as much as they want, but doing so with the general expectation of the GM ahead of time. This cuts down greatly on the "I don't know what you want so I'll make a bazillion characters before you OK it!"

In the end, the detail for those who are detailed can vary, having those who are detailed about mechanics, and those about story, and those about group unison and having a good team build. Then you have those who are detailed about money and equipment, and those about the world around them. In the beginning though, having those pre-made character sheets and character templates help things go a lot faster and really goes a long way  in regards to general game enjoyment.