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Play Unsafe: How Improvisation Can Change The Way You Roleplay Paperback – January 20, 2009


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Play Unsafe: How Improvisation Can Change The Way You Roleplay + Hamlet's Hit Points + Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep (EGP42003)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 82 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434824594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434824592
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
The book covers specific techniques as well as some general philosophies.
cscase
With its advice you'll find you're able to go into a game cold, without preparation, and create something awesome together.
James D. Fristrom
I'm no stranger to books about GMing, there's a few out there, but this one was a solid disappointment.
T. J. Ryan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Perry on December 22, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Play Unsafe, by Graham Walmsley, is a primer on using techniques from theatrical improv for your RPG session. It has a lot of interesting insights on what makes a story work, and how to structure it even as you're making it up from whole cloth. Even GMs like me, who like to prep a lot before game, will find themselves improvising from time to time, and the methods here seem like they really can help. For instance, Walmsley devotes a whole (short) chapter to Status, both player status and character status, and how changing it generates story moments. It's reasonably thought through, and analyzes it from the point of degrees of status differences, how rapidly it changes, and whether those can lead to comic or dramatic events. It's quite perceptive, and well-written.

But there's one thing I can't get over: it's 74 pages. With a lot of white space in there for tables, boxed asides, and illustrations. If it were reduced to monospace text, even with reasonable section breaks, it would be maybe half that length. So if you want this book, you're going to have to pay almost a quarter a page for it. For me, that just wasn't worth it.

Still, as far as I'm concerned, it successfully accomplished what it set out to do, which was to illustrate some guidelines so you can be able, as a player or a GM, to spin the story of your adventure into new directions. I just wish it were cheaper.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By T. J. Ryan on January 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm no stranger to books about GMing, there's a few out there, but this one was a solid disappointment.

Preaching Tone: If you don't like being lectured to about how You Are Doing It Wrong, this might not be the book for you. The author adopts from the very beginning a mantle of 'True GM'-style authority as if there was one way to GM and he was about to let you in on the secret. There is no such secret, no such path, and while the information bestowed was sparse and slim, it was handed out as though bestowing upon you the Secrets Of The Universe.

Contradicting Proclamations: In the space of a single page-turn the author proclaims that you should never do something, as it would be horribly injurious to your game, then immediately tells you how you can use that very same thing as a really spiffy narrative device. The whole book is disjointed and scrambled and in places comes right out and contradicts itself, completely eroding the percieved focus of the book as well as the deific mantle taken on (see previous paragraph) by the author.

Whitespace: There's just not a lot here. I'm not talking about the size of the book, I actually like the trade paperback format, especially for RPG materials. I'm talking about the fact that if you flip through the book you see an appallingly small amount of actual ink on the pages. It seems like there's enough space to put in a whole second book. What comes to mind is a high school student trying to fill out a minium page count on a paper by fiddling with the margins, spacing, and leaving extra lines 'to separate things'. There's no reason to skip 80% of a pagte just because you completed an idea.

In short, not worth the (very small amount of) ink it took to print it, and you can get more out of some of the (free) columns on rpg.net or just about anything written by John Wick or Robin Laws.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Camarillo on March 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Put into the gaming perspective, but pretty common sense stuff. Less details than I would like, but a good starting point for timid DMs
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cscase on September 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and found the ideas the author presented helpful. It is short but for six bucks (for the kindle version), I couldn't be happier. The author's enthusiasm for the subject matter is contagious, and there is a lot of good advice condensed into here. I'm looking forward to putting what I learned here to use.

The book covers specific techniques as well as some general philosophies. A lot of what is discussed is also more broadly applicable to storytelling in general: Things to avoid, things that can strengthen your stories, things that can make it easier to collaborate with others in storytelling.

I didn't find the tone preachy, dogmatic or critical; if the author's going to present ideas about new ways to run a game, he's somewhat obligated to tell us why we should be interested and how these techniques could be an improvement over traditional methods. It's not that anything else is wrong or never useful; he's just presenting a different approach, another tool for our toolboxes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James D. Fristrom on October 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
My gaming has been on another level since reading it. I'm told there isn't supposed to be one-size-fits-all roleplaying advice, but for me this was it - the source of the best advice on how to roleplay that I've yet to come across. It's valuable both for GMing traditional RPGs like D&D and for playing modern indie RPGs like Fiasco, Lady Blackbird, Apocalypse World, and Dogs in the Vineyard.

With its advice you'll find you're able to go into a game cold, without preparation, and create something awesome together. You'll push yourself out of your comfort zone and have some incredible experiences.

And the attitude in Play Unsafe is viral. If I model the stuff in here, it's catching.

It may have a high price-per-word but after what it did for me I'm glad to have it on my shelf.
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