Hello Dear Readers! I wanted to take a minute and promote a Kickstarter for Venger Satanis’ latest project: “Advanced Game Mastering like a Fucking Boss.” I’ve backed this and I think you should too.
Purposes of full disclosure, I am currently participating in a Cha’alt game jam. I’ve also previously published work as part of an OSR game jam. I’m a big fan of Venger’s work and I’ve chatted with him privately on many occasions. He’s a good dude. That being said, I’ve backed quite a few of his prior Kickstarters before we even spoke. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I find Cha’alt to be quite an interesting place to visit…
So, what is Advanced Dungeon Mastering Like a Fucking Boss and why should you back it? To answer that, we need to take a step back and look at the OSR landscape broadly speaking. RPG Pundit is fond of saying that the OSR is where you will find innovation. It is a belief that I wholeheartedly agree with. Indeed, I think when you look at the OSR, you will find quite a bit that is just plain different. For example, OSE set the standard for book layout, and RPG Pundit is presenting something very different in terms of campaign settings with his Medieval Authentic. Lamentations of the Flame Princess has taken the module and game supplement to the level of art. Most importantly, you see interesting uses of old game mechanics or brand-new ways of game design within the OSR. The Wretchedverse, for example, has provided an experience point system for when a character indulges in one of the seven deadly sins. This mechanic, of course, reinforces the spaghetti punk feel of what the Wretchedverse is trying to create.
So where does Venger Satanis fit into all this? To answer that question, you need to look at what I believe to be his central goal: Pure immersion. Venger has produced a number of game supplements that are focused on improving your game with the goal of complete immersion in mind. Where Pundit and LotFP are looking at how to innovate mechanics and module creation, Venger is looking at what is happening at the game table. He is trying to understand this insane phenomenon that occurs when a bunch of friends gets to the table to start rolling nerd dice.
I think you know what I am talking about. Time seems to stop for the two, four, or six hours of gameplay. You are not you, you are your character—a surly dwarf, a drunk spacer, or maybe a lascivious cleric. You and your friends are encountering strange things found in mystical locales. Horrors beyond comprehension assail you during this momentary stay against reality. This faux reality, this shared experience, feels real. You find yourself talking about the experience days later as if you were there actually doing it—exploring forgotten tombs, unlocking a treasure chest full of riches, and celebrating victory at Hommlet’s very own The Inn of the Welcome Wench.
And yes. You really did save Bob last weekend from the Displacer Beast trying to rip his face off.
This is Venger’s focus. I agree with his mantra “The purpose of Role-playing is Immersion.” While we may disagree with certain methods of getting there–*cough* Rule of Cool *cough*–Venger has meditated on this and has provided some groundbreaking ideas to assist you, the Game Master, in guiding your players into the other world, that shared experience where you are no longer you and Bob is no longer your geeky accountant friend.
Take for example an idea first presented in Chartreuse Shadows: The Confession Cam. It is when you select a player to “speak to the audience” as if he or she were in a confession booth on a reality TV Show. There the player speaks in character about their reaction to what is going on. At first blush, this seems silly and a bit avant-garde, but we put up with it because it’s Cha’alt and weird shit is supposed to happen on Cha’alt. However, when you take an honest look past the gonzo nature of this Role-playing aid, the confession booth is getting the players into character. It is doing exactly what Venger is asking all of us to do: Take a risk and immerse yourself in the world you find yourself. I have used this technique on occasion. It is a good way to get a player refocused on the game or add some depth to a particular encounter.
Immersion is the goal of this hobby and Venger is one of the few actually tackling it head-on. If you think about it, what is the point of a groundbreaking game mechanic or a novel approach to a game’s setting if you don’t actually feel like you are interacting with the environment in a very real way? Immersion is the Goal and Venger is your guide.
I anticipate Advance Dungeon Mastery Like a Fucking Boss is going to provide us with a lot of recommendations, from the practical to the esoteric, the mundane to the gonzo, to get you there. To achieve that goal of complete immersion. Given what I know about Venger, I am guessing we will be getting a lesson or two in sigil magic. The Kickstarter is well worth supporting and, if you are interested in picking up any of the Cha’alt books (which you should), they are available as well.
Until next time Dear Reader!