Ginger’s WISH #31 Is there

Ginger’s WISH #31
Is there any addiction to the feedback gaming provides in the weaving of stories? Unlike traditional tales, gaming allows the input of the players and GM into going �other places,� depending on the interests and desires of those involved�but can that lead to feeding the audience too much of what it likes and not enough challenge? Where in that scale do you measure?
Ginger found it a rather tricky question, and I concur with that assessment. In the game, do you indulge on what your players want too much, thanks to the feedback between players or GM, or do you manage to put up what makes a good story or experience?
It’s hard. It’s easy for a GM to over-indulge on the players. Ginger mentions the Monty Haul syndrome in D&D and that is a good example of a GM who wants to hold the players by giving them everything they ever wanted. It’s a sign, I think, of loneliness, of the need for attention, the need to be liked. I’ve been there, I understand those motivations all too well. Indulged too far, the game goes to crap and the players soon grow tired of endless +5 longswords and magic items galore.
A D&D campaign I ran a long long time ago suffered a bit from this, and I realized that I was giving the players too much, being too indulgent. So, I trimmed back, ramped up the challenges and made the PCs work for what they had gotten, throwing in twists and turns and bringing the game back to the challenge level that they had once expected.
In Amber, though, for example, the nature of the game sometimes makes this entire question irrelevant. My good friend Scott on the Amber Mailing List expressed a dislike of plot-driven games. It is in those Amber games where this problem can come to the fore. In games where the players have their own plots, their own plans, the tendency toward over-indulgence is tempered when the players conflict with each other (as they invariably do–and Scott is excellent in such situations). Now, in SB, I do have a plot and a very large universe, and one player at least has expressed concerns that the game universe is much larger than it used to be. SB started off small and intimate, and has grown in scale and scope since. I’ve tried my best to cut the bloat and keep the players interested and the primacy and immediacy of things on the forefront. I think I’ve succeeded, since I do throw curveballs at the players to deal with, to react, to enliven them. In fact, one character is about due for one, and I think now is a good time to throw it. In the large plot-arc of SB, with the Omphalos and everything else, I do like to throw in non-story arc related things.
Turbulence, without reference to the Steve Howe album, is a cure for the complacency expressed in the feedback gaming. And I get a thrill, and I think the players get a thrill when I do unleash something unexpected at them. Not the +5 longsword that the kobold had in its lair, but, for example, the fact that the town they have been staying in for weeks really has an underlayer of things going on which, when the PCs get an inkling, suddenly have that intimation that things have been too quiet and now the real trouble begins for them.