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  • Writer's pictureD. G. Martin

Not Preparing to Fail

Ace of Hearts and Ace of Clubs laying atop pile of scattered blue poker chips.
Even pocket aces get beat from time to time.




None of these words have anything to do with what I'm talking about today, but they are pretty good words on their own.

I got asked this week by a potential player in a RPG that I'll be starting up in a few weeks what my approach is to being a GM. (Gamemaster to some, or "DM", meaning Dungeon Master, to others, which really just depends on what nomenclature was used by your first RPG experience and outs everyone as to whether or not that experience was Dungeons & Dragons).

The question asked was, to paraphrase, "Is your approaching to DMing (there's that giveaway I mentioned) more writer focused or reader focused?"

A few texts back and forth, and the player basically wanted to know how scripted and "on the rails" the campaign is going to be.

Once I understood what he was really asking, I kinda blew his mind.

"I don't plan out anything," I told him.

He did not believe me. I still think he doesn't. You might not believe me.

That's okay. You don't have to, and neither does he.

I ran this concept by my DM (I'm using that term here because the game she's running is Gamma World, so "DM" is the appropriate term for that game), and she kinda got a freaked out look on her face when I told her that I plan out nothing as a GM. I do believe that she thought I was joking at first, but then I told her that I was wearing my serious face.

Not my deadpan face, mind you. My serious face. There's a difference. If you learn it, you'll be able to tell if I'm joking or not about something. So, that's like two people. Don't feel bad. You're not one of those two people. Unless you are. Then you know.

You know that a deadpan face is good for?

Poker. I mean, sure, everybody has tells. EVERYBODY. Even Burt Maverick. The trick is making your tells seem less like tells and more like being nervous. Yeah. Make 'em think you're always nervous, and they won't be able to tell when you really are nervous.

Except for Daniel Negreanu. That guy will still know.

And that's the difference between "planning to fail" and "not planning to fail".

One involves walking around all the time being paranoid and overly nervous about not measuring up, and the other accepts that failure happens all the time, the only cure for which is to take the hits as they come and not make the same mistake twice.


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