Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!

Something new and interesting has been dropped into the OSR realm within the last 24 hours or so and is generating some interesting discussion. It is the concept of GM/DM "merrit" badges as a means of giving folks an idea of their DMing style.

The idea appears to have originated over on Strange Magic where a nifty list of icons and meanings for them was posted. (Full list on Strange Magic). I was first made aware of them on Warlock's Homebrew and have since read a different viewpoint over on Dungeons and Digressions.

I'm also of the opinion that while nifty looking and a neat idea, it leaves something not quite settled and potentially more confusing than before. A self evaluation of DMing style will certainly cover some of the bases, but will it tell the whole story?

Giving it some thought and a little nap time allowed the following idea to ease into the cranial dice box. Since none of these seems to fit 100% to any DM all of the time why not use this as a basis for players to evaluate a DM on a rolling basis? Treat it like an alignment chart for the current campaign. Present players with the list and have them grade the game they are in each session or two in each icon category based on their perceptions.

For example by giving each icon category a grade from 1 to 5 with 1 being once in a while to 5 being most of the time. You could get something like this:

3    Mirrors back player ideas a fair amount of the time.

5    Rolls dice in the open and doesn't fudge results most of the time.

Players could possibly include notes on where they would like modifications and why.

Each category can be averaged out from player feedback and plotted on a graph if one should choose, and that might actually help a DM gain some valuable insight into their actual play style and where players feel things currently rest. I see it as a potential tool for improvement in making players and oneself happy with the game.

Of course it could also backfire horribly, but what experiment doesn't have that possibility as a potential outcome . . .

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