(In the interest of posting more often around here, I’m going to spend some time sharing rough thoughts and sketches of ideas, rather than aiming wholly and solely for breakthroughs and finished essays. This is a blog, after all.)
Can an RPG be made GM-proof? Is the goal to create a dynamic script, an unpredictable mechanism that produces unforeseen but satisfying results every time? Even a fixed script isn’t guaranteed to produce a reliably fun and satisfying experience, so why do we sometimes think that a properly designed system can?
What was it David Mamet said about the inevitability of outcomes in satisfying stories—that an ending should seem both unpredictable and inevitable?
Can we both be on the inside of a story — as writers with authority, as actors with freedom, as players making meaningful choices — and also on the outside, as the rapt audience, unsure of what’s going to happen yet trusting that whatever comes will be sound and satisfying? Can an ending be so fulfilling in its unpredictability and inevitability when we’re on the inside of it, working the machine, that we exist simultaneously outside of it, surprised by the operations of the contraption built from out interlocking imaginations?
These are old questions — and they just scratch the surface of some bigger issues— but I ask them again because I think they’re worth considering and reconsidering as I build towards a GMs-only seminar I’m cooking up. I have my own answers to some of these questions, but I can read my own answers whenever I want, so I choose to think out loud here so as to attract opinions other than my own. Have at it, reader.