Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GM's Challenge Afterthoughts

A while back I convinced a group of friends to take off a whole Saturday for a set of GM's Challenge Dungeons and Dragons games. The idea was to hand the GMs a random selection of story elements and then run three back-to-back games. The GMs would have to feature the story elements and also segue from the previous game into their own seamlessly.

There were a few things I found appealing about the idea. One was to be thrown the challenge of making a fun adventure that featured elements someone else picked out- including bizarre or silly things like Lurkers Above or the Flumf. I also liked the idea of having to deal with whatever cliffhanger ending the last GM left you with and link your adventure in smoothly. In essence I was aiming almost for Comedy at the Improv, Dungeons and Dragons style.

Of course, eighty percent of live improv comedy is actually pretty horrible and our first GM's challenge left lots of room for improvement. I don't think any of us really considered how to segue from one adventure to our own and so the transitions were not quite as clever as they could have been. Further, I think the idea of an adventure based on an outrageous Dungeons and Dragons creature may be immediately funnier to me than to the other GMs.

In hindsight I think the GMs challenge was a good idea that deserves a second try. I think the other GMs really needed to have the monster theme spelled out- for example, not merely to have a Roper appear, but to base the whole adventure on the city of the Ropers. Returning a lost Roper baby to its worried parents. Or thwarting an evil Roper wizard who seeks to enslave a beautiful Roper princess. It's completely silly but that's the challenge- how much mileage can you get from this absurd monster? It could be wildly creative. But again, for every hilarious improv act you see there are a dozen that just flail and it may take a bit of practice to bring the GMs to the level of Reno 911 or Upright Citizen's Brigade.

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