Welcome to Dankelblog, my rantspace on the web.

I’m a software analyst living and working in the shadow of the world’s largest croquette wicket, also known as the St. Louis metro area.

For those of you looking for profound exposition on the nature of life or witty political commentary, this isn’t the blog you’re looking for. Dankelblarg is primarily a place for me to vent and talk about my gaming-related hobbies. I might occasionally throw something out that’s non-gaming related, but be prepared to see more gaming or painting related updates than anything else.

While I don’t yet qualify for gamer grognard status, I have been gaming since around 1991. I played in the typical junior high school type of campaign; we would build the best character we could and go out to kill some monsters and take their stuff. Gaming took place almost every weekend through high school, sometimes even more often through the summer. Since those days a lot has changed. Now gaming is every other weekend if I’m lucky (not counting some weekly Warmachine). While I’m not the hack-and-slasher I once was, I would still call myself a Dramatic Gamist.

I suppose the Dramatic Gamist label may need a little explaining. I very much want to create an interesting story with interesting character, but for me stories aren’t interesting without conflict and challenges. As much as I enjoy playing a deep character, role-playing in a campaign where character development takes place in a sterile environment where nothing dramatic ever happens simply isn’t satisfying. I need something going on to provide context to the interactions.

I’ll provide an example. Revealing my character is recently divorced and is somewhat angered he doesn’t see his kids enough is certainly an interesting development. But doing so in the middle of a zombie invasion where he realizes he’s never gong to see his daughters again had a much greater emotional impact.

This certainly doesn’t mean I want combat after combat – the challenges I look for can just as easily be the negotiation of a peace agreement or convincing an NPC to provide my character with the information I need. Completing either of these can result in just as strong of a sense of accomplishment as whacking some ork over the head with a sword.

Hopefully this will give a little insight as to me as a gamer, so as to provide a reference point for the opinions and views I express in future blargs.


  1. w00t, first comment!

    Dramatic Gamist is an excellent term, I think, for your style of play. I’m still trying to pinpoint my own style and with any luck I’ll nail it down sometime during the current campaign.

  2. Dude, you must’ve changed something fierce because I would definitely peg you as a Gamist Simulationist, well at least as a GM. You only seemed to switch to Narrativist (Dramatist, w/e) when you got tired and wanted to move forward more quickly.

    But, this is cool. Kudos for the blarg.

    Where did the Star Wars post go?

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Rav, it’s been a little bit since I’ve had a chance to GM for you, but I don’t really think I’ve changed that much. I’d be interested in hearing some more details behind your label, though – we may be seeing my style as the exact same but disagreeing on the definitions of the labels. I think I’d enjoy the opportunity to use my blarg to try to identify some of my conscious and unconscious playing/GMing habits so I continue to improve my game.

    Then again maybe I’m identifying what type of game I’m trying to run and you have the players’ perspective of how my games tend to feel. Or maybe my gamemastering style is just a little different than my playing style. I’d welcome further discussion of it by you as a past player and S-Dog as a current one.

    Anyway, I took the Star Wars post down because I wanted to edit it and split it up into separate topics that I’d post gradually instead of all at once. It should hopefully be back some time this week.

  4. Ok well the example you put in did clarify. I think you are mostly gamist, you want to operate in the rules and use those rules to “win.” So I agree, and if your example is 100% accurate, I think a dramatic-gamist works, because you do care about character growth, etc. which aren’t always in the rules.

    I thought you meant narrativist (read:dramatist)-gamist which you aren’t, IMO. A narrativist-gamist will eschew the rules when the story becomes more important. A good example is stunting in Exalted and creating “facts” during the stunt that may alter the mechanical affects of things later on.

    Now in the GNS theory, many will say you can’t be vanilla this or that…so as a GM, I think you are a Simulationist (modifier) Gamist (noun) with a hint of Narrativist. As a player you are definitely Gamist, and depending on your mood for the other two.

    Your colors only showed when the players wanted “awesome.” Two example that spring to mind are when Jinn chased down and tackled one of the baby-horror amalgamations, and in CotS when Mooney’s character tried to cross some dam or something. As a Gamist you wanted to mostly stay within the rules. If you were a NG then most likely each of us would have succeeded due to heavy bonuses, instead of penalties (for other readers Jinn amazingly succeeded, and the dam-runner fell in the water). A SG though looks more rationally, if you want to do “awesome” it must be in the (1) bounds of the game, and (2) modified by the game rules…not what “awesome” demands.

  5. Umm…yay for your new hobbby! The existentialism of gaming is a bit out of my realm, so I’ll leave you to it!

  6. Ok, so it sounds like we’re in the same ballpark.

    I’ll start with my gamemastering. One observation I can make is that CotS (the example of failure) took place before Earthdawn (the example of success). I’m consciously trying to overcome my reliance on rules and allow more “cool,” but I do fail at times. I’m definitely still evolving towards the GM I really want to be. I hope that Saulty would say that I’ve gotten even more loose with the rules in the games I’ve run for him.

    Another consideration is my philosophy of dice and the illusion of control. I’m giving way my GM secret where some of my players might read it, but oh well. ๐Ÿ™‚ More and more I ask for dice rolls relatively often, but many times in my mind I’m thinking “if they don’t botch, they’ll succeed.” I’m pretty sure Jinn’s actions were an example of that as well. This is why I prefer roll-plus-skill systems as opposed to roll-under systems; I can keep the target numbers hidden and fudge them on the fly to make a better story.

    Does that make me a Narrativist? Maybe a closet Narrativist that gives his players the illusion of a Gamist style? I suppose this is why nailing down my GM style is more difficult than my player style – there’s two different sides of it: what I do behind the screen, and what the players see. However I’ll freely admit, my style can change on my mood. How open I am to simply allowing something dramatic really depends on how the game is going for me.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about my GM stlye; I’m going to have to post a second post on that sometime in the future.

    As for my playing habits, I continue to try to move toward the narrativist style the more I play, and I think that’s actually started to really show in the two campaigns I’ve played in since I gamed with you last. Lewpo particularly was easy for me to play for the story as opposed to trying to “win.” My problem is that when it comes down to it, I’m a competitive person and I sometimes subconsciously reduce a rpg session as a competition against the challenges in each scene. Consciously I’m fully aware that failures can define a person even more than their successes, but there are times when I really have to work to overcome my gut instinct and concentrate more on the character.

    I guess that’s why I enjoy gaming so much; I’m constantly competing against myself to be the type of player I want to be.

  7. Yes, S-Dawg would say that you’re fairly loose with rules. I like to have the rules take a backseat as much as possible regardless of which side of the screen I’m on. I don’t care what kind of system is being used to support the story as long as that’s the limit of its influence: support, rather than law. Deciding that a non-botched roll is a success is perfectly fine (and encouraged by this player). Every second taken to look up a chart or a “correct” DC is a second wasted in my book. Usually, I’ll just estimate a to-hit modifier or DC if it’s not right in front of me, for example. So long as you continue to make fast, efficient arbitrations (using whatever method) you’ll have a happy player here.

  8. Navarro tried to run across the top of a giant iron gate over a river. He was not qualified to do this. ;-} Plenty cool stuff happened later in that game stuff that was exceedingly… dramatic.

    I’d say Herr Dankelzahn absolutely wants drama, but it just so happens that the “awesome” is only actually awesome in his eyes if it happens in the context of the realistic simulation game. While he may fudge the game rules, he never eschews them, for that would inexcusably cheapen the experience.

    Or at least I think that’s how I remember him explaining it back when I was bitching to him about it. ;-}

  9. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but that summary of my view seems fairly accurate. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll try and expand on that when I get to the “my GMing style” blargpost.

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