Hi everyone! I just had my very first playtest session for a hard scifi PbtA game I am putting together. One of the features of the game is that it is a more classically GM’ed game where the GM comes has a scenario in mind and the players interact with it (the “GM-directed” experience – for the lack of a better word). The players may be invited to collaborate and contribute to the fiction “writer-room style” (“Looks like you flubbed the Assess roll. What do you think jumps out at you from the darkness?”), but the GM may very well have something in mind about what is happening behind the scenes (“You could have sworn you saw a shadow moving out of the corner of your eye, but when you pan your flashlight over, there’s nothing there.”).
Currently, I’m using the “choose from a list of questions” approach for moves like Assess the Situation. One of the comments I received from the playtesters is that sometimes questions led to uninteresting answers (ex: “Who is in control here?” in an Alien-style scenario led to “You are in control here.” because I knew that the alien had already moved on.). One possibility we discussed was that the PbtA “list of questions” is better suited to improv / semi-collaborative play, since you can always choose a question that had an interesting answer (because the GM could always turn it back to you for the answer), and perhaps it was not as well suited for GM-directed games.
I am curious what others think about this. Have you had run more GM-directed PbtA games before? Or know of PbtA games that were more focused on a GM-directed experience? I ran The Sprawl as a pretty GM-directed game before, and also recall instances of “QA let-down” there too. I’m now wondering if I’m bucking the trend or plainly swimming upstream with this idea.