I’m afraid of flowers. More specifically, while I’ve been drawing and painting for many years, I avoid painting flowers. Get nervous just thinking about them. Recently I decided to face that fear by attacking one on a brand new 16″ X 20′ canvas.

And the world didn’t end. I finished the picture and learned a lot in the process.

This got me thinking about what elements or genres I fear and avoid in my gaming life. In this article, I’ll discuss just three of them. I’ll also suggest some thoughts for overcoming my concerns. While you may not have trouble with these particular topics, maybe the article will spur you to consider what you avoid in your own gaming.

I’d love to run a great mystery session in the tradition of Nero Wolfe or Mr. Monk. However, I’m unsure how to translate that genre into a roleplaying session. Mystery stories tend to be fairly linear: the detective must have certain clues to solve the mystery, and they tend to come in a particular order. Generally, the most important clue is kept secret until just before the end of the story. In terms of gaming, I worry that this kind of structure would lead to railroading on my part. Also, I’m not sure I could come up with a clever enough mystery.

One solution might be to have a breadcrumbs clue list, but not to tie the clues to any particular NPC or encounter. That way the players can still approach the scenario however they wish, and I can dole out clues as needed.

“Man that was scary!” Wouldn’t you love to hear that after running a session? While my fantasy games certainly use elements of horror (skeletons, monsters, tombs), I’ve never run a full session of pure horror. I don’t know if I could sustain that atmosphere of fear for an entire session. Also, my group likes to laugh and enjoy the game, and I don’t know if as a group we could sustain a scary mood.

Still, maybe I need to work on creating more suspenseful passages in my games. I may need to hold back the villains a bit, let them just hear them around the corner. Perhaps that can help provide them with more of a sense of danger.

I love Star Trek, and it’s vast universe is practically a genre unto itself. I’m not sure how to translate the Star Trek episdoe tropes into a great gaming session. Star Trek often gives players moral dilemnas, which can be tricky to set up. You want to give players real choices, without forcing their actions. Also, Star Trek can sometimes be a little lighter on combat than other genres. Starfleet officers are not supposed to solve most problems with fists or phasers. Lastly, on the shows, some problems are handled with a hand-wavy scientific solution that may not occur to players. It’s better not to set up a problem with only one solution.

Perhaps players could be provided with more action if they were members of a strike team, being sent into only the most difficult situations. Also, they might be assigned to guard a ship or colony against pirates or rogue Klingons. That way they could have some combat without starting an interstellar war each session.

Like floral painting, these are some areas of gaming I’ve yet to master. You may have some too, and sitting down and thinking about them may help you consider some solutions.

What areas give you trouble? Do you have any suggestions for my trouble spots? Let us know below.