Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Rural GM

I was reading the following from Noisms and though of my own habits as a Rural GM and my own reasons which very much mirror his own but with complete opposite outcomes.

To me a city is a place where the actions have the least consequences.  If you kill a blacksmith in the city you can always go to another blacksmith.  If you kill the blacksmith in a rural game, well I hope you like stone weapons.   And while a city can swallow players actions and work around them, in a rural game the consequences have real ripple effects.  Now that you've killed the blacksmith, what happens to the farm yield when a plough breaks?   What do the locals do about you now that you've set off every danger alarm their brains can muster?

To me, if a dead body occurs in a city people may notice, but they don't always care. In a rural game they notice, and they have to care, they depend.  The fabric of civilization is much more tenuous and even one cut thread has disastrous effects.

This also might be linked to the ease in which people view rural travel.  I read in an encumbrance article where an entire weeks worth of food was listed as the NGR equivalent of 1 dot (the system actually worked really similar to NGR's encumbrance system).  Travel to remote locations is hard, and so few people do it.

A rural game to me, will always be my default.


  1. It's funny that you linked to that particular post of mine, and made that particular point about how I handle rations. I recently decided I was being overly lenient, and wrote a revision of that rule just last week.


    It's still perhaps more lenient than your preference, but certainly more strict than what I was using earlier this year.

    1. Haven't seen that one yet!

      Though ya, I tend to be more of a bastard and 1 day = 1 dot/significant item. I used to do the whole "weeks of food thing" because I wanted people to trek deep into the wilds.

      Then I realised that going deep into the wilds is an adventure because of supplies. You need pack animals, porters, hunters and ideally cooks to make food go further (I let a cook make a days worth of food count as 2, so you can spread it further if people have multiple ingredients, pots, etc).

    2. Taking a cook to make food supplies last longer is an interesting idea.

      Personally I look at both encumbrance and rations as tools I can use to limit a player's options. And by limiting their options, the choices they make (where to travel, how far to travel, what items to take) become more interesting.

      But there's a fine line between making choices interesting, and creating an environment which is just frustrating to players. And that line is in a different place for a lot of people.

      1 day of rations = 1 encumbrance would be an interesting system to try, but I don't think it would work for me.

      Then again, these days I'm doing a lot of stuff I once said wouldn't work for me. So who knows? =P