J is for Jam Sessions

In addition to garnering inspiration for my game from movies, books, videogames and other forms of non-responsive media, I also really enjoy bouncing ideas off of real live human beings during nerdstorming jam sessions.

I have two main methods for enlisting the help of other GMs. The first is the digitally mediated method of posting various cries for help on the Obsidian Portal forums. My fellow Portaliers, or OPiates, Portatoes, or whatever you want to call them are a bunch of excessively helpful chaps and madamoiselles eager to lend ideas or advice to help clear an insidious case of GM’s writer’s-block.

I have enlisted their services on numerous occasions, and would like to give a shout out here. whut WHUT! Oddly enough, when I turn to the OP boards for assistance, I often find my problem solved by the time I finish writing my initial post. The mere acting of writing out my thoughts seems to act like inspirational muselix to get the ol’ thinker flowing. When this happens, do I still post my unnecessary cry for help? Of course I do! Because the folks on the Portal often add twists or little details that really add the extra crunch of awesome to my own idea.

My other method for conducting inspirational jam sessions is to ply my real life GM friends with beer. We sit around talking of the nerdliest things and let the suds bring ideas effervescing up out from the depths of our minds. I love these in-depth nerd storming sessions, because bringing a fresh mind to an adventure that you have been seeing on the horizon for months and planning directly for weeks does wonders for breaking down unnecessary presuppositions that may be blocking out the awesome.

Take the adventure I am currently running. My players are currently trying to break into a dragon’s lair which is contained in the ruins of an ancient elven museum. I held my first nerdstorm jam session with Benny of beerstein fame. This session led to the overall look and feel of the structure -soaring colonnades with a vast, central gallery like ancient Greek temples. The next jam session, with my friend, Matt resulted in the inclusion of a spectral librarian who could be the players ally on the inside. The third session with fellow DM, Tendrilsfor20 took the elements of the previous two sessions and brought everything into focus -an inside out flow where the players are brought all the way to the lair of the big boss, only to have their stuff stolen before being booted from the premises. Thus the object of the adventure became, figure out how to get back in with the help of the spectral librarian and reclaim the stuff that blasted dragon stole!

Anyway, for those of you engaged in RPG development, writing or any other long-term creative pursuit, please… talk to your fellow nerds and creative types, for no GM is an island… and if we are, we are at least part of a very large archipelago.