I’ve been back and forth on it a lot, but I’ve decided to nix the Background music rule without a second session.
It is with heavy heart I cancel my first rule. I do think its an interesting rule, but it causes problems. Specifically, problems for me that out weigh any of the cool benefits.
DMing is Hard work
When you’re a DM, it’s kinda like you’re one of those spinning plate guys. Or a juggler! Yeah, one of those circus guys!
Anyway, the point is there is a lot going on when you’re DMing. Ideally, the players see very little of this. That’s the showmanship part of running a game. It should look like nothing is effort and that we prepared for all potential outcomes.
Well, we haven’t. Or, at least, I haven’t. Not yet.
But we still need to go on and put on a show. So we grab our various plates and balls and start slinging them around. After a bit of practice, it starts to resemble juggling and we’ve moved on from being a beginner GM to a less-novice GM. The real secret behind GM juggling is making things easier without sacrificing presentation.
There’s all sorts of things I do to make the game smoother that people don’t notice. My monsters stopped getting critical hits about two months ago. They roll twenties, but all that extra stuff from critical was more work than value at my table, so I don’t do it anymore.
I have to fight my natural urges for this simplification. I like the grind, I like the accounting and knowing that everything is there. Its one of my sources of fun. But, while that is fun for one person, I know it makes for a slow slog of a game and that’s no go. So I decided on a creed of mine for gaming, years and years ago. “Never do anything at the table that a computer could do better.”
Problems with the Background Music
In my pondering of this rule, I’ve come up with a couple of issues that make it tricky to run. The first is that this would obviously be better if I actually used music to indicate things, but at the moment, I don’t. Maybe I’ll expirement with background music sometime this year, but at the moment, I’d rather have as much quiet as I can for my main table and I just use the store’s background sounds at my side table. GOing to the effort of getting equipment, pciking music, balancing sounds and so on is a lot of work when I’m never sure which table I’ll be at. Maybe, as I said, I’ll expirement with it this year, but I’ve too much going on to get all that figured out at this point in time.
Second, there’s issues with the improve. If I have this rule, I can’t have the players walk into a fight without their being background sounds. I can’t even really ambush the party. At least, not without mentioning the sound of battle music. These are not things I routinely do, but if they come up, I want to focus on what’s happening as opposed to actually describing the sound. I also don’t want to get into the argument a month down the road when the players try to gank someone and the creature hears the music and fights back and we have a big argument over how the players ambushing someone isn’t combat, but my NPCs ambushing is. Bleh.
I also think it’ll get repetitive, having to describe it each battle. All in all, it would be great and fun to do if I could use real music for it, but its obnoxious to do with out, so I’m nixing this rule for now.
Effect on Chaotica
What’s the effect on the Chaotica world by cancelling this rule?
Well, none, really. It was while I was thinking about how it worked in the world that I decided it didn’t fit. If I had let it run more, then it would have mattered, but it came up once in-game. So this is a minor thing.
As the first rule to be overruled, though, there is some importance to figuring things out, but again, nothing really earth shattering. The rule is deleted, there is no do-over. Harsh, yes, but with my AL background, it is reasonable. Who knows if that player would return again? Why should I track them down to repair a broken rule?
In my previous post on Chaotica, I did indicate that I would give any given rule threes session to prove itself. Turn out, that was untrue. Oh well.