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The style with which a GM runs a gaming session is as important to everyone's enjoyment as the story. Even the least likely idea can lead to a very enjoyable adventure, provided the GM runs it in a style which works well for their group. This sub-Chapter briefly discusses aspects of adventures relevant to the topic of style.

An important thing for a GM to consider is the attitudes and inclinations of their player group and how deeply they want to be immersed in the experience. A gamemaster may prepare a very well written immersive adventure only to have it turn out badly because their player group wants to get in there, duke it out with some bad guys, loot some treasure and boast of their exploits at the closest pub, not sit around and chat all night. Adventures may be placed in one of three broad categories by the level of immersion they involve: Fast Action, Deep Immersion, or Action/Immersion.

Fast Action adventures (also known as “Kick Down the Door”-style) are designed to involve as little thought or involvement with character development as possible. Simply put, the characters arrive in an area, fight the enemy and reap whatever rewards they may get. This style of adventure is good for groups where story takes a back seat to making the characters as good as they can be. True role-playing is next to impossible with this adventure style, but it does get the players rolling dice very quickly. The bad guys are clearly bad and all other NPCs are clearly good. Fast Action adventures take the least amount of time to develop and can be good "fillers" for those occasions where the GM hasn't had much time to plan for an adventure.

Deep Immersion stories are the polar opposite of Fast Action adventures; their emphasis is on motivation and personalities. The NPCs in such stories are as detailed as the PCs, with their own desires, motivations, quirks and histories. Such adventures focus on talking, politics, and negotiations. These types of adventures are the purest type of role-playing; the focus is on story to the point where the game is all but invisible. Whole gaming sessions may pass without a single die roll taking place. A lot of time must go into preparing the story. These adventures are good for groups whose members like to dwell more on interaction than action.

Action/Immersion adventures are the middle ground, catching everything between Fast Action and Deep Immersion. Arguably, the best adventures fall into this category. There is usually enough fighting involved to keep the trigger-happy players interested in the game while allowing for character development. Action/Immersion adventures are good for the majority of player groups, but once again, the GM must consider their disposition. 

The mood of an adventure (whether it is serious, light-hearted, or downright funny) is another style issue a GM should consider carefully. Whatever mood the GM picks for the adventure, they should be consistent with it throughout the adventure’s course. Serious adventures involving life-or-death dilemmas should not have too many humorous elements and vice versa.

One thing a GM must watch is the level of joking and off-topic conversations going on among the players during a gaming session. While cutting jokes are part of the universe and a hallmark of a good gaming group, they can detract from the action and hurt the session if they get too far out of hand or divert too much attention from the story. The occasional joke is fine; just don't let the players overdo it. By the same token, idle talk is to be expected, but too much will divert attention from the game. The GM should decide how much is too much and try not to let the session slip away with idle talk and jokes. This should be done gently, though, to avoid hurting feelings and making the involved players unhappy.

Most other styling issues that arise during a gaming session come about because of the adventure's structure. For more information on these issues, see Chapter 11.1.


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