There is always a steady trickle of people landing on this blog via my 'Pathetic Aesthetic' post. I sometimes check and see if someone new is misinterpreting it as a manifesto to be a 'dick GM', if someone new is reading the title (and the title alone) as if I hate 'Old School' games, if someone new can't spot the (what I thought was) obvious self-deprecation and exaggerated partiality, etc. Sometimes it takes me back to old discussions that I had forgotten, such as this one on the now defunct Porky's Expanse. In there, I noticed that I'd make a contribution to the comment section, which I think is worth repeating here:
"We often forget though that the GM is a player too..." I agree. And funnily enough I'd make a case that games that don't shy away from the PCs 'enjoying' pathetic fates are best for reminding us about this. NOT because these pathetic fates are the result of 'dick GMing' determining pathetic fates by GM fiat. But because, by making the fate of the PCs a result of the interaction between the mechanics, the setting, and player choice, the GM can enjoy the unfolding play without worrying about trying to rescue the PCs or put them back on track to the correct solution.
And as for 'awesome'. I've got nothing against the word. I want *some* things in my games to be awesome. And when the PCs come across these things, take part in them, or even are them, I want there to be some sense of awe."
I think that stuff like random tables, wandering 'monsters', rules for 'getting lost', reaction rolls, morale rules etc. all make the game dynamic for all the participants. In fact, I'd say that a key task for any GM engaging in world building is putting together the random tables - of encounters, events, NPCs, reactions etc. that will make the game a living thing in play.