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Author Topic: First time GMing. Any advice?  (Read 822 times)
Goodlun
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« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2015, 07:43:51 PM »

Hard to add much more of value,
The number one rule in my book is this is a game but its a cooperative game, your role is different than that of the players but the goal is still the same. 
Get together and have a good time.

It does help to know the rules, understand the rules, and remember you can break the rules.
When breaking the rules it should be to keep things moving along and fun.

Understand mistakes will happen oh well.

Last but not least play with people you like.

Make it clear from the begining what sort of shenanigans are appropriate for the style of play.
I.E. if your not cool with the murder hobo concept or a bunch of party backstabbing come right out and say it.
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Krensky
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« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2015, 07:51:14 PM »

I thought Morg mentioned it, but I didnt see it so:

GET BUY IN.

Sit down during the first session and lay it all on the table. This is the sort of game I'm running. This is the sort behavior that I'm cool with. This game is a sandbox or a travelogue, or a war story or whatever.

Once done do not change this without letting the players know ahead of time.

The Ravenloft-esk bait and switch and whatnot have their place, but it's not with you as a new GM with a new group of players who don't all know and trust you and each other the way a more experienced (together) group will.
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2015, 07:53:07 PM »

Rule 4 - They’re telling you how they want to succeed... and how they want to fail

  You’re going to have to know the PCs stats pretty well (not as well as the player, since you have lots of things to keep track of, but well). Rule 3a is intel gathering. Rule 4 is stockpiling. For each character you need four boxes to jot notes (one scratch page per box per character works well if you are keeping a campaign binder):

* Desperate plights: Ways to ruthlessly exploit a gap or weakness in the character’s build. This is all the dirty tricks for when a character needs to be beat down before being rescued by an ally (or other player) or making their own way out through remarkable creativity or luck. This is your darkest before the dawn arsenal.
* Narrow misses: Chances for the player to see how they could have been screwed badly, but dodged the bullet either because of luck, foresight, or the timely intervention of allies before getting hammered. Also useful for foreshadowing later major beatings.
* Time to shine: Ideas for how you can set up a character to do what they do best. Like narrow misses, the challenge is limited, but it’s the PCs own abilities that bring about a positive outcome - including rescuing someone else from their plight or narrow miss.
* Rise to the occasion: Ideas for how you can challenge a player in an arena they are used to dominating. This is where rivals and big bads contend with the player strength for strength and exceptional play or rolls or coordination of the whole party are required to avoid a stinging defeat.

 The first two are of course about character weakness with the last two being guided by their strengths. The first and last are challenges and likely dramatic scene fodder. The middle two are exposition - chances to reveal a character without testing them. All of them are tools that let you focus attention on that player when they need a little time in the lime light.
  When you have these boxes, you can dump ideas into them between sessions whenever your creative juices are flowing. And then dig into them later as planned events or not-quite-improvisational tools when the action needs a kick up or down.

The other rules I already use but this little gem is getting added to my GM tool kit.

+1, Ditto, etc.  That's a terrific and concise set of ideas.  I can't wait to use some or all of them.
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Manic Man
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2015, 07:56:56 PM »

I thought Morg mentioned it, but I didnt see it so:

GET BUY IN.

Sit down during the first session and lay it all on the table. This is the sort of game I'm running. This is the sort behavior that I'm cool with. This game is a sandbox or a travelogue, or a war story or whatever.

Once done do not change this without letting the players know ahead of time.

The Ravenloft-esk bait and switch and whatnot have their place, but it's not with you as a new GM with a new group of players who don't all know and trust you and each other the way a more experienced (together) group will.

Not sure how familiar you are with the Top Secret product line from way back in the day, but I always loved the bait-and-switch in TS 003 Lady In Distress.
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Krensky
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2015, 08:28:11 PM »

That was a tournament module so bait and switches are part of the buy in. Especially because the tournament characters are built to look good for the expected mission but work for the actual mission.

That's different than saying: "This will be an intrigue heavy social based game" and then making it into a post apocalyptic war story.
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2015, 09:22:06 PM »

Fair enough, that differentiation makes sense.
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2015, 10:07:10 PM »

+1 to Krensky's and Ares'.  The most important thing I've ever found in all my RPGs is that everyone should have fun.  GM and Players alike.  The object isn't to kill or save the princess or get the +12 Longsword of Holy Kickassing.. it's to tell a story where years from now, you go "Remember when I said you open a door, and you see a minotaur and you decided to say Moo?" and everyone just shakes their head laughing. 

Agreed, lots of good stuff in this thread.

The real treasure in gaming is war stories you can share for years.
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2015, 10:36:58 PM »

I somehow picture Morgenstern with a corncob smoke pipe sitting on his desk lecturing to an RPG University about RPG stuff.  In an English accent.  Someone asks about what he prefers over D20 or D6 Dice Pool and suddenly, they're going into how Homer would play with rounded spherical balls with letters on them as he wrote his tales.

Smiley

  I have given classes on occasion but I like to think that I was maybe a little less stuffy - I like to build my credibility on the spot with ideas rather than have it conferred by position. But nothing wrong with bringing together GMing technique and the long history of storytelling and our place in it as heirs to the campfire tradition Smiley. Given a choice I might go with the image of the weird old Viking veteran dude illuminated by flames and speaking of the truth in the heart of the old tales as the bounty of the hunt sizzles over the blaze. Gather 'round, gather 'round. Grin
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2015, 03:36:07 AM »

  I thought I'd expand on using near misses. As an example using near misses to set players on the path of an adventure.

Functional near miss:
  Pick a character that is not a talker or stealth/escape artist. Have that character abruptly framed and surrounded by guards. A LOT of guards if they are a combatant. It happens virtually without warning and while they are isolated so it's obvious they are screwed. Mysterious benefactor steps in, appeases the guards with a display of position or just a profoundly huge bribe. Benefactor has a proposition to offer, and clearly has the influence or wealth to make listening worthwhile even if the whole thing stinks enough to make simple gratitude a little iffy.

Awesome near miss:
  As above but the benefactor is no mystery - its one of the player's own root characters. A mentor or family member steps in. Because everyone likes having friends. The same quest gets pitched, but now instead of it being a commission, its an opportunity being shared by someone who genuinely has your best interests at heart.

More awesome near miss:
  As above but the benefactor is one of the other player's root characters. They know who the character is and felt they had to help because you run with their PC buddy. No expectation of reward and no pitch. Simple graciousness because the character glows with the reflected cool of the other PC. You pitch the quest to the benefactor's player and this player is inclined to go along because he kinda owes the other player.

  But in every case there's that leery moment of "oh shit" when 40 crossbows are trained on you by people who probably think you should die, even if you didn't really do it.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 03:38:20 AM by Morgenstern » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2015, 07:20:08 AM »

Functional near miss:
  Pick a character that is not a talker or stealth/escape artist. Have that character abruptly framed and surrounded by guards. A LOT of guards if they are a combatant. It happens virtually without warning and while they are isolated so it's obvious they are screwed. Mysterious benefactor steps in, appeases the guards with a display of position or just a profoundly huge bribe. Benefactor has a proposition to offer, and clearly has the influence or wealth to make listening worthwhile even if the whole thing stinks enough to make simple gratitude a little iffy.

Ooo, I know were I that player I would get really suspicious.  I would wonder if the "Benefactor" set up the situation in the first place.  Time to organize the party into two groups, one to investigate this guy, and another to look into his offer.

Yeah, lots of potential there depending how the players go with it.  The investigations could turn up all kinds of fun and intrigue.  And there could be all kinds of interesting twists.  I like it.
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jameswllorimer
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« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2015, 07:33:15 AM »

I pitched FC to our gaming club several times, having like you read the ruleset and wanted to GM - but it took a while to convince people. When I finally got a group together (even with a couple of like minded FC fans) I learnt one thing very quickly.

FC is modular - use that to your advantage. Start with a basic dungeon crawl, but don't include magic. This has two effects -1) its makes everyone go "huh you can play this game without magic - that's crazy talk!" 2) It concentrates on the brilliance of the combat mechanics such as tricks, stance and maneuvers.  Just play through a scene or two with a minor boss and then reset and run another with the magic in... then talk add in some talky bits.. and then subdual damage.. and then cheat death etc etc etc. If you slowly build the group's confidence and yours with the ruleset, I've found that the stories run effortlessly and people end up having lots of Rule 0, er sorry, fun!

And don't be afraid to hand wave a situation you're unsure of to keep the flow of the session going. If you're players are happy with you as a GM and you rule fairly, it's never as important as keeping the story moving along.
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2015, 09:19:47 AM »

Functional near miss:
  Pick a character that is not a talker or stealth/escape artist. Have that character abruptly framed and surrounded by guards. A LOT of guards if they are a combatant. It happens virtually without warning and while they are isolated so it's obvious they are screwed. Mysterious benefactor steps in, appeases the guards with a display of position or just a profoundly huge bribe. Benefactor has a proposition to offer, and clearly has the influence or wealth to make listening worthwhile even if the whole thing stinks enough to make simple gratitude a little iffy.

Ooo, I know were I that player I would get really suspicious.  I would wonder if the "Benefactor" set up the situation in the first place.  Time to organize the party into two groups, one to investigate this guy, and another to look into his offer.

Yeah, lots of potential there depending how the players go with it.  The investigations could turn up all kinds of fun and intrigue.  And there could be all kinds of interesting twists.  I like it.

At my table the odds would be split just about evenly between 3 possibilities:

1. They set you up to put leverage on you. No surprises there.
2. They are rivals with the people who actually set you up and they want to simultaneously screw over the other side and get you to do something that helps them - a.k.a they are friendly but they have ulterior motives that are not in conflict with the players.
3. Players are heroes. Somewhere along the way they did somebody a solid they never gave any further thought to. Everybody has friends and the word worked it's way up the web until what seems like a total stranger comes along and gets you out of the poo because you don't suck. The pitch could be pure altruism, enlightened self interest or a passing fancy, but there is zero deliberate malice at work.

If you've watched the movie Training Day...
(click to show/hide)
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TheVastator
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« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2015, 02:53:23 AM »

a golden rule we use as a group:
if there's a rule debate and it can't be solved quickly, the gm just decrees how the rule works and the session goes on.
At the end of the session the rule can be rechecked, discussed, fought upon freely until there is a solution.

Another good one is:
tell your players when you're wrong. You can't do everything right: more often than not, a simple "sorry guys, I've screwed this, give me a minute to fix the situation" works much better than "no, *you* are wrong!"
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Goodlun
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« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2015, 03:53:30 PM »

A thing I picked up a long time ago, is
If they are off track just move the track to them.
IE if they are trying to follow the story but they end up in the wrong place.
and their is no reason that the one that they are in can't work.
Just use that location and get the story moving along.
Its perfectly ok to change things as long as it makes sense and keeps the story moving along and enhances the fun.
If they spoil something its ok to add a twist on the go.
Your world does not have to be set in stone, the story does not have to be set in stone.
Adapt and overcome.
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