niall_shapero: Fox Mask (Default)
I was told, once upon a time, that I was too inexperienced a referee to be permitted to run a game for a particular group that had multiple referees and campaigns ("You don't have enough experience with OTHER SUNS to run a game for us" was what I was told, as I recall). Really quite interesting, you see, because I ruddy well WROTE the OTHER SUNS rules, and had (at the time) been running an OTHER SUNS campaign for some several years. [sarcasm mode on] There couldn't have been anything political involved, could there have been? [sarcasm mode off]. The responsible party for the "experience" comment had been running an OS campaign for a while that I had run in, and it was experiencing roughly a 1 in 3 casualty rate. This was nothing unusual for the person in question's campaigns - very "old school D&D" in the death rates. To be fair, the death rate (or rate of permanent disablement) was fairly consistent across his campaigns (he ran more than one type game).

Now, in my OTHER SUNS campaign, over the 31 years that it has been running, there have only been a handful of character deaths. Since character creation can take as much as half an hour, and combat and weaponry in OTHER SUNS are quick and deadly, and deadly respectively, I have always tended to keep the quantity and quality of combat down, for metagaming reasons. This was, I will freely admit, quite a sea change from my old D&D Campaign, where I regularly wiped out whole parties of characters (since characters in 1st edition D&D took perhaps 30-60 seconds to roll up and equip, worst case).

Why bring this up? Because I recently ran across someone's blog who had run (briefly) in my OTHER SUNS campaign and who claimed that what he hated about the game was that ~"combats always took at least 45 minutes per melee round"~. An interesting bit of memory-trick on his part since, going back over my notes from the part of the campaign that he participated in, I never had any combat at all. Where came the notes, you ask? Well, as a bit of an anal retentive type, I formed a habit some years back of bringing my laptop to sessions (before then, I had a set of notebooks for the campaign) and I took voluminous notes covering all the actions taken and by whom in the session (I still have a reel-to-reel tape recording of one game session played over twenty-six years ago). These notes have permitted me to keep my campaign organized and more importantly CONSISTENT over the years. So I know that the individual in question who complained was "misremembering" events (to be charitable - it was at least some ten years ago, and I rather doubt that he has as good a memory as the pen, writing at the time, and "immortalized" on paper and stored in a three ring binder).

Some incidents in a recent campaign that I was trying to join (trying is the operative term, here, I think) made me think back to these incidents and to group dynamics in role playing gaming and in small groups in general. I was about to write an essay on the subject, when I remembered that my wife had already done so - and done a far better job than I could do right now. Her essay can be found at: http://kayshapero.net/hobby.htm.

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niall_shapero

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