Monday, October 16, 2017

Papa Murphy's Analogy


Actually, this isn't just for writing adventures - this goes for core RPGs, as well...

What I've been doing for the last couple years, and increasingly the last few months, is something I'm calling the Papa Murphy's analogy.  If you're not familiar with Papa Murphy's, this analogy sucks... but by the end of this post you'll understand what I'm getting at.

There are thousands of pizza places where you go in, they make the pizza, and you either sit down and eat it or take it home and eat it.  That's the way it is with the overwhelming majority of RPG products.  Everything is done for you.  There are no decisions left for the GM to make.

Considering all the grocery stores nearby, there are thousands of possible ingredients for you to purchase and make your own pizza at home.  Lots of people do this, but established pizza places are more popular.  You can find many examples of tool-based RPG products on DriveThru where everything is in pieces and it's all GM assembly prior to game time (or rolling and dealing with results in the moment).

What I'm currently into is something that almost no one does.  Like Papa Murphy's, I pre-make your pizza up to a certain degree (no pun intended... well, maybe), then you take it home and put the finishing touches on.

Ok, so the last step with a Papa Murphy's pizza is just cook it in your oven.  I give you practically everything you need to run the game.  All that's missing is your own creative juices and the overall performance.  You see, I purposefully leave gaps for you to fill in.

Not only do I believe in my gaming friends and customers (which means I know they can do it if they try), I don't want to rob them of those opportunities to create at the table... something that used to happen pretty much every session with old school RPGs like early Dungeons & Dragons, but not so much anymore.  Now, it's more popular (read: profitable) to do everything for the GM and his players (even if the designers are doing it wrong) and hold the GM's hands every step of the way.

Many gamers don't have the time, energy, or imagination to create an entire adventure, let alone a campaign, from scratch.  However, if you have the ability to run a scenario for a few hours, you should also have 30 minutes of prep time to put the finishing touches on yourself.  Let's face it, running my stuff might take an extra half-hour (assuming you don't want to improv everything in the moment), but other systems will keep you looking up unnecessary rules or digging for crucial details among endless paragraphs of pointless filler.  So, it's a wash.

Admittedly, my process may not be the best way to do things (while I can't remember the last time I made a pizza from scratch, I certainly order fully pre-made and pre-cooked pizzas far more often than take-and-bake from Papa Murphy's - but still love it when I get the chance); however, I choose to walk the path less traveled.  In a niche hobby/industry like this one, that's probably a wise move - especially since I love providing that 85% and watching gamers make up the remaining 15% on their own.

Just in case anybody thought I was pulling this out of my ass today, here's an old blog post about the 85/15 split.

Speaking of adventure writing, the end is nigh!  However, I believe there's still plenty of time to get cracking on your Adventure Writing Contest submissions!  Having trouble wrapping your head around it?  Let's take a look...

You've got approximately two weeks to write a 5 -7 page scenario...

  • Come up with your idea - hopefully, you already have one - and it's awesome!  If not, spend 24 hours coming up with an idea.
  • Spend a day drafting a workable outline that contains the necessary pieces and makes sense.  
  • Write it out!  This will probably take a full week.
  • Finalizing your adventure over the next few days before submitting it.
  • Rub as many of Dread Cthulhu's tentacles as possible, you know... for luck.

Considering the chance to win $500 and publication, I think it's worth busting your creative ass for the next couple weeks.  Can't wait to read what you guys send me!

VS