Critical Expansion: A Renewed Manifesto

When I started Belay My Last five months ago, I set out to make it a vessel through which I learned more about FFG's Star Wars roleplaying system and how to run games in it. As the months progressed, I started listening to James D'Amato's wonderful Critical Success podcast at the insistence of a friend. After finally giving in, I witnessed the witty insight and casual candor of James and all his years of experience roleplaying. Then came the companion podcast, One Shot. A group of people getting together and playing a different roleplaying system every few weeks. These were game creators, actors, comedians and more, and it was like listening to people professionally roleplay. In short, I was blown away - and hooked.

My roleplaying experience is actually very small. I started in the mid-90's with some AD&D 2nd Edition, if memory serves, then a dash of each edition all the way up to D&D Next. Round it out with a Pathfinder campaign, then my recent Star Wars foray, and you have what amounts to someone who absolutely loves gaming heart and soul, but who hasn't actually roleplayed all that much!

Why does this matter? Because for the first time I was branching out and willing to consider other systems beyond the big names (D&D, Pathfinder, Star Wars), and it was all thanks to the One Shot podcast. Now, sitting beside me and within reach of my Star Wars books, are two new RPG systems: Dungeon World, and Fiasco, two systems I heard about through One Shot and will be running sessions in very soon.

How does that all tie in here? First, I see now how incredibly beneficial it can be to branch out and experience the myriad other wonderful (and yes, even the not so wonderful) systems out there. It's not abanonding the system you love - it's more akin to bringing these other systems back to the table with you so that your favorites are all the more enriching. Expanding into other systems really opens your eyes and helps you get the most out of each and every one of your sessions.

Second, the things I talk about here are not going to always be Star Wars specific anymore. I'll still be diving heavily into the system's mechanics and setting, but it won't be my exclusive focus anymore. Expect general conversation about running (and playing) sessions, as well as more specific posts about varying topics for a other games.

I am absolutely thrilled to play a few Dungeon World sessions, as it will be a great way for a novice GM such as myself to learn more about creating a story-driven environment. Then there's Fiasco: there's no GM (though someone will need to be able to explain how it works), only need three players total, and focuses on fun, fast-paced scenes, ensuring players aren't sitting around twiddling their thumbs while the story stalls and the plot fades from memory like the setting sun vanishes over the horizon.

So get your dice ready and keep a notepad at hand - we're about to open up a vast wilderness of untamed wolrds and untold stories with you and your party at the forefront, paving the way.

Mike Branski

A first-time GM diving into FFG's Star Wars RPG, Dungeon World, Fiasco, and more, sharing his experiences and helping you get the most out of the systems you love - even if you don't know it yet.