I am a sucker for a good story, and role playing games are all about telling stories. The ability to immerse you in a new world with the agency to explore, delights me. As part of my character creation process I will learn or reacquaint myself with the lore of the game world as much as I am able. It is not enough to find a place for my character to fit the narrative, I want to be able to understand the mythology of the world; Its theme, history, belief systems, and geography all add to the immersion process. Success comes when I can anticipate how an action will affect the game world on both the local and regional levels. Research is a major part of my immersion.
I am a habitual reader. The question is not if, but what am I reading at a given moment. Besides hordes of novels, like Scotty, I also enjoy reading technical manuals. Whether the manual was for the VCR, my cell phone, or the 3.0, 3.5, 4th, and 5th editions of the D&D Players handbook, I have read them all cover to cover. Each topic is put in a mental box in my head so that I can change perspectives as needed. This way of thinking helps other areas of my life. Through my job, I often teach people how to use technology; teaching not just a series of commands, but from the perspective of basic computer processes, gives the user insight to where a command should be. Understanding how a computer “thinks” empowers a user to learn new programs on their own, ie improvise.
Knowing a story world’s lore not only enriches my experience but also helps me improve. As a player, this helps me stay in character. As a story teller, knowing how the world works from the top down allows me to create an adaptive game. Structured player freedom is at the core of my Game Mastering style. As a play tester, I have come to believe that this level of understanding is invaluable when running play tests. Play testing is more complex than I originally thought it would be, especially when the tester is not a designer on the project. Just giving feedback on player opinions is not enough. I need to grasp how the game is supposed to play. See how the game is actually performing. Then relay the information to the design team. Key data can be lost if the tester doesn’t know what to look for or worse hasn’t kept detailed notes. There are times when I just want to jump in and play, but giving a game the time and attention it’s due is so rewarding. 239)