Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quotes From Gary Gygax's Role-playing Mastery - The Creator - The... Kirk ;)

Another quote from Role-playing Mastery:
"The game master is the creator, organizer, and arbiter of all. His most important functions during play, though, are more mundane. He is nature. He provides sensory data, and finally he fills the roles of the living things the PCs interact with during the course of the session." Role-Playing Mastery, page 48, Gary Gygax
What sticks out to me is the "sensory data" part of the quote. This doesn't mean just sights and sounds, but even touch and smell.

Back in '93, at my one and only GenCon, one of the GMs we had for the tournament we went through was in a wheel chair. I never asked if it was a permanent or temporary situation for her, as the question would have been damn awkward, but I suspected it was the former.

In any case, she had a sense that she was hooked on describing - the sense of smell. Cooking, burning, blooming, rotting - she nailed them all with verbal descriptions that brought the actual smells to mind. Which was scary in a way, as they didn't seem to be integral to the plot (and I suspected she was filling these parts in on her own) but that sense of smell made the session she ran seem more real than any of the others I played in over those four days. Maybe the most real of any session I've ever played in.

Strange, we speak of "gamer funk" at cons and how it assails out nostrils, but we often forget to use that same sense of smell when describing events and such in our game sessions.

Haven't thought of that in a while. Interesting what a single quote from a book can dig up in one's memories.


  1. Well there's a product niche for GenCon next year-aerosol cans of scent:

    Dungeon Dank
    Zombie Rot
    Rust Monster Spoor
    Barbarian Rage Sweat

  2. I've used that many times. Want to know what a dungeon smells like? It has the "familiar scent of a damp basement; with a faint whiff of corruption, as if something had died there, long ago."

    Guaranteed mood-setter.

  3. Agreed, the more of the five senses you can flood with data, the better the experience. On another note, I grabbed a used copy of Role Playing Mastery off eBay and when it arrived it had Gary's signature inside, along with the written notation "GenCon 1987." The seller didn't mention it in the listing. I feel like the Thief who found the hidden compartment in the treasure chest...


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