Lately, the fine folks of the #BrOSR have been really digging deep into the the rules of the game. Mostly AD&D 1E. This has led to a push of playing games RAW (Rules As Written). Simply put, this is a blast. Playing RAW levels the playing field, not to be a rules lawyer, but to put the GM into a more impartial frame of mind. The GM interprets the rules of the game as the situation requires. There is a reason ACKS refers to GMs as “Judges”!
Contrary to what some might say, the #BrOSR is not some weird “sola Gygaxia” semi-Protestant cult. There is at least one innovation (perhaps “just” a rediscovery) these fine gentlemen have made.
Combined with 1:1 real time (1 in-game day equals 1 real life day, so unless you are planning to sleep in the dungeon for a week, you gotta get out by the end of the session), allowing other players to be patrons really ramps up the shenanigans of the game.
What is a patron?
Simply put, a patron is a powerful NPC run by a person who is not a GM and not in the game. These NPCs have their own agendas, which may run counter to the PC’s, and the resources to get it done. For example, I run a patron in BDubs’ ACKS game. No, I will not tell you who I run! I do not show up to any sessions; every interaction I have is outside the normal game time.
Because other humans are running these patrons, the players cannot accuse the GM of being too mean or too arbitrary with what happens, because the GM has no control over what the patron does. With the 1:1 real time, the patrons make the world feel real as they scheme and act. The GM does not need to think about what the world did over the past week, the patrons did that for him.
Now, this does mean that the GM is running the game more than just a few hours once a week. There will be messages from patrons that need to be processed, rolls made, rules adjudicated, etc. Our modern world makes it easier than ever with messaging apps and cell phone texting. You can be waiting in line at the DMV and fire off a message to a patron or make a ruling.
If you are trying to add a little more depth to your game and you have a few friends who cannot commit to the game time, try 1:1 real time and patrons.
Full disclosure, I do not run 1:1 real time in my 2+ year ACKS game, but I have played 1:1 real time in Jeffro’s Trollopulous campaign.