Monday, August 27, 2007

You Could Learn A Lot From Lou Scheimer (Part I)

IN THE FIRST EPISODE of Filmation's 1979 Flash Gordon animated serial, Flash and his companions Dale Arden and Hans Zarkov are shot down over Mongo, where they splash down in the ocean and are captured by Gill Men, only to be rescued by King Thun of the Lion Men and Prince Barin of Arborea, who explain how Ming the Merciless is the self-described Emperor of the Universe before Prince Barin betrays them all and leaves them to fend for themselves in a swamp, where they are pursued by princess Aura's Witch-Woman Warriors, but are attacked by a carnivorous plant from which they are rescued and further pursued by the Witch Women, at which point they are captured by one of Ming's minions and brought before the despot, who spills the beans about planning an invasion of Earth before sending Zarkov to have his knowledge taken by force and Dale to be his harem girl and Flash and Thun to fight for sport against a battle machine which they defeat, after which Aura helps them all escape, and Flash, Zarkov, Thun and dale flee into the caverns under Mingo city, where, unknown to them, a giant monster stalks them in the dark...


I left out the parts where Flash tries to talk reason into the Mongo natives and tries to get them to band together against Ming, as well as Aura's crush on the dude, and the flying city of the Hawkmen.

BREATHLESS! Absolutely breathless. Even at the twenty-two-or-so-minute mark, the thing doesn't so much end as just kind of pause. This thing starts and just keeps freaking GOING.

Man. How to do that as a GM?

I was thinking about what I can learn from this episode (Produced by Lou Scheimer and written by Sam Peeples), for my own use as a GM, especially one of the Pantsless variety. I've always wished to run that kind of breakneck-paced all-out non-stop action game, but I don't think I've ever reflected on how.

All I can think of is this:

Start it out moving, in media res, and do not stop.


Simple as that. No trick, no technique. Just full steam ahead. Keep exposition short; let the PCs exhibit their personalities in response to your constant stimulus; and if anything looks like it might slow down, build a fire under its ass. You, the GM, have as many sexy ostrich-riding witch-woman warriors as it takes to chase the plot along.

AHA! There we go.

Don't just move the plot along.

Chase it.