The Uncertainty Principle
Today, I’m going to share with you a useful tip. One of the tools of the trade for successful GMing, the Uncertainty Principle. I won’t claim to have originated it, it dates far back in the annals of literature, but it is essentially a variant of “keep the players guessing”. The big twist is not just the players should be kept guessing, but yourself as well. It doesn’t matter how well you define your game space, it is absolutely impossible to cover every square inch via your design. If you reflect, you’ll find some of your more engaging, more engrossing, and, yes, more memorable experiences come from when you have to scramble to cover the baker in the corner store (you never expected them to go into) and not the inn (where you knew every barmaids name and the owner’s family out three places). These grey, fuzzy areas exist, and should not be something to bemoan.
Embrace them. That’s right. Walk right up to them and give them a gigantic hug, and tell them you love them. These fuzzy spaces allow you to do some of your best gaming. The reason for that is because you are fully engaged, alive, and focused on the now. You are not worrying about your plot or if some other domino needs to tumble. You are living in the moment, and when you do this, your players sense this and, you know what, they live in the moment as well. They are mesmerized by the solidity you’re giving the illusion. You are giving them permission. If you can believe, they think to themselves, why can’t they?
There is a certain atmosphere among experienced gamers to almost play roleplaying games in a diffident fashion, as though it’s not cool. You know what? It doesn’t matter to me how cool something is or isn’t. I like what I like, and things cycle around. People are calling this the era of the geek, and I cannot help but chuckle. This too shall pass. I played games when they weren’t cool, and they were every bit as fun then. Am I happy the hobby is growing and expanding? Absolutely. The thing is, it’s another one of those things that it’s really hard to know for sure. Gamers are certainly more connected via e-mediums, as are people who like dogs, and pink flamingos, and marry buildings (no, I’m not making that up, it happens).
This uncertainty applies to games as it applies to life as it applies to games in one big noodling, Oroborus, engaging, intriguing, and forever not quite devouring itself (as long as it keeps spinning down the hillside. So it goes. Let yourself get lost in the focus of the moment. Channel the transcendent nature of the experience into your game, and see if it doesn’t return to you a hundred fold. Share the energy, and feedback into it. There is plenty for all.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!