Monday, October 21, 2013

The Michael Bay School of GMing.

You've seen a Bay movie I hope? Stuff like random chase scenes, explosions for the sake of COOL, and random sexy bits mixed with frantic action with a plot held together with sticky tape and a prayer? It's not very intellectual, but it's damn fun for a few hours of mindless explodium fun.

The funny thing, in roleplaying you can use the Bay-logic as I call it to spice of a slow sessions. This use to be called "Shot and Roll Dice" but it's a bit more complex than that, at least at first. Let me break down a good Bay-logic injection into a game:

1. There has to be an existing setting. Something like a solid foundation. The reason why Bay movies don't fall completely apart is he takes an established fan base (or trope) and then goes wonky with it. So like the Transfomers fandom and franchise. There were already established fans, people who are invested and will over look some of the derps in logic for the sake of cool. (There IS a limit to this and gronards will get pissy if you do it all the time much like Bay, but we're just talking about the occasional Bay moment.) So if I was going to do it in a RP I might take Forgotten Realms, or an established game I spent some sessions building up around.

This doesn't work in already Bay-exploded settings like Exalted or Paranoia. But stuff like Shadowrun, or L5R, you'll have jaws hitting the floor. Just keep that in mind.

2. Next is pacing. The first rule is: Don't give the PC's time to plan beyond their next action. You need to put pauses in the action, but these are forced breaks. Like a very solidly set "your character's have 10 minutes to rest", or the car trip is an hour long and no one has caught onto you yet, do you want to nap? Stuff like that. Make sure you set hard defined limits on down time. Do NOT give the PC's more than a few hours of non-action. Avoid giving them time to plan traps, counter attacks, etc.

3. Start with an explosion. It doesn't have to literally be something blowing up, but that helps. It can be an assassination, like a friendly NPC suddenly gets a dozen arrows in his back and the city guard blames them! Or anything with an obvious physical thread to their characters or property. (Or NPC's under their protection.) Remember, it's action movie logic. You can have ninja dropping from the roof if you have too, the point is to up the pressure in controlled burst to get the PC's moving. Give them a possible 'safe' zone they can run too. Out of the City, an old ally's place, safe house, etc.

Got the party running? Good, ready for the next part? WHY DO THIS?

Here's the reason why Bay-logic can be useful.

1. The Group is stuck in an adventure and you need to push them towards the next clue or NPC that will update the game. Giving them an injection of ACTION will get them excited even if later action slows down to more logical and skill based exploring/research. Great for early GUMSHOE sessions!

2. As a drum up for major NPC foe introduction! Having a sudden attack, chase scene is great for setting up why NPC X is dangerous to the group.

3. To throw them off a clue! Do the reverse, if the group is solving your puzzle too fast, throw in a random event like this to make them get distracted for an hour or two. Especially if you are padding a night's session. Let them figure out what npc's later had it out for them. You'll need to be flexible to write in the reason for the attack logically later. But for now, it's a nice way to let the PC's show off and get away, or fight off an attack and then pull out their PRO hats and solve why it happened.

4. Kill of NPC Y. Need to kill off an NPC? Is the PC's pet NPC helping them too much in this adventure and you want to motivate them to solve a problem on their own? Assassination action chase scene with clues as to who did it is a great way to motivate them. But WARNING! If you do this, allow the PC's some form of revenge down the road. Let them arrest, kill, undermine the NPC faction who Bay'ed them.

Bay-logic is a short term action movie trope that's a great little tool to give the PC's a slap to the narrative face. The explosions don't make sense when they happen, you are focusing on the action of the moment. Allow the PC's to come up with solutions as to why and then MAKE IT REAL! Or, maybe just give vague hints and turn it into a plot for a later follow up adventure. Yes, I'm saying plot padding can turn into a main plot later.

Michael Bay...kind of Throwing Dice and Shouting! Who knew eh?