Evading .300 refers to an article in Gnome Stew called Batting .300. Here at the Big Bad Blog, we try to identify why some games fail, and develop strategies that allow games to prosper rather than striking out.
What is The Big Scene?
The Big Scene refers to a game which is based upon a single idea in the GM’s head — it might be the introduction to the game, the climactic finale, or a showdown halfway through.
Wherever it might fit in the overall picture, the GM gets excited about the scene and starts a game in order to realize it.
What’s wrong with The Big Scene?
The danger with the Big Scene is that, as a human being, the GM is going to pour a lot of time into the parts of the game that interest them most. In other words, a disproportionate amount of effort goes into producing the Big Scene, while other parts of the game — encounters, NPC development, and so on — get considerably less attention.
There are three types of Big Scene:
The Climax: The GM imagines how the game will end, and throws together a game to achieve that. This is the type of Big Scene most likely to be successful, as the GM has strong motivation to bring players to the Big Scene. The large danger here is that the PC’s might feel that they are being railroaded, not enjoy the game, and bring the whole thing off the rails before the Big Scene arrives. The longer the needed set-up for the scene is, the more difficulty there will be in reaching it.
The Beginning: Here, the GM imagines the opening scene (or scenes) of a game, and launches into it. Good improvisers can sometimes tease a successful game out of these, but those who depend on meticulous planning will find themselves in trouble. There are two dangers here:
First, if it truly is a great opening scene, player expectations are set high, but there is nothing else in the works to match the opening scene — it’s all downhill.
Second is the danger of starting too soon. With the opening session planned out, the GM is often tempted to start the game without a plan for the overall campaign. Games without plans are simply less likely to be successful.
Somewhere in the middle: The worst-case scenario is when the scene that excites the GM and gets the campaign moving is one that occurs neither at the beginning or the end. Here, you encounter all the problems above — the need for a (possibly railroading) buildup to the scene, and then the letdown afterwards.
Handling the Big Scene
Despite the pitfalls that have been mentioned, having a fantastic idea for the beginning, middle or end of a campaign is clearly a nice problem to have. Handling the Big Scene is about moving your headspace from the scene to the bigger picture before inviting a group of people armed with dice into your home.
Knowing, as they say, is half the battle.
That said, if you are really stuck on a scene, the Big Bad Blog would suggest that you keep it short. Short games reach their climaxes quickly, have the end scenes on the tail of the start scenes, and so on.
Short games are not strikeouts, and not every game will be a home run. If you cannot find a larger campaign to surround your Big Scene, just play the fun bit that you’ve come up with and get out.