Today’s guest article was written by Will Jobst, GM, political science student, musician, and hopefully-maybe-one-day RPG writer. He runs a weekly game with strangers he tricked into his apartment, and waxes RPG-theory @dm_ilf and at www.willjobst.wordpress.com. He is based in Boston, MA. Thanks, Will!
The collaborative GM gives her players every opportunity to fictioneer. Create, extrapolate. Everyone at the table contributes to the story, so it’s time to hand them the Blank Check.
In play, the GM can create an opening for a player to build on.
“As you strut through the saloon, the barkeep eyes you – menacingly.Why is this person angry with you?”
This is the Blank Check. The GM hands the player free reign over this moment. The only limit is the player’s creativity.
“I shot his son dead, right outside.”
“That’s my stepmother, I skipped town last June.”
“I had a huge tab here, and I paid with wooden coins.”
This adds depth to the scene, and can further flesh out a character. This also provides important character buy-in, creating interest in the scene, and the game. Use this technique to wrap PCs into scenes, and to involve and complicate their relationships with the world-at-large.
The player can give the GM a Blank Check, too. Searching for something specific, she asks about an object in the scene, not mentioned by the GM.
“Is there a telephone in this subway station?”
The player hands the GM a Blank Check. There are three things the collaborative GM can do.
“Yes, and it’s ringing!”
“Yes, and it’s swinging off the hook.”
“Yes, but there’s a ghastly looking woman using it.”
“Yes, but it seems broken, yet fixable.”
“No. This station’s only phone is beyond disrepair.”
Be A Logical Enabler
Potent tools like these require a reasonable GM. Trust gut instincts. The GM can Block player requests for +7 Pike of Plot Disembowelment or a Ford F1-Anachronism to discourage abuse of the Blank Check. Enable as much fictioneering as possible, but keep it logical.
In Your Game
Give your players opportunities. Let your players create opportunities. Let them know they have this power, and use it early and often.