Saturday, September 5, 2009

Profiling Myself

I haven't written too much lately, but I haven't neglected reading other RPG blogs, and I came across a cool post by Alex Schroeder (found here) about his DM profile. Basically, he has taken a list of X vs. X preferences, stated which he prefers, and gives a quick explanation of why. Needless to say, I was inspired to go through the list and see how I fit in, and these are my results. Following Alex's formatting, the terms in bold are those that I prefer:

  • Comprehensive Rules vs. Minimal Rules – Because I'm one of those guys who can pick up an RPG supplement and read it for pleasure even when I know I'll never get a chance to play it, I tend to read these rulebooks a lot and I usually either know the rules by heart or know where to find them quickly... and I'd prefer to point to the rulebook rather than try to explain my reasoning on an ad hoc ruling.
  • High Power Fantasy vs. Low Power Fantasy – I want my games to feature fantastic elements. Magic can override all sorts of mundane obstacles, but magic vs. magic can be very interesting and often rewards thinking outside the box.
  • Narrative Mechanics vs. Simulation Mechanics – While I do like the story, I'm not a big fan of story mechanics. Let the mechanics solve combat and stuff, but leave the narration to us.
  • Strategic Chargen vs. Simple Chargen – As a player, I absolutely love fiddling around with all the different options I can use when I create a character. As a DM, I like the character creation process to be as simple as possible, mainly because if it is at all time-consuming, my brother won't do it until 30 minutes before we start playing and then we're either delayed or he's got a hastily-thrown-together mess.
  • Tactical Encounter vs. Strategic Adventure – I think that with an optimal play schedule, this would be different. However, life as a grown-up has led to gaming much less often than I'd like and sometimes the "adventures" feel a little disjointed because of the amount of time between sessions. Thus, the encounters themselves seem more "whole" and have become my preference.
  • Combat Balance vs. Adventure Balance – If we drank, I'd say that our games hold on to some of that old "beer & pretzels" feel. There is a story, but the fun part is in the bashing of monsters. Combat balance is important.
  • Balanced Encounter vs. Balanced Adventure – The idea that players will only encounter stuff that they can beat just doesn't make sense to me. I've used it, but I don't like it. I'd rather keep my players on their toes.
  • Wargame Combat vs. Abstract Combat – Before D&D Miniatures were released, I never used minis. Now that I have, I don't think I'll ever go back (except for in Rifts... and I'd use minis for that too if I could find decent ones).
  • GM as player vs. GM as referee – Although I can get a little adversarial when I'm using one of my favorite NPCs, for the most part I just want to set up interesting scenarios and see what happens. I have to admit, though, that when the baddies are getting spanked and one crits a PC, I do cheer a little.
  • Fantastic Characters vs. Common Characters – I like seeing super heroes, wizards, strange races, and cyborgs. This is fantasy, right?
  • Established Setting vs. DIY Setting – While I enjoy the Forgotten Realms and Phaseworld (my two favorite settings ever), I prefer to create my own stuff.
  • Resource Optimization vs. Creative Problem Solving – I want both! However, some of the most memorable sessions were those in which the players thought of a way to solve a problem that I hadn't anticipated.

Interestingly enough, I'm exactly the opposite of Alex on many of these. I'd bet that there are trends in DMs, such as "most DMs who prefer comprehensive rules also prefer simulation mechanics and wargame combat." Alex linked High Power Fantasy vs. Low Power Fantasy with Fantastic Characters vs. Common Characters in his explanations. There's probably a trend there too.

Any thoughts?
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