Nefertiti Overdrive: What Becca Taught Me

This is a long post. It’s a section from out of the “How I Play” portion of Nefertiti Overdrive. I’m including the entire section because I think it helps to encapsulate the philosophy I am bringing to this system. If you disagree with this, it is likely Nefertiti Overdrive won’t work for you. If at the end of this, you raise your fist and say “hells yeah!” I think you will dig the system.

What Becca Taught Me

I debuted Nefertiti Overdrive at Gen Con 2013 to a very select group of people. While they might be industry luminaries of one stripe or another, I asked them to join me because they were all fun, they were all talented, and they were all awesome. One such awesome player was Becca. Becca was the very first person to ever play the Princess, and I think she did it wonderfully. Becca also taught me a very important lesson, though its full impact didn’t hit me until I was home from Gen Con.

One of the Princess’ Elements is Inspired. Becca wanted to use that to have the Princess touched by the Gods, maybe even get a little pyrotechnics going on to put the fear of Them into the attacking Assyrians.

I said “no.” I said, “that’s not how it works.”

I really, really, really . . . really needed to shut up right then. I honestly can’t tell you what I was thinking. I was reacting rather than considering, and I was reacting as 1990 Fraser rather than 2013 Fraser. 1990 Fraser only knew D&D. That’s what he knew. And for 1990 Fraser, the GM was the boss. He was God. He built the world and he controlled the world. The world worked as the GM decided.

That’s not how Nefertiti Overdrive is meant to be played. I honestly thought I had buried 1990 Fraser with Kiss My Axe. The motto of Kiss My Axe had become my motto. “Don’t ask me. Tell me.” Don’t ask me if there is a barrel in the room. If you want a barrel to be in the room so your character can do something awesome, just tell me there’s a barrel in the room. Don’t ask me if your character knows one of the mercenaries, tell me the character does and then show everyone how that is going to make the game more fun.

Becca was playing the game right. The Princess summoning the power of the very Gods to darken the skies and pour down lightning (and maybe frogs) would have definitely made the game more awesome. It doesn’t matter if that’s what I was expecting. As GM, I am not the sole arbiter of this game world. I am one player with as much input as the others. Yes, they do rely on me – in Nefertiti Overdrive and in all of the games I’ve designed – to act as a kind of director and set scenes, portray extras, do all sorts of things that drive the story forward, but that doesn’t mean it is solely my world or my game.

Here’s a secret – I love doing running games. I enjoy GMing more than I do playing. I enjoy creating the story. And I enjoy watching my players dig it. When they are having fun, when they are doing awesome stuff, I love it. I win.

So I should absolutely, positively not have said no. It was a snap decision, a moment when 1990 Fraser rose from the dungeon to which I had rightly sentenced him and lessened a player’s fun. Even if I only decreased her fun by the slightest modicum, it was the wrong call.

In Nefertiti Overdrive, it doesn’t matter how someone does something. Call it magic. Call it might. Call it laser eyes and radioactive breath. It’s all narrative. It doesn’t change the Success or the Effect. If Becca wants to play the Princess as the literal God’s Hand, what the heck is wrong with that?

Nothing. In fact, it is awesome. And I was a dick for saying no.

Don’t be a dick. When you are GMing Nefertiti Overdrive, it is extremely important to allow the players to achieve the awesome in the way that is the most fun for them. Take everything as a welcome challenge. Sure you didn’t plan it this way, but if you can take in the spanner they have thrown at your works and include it in the ongoing game, it proves you are a fantastic GM.

Say yes. You can say “yes but . . .” or “yes and . . .” but say yes.

Because your players having fun is fun for you. Let’s be honest, we love to GM. We love to succeed as GMs. The whole idea of Nefertiti Overdrive is to allow the characters to be amazing. So let them be amazing. And let them do it in the way they choose.

You can expect the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter to begin on Monday, 17 March 2014. Mark your calendars and start saving your pennies.

You can learn more about Nefertiti Overdrive here and here.

You can learn more about Becca through her Twitter feed here

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