I sat down at lunch today and began reading a new book. Well, technically it was a selection from a book, with the option to buy the whole book. As I read I began to notice it, a different approach to the book, or a different view of the book. Then it hit me. All this running of games and the pursuit of getting better at running games has had an effect on how I do one of my favorite things: read.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love to read. Reading still gives me same pleasure. That is not what has changed. I don’t think that will ever change. That is one of those things that makes me who I am. I imagine that there are still people from elementary school who think of me as the kid who sat and read books during recess instead of running around playing games.
What has changed, or at least, has increased in prominence, is that when I read a book, especially one I have not read before or it has been a long time since I read, is that I find myself thinking if I could incorporate what I am reading into a game. Questions spring to mind like, could I put this location into my setting? What class would that character be? I look for details that indicate how the author has settled the question of where magic belongs in the setting. How would I run the setting?
Even more significantly is that I realized today I am looking at the structure of the book differently, comparing it to running a game. If you think about how you run your games, breaking them down into encounters, and the kind of scientific approach that AngryGM takes, you could do the same thing to a book. Each chapter is an encounter, or a series of encounters, that brings them to the next location.
Thinking this through, breaking it down like this, changes a lot of things. It gives me a fresh perspective on how I plan my games. It also changes how I read a book because I start to look for the breaks in the action because that provides an idea how an encounter was built in that book.
As I sit here writing this and thinking it over I realize what a eureka moment it is for me. It changes how I read fiction books. It really changes how I look at my campaigns and encounters. Because now when I plan my games I will look at each planned encounter and think, would this be a satisfying chapter or section (because some writers write short encounters that string together into a coherent chapter while others just write short chapters.)
I would be the first to admit that a lot of the games I ran in previous years were either monster(s) of the week flavor or everything strung together into one incoherent chapter. With this moment, I would hope that I can do much better. That I can apply this eureka moment to my game planning.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about things I can do to get better, and how I would know that I got better. If I can apply this lesson successfully I would consider this a level up moment in my career as a GM. I am now officially extra excited for the game tomorrow and trying to apply this thinking to the session.