Saturday, January 10, 2015

RIFTS and Your Game: Set Your Expectations First

I'm taking a break from talking about House Rules to talk about something else.

First, a reminder: I do not think of RIFTS as a single game, but a dozen or more games contained within a single product line and sharing a ruleset. This means that I do not see things as some of you do. Please account for this difference should you wish to reply.

Regardless of the game, it is vital that everyone on the table be of one mind as to what the campaign is about, and therefore what to expect (and what is expected from them) when at the table.

What this means is that the Game Master and the players need to have a chat. If one player looks at giant robots and thinks Battletech, and the GM thinks Mobile Suit Gundam, there is going to be some needless friction that detracts from the fun to be had. The same sort of thing is true of magic, psychic powers, personal weapons, cybertechnology, and so on. Having confirmation of what the elements of the game mean at the table ensures a more manageable game for the Game Master, and a more entertainment experience for the players; when you are certain as to what to expect, then you can direct your energy into engaging the game and immersing yourself into the immediacy of the experience- which directly makes the time spent more fun by eliminating nagging bits that pull you out of the moment.

This is why I talk about curating the available content, making House Rules, and so on: it's all there to establish what to expect at the table, up front, before the dice get thrown. Marking out the boundaries and so on first ensures that all who sit at the table can skip to the fun part once you do start throwing dice around. It also makes it easy to notice when something isn't working, quickly identify what's wrong, and then remedy the issue. This is a fundamental element, a load-bearing pillar, to making any tabletop RPG work for you and yours; you can't just sit down and play- that's one of the adverse differences in medium between TRPGs and other RPG media, but the hassle is worth handling.

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