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The Backup Game
Posted By Phil Vecchione On May 20, 2008 @ 2:00 am In GMing Advice | 20 Comments
Recently my gaming group has gone through a bit of a gaming drought. We have had a number of cancellations occur over the past few weeks, where a single person could not make it to the session. Sometimes that person was the GM, and other times it was one of the players. With the type of games we run, and our general GMing style, our group does not like to play without all the members present. When these cancellations have occurred, the other remaining members of the group are left without an RPG to play. We would still get together, to play some card games, like Lunch Money or Ninja Burger, but we were not playing any RPG’s. So we started to think what could we do to guarantee that we would always have an RPG to play, even if the main session got canceled. So we came up with the idea of backup games.
The Anatomy of The Backup Game
So this is not rocket science. If we can’t play the main game for the night, why not play another RPG? Well sometimes that is easier said than done. In order to pull off a good backup game, we came up with some criteria that the game and the GM running it would have to meet. These criteria would insure that we would have a game ready to go at a moments notice. The criteria we came up with were:
They are not overly demanding, but there were some constraints that would require a commitment from the GM’s who wanted to run a backup game. The group agreed that these were fair guidelines, and that several of us expressed an interest in running a backup game, me included.
Not All Settings Are Created Equal
In talking about ideas for what games people might want to run, we started to see that some games would be better suited as backup games than others. Not that a skilled GM could not get a single session out of any game, but that some settings and some mechanics would lend themselves to this one-shot structure better than others. Games that would suit this kind of play would have some general traits:
In looking over my own current game collection there were a few games that were not going to work:
Then there were a few games that looked pretty good:
In the end, I choose my Global Frequency Game. Having recently read all 12 Issues and downloaded and watched the unreleased TV pilot, I was sure that Global Frequency would not only make a good backup game, but really it would not compete for being a full campaign game. It will actually run better in one-shots, staying true to the format of the comic book.
I ran my first session, two weeks ago, and it went off great. I am preparing another mission and tucking it away for the next canceled session.
Does your group keep any Backup games on hand, and what systems do you think would be good for Backup games?
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