Friday, October 25, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering--Day 22!

Let's keep it rolling:  Lindevi's "30 Days of GameMastering" challenge continues!

A novel solution:  what's the best advice you've borrowed from a totally different field?

Einstein was once quoted as saying, "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."  When you're writing--whether for a novel or a game--inspiration has to come from experience.  The more you read, the more you watch, the more you think...the more ideas you can pull from at the game table.

As such, I've pulled inspiration from some rather odd sources in my day.  In terms of GMing technique, however, the strangest source may well be the various educational philosophies I've come across through my years in teaching.  While most people don't necessarily think of John Dewey or Lev Vygotsky as great gamemasters, the truth is that they provide unique insights into engagement, feedback loops, and reward systems for learning.

For example,Vygotsky emphasizes a concept known as "scaffolding" to advance students towards more advanced concepts via smaller, digestible chunks.  I'm actually currently utilizing this idea in my Planescape game, in terms of the numerous factions in Sigil.  During our first session, our heroes were thrown into a chaotic situation, featuring a mysterious madman known as Barking Wilder.  During our second session, as the PCs were arrested for trespassing (and several other charges), they learned that Barking Wilder was the missing leader of an organization known as the Xaositects, who opposed their jailors, the Harmonium.  As the PCs made their escape, their knowledge and understanding of the factions and their intricate relationships has expanded, with our intrepid planewalkers about to be fully immersed in the complexities of Sigilian politics.

Obviously, educational theory can be quite the mouthful, and it's of most use behind the GM screen, as players often simply don't care about anything but the results themselves.  However, if all goes as planned, I'll be speaking about educational theory at the game table at length as one of my "Pendulum Method" essays.  With any luck, it'll be on shelves next year!

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