The DM and Schrodingers cat
Running the world.
"Part 2 of a diary, a cat and a gun"

The DM and Schrödinger's cat

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Schrödinger's cat

Erwin Schrödinger was a austrian physicist and author of the "Schrödinger's cat". Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment to represent the state of quantum superposition. A scenario where multiple states can be true. (The cat may be simultaneously both alive and dead).

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Now let’s apply this to tabletop RPG.

Schoonover's Kobold

“Schoonover's Kobold” is a term coined by @ethanschoonover and is a variant of Schrödinger's cat: * “Peak Dungeon Mastering occurs when you as the DM can maintain many potential world states simultaneously and only collapse these into a single experienced event based on player action and observation.” *

In essence this means you prepare a wide range of optional scenes for your players to choose from. Once chosen its content and consequences become “real in your world”.

Consequences

This has the benefit that your players choose the adventure(s) they want to play. This also means that you, as the DM will prepare a lot of scenes/options that will never be played.

How to pull it off

To pull this off I recommend you learn the the ways of “The lazy dungeon master” by @SlyFlourish. Which is the best book with worst title ever written on DMing any tabletop RPG. In essence you “tweet” a scene (keeping it below 280 characters). Packing it with as much inspiration as possible yet spending no more than 10 minutes on it. In addition, my friendly advice:

Floating scenes:

Try to make your scenes ‘float’. Meaning you write the what but keep the who, where and when undefined as long as possible. It’s obviously not always possible but “At high noon Ricky the goblin messenger delivers the message to the party on the city square” is a lot harder to pull off as “a messenger delivers the message”. The lack of detail and emotion might be counter-intuitive for a writer but when writing a tabletop RPG you only write the what. The who, where and when will be written by your players not by you, the DM. (Do take notes on who delivered what, where, when as it happens. Because once played it’s ‘real’ and might have consequences. Keep a [diary](blog/Backshadowing the DMs Diary)) Having the possibility of having the what of the scene played out by who is available when the party went where might require some improvisation but it prevents you from having to or wanting to railroad your players towards your carefully prepared scene.

They move slow:

Don’t tell them (because you want them to feel epic) but the average group doesn’t play more then 5 to 6 scenes in a night. So give them a few (preferably floating) options in the now. Scenes that might happen in the far future are useless. And the further in the future, the less likely they are to ever to happen at all. In contrast you’re sure where they’ll start. So invest in what @SlyFlourish calls a “strong start”. Which can be really specific on the when, where and who. Your chance to tell a story without having to railroad.

3 Parts

This is part two of a three part article:

Art

Images by commons.wikimedia.org