This week we discussed mainly two things: Beginner RPGs and Streamlining the fishtank.
This was a fairly involved discussion regarding what games bring new people into the hobby and how this would be done. Most beginner RPGs today are (traditional) Fantasy roleplaying games, often aimed at children of roleplayers. Some may be better served with a simple game like Dread, though this seemed to be better focused towards adults according to some. Stranger Things was mentioned as a gateway. Cosplayers playing their own live action roleplaying games was mentioned.
The need for beginner games to be focused was brought up.
Also mentioned was the absence of safety, group dynamics and the like from roleplaying games.
After a GM creating a huge world, two questions arose:
There are several tools for making a focused fish tank. First, certain forms of plot work well with a fish tank that will end, for example (Murder) Mysteries and Intrigues, both which revolve around finding clues and figuring out relationships. Mysteries are a bit of a reverse fish tank - you figure out relations and motives and when the mystery is solved the scenario ends.
Secondly, you can have Doomsday Clocks (of sorts), which inexorably move forward regardless of what the PCs do - a big bad completing a summoning ritual. If PCs have a singular goal, e g vanquishing a villain, this will also help focus the scenario. It is also easier to pull PCs into a fish tank if they have driving forces, whether those are money, revenge or family.
Having several plots, side stories and allowing for failure (and negative spirals - like being thrown off the police force, losing important things and so on) was also mentioned.
A good pop culture example of a fish tank plot is Yojimbo, with PCs taking the role of the titular bodyguard in an unfamiliar location with various factions.