For several years now, I have run at least two weekly TTRPG sessions. I tend to mix up systems and settings a great deal, while coming back to some games out of preference, convenience or some combination thereof. I consider myself lucky, because I’m generally able to run whatever I want without worrying about getting a table full of players, and I’ve tried to take advantage of this luck to explore as much as possible. That said, you can become a victim of your own ambition when GMing, just as you can in anything else. As a matter of fact, GMing has many, many pitfalls—many ways for your hubris, lack of self-awareness, curiosity, etc. to take you down—and I ran up against one of these this week.
Everybody likes Mörk Borg, right? That’s a rhetorical question. I’m aware that there are people who do not, but my impression is that almost everyone would at least extend grudging respect toward Mörk Borg. I will go on record as being an enthusiast. I consider it a guilty pleasure, but in the context of TTRPGs, there’s almost nothing but—whatever else you may aspire into in this arena, you gotta acknowledge that games are games. So Mörk Borg is fun. Sure, it places style so far above substance that it can get nearly impossible to orient yourself—if you’re using the default setting or one of the more veritable hacks. But it is clean and practical enough to knock out a very fun gaming session in a way that feels almost effortless.
And yet, however elegant Mörk Borg may be as a game engine, a diet of nothing but can leave you feeling sluggish and slow when you return to other games. No matter how many times you’ve run, say, PbtA games, you may still find yourself fumbling about, if you are returning to them after a week and three straight sessions of Mörk Borg—which is exactly the situation I found myself in this week. I returned to a recently established Masks game, after two weeks off, and found the game to be alarmingly blurry. Whenever a ruling materialized, my responses ranged from just adequate to fumbling. Fortunately, I had a table of players who were patient. When I got lost in my cheat sheets, once out twice, they helpfully steered me in the right direction. I was a bit embarrassed, and it isn’t how you generally want a session of GMing to go, but everyone was cool about it. And the story, at least, I had a solid grasp on, and overall, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.
By the way, I would give the Masks core rule book some credit for game’s narrative flow, which is probably something worth talking about in the future—the value of games that present you with a solid approach. Rules are nice, but without some thought about how to apply them, it doesn’t really matter how perfect they are. Games don’t run or play themselves.
Anyway, if I may offer some wholly unsolicited advice to whoever would care to take it in: take a few days off between intense run-throughs of different systems, if you can. Then take a solid session of prep to re-read some rules. Otherwise, while you’re trying to fall asleep and escape memories of the day’s humiliations, the spirits of NPCs Past will come back to laugh at you!