What Simon Says About Curated Play

Since the start of the Magpie Games Curated Play program in March, we have been learning, playing, and growing together, and it's been pretty awesome! Our GMs have run sessions of Masks, Urban Shadows, Bluebeard’s Bride, and more, and we’ve been thrilled to sell out session after session, bringing GMs and players together over and over. We’re also thrilled to see new players trying out new games, or even trying roleplaying for the first time!

But we know that the real success of the program is built on our awesome GMs. Each and every session, they show up ready to help their groups tell fantastic stories, many of them running wildly different games from week to week.

We decided to check in with one of GMs, Simon Moody (who has been with us since we launched the program) to get his perspective on the Curated Play Program and learn more about what got him to where he is today!

So Simon, tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you outside of gaming?

I wear a lot of hats both in and outside of the gaming world! Although I do plenty of things that aren’t related to gaming, a lot of them are still influenced by it. I’ve been a performer, educator, and storyteller for years, all of which affects my work as a game designer and a GM. I’m a co-founder and co-director of Enkindle Storytelling, a production company focused on creating socially responsible, narrative-focused live-action events like LARPs. I’m honored to be a voice actor for a queer sci-fi & fantasy audio drama series called The Penumbra Podcast. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen - I’ve been getting into pickling at home for the last year!

What’s your background in GMing? What was the first game you ever GM’d? What’s your favorite?

I learned about RPGs in middle school but I didn’t play a “traditional” RPG until a few years later. An older kid at my school started running what he called “Talking Adventures” for me at recess, which were simple diceless story games - he’d narrate a scene, I’d tell him how my character responded, and he’d add complications. My first GMing experiences were running those for my friends and family; it wasn’t until high school and the popularity of 3rd Edition D&D that I started running games conventionally. In college, I started collecting and running games from the first big wave of modern indie games (like Dogs in the Vineyard and Shock: social science fiction), which totally changed how I looked at roleplaying. I love running any game where players have tools to affect the truth of the game’s fiction, uplift each other, and push the drama and narrative forward with minimal GM influence. I’m biased but to that end, some of my best roleplaying experiences in years have come from MCing Pasion de las Pasiones because everyone immediately knows the tropes and what buttons to push to make the game sing!

How would you characterize your GMing style? Do you have any inspirations?

Whenever I GM, I use a lot of the skills I picked up as a teacher and an improv actor. A teaching colleague gave me the expression “Be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage,” which is core to my GMing style. Because the game is a conversation, I love asking questions and using those answers to build the story. If I had to pick a word for my style I’d go with “collaborative.” After all, I could tell you what legend your character’s heard about the haunted castle you’re traveling to, but it might not be something you as a player are interested in! If you tell me what it is, I know it’s something you want to explore and I can build to that expectation. Stylistically, I've grown fond of using the visual language of film and TV to help set scenes - it really evokes a sense of space that helps build everyone's immersion in the story.

What’s been your favorite thing that you’ve seen in a session of the Curated Play Program?

I know it’s trite but it’s hard for me to pick any one thing! I’d say a recent memory was a game of Masks where the players were training in a “Danger Room” simulation and took an in-game lunch break before the scenario's second half. During that scene, they were able to talk about their strategies, share weaknesses and vulnerabilities, encourage each other, and have messy teenage moments in a context that felt very natural. As an MC, I was able to take more of an observer role because everyone was nudging the scene along so well and setting each other up for their own moments to shine. All I had to do was ask probing questions, while the players provided their own complications!

If you could play a TTRPG with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

This is a bit of a weird answer but I’d really love to share a game table with an arts-and-crafts YouTuber named TheCrafsMan. He’s quite private so his whole online persona is a funny-looking puppet. He’s got an incredibly soothing presence and exceptional talent in making all kinds of things, from resin jewelry to custom action figures. He's always full of good life advice and positivity so I imagine it would just be a few hours of wholesome and cozy storytelling. I’d love to see what someone with such a creative mind and extensive talents would bring to the table, even if I was talking with a puppet the whole time.

And finally, what’s a game that you would love to GM but haven’t had the chance to so far?

I’m a sucker for tactical combat and games with a bit of meat on their mechanical bones, but I’ve been more interested in seeing how indie games tackle that challenge than playing some of the big names with that kind of gameplay. To that end, I’ve been following Ajey Pandey's BOLT and would really love to sink my teeth into how it frames crunchy action through a narrativist lens. Of course, my gaming schedule is tied up in streams, the Curated Play Program, and personal commitments, but I’m hoping to take some time to see it in action for myself soon!

We’re so excited to have Simon with us as a Curated Play GM! He truly has a love and passion for what he does, and we think it shows in every session he runs for us. Thanks, Simon!

If you want to check out one of Simon’s sessions or any of our other Curated Play games (with our other awesome GMs) head over to https://www.magpiegames.com/cp-session and check out our latest schedule releases!

We hope to see you there!