OSE Behind The Screen, Part 5

Read Part 1

The past few weeks have seen me take a journey into two separate streams of thought. The first was the idea of playing a one-shot adventure using Old-School Essentials with the specific intent of playing with all the rules behind the screen, thus aiming to increase player’s Otherworld-immersion. The second was the idea of building an Open Table game at which any player could drop in for any session, inspired by The Alexandrian’s “Open Table Manifesto“.

Today, I wanted to reflect on the feedback I have received and the ways in which feedback from players has helped me to shape my pathway forward.

Feedback Received

The players enjoyed the game and agreed that playing with the rules-behind-the-screen methodology increased their immersion with both the Otherworld and their characters. All the players indicated that they would like to play again.

Of particular interest, one player specifically called in to tell me that they experienced the greatest sense of concern for and emotional investment in their character from this game. This was more so than any other game they can remember. For me, this was a particularly positive piece of data… especially when the other two said they felt no less connected to their character than usual.

When I discussed my desire to switch the rules system to one with a little more detail in the skills department, the players were understanding of my preferences. As I mused about the need to, perhaps, build a variant set of rules specifically designed for this methodology then all were encouraging and one took the opportunity to call in and challenge me to do it.

Impact Of Feedback

Firstly, any feedback is useful. In the end, I run games for other people so that they can enjoy themselves and, well… either way, it’s good to know how they felt and what they experienced. Thanks to the players for the feedback!

More than that, however, this feedback acted to validate the pathway I am walking. Putting aside the non-empirical nature of feedback and the human confirmation bias – both of which I am aware of as limitations when assessing information from players – the reality is that this was a massive positive shot in the arm for me.

Not only do I want to play in the style more, it seems that now two separate groups of players who have tried it out are both indicating they would like to do it some more too. As one player said, it’s not that this would be the only way they would choose to play but rather that this adds a very rich alternative methodology to our repertoire. That is encouraging!

Thinking Ahead

I want to continue playing with this methodology. Because the process of building an adventure for this one-shot coincided with my desire to build an Open Table, the two projects have already merged. One realisation was key: to build a new methodology requires more hours of play; an Open Table gives me access to more players plus higher frequency of play for a lower prep input.

I’m going to focus on bringing more Open Table sessions to interested players. I need to refine the quick character creation process a little and also work on adding some new things to the world, but otherwise the core of what I need exists. The largest element of work would come from re-writing the game rules to better suit both the methodology and my personal rules-related goals.

My plan is to work on a draft hack of rules to better facilitate me running an Open Table game in Hiraeth (the world I am building for this game). The provocative thinking around better integrating the methodology to a specific set of rules I enjoy running with has been the richest product of the experiment thus far. For example, I have realised that having separate character sheets when you are the only person referencing them is clunky; I seek to design a one-sheet character record for use with this approach.

I am inspired and energised by this work at present. I hope that the pathway trodden continues to open up new discoveries. Given time, I seek to bring more insight and practical solutions to help those GMs who want to give this approach a try.

Thanks to all involved so far!

Game on!


  1. I’m glad the behind the screen experiment worked. I wonder how dice rolls went? I ask this because the single biggest break of immersion for me is usually rolling dice, especially when players bemoan their rolls as opposed to their characters ability. I’d have thought a BRP system would work best behind the screen due to the simplicity of rolls and simplicity of adding skills? Of course I might just be biased 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • As GM, I rolled all the dice. Thus, the players had nothing to bemoan because they were not at all focused on the roll… just the outcome of their declared actions. I found the players simply trusted my fair adjudication and were immersed throughout.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That sounds cool. I’m impressed the players signed up for it as one of my biggest frustrations as a Roleplayer is players addiction to dice rolling

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’s really cool once players decide to trust the GM – and it does boil down to trust. We have two small groups of players who have tried this approach and reported deeply enjoying the outcome. I recommend it!


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