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Offline MoonHunter

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Random game tips and articles in process.
« on: August 18, 2003, 03:54:20 AM »
Yes, I have been caught.  I seldom add a post to this thread, but I do edit and add tips and such every few days.  So check them out upon occasion, and see the new things at the end of each post.

Life involves risk.

Intelligent choice is not about avoiding all risk or always fully using resources and making optimal choices, it is about evaluating situations and using whatever information is available to best determine what are acceptable odds.

Now, that being said, different people use different pieces of information to calculate odds and have different standards. In real life, given two people with different means of evaluation, most likely neither will be completely correct - each will look at different aspects of the situation. If both evaluate a specific situation, one of them will likely be correct, as his evaluation will mesh better with the actual facts of the situation. If one is correct enough, then we can say that his methods of evaluation are better.

In a RPG, this falls down. The GM and player can have much different views of what is important information and what evaluations are correct, but the GM is going to be correct, because he is probably determining the "facts" of the situation. Because of this, a correct evaluation has less to do with how much you think about the situation and more to do with how much you agree with the GM's way of thinking.

*Even if the GM decides on what happens beforehand and doesn't change thing and make them worse in order to "punish" rash actions, there is still a potential problem. While in the real world, both could observe the situation and use their prefered form of information to make a decision, in the game, the GM is supplying all of the available information - meaning that he is likely only giving the information that he thinks the character needs to make an intelligent decision, and not the type of information the player would use to do so.

*All of this is even more of a mess when we realize that many RPG players wish to emulate various forms of fiction, and in much fiction a "one in a million" shot is a much better bet than a "sure thing". Think about a situation in a game, and if you could put it on screen with Bruce Willis, with 3 gallons of nitro straped to his back and a pair of rollerskates, and still expect him to make it to the end of the movie - then maybe the player has a different view of what the expected results of an action are likely to be.

I*f there was one piece of advice I could give to GMs, it would be that any time a player says his character does something totally stupid and obviously suicidal, assume that you @!#$ed up somehow. Assume that your player isn't stupid, and that the problem was likely caused by some mistake you made in communicating the information to the player. That attitude is likely to get you out of the mindset where you want to punish anyone.


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* With a ruler and some tape: When creating a world pack, one should list popular misconceptions/ preconceptions, myths, and prejudices. There may be grains of truth in these or they may be totally wrong.  Players can choose as to how much they buy into these ideas. Only those with appropriate knowledge should be allowed the truth.

*Regardless of how much work it is, how much the players complain and how much the players @!#$ with you sometimes... remember this: You're GMing 'cause the other people suck at GMing and this is the only way you'll be able game.

* NPCs: Players should treat all NPCs as if they have a PC halo around their head.  

* View the world different: In your next game, whether GM or player, try seeing the world as filled entirely with PCs. See where that takes you.  Do you respect every character more, feeling that there is some "player" behind it? Are NPCs no longer things or stats that can be casually removed?
It may work for you, it may not, but at least you'll have gone somewhere new.  

* The players are your audience.  If your players can seperate IC (In character) and OOC (Out of Character) knowledge, you can use "cut scenes".  With those scenes, you can expand upon your villians or NPCs, show their motivations and personality.  These cut scenes will give you game a more "story like" quality and increase your player's enjoyment of the campaign history.  

* GMs, if you treat your characters like PCs, investing time and emotion into their design and valuing their life, your players will hopefully pick up on it. The more you run adventures that show the humanity of the other characters, including the villains, the more the troupe will grow to see those other dimensions. Cut-scenes and background info are another good way to give these insights.

* Treating your major villains like PCs is a great idea, but it doesn't stop there. If you're trying to keep things real, and make death scary, then every character should at least come close to feeling like a PC. Otherwise, their life and death will just be scenery. Which is fine if that's what you need, but if you want dramatic deaths, they must be dramatic characters, not just in how they are written, but how they are played and thought of by the entire group.

* Most players treat NPCs as ciphers, as nothing of any real consequence. Once you start saying that their deaths aren't dramatically important, then these NPCs tend to get killed very easily, because there is no use wasting time on them. The more dull the villain, the easier they go down. The easier they go down, the less the players care about killing them. And the less the players care, the less dramatically important any more such fights will be. And so it spirals down and down until players will just go around killing everything without even noticing what they're hacking to pieces except when it happens to put up more of a fight. Suddenly, dragons aren't interesting villains because they are powerful, intelligent, enigmatic creatures, but because they have 200 hit points. They may in fact be intelligent and enigmatic, but that's only because, with 200 hit points, they demand more attention.

* The first important step in dealing with absent players is making a house rule out of it. I have always had the rule that if one had to report his absence at least one week in advance. The PCs of these players weren't in a danger zone than. PCs of players who ringed the day before we would play saying "Oops, I can't come because I just found out that …" were in the danger zone. Being in the danger zone implied that something bad could happen to the PC, depending on my anger and the reaction of the entire party. It rarely happens, but ones I freaked out on a guy who was absent again and didn't even bother to let me know . When he came back the next session he found out that that his character had pissed of a critter and was now missing an eye.

* The Power Gamer simply wants to be The Best, however they perceive it. Normally this means they want to be the most powerful and most effective character in the campaign. It may be so they can take on greater challenges, feeling that they win by beating a challenge. It may be to satisfy their own ego about being powerful, thus winning by being the most powerful character. It may be some combination of the two (and usually is). They will make any effort to achieve that goal by using game (tactics beyond what their character ken) and meta game techniques (utilizing rules and loopholes to their advantage). They will exploit loopholes. They will argue rules and rulings. They will tell other players what to do, so they can achieve their goals and score a "win" in their book. While what they are doing technically is not illegal in the game, it certainly can suck the fun out of it for most of the troupe of gamers.

* If you have not played with the power gamer long enough, you should actually talk with them to find out their motivations. The key is to find out if their issue is one of "rising to the challenge" vs. "never losing" (i.e. will they play a powerful character but accept a loss graciously--or is the power-gaming done in an attempt to ensure that they can never lose in any way, shape, or form?). A rising to the challenge type of power gamer can be dealt with by simply modifying some campaign aspects, while a "never lose, victory at all costs" type of power gamer requires active intervention on the part of the GM. Understanding of the type of motivation the power gamer has will give you an idea on how to handle the situation. Again, they are not doing anything illegal in terms of the rules and are doing what they do so they can have fun. Unfortunately their "fun" can ruin it for the GM and the rest of the troupe.

* One thing to note: Sometimes argumentative players are mistaken for power gamers. You need to determine if they just have to be right or they have to win. Argumentative players can not be fixed by dealing with power gamer issues. The solutions for an argumentative player are all social and will be discussed in another article.

* Some GM's boost the power level only when dealing with the power gamer's character. These more powerful opponents can cause problems with the rest of the characters. If the other player's characters are not as good, they will become splatter marks on the battleboards as they are not able to deal with these superior challenges. Again, boosting the overall power level to deal with the power gamer is not a good idea.

* Control OOC conversation that effect IC decisions. While a player might have 15 minutes to discuss their actions with the other players before their action occurs, their character only has six or so seconds. If the group wishes to coordinate they need to consider the "real time" passing for the characters. Various tactical decisions should be made either in down time, between game sessions, or in character during the game, time permitting. This will keep the unnaturally perfect team tactics between relative strangers to a minimum.

* Make sure any actions has logical consequences Related to shaping scenario design is enforcing consequences to actions. Power gamers will often show off their abilities at inconvenient  times. Killing people who slighted them or embarrassing a noble are great ways of getting people mad at them. Those people might have other powers at their disposal (police, army, law, magic, dueling laws). The power game may be "the best", but can they take on a Legion?
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Every GM, in any system, needs to know the mantra of character warding.  
                           *****
"This character is perfectly legal (or substitute acceptable), but I am not comfortable with it in my game."
                           *****
*When in the slightest doubt, repeat this charm as many times as needed to ward off characters that you do not like, that utilize rules (and loopholes) to min-max their functionality, or do not fit your "vision" for the campaign or the existing characters.  Stand firm on your decisions. This will prevent you have having issues further down the line with the character, having stopped them before they became a problem in your game.

*If a roleplaying game is a shared story, as many will argue it is, then you need a story. Now. Not, "there's a story behind all this", not "we're getting ready for a story", not "someday your characters will be powerful enough to participate in a story", but an honest-to-god story right now. Every story has a conflict that needs to be resolved.  At any given time, the campaign must actively have two things: a conflict and an important decision that the players have to make.  

*It is just a story: Every story must have a conflict.  Every game must have players be an important part of the story.  The decisions of the players are going to make a pivotal difference in this conflict. The resolution of the conflict will depend on the decisions the players make.

*One objection that comes up is that starting characters can't have interesting stories told about them, because they can't do anything interesting. If a character's story is about a decision, rather than about an achievement, power level becomes much less of an issue. Indeed, you could argue that when a character becomes powerful, it becomes harder to find significant decisions for him/her, because the character's power level can prevent a decision from having negative consequences.

*Starting characters don't have established histories or personalities, so their decisions don't seem as important. To some extent that's true — it's hard to see internal conflict in a character when you don't know anything about that character's insides. On the other hand, though, there's also a novelty factor to new characters — people want to watch them to find out what they're like, and also to see what impact they'll have on existing characters.

*It is just a story: Stories live within our hearts. Through them we immerse ourselves in the tales of events and people we do not know; we see conflict rise and be resolved; and we revel in all of the other surprises comedy, tragedy, and drama can offer.  GMs and players have a deep need to be storytellers: to express our own ideas; to wrap people up in the tales we spin; and to build worlds for others to play in and explore.

*"Any one can save the world if they are playing Superman. Do it with a blind, deaf, mute, parapaligic and I will be impressed." Some people just need power.  They do not need finesse or skill. They just power their way through the scenario.  People who can run an underpowered character and still succeed against the odds are better players.  

*Like a pro: I think of something Spider Robinson said about his review of an HP Lovecraft Biography....
(paraphrased)
Heaping scorn and abuse on a non fiction book _because_ of its thoroughness is the mark of a bad writer going for the cheap shot.

*Most people do not consider the system as having a problem. The comments frequently being 'A good GM could just fix the problems' or 'a good GM doesn't rely on the system'. A good GM can patch holes in a bad system; a smart GM picks a good system with less things that need to be tweaked.  Most of the old school GMs went through the same pattern. They spent years tweaking D&D; making house rules, fixing bugs and solved problems.  Most came to the conclusion that fixing an inherently flawed game (especially one with new rules coming out all the time) was just too much work. So they started experimenting with other systems until they found one that they liked. Some GMs even took it a step futher and made our own system. The system should not be a problem for the game.  The GM and troupe needs to find a system that has the appropriate tools to run the type of campaign they want and fits the GM's style of play.  

*There are two aspects to any campaign or scenario: the idea and the execution. You can not "teach" how to get an idea.  As for execution, while you can "teach it", all it takes is practice and a will to improve.  

*Like a pro: The greatest problem beginning game masters and writers seem to have is with pace and structure. A contemporary master of pace, and narrative structure in general, is T.C. Boyle. Reading his novels Water Music or World's End to learn how to cut and splice a scene and how to keep the reader wanting more of the story, will help you hone your gamecraft. There is nothing so effective, and powerful, as a full stop or a break in a scene.

*Conflict is the driving force behind all good story. Without it, there is no story. The good news for game master is that creating conflict is much easier than you might believe.  Think about the characters and their goals (both temporary and permanent) and how they resolve issues (violence, talking, etc).  

*Many new GMs believe that adding conflict to a story is as simple as inserting violence into the plot line. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inserting violence only generates use of the combat rules.  Intersting conflict is a dramatic event that the players care about the results.  

*Intersting Conflict is required for an interesting game.   Used of exotic rules in the combat section does not make the combat interesting (though it might be memorable). Interesting conflicts are those dramatic conflicts that characters has a vested interest on the outcome.  

*There has to be a notable degree of risk to make an interesting conflict.  High powered fantasy adventurers can casually take on a horde of lesser creatures.  Now when they have to risk themselves against a powerful foe to achieve their goal, that conflict is more interesting.  

*There has to be a notable degree of risk to the character to have an interesting conflict.  If the conflict involves emotions (theirs or others) the conflict can not resolved casually with dice, but must be worked out by the gamers involved (through their characters).  

*It is just a story: Empathy and emotion makes for conflict that can not be resolved simply with dice. Make sure the dramatic conflict tugs at the players/ character's emotions. Emotion can turn a simple kill the bad thing into a dramatic situation (BUt you can't kill it, it is my father, a favorite NPC says).  

*Every GM should ask, does this scene move the story forward? If the answer is no, then ignore it or narrate through it. If the answer is yes, play it out.  

*Every GM should ask: Why should the players care what happens to your
characters? Why should the players comming back? Why would the players want to find out  what happens next?

*Inserting conflict into your fiction is not quite as simple as inserting a fist-fight into the storyline. Conflict in fiction can be as diverse and as individual as you are. It can also be used effectively to heightened tension and increase suspense.

*In many cases, the conflict within the story is the driving force towards the story goal. The need to overcome the conflict is often the central focus of
the hero. The means to overcome that same conflict can then become a path to victory for the protagonist.

*Not all conflict in a game must be gut-wrenching, wrist-slashing, eye-popping suspense. Often, the more subtle forms of internal emotional conflict can impact upon the players far more deeply.

*Conflict in a story is (According to Webster’s): 1) To come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory; at variance or in opposition; clash  2) Discord of action, feeling or effect; antagonism or opposition as of interests or principles  3) A mental struggle arising from opposing demands or
impulses

*Conflict in a game does not have to be light sabers
or laser guns, automatic weapons or explosions. Conflict can also be an internal process. No matter where your story's conflict arises, every
story must contain an element of it.

*a thriller is a high stakes conflict. The nature of the thriller is the risk of extreme bodily harm or death to the protagonist and/or those he/she cares about. The danger can be from other people in the form of terrorists, murderers, psychopaths, etc or a violent act of nature: flood, tornado, hurricane, earthquake or volcano. Violence is at the very heart of the conflict.

*Science fiction and fantasy are two of the most versatile genres. The conflict can range from sword and sorcery or space opera to questions about the morality of creating artificial life or cloning. While different gamers prefer different sorts of conflict, there is room for any variety of style and type.

*It is just a name: Begin by giving your character a name that you are
comfortable working with. Remember, you'll be with this character for a while, so you should choose a name you at least like. Also remember that the name must not only suit the character, but must suit the world background the character is playing in.  

*Builds Better characters: Create a short biography for your new character. You'll need to decide which physical aspects best suit your protagonist -- height, weight, hair and eye color and age. But these alone will not be enough. Consider creating a personality outline as well. Include: temperament, moral/ethical/religious beliefs, political stance, hobbies,
habits, quirks or eccentricities, likes/dislikes, fears or phobias, short and long term goals, hopes and dreams, and anything you might know about a really good friend.  

*Scour newspapers, magazines and even the internet to find a picture of someone that fits the character you are creating. Tacking an image and brief bio on the front of a character binder (or back of character sheet) can give you a wonderful visual image to work from.

unique, individual complex people

*Builds better characters: When you are creating your character's personality description, decide what his great strengths are. Give him several strong traits and then add one major glaring weakness. Your character must still be at least likeable, but the glaring weakness must form the underlying tension that drives his behavior.  

*It is just a story: Every character should have a weakness or issue that makes it less than perfect. When appropriate, create a staggering problem that preys on that weakness. It must be a difficult or fearsome problem for the character to overcome, so that the story can recount his struggle to turn his weakness into a form of victory at the end. Above all, never let the protagonist know he is going to succeed. That way he can not win unless he surrenders something of inestimable value to himself.

*Builds better characters: Your character must have a complex set of problems. The primary goal must always be in sight, but giving your character a few obstacles along the way will highlight the character traits you have chosen to help or hinder him.

*The characters in your game must each have a complex set of problems, so you can build dramatic tension with them in a game. The primary goal must always be in sight, but giving your characters a few obstacles along the way will highlight the various character traits you have chosen to help or hinder them.  

*Characters that are not in the center stage for the scenario, should also have their own lesser subplots to resolve.

*Builds better characters: Choose your character's crisis points. Give your characters some possible agonising decisions to make. Inform the GM of these pressure points and allow the GM to set up scenes where the character must make these decisions.
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*Goal Motivation
*Good characters can enliven a thin plot or cliched surroundings. The process by which characters are created, though, varies greatly from player to player, and even the same player changes over time.

*What does it take to create good characters. The basic plus a rather simple formula: goal, motivation and conflict. What does the character want? Why does that character want that? What is stopping the character from getting it? Answering these questions sets you on the path to creating a believable character. This GMC formula can be used over and over, developing more depth to the characters.

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Plants: Games are like plants, they require preparation, nuturing, and time to develop.

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Prepareation:GMs should stop and think about the campaign. This is the preparation required for the convention.   They should generate a number of potential plots they would like to run, in addition to plots the players want.  Think about what will be needed for those scenarios.  Make sure that all the elements needed for those scenarios are found in the campaign.  (If you need a university for one scenario, make sure your game environment has a university in it).

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Seeds: People like to think there is a reason for everything and often search for explanations, even if there are none. Players are no exceptions. Spread plot seeds (interesting people/ things/ events) through our campaign. You don't have to have any idea behind them (at this time). The Players will eventually make sense of them by forming their own theories. Any plot seeds that don't fit will be discounted as anomalous or mysterious, prompting further investigation. Listening in to the Players theories should prove inspirational in deciding what really is the truth. GMs Note: If or when you have an idea of what is going on then make sure that you highlight the clues that fit your theory.

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Seeds: Develop a number of mini-adventures or cool scenes based on a set locations in the game world. Spread these adventure seeds around your world. That way, when you need something to keep the players occupied while you set up a main plot, a sub plot will be right there for the picking.

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Nurture: Figure out which of the old "seeds" the players are most interested in, then drop a hook. While they don't take proactive action, they're always dealing with the things that they've been thinking of.

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Tending: Work with the players to weave their characters into the world and together as a group. From this foundation, determine one to three goals or problems the character needs to work for/ resolve.  As the campaign continues, work these goals/ problems related to the characters into as many scenarios as you can.  As those plot lines are resolving, check with the players to see one to three goals or problems of their characters they want to play out. This forms the new seeds for the campaign.  

*Seed, Nurture, Sow - Weeds: Some plotlines will be uninteresting to the players or they will turn out as undramatic.  Keep track of the plotlines running and let the ones that are uninteresting or undramatic fade away, hopefully from memory.  GMs, Maybe when they someone thinks about them again, you will have a way to turn the plotline into something exciting and related to what is going on in the campaign.  

*Seed, Nuture, Sow - Sow: Run scenarios that have already been seeded a while ago. The players won't generally choose which adventures to go on, but they'll quickly pick up on a new "hook" that lets them know that one of the "seeded" situations is now "ripe."

*Seed, Nuture, Sow - Sow: You need to run scenarios that interest the players and are based on what they are thinking about right now.  If you don't the scenario might be stale and the run go rotten.


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*Cue Cards: Practice your cards.  Spend time reading them out loud, delivering them like you would in game.  Not only does this help your technique, it helps you remember the cards and their contents.  Reviewing the cards might also inspire new applications for the same cards or new card altogether.

*Unlocking characters: The GM defines that players can only run certain types of characters or characters with certain backgrounds until they have played in the campaign/ setting for a certain while or have shown they are proficient in it.  

The GM limits ...

*GMs, watch your audience, your players.  See what catches their interest. See what makes them yawn or look bored.  Learn from this and try to do more things that catch their interest.

*Practice the kind of narration you want. Make it visual. Make it like a favorite author. Make it action packed. Make it slow. Make it what ever way you want. if it is not 100% the way you want, riff on your game, create cue cards, and make it that way.

*This process helps the GM build better characters.  

*GMs, the first step is to do it. Do it badly. Phyllis Diller says that there is no such thing as a good beginning comedian. 'They're all terrible,' she says. That's not a putdown at all, nor is it meant to be discouraging. Phyllis will admit that she was terrible the first time she attempted a stand-up routine. Your first attempt at GMing will probably be terrible. If you keep at it, working on getting better, you get better.

*GMs, There are advantages to doing it badly. You learn very quickly what you don't know or what you can't do. Pay attention to what is and is not working for your audience, your players.  Do what works, avoid what does not, and work on getting better.

*GMs, practice your GMing in front of a mirror.  That way you can work out any issues you might have ahead of time.  You can riff on your game and learn what you need to do to be a better GM.  

*The job of GMs is not to express himself or get something off his chest; the GM's job is to provide the reader with an experience that is superior to what the players experiences in everyday life. The GM's job is to give the players an entertaining game; only then will any insights, themes, or ideals the GM encorporates in the campaign mean something.

*Golden Years: Characters settle down for the same reasons that motivate real people - a desire for stability, a desire for permanence, the need to attend to responsibilities. Characters can settle down and continue to adventure, it is just that their goals have changed - they tend to be reactive rather than pro-active. Fending of challenges to their leadership in a guild; defending their keep/tower/city/kingdom against invasion; finding a tutor for their kids, etc...

*Golden Years: Retiring is a different story entirely and usually happens because the goals of the player or the character are no longer compatable with the campaign - maybe one character wants to settle down and the others don´t; maybe the player wants to play a wizard rather than the fighter he´s been playing.

*Golden Years: In many cases a character or group of characters retire because the big dramatic reason for them to adventure is resolved. In short the campaign ends.  These characters can be picked up again, if the GM desires to run a sequel campaign in the same gameworld; or their children/ students can be the new characters, with the old characters being NPC elders.

*Goal Motivation
Good characters can enliven a thin plot or cliched surroundings. The process by which characters are created, though, varies greatly from player to playerr, and even the same player changes over time.

*What does it take to create good characters. The basic plus a rather simple formula: goal, motivation and conflict. What does the character want? Why does that character want that? What is stopping the character from getting it? Answering these questions sets you on the path to creating a believable character. This GMC formula can be used over and over, developing more depth to the characters.

*Three tactics ideas
Missile Weapons
Every character should employ a missile weapon, be it a sling, crossbow, hand axe, or javelin. Obviously, missile weapons allow one to damage, and or kill, foes at a distance. Inflicting damage early on means less capable foes once the bad guys do close to melee. Often, damaged foes never close to melee, choosing to fall back. If fighters worry about a missile weapon that will preclude them from quickly donning sword and shield, perhaps a hand axe or javelin would be useful.

Fire Team Support
Every character should fight with at least one other PC. The advantages to this are numerous. Characters can fight back to back or maneuver in such a way as to avoid flank attacks. Conversely, a team of warriors can move to flank opponents. They can share weapons and other resources. If a pair of PCs is fighting a single foe, that foe might have to divide his attacks. Fire team members can also concentrate their fire.

Concentration of Fire
Never split attacks. Concentrate all attacks on a single foe until that foe is driven off, or dead. A foe with 1 hit point is just as lethal as a foe with 10, so it makes little sense to spread out the damage a party can inflict.


*No matter how much work and description you put into each village, city, or people, one part of the world will pretty much seem like every other part of the world unless the GM makes a real effort to make them different in play.


*Most GMs seem to think they are writers, rather than storytellers or directors.  When developing scenarios and settings, you should not just write movement, or pacing or action, you need to write VISUALLY. By keeping in mind the "mind's eye" of your players, you can enhance the player's understanding of the situation and world.

*When creating notes for your game, WRITE VISUALLY. Visual writing is simply this: A FOCUSED USE OF VOCABULARY TO EVOKE A VISUAL IMAGERY OF THE ACTION. Words are the tools of GMs everyhwere, but it is the choice of words that separates the average from la crème. By writing and presenting information with an eye to the visual, enhances the player's ability to "see" and understand the situation.

*Blockbuster games don't come from game systems. They come from blockbuster stories. They come from GMs who USE FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES THAN OTHER WRITERS.

*Each genre is a system, with a number of unique story beats, a special hero, opponent, symbols and themes. Hitting all these unique elements of the genre is essential to success. It's what the audience pays to see. It's where you pay your dues to be in the game.

*Each genre is a system, with a number of unique story beats, a special hero, opponent, symbols and themes. Hitting all these unique elements of the genre is essential to success. It's what the audience pays to see. It's where you pay your dues to be in the game. But writers of hit films go a step farther. They know their genres so well they hit the genres' unique story beats in an original way. Originality is what sets you apart from all the other writers working in your form.

*Blockbusters Movies have a strong, single cause-and-effect line with a single, clear character change. Hit films always have a strong spine. A strong spine comes from a single cause-and-effect line: having a main character who takes a series of actions to reach a goal. Action A should lead directly to action B, which should lead directly to action C, and so on until the end.  Strong campaigns and scenarios need the same exact things

*Root Syllables: To create the versimultude of having created a language when creating the names of places or people, create some root syllables. Each root is 3-6 letters in length. To select letters, roll 1d10 and choose a letter from the telephone button (roll 1d3 if stumped). The roll of 1 is for all those "other letters" not on a button or choose one appropriate.  After you create 10 or so of them, you can string them together in different combinations, only deviating very slightly.   Using the three examples of Kyrun, Ven, and Yrl, you can make names like Ven, Kyrunyrl, Yrlven, Yrlkyrun, Ky'ven-run.  If you decide that certain roots are used to begin or end a word, or are used to denote places or people or things, then you have created another layer that adds to the versimultude. Yrl for starting a place name for example.  

*There is only ONE thing you must keep in mind to be an excellent GM. Sadly, no one knows what this is. Attributed to an unhnown GM.

*Campain Sheets:  Ask your players to assign 100 points according to what they want to do: Battle, Morality, Thought, Exploration, Society. This way you will be able to tailor the campaign to what they want and expect.

*The GM-Players relationship is a partnership and the ground rules should be clear. The general pattern is where the GM had prepped a particular adventure that the players would play. The GM would provide the necessary plot hooks and motivations to get the characters into it. It was the players' end of the deal to go along and not be contrary about the whole thing.

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*Faking it: Players are always "going off the edge of the map" or getting interested in some minor subplot instead the main plot you are prepared for.  When they do, you need to provide them with a game, an adventure, that you are unprepared for.  Faking it or doing improv adventures is one the skills a good game master must develop.

*Faking it: When improvising a game, the GM must always project confidence.  No matter how unprepared you the GM is, everything you present should appear practiced and prepared.  

*Faking it: When improvising a game session, never use filler words like "ummm", "ahhh", "errrr", and so on.  It makes it seem that you do not know what is going to on.  When game mastering in general you should never use filler worlds, but when improvising, they totally undermine your position as "the person who knows what is going on".  

*Faking it: Don't get mad about it. Players are always "going off the edge of the map" or getting interested in some minor subplot instead the main plot you are prepared for.  Getting angry with your players is counter productive.  Unless you have shown them your game notes and they are following a script, they will do what they want to do.  Getting angry at them will simply provide you with a needlessly tense game group. Besides, if they are not interested in the plot you have provided them, you the GM, you think about how you have presented the material.  It obviously was not presented in such a way that it caught the player's attention.  

*Faking it: See what the players want to do and do it. If your players have their own little goal, let them see it though.

*Faking it: When improvising a game session, Don't Panic.  It works for the guys with towels, it will work for you. (Good advice for GMs and Players).

*Faking it: When improvising a game session, feel free to stall.  Call a quick snack break, go to the bathroom, run to your bookshelf and desperately search for some "needed game book".  Take this time to brainstorm on what you need and compose your session.  As a GM, take the time you need to make sure you can run the kind of game you want./

*Faking it: When improvising a game session, it helps to know the characters and their story lines.  By having a good understanding of the characters, their history, and their motivations, a GM can easily construct an adventure/ event that will engage a character and player, based off the history and storylines attached to the character.  

*Faking it: When improvising a game session, just run with the first thing that comes to mind.  If you the GM do not have some "disposable" sessions set up ahead of time, just take the first thing and run with it.  Yes, it will take some time to tie it back in with your existing campaign, but this extra work will is the cost you pay for not being prepared with an emergency session.  

*With a ruler and some tape: It all comes down to food.  The number of people you can sustain in a given game environment is determined by the amount of food in that area.  Three main factors that are part of this equasion are the number of acres used to produce food, how long said food can exist without spoiling, and how far the food can be transported in that time.  

*Spec Fic: That is the reason I hate most science fiction worlds. There is just one culture and tech level on the planet... simple... easy to write... but so impossible to believe. We have technology gaps ranging from 1880 to 2003, you can easily travel to places where all this high tech does not exist and you have the same items you had in 1890. If not earlier.


*GMs, don't confuse campaigns and adventures/modules. A campaign is a series of adventures and everything in between. Most adventures are goal-oriented, but the campaign need not be. The GM can drop hooks and hints about a happening, and the players have the option about how they want to respond to it.  

*The GM-Players relationship is a partnership and the ground rules should be clear.  The troupe should talk about how they want the game to be played.  

*All GMing involves a degree of impromtu action, the better you are at handling such in a consistent and logical manner then the better you are as a GM.

*The illusion of free will versus "ad-lib": asking the players "well, what do you want to do?" is never a good idea. A much better approach is "What do you want to do, option A, B, or C? Or something else?" If you offer players a choice of several options, then they have the feeling of making choices for their characters. Since the GM offered the choices, the GM still has some control over what happens next. Remember, until they open that door in the dungeon, they have no idea what's behind it; that map you have may say one thing, but really, what's behind that door is entirely up to you.

*Plant a lot of seeds: in order to give your players choices, you need to come up with a lot of adventure ideas. A lot of them. Let's say four to six for now. Once you've got your four to six ideas, plant them in the game. Use rumors the PCs hear about, or tattered maps, or NPCs who are looking for help. (One of the best things I ever did was hand out, every week, a sheet of one or two line rumors that were circulating in the region the PCs were in. Some were plot hooks, some were accurate information, some were outright lies, and some were just fun.) Once those seeds are planted, after the PCs finish one adventure, they'll have a choice of what to do next.

*Tend that adventure garden! Remember those 4-6 'seed' ideas? Well, the PCs are probably only going to get to pursue maybe three. This is good news for you: assuming you have some advance notice, that's three less adventures you need to write! But don't just ignore those passed-up opportunities. Instead, figure out how else they might be resolved. Maybe another group of NPC adventurers takes up the challenge, and gets some fame. Maybe a situation gets worse; this is especially appropriate for adventure hooks involving 'evil master plans'. If the PCs don't decide to investigate, then let the Snake Cult grow in power, and become a bigger, more challenging adventure.

*Keep planting! After the PCs have followed up on half the seeds you've put out, put out a fresh batch. This has two great effects: the players will feel like the setting is a vibrant, active place, with things always happening. They'll also have to make choices about what their characters' priorities are, when faced with numerous tempting adventure options.

*Keep tending! A few adventures are truly 'static'. An ancient crypt, sealed away from mankind for centuries probably won't change much over the few years of in-game time that a campaign runs. However, most adventures take place in a 'dynamic' setting, which means they can and should change.

*Threadweaving: I started to do some of this in the example above. Once you've got several adventure hooks that the PCs aren't following up on, you can decide which ones will change & which ones won't. A marshy tomb seems static, but the DM is the one who decides what lives in the marsh. The Red Eye is an astrological phenominon, but only the DM knows what it means. What makes things really interesting is deciding which plot arcs will interact with each other. The Faries in the Forest arc can potentially interact with the Bandits on the Hill arc; you saw that getting set up. Filandeous is a wild card for the DM; he can 'clean up' passed over plots, or he can continue evolving on his own. Eventually, he can even be used as a plot of his own, approaching the experienced PCs for aid for a problem 'too big for either of them to face alone'.

*Notice that while none of those seeds is enough to run a game, it's a starting point, and if the players respond well to any given seed, then the DM can develop it for the following session.

*Set a timeline for events, independent of the PCs. If the Evil Allignment of Stars is set to happen in one year of campaign time, then stick to it. If the PCs decide that they want to spend three months making items, do NOT move the Evil Allignment back.

*Be patient, but be reasonable. Introducing hints about an adventure when the characters are just starting out that you don't plan on running until they reach a highly experienced level is tough. The end reward is that there will be a sense of anticipation. Keep in mind though, players might not want to experience that adventure, or may approach it prematurely.  

*Good storylines move in overlapping arcs. Some comic books are good examples of this. The idea is that a story-line doesn't need to be totally resolved before you move on to another story. In fact, in the case of major story arcs, it's best to allow the PCs to take breaks from the story & engage in 'side-plots'. If there is a primary storyline about restoration of the proper monarchy, but occasionally let them get away from civil unrest and court politics to hunt down a theif or explore an ancient ruin.  

*It's a lot easier to have reoccuring characters if those characters aren't directly fighting the PCs. Villaneous masterminds work best if they aren't something that can be fought right away. An elusive secret cult master, an evil king from far away, or a secret society that acts in small cells all work well as an ongoing opponent who can be defeated but still remain to menace the PCs.

*Don't forget the folks in the middle: memorable villians are nice, but memorable rivals are better. The NPC group who "out-hero's" the heroes is a great story element, as long as it occurs off-screen and doesn't take game time away from the players. A good rival makes a great foil for characters; if he acts heroic, how do they respond? If he donates wealth to charity, will the PCs snigger & laugh, or will they be abashed at their own lack of piety. Again, though, it only works if it happens off-screen, or doesn't take 'spotlight' time away from the PCs.

*Rivals aside, a reoccuring NPC is a good tool only if he's well defined. Aldus the Sage is really only a good NPC if the DM is clear on what Aldus does or doesn't know; otherwise, Aldus is really just a DM-puppet, mouthing plot elements the DM wants to put forward. But when Aldus doesn't know things, or can't help the PCs, then he gets a little more depth. The trick is to get PCs to see NPCs as characters, rather than puppets on the DMs strings meant to lead them to the next adventure.

*What you do for plot hooks, do for NPCs. The Rival NPC shouldn't start out as a rival, he should evolve into one. Other NPCs should also be affected by their interaction with the PCs, for better or worse.

*You absolutely must know the NPCs motivations and means at all times. That is, it's not just important that certain events happen on the calendar (as dok indicated) but also that certain NPCs will succeed in certain parts of their plan if unopposed. (Or maybe instead, they fail--but this failure still occurs at a certain time and has ramifications.) If you really know the motivations, then you can have the NPCs do something coherent no matter what the PCs do. Let's say Joe Rogue plans a merchant mugging. If the PCs find out and interfere, they confront Joe. If the PCs never investigate the clues and are nowhere around, Joe succeeds. But what happens if the PCs pick up on a few clues, ask a few questions, but try to protect the wrong merchant? If Joe is the nervous, cautious type, he might avoid the robbery because he realizes the PCs are looking for him. If he is brash, he might go ahead and leave a taunting note. If he is clueless, he might go ahead with his plans blissfully unaware of the PCs. You cannot possibly predict everything the PCs will do, but you can know Joe well enough to know how he'll react to any situation.

*In that vein, when running this kind of game, it's import to have 10-15 (or more) moderately well-developed NPCs and a handful (or more) moderately well-developed locations and organizations. This is more important than having fewer, less-developed characters. (Some people will obviously insist on more, but know your limits. If the choice in prep time is between adding three minor NPCs or putting more work into making one more memorable, pick the latter every time.)

*And if dok didn't mention it in his bits on rivals, I'll note that rivals work best when they are only occasionally rivals. That keeps the PCs from developing too strong of a grudge and thus making the rivals 1 dimensional in the story.

*Finally, just as the DM shouldn't railroad the players, the players should not railroad the DM. In most games, the players simply cannot. In this kind of game, they can. Just because you are trying to make the game open as possible, it does not follow that there are no limits. For example, let's say you've detailed a small city and the NPCs that live there. There is plenty of varied activity of the kind that the players want, and you have dropped hints about adventure hooks A-E. If the players want to do F, but that involves a lot of the elements, locations, NPCs, foes, etc. that you had ready for A-E--then you can accommodate them. But if they want to travel 200 miles across the mountains into an area that you barely alluded to once in passing--forget it! If the trip is *that* important to them despite no indication from you that it matters, then they should have been preparing for a couple of sessions--and thus telegraphing what they want to do. Then you can either prepare ahead of flat out tell them that it's off limits.

*I suggest that if the players have a hard time accepting this kind of out-of-game limit, you should put good reasons into the game. In the extreme case, put them on an island exactly the size you care to run, with ship travel way to dangerous for the levels that you want to run. Another good way to do this, if the players are willing, is to have them all work for some organization that assigns them to a certain area. They may have limited goals and much freedom from the organization, but they are supposed to pursue them in your sandbox.

*Change creature names: Most people have heard of orcs and dragons, but if the folk of a nearby village are having trouble with what the locals call "The Schlugraal," a beast that can tear a man to pieces and enjoys stealing infants from their cribs, the adventure has already taken on an air of mystery and danger. What can the Schlugraal do? Can we (the party) handle it?

*Put It On Paper: Occasionally provide the players with maps, inscriptions, prophecies on paper so they can refer back to them. Not only does this give them exactly the information you want them to have without relying on their (sometimes shaky) memories, but it also keeps that information present. This is particularly useful if various bits of information link together. The chances of the players making connections (and generally speaking you want them to make those connections eventually) are drastically increased if they have the relevant information in front of them, instead of somewhere in the murky depths of their memory.

*Be Prepared To Improvise, or Planned Spontaneity: Eventually the players are going to zig when you really thought they would zag. That is, you may have spent hours preparing an adventure for them, only to have the party decide that they want to go a completely different direction. At that point it's handy to have a Plan B, and this can often be as simple as a combat encounter, or an interesting NPC. Plan B can cover the unexpected shift in party direction while you consider ways of getting them back to where you want them, or even to spawn new plot-lines that may be even more interesting and fun than the original. Sometimes the party just runs off the edge of the map and you need a way to run out the clock on the session. It pays to be prepared.

*Create a Campaign Binder - Handouts for PCs are great. It's even better to put them all together with page protectors for reference. Then when they have questions, you can refer them to "the Religion tab" or whatever's appropriate.

*Set up an Email List or Board - Handling scheduling, treasure division, questions and side treks is best done out of game. A lot of "administration" of RPGs can take place between sessions. If you set up a means to communicate, you also create a searchable, written record.

*Set up an Email List or Board, part II: Very good advice. The tedious administration of, say, shopping for supplies and spending the necessary down-time in town can soak up an entire session or more. Sometimes it's best to just buy gear and learn new spells over email between sessions, maximizing the value of the face-to-face time that is often in short supply.

*A Real World: Occasionally let the PCs know that their adventures are not the only thing happening in the campaign world. Distant wars are always a popular option, but I like to filter in news of the successes or failures of other adventuring parties. For instance, while the PCs were clearing out the Great Hive Mound of the Ylxthyxl, the Sons of the Black Banner were trouncing Warlord Skikik and his wererat kin. This will give the PCs a sense of what fame is like in the campaign world, and will appreciate it all the more when word of their deeds spreads far and wide.

*Don't run a game when you don't feel up to it. Sometimes it is just not your day and you just want to bash in some monsters or you are just too tired to keep focussed. Don't be afraid to cancel the session and play a board game or so. Nothing can ruin a campaign quicker then a DM who makes the wrong descisions.

*Don't let resentment fester. When a problem arises, discuss it immidiately in person (NEVER through mail) with those involved. Small irritations can add up and lead to an explosion of resentment and anger later on. I have seen my share of campaigns end up real nasty over very little things because the players and the DM ignored it too long.

*Let the game end: Don't run a game past the end of the story, just cause it's been fun before. Once people have reached the goals they want for the characters and have had that fun with them, let the game end rather than forcing it to continue past the point where either the players, or you the GM, have any more ideas for it. Listen to the players when they want to try something else, as it can mean that even the others are probably getting tired of it too.

*"Limit" possibilities to provoke creativity: Put limits on the types of characters they can create for the game you want to run, and if they're good role-players, they'll try their best to come up with a character that stands out amongst others as more than just the Treant. Strangely, one of the most notable characters in our current group is Maluai the lizardfolk barbarian...for whatever reason he stands out to me more than the treant or any of the other characters (even mine  ) Whehter you limit race or classes or social standing doesn't matter, but I find it makes a difference in the quality of characters you will find in your group.

*Make it personal: Make the game personal by making sure you integrate the character's background, family, friends, etc into the game at some point in it's course. The most successful game I ever ran used every single individual in the PCs backgroudns in the game, in some form or another, at least once before it was finished. friends died, family turned traitor, friends were forced to fight against them, old flames reunited...everyone that was important to them were in the game before it ended...even some of the NPCs related to characters who had died.

*************

"homework assignment" during the week.

The characters are given an assignment, which is due the following week. Upon satisfactory completion of the assignment, an in-game reward is given; a reward that befits the level of complexity of the assignment.

Some examples include:
1. Describe a day in the life of your hero.
2. If money were no object, what would he purchase and why.
3. List three hobbies or activities that your character enjoys.
4. What type of household did your character grow up in?

And so on. Literally any question you can think of can apply. Sometimes a visual assignment can be given. Once, I gave my characters a blank, 3D printout of a bedroom and asked my players to dress it up to look like their characters room. They could add colors, posters, desks, chairs, computers, clothes, etc.

As you might imagine, the reward for this assignment was very high indeed; but the results were spectacular and fun to show off.

Through these assignments, my players developed several engaging subplots and characters to explore in between missions. It breathed additional life into my campaign and gave a sense of realism to an otherwise fantastic world.
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline MoonHunter

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More rough ideas
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2003, 10:42:03 AM »
Plot Web: When I plot an adventure, I simply create a couple of scenes I would like to see with possible introductions and exits, creating a web of possibilities rather than something resembling a plot/ story line. I fit the character's actions into the web as appropriate. Sometimes, when I don't do my job or they are set on another course of action, they sort of ignore the adventure. Every now and again the action from the web occurs, and they see the results on the news or some such.  
 
Plot Web: When I plot an adventure, I simply create a couple of scenes I would like to see with possible introductions and exits, creating a web of possibilities rather than something resembling a plot/ story line. These scenes are often writen on 3x5 cards or my campaign note page. I fit the character's actions into the web as appropriate. Sometimes, when I don't do my job or they are set on another course of action, they sort of ignore the adventure. Every now and again the action from the web occurs, and they see the results on the news or some such. Sometimes they get back into the adventure, and sometimes I create a new web (often recycling action sequences).  

Relationship web: If you have a campaign with many detailed NPCs and settings, you will find this a useful tool. Simple write a setting's name somewhere on a piece of paper and draw a box around it. Then around that box write the names of the NPCs associated with that place (putting boxes around those names). Draw lines (and arrows if needed) connecting the NPC to a given place and any other NPC. This creates a "visual aid" that helps you visualize the relationship between the NPCs and settings. Using the relationship web, you will better understand how the PCs can move from NPC and NPC and what clues needed to be dropped where.

X marks the spot I: Creating a plot map is a great GM tool. On a good sized piece of paper, draw a circle with each PC's and major NPC's) name in it. From the circle, extend one line to a small box for every individual plothook the character has. That plot hook line ends in a square box, that includes the NPCs and antagonists for the plot spelled out. Connect the various player plot boxes that share the same (or similar) plot hooks. This helps to show the various relationships between the characters  
 
X marks the spot II: On your plot map, draw several (3-4) large square plot boxes that are distinct from one another with some space between them. Then come up with 3 different plot concepts, ideas for an episode or story arc, or scenario, placing one in each of the large plot boxes.  
 
X marks the spot III: Once you can see all the various plots and subplots (all those non character boxes), you can more easily see all the connections and how you can link the various elements together. Simple draw the lines to connect the various plot and character boxes. If you include organizations (diamond boxes) and important things (triangles), you can easily get a handle on the campaign.  
 
X marks the spot IV: Once you have achieve a map that includes all the basics, you can then take it to the next level. You can create smaller plot boxes by connecting various character and character hook plot boxes. Expand upon various elements that are cross linked to each other via seemingly unrelated or basic matters. You can see where certain characters will need more subplots to hold their attention, and apply new boxes and linking lines to them. Eventually the graphic map of your campaign will shape up. Check off the various boxes as you use and resolve the plot lines. Check your plot map often, so you can see where your campaign is going.

When creating an adventure/ scenario, determine the scenes that need to (or should) occur.  Those are the key scenes. Everything else is just filler.  Every scene for the adventure needs an "entry" (how players normally get into the scene), a purpose, a setting, any antagonists, the drama (what kind of action is being expected), and exits.. where you can go from there.  These scenes are frequently written on 3x5 cards so you can keep them in order or shuffle them around as you need to.  

You can improvise a card, by defining what the purpose of any impov scenes are.  If a scene does not have a purpose, simply narrate through it and move on to the next scene.  

Sometimes you will plan for the transition scene, the scene that the main purpose of getting you from one scene to another, and usually another minor purpose (showcasing the setting, introducing a character, etc).  Think of Decker being taken for a ride to the police station in Blade Runner. The scene was to show us the visuals of the world.  

This way of thinking of the story web keeps the GM focused on the story... this helps them with pacing.  

Note: If the players just want to "chew on the scenery", the GM needs to occasionally ask OOC what the purpose of the scene is... (express character details, origin, set up a relationship).  If  the scene in not critical to the current story line, the players can finish the scene "off line" either away from the game or by blue book or email.  

Scenes run in "beats".  If you have an development beat (where clues are discovered, characters are introduced, information is learned, settings are
defined), it should be followed with an action beat (combat being the classic, but for a game anything requiring the rolling of dice and the threat of possible harm.. chases, physical challanges, walking on ledges, etc).  By making sure your scenes alternate between development and action beats, you will automatically develop a pace your game.

****************************
So, my tips request for you this week is advice on switching
from micro character management (i.e. "Ok, the monster is
dead, what are you doing now?") to longer time frames (i.e.
"Ok, the monster is dead, the village celebrates, and three
weeks pass.") with grace and efficiency. Perhaps you have
some planning advice to prevent this problem from happening
in the first place, or some in-game storytelling techniques
for this?

Send your tips to: johnn@roleplayingtips.com

*********************************

You have to know where you are, to know where you are going. The job of the GM is tough enough without having to keep track of everything going on. Yet that is part of their role.  A developed campaign is filled with so many places, people, relationships, and plots, that it is sometimes hard for a GM to keep track of what everything is and how it all fits together.  Notes and memory are sometimes insufficient for that task.  What the GM needs is a magic map, showing them where they are in the campaign and where the campaign is going.  While magic maps are in short supply, there are some map like graphic tools that will help a GM see their campaign in new ways, keep track of things, and see new options for their campaign.  


Relationship map:  
This tool is useful to keep track of NPCs, PCs, their associated locations, and who knows who.  Start by writing a main setting (city/ village/ other) somewhere on a piece of paper and draw a circle around it. Then around that circle write the names of the NPCs associated with that place (putting circles around those names). Draw lines connecting the NPC to any place they are associated with and any other NPC they know or interact with.  Do not forget to add the player's names (in circles) to the map and arrows connecting them to the NPCs and Places they know well.  Many people will often lable each line with the quality of relationship (love, friend, good friend, enemy, despises, blackmails, etc).  If the relationship is not recipicated, arrows can be used.

Tholcom loves Ariella.. there is an arrow line from Tholcom to Arriela marked with "love".  She is merely using him, so arrow line between Arriela and Tholcom says "manipulates".  



This creates a "visual aid" that helps you visualize the relationship between the NPCs and settings. The Map allows you to "see" connections that you had not thought of before.

Plot Map:
On a good sized piece of paper, write the name of each PCs and major NPC. Draw a circle around those. From the circle, extend one line to a small box for every individual plothook a character has. That plot hook line ends in a square box. Each square box has the name of the plot line. You have the option of either writing the NPCs and antagonists for the plotline in the box or extending lines to circles with their names in them. Connect the various player plot boxes that share the same (or similar) plot hooks. This helps to show the various relationships between the characters.  You can connect opposing characters to the plot lines they are inovlved in. That includes all the personal plots and subplots for the characters.  

The next stage is the main plotlines and story arcs.  To shows these, draw several (3-4 usually, but one for each main plotline/ story arc in your campaign) large square plot boxes that are distinct from one another with some space between them.

Then come up with 3 different plot concepts, ideas for an episode or story arc, or scenario, placing one in each of the large plot boxes.

Once you can see all the various plots and subplots (all those non character boxes), you can more easily see all the connections and how you can link the various elements together. Simple draw the lines to connect the various plot and character boxes. If you include organizations (diamond boxes) and important things (triangles), you can easily get a handle on the campaign.

Once you have achieve a map that includes all the basics, you can then take it to the next level. You can create smaller plot boxes by connecting various character and character hook plot boxes. Expand upon various elements that are cross linked to each other via seemingly unrelated or basic matters. You can see where certain characters will need more subplots to hold their attention, and apply new boxes and linking lines to them. Eventually the graphic map of your campaign will shape up. Check off the various boxes as you use and resolve the plot lines. Check your plot map often, so you can see where your campaign is going.

Now you can extend this technique to the plot itself.  

When I plot an adventure, I simply create a couple of scenes I would like to see with possible introductions and exits, creating a web of possibilities rather than something resembling a plot/ story line. I fit the character's actions into the web as appropriate. Sometimes, when I don't do my job or they are set on another course of action, they sort of ignore the adventure. Every now and again the action from the web occurs, and they see the results on the news or some such.

When I plot an adventure, I simply create a couple of scenes I would like to see with possible introductions and exits, creating a web of possibilities rather than something resembling a plot/ story line. These scenes are often writen on 3x5 cards or my campaign note page. I fit the character's actions into the web as appropriate. Sometimes, when I don't do my job or they are set on another course of action, they sort of ignore the adventure. Every now and again the action from the web occurs, and they see the results on the news or some such. Sometimes they get back into the adventure, and sometimes I create a new web (often recycling action sequences).


Hmmmmm.
When creating an adventure/ scenario, determine the scenes that need to (or should) occur. Those are the key scenes. Everything else is just filler. Every scene for the adventure needs an "entry" (how players normally get into the scene), a purpose, a setting, any antagonists, the drama (what kind of action is being expected), and exits.. where you can go from there. These scenes are frequently written on 3x5 cards so you can keep them in order or shuffle them around as you need to.

You can improvise a card, by defining what the purpose of any impov scenes are. If a scene does not have a purpose, simply narrate through it and move on to the next scene.

Sometimes you will plan for the transition scene, the scene that the main purpose of getting you from one scene to another, and usually another minor purpose (showcasing the setting, introducing a character, etc). Think of Decker being taken for a ride to the police station in Blade Runner. The scene was to show us the visuals of the world.

This way of thinking of the story web keeps the GM focused on the story... this helps them with pacing.

Note: If the players just want to "chew on the scenery", the GM needs to occasionally ask OOC what the purpose of the scene is... (express character details, origin, set up a relationship). If the scene in not critical to the current story line, the players can finish the scene "off line" either away from the game or by blue book or email.

Scenes run in "beats". If you have an development beat (where clues are discovered, characters are introduced, information is learned, settings are
defined), it should be followed with an action beat (combat being the classic, but for a game anything requiring the rolling of dice and the threat of possible harm.. chases, physical challanges, walking on ledges, etc). By making sure your scenes alternate between development and action beats, you will automatically develop a pace your game.
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline MoonHunter

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Article of the Moment
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2003, 03:19:34 AM »
It is all in the cards:
Campaign and adventure planning.

Such campaigns need to be seriously player and character driven.

Ask each of the players for one to five bits they want to see in the campaign. These bits could be genre, or type of adventures, or types of classes/ npcs, foes (I wanna fight orcs), or important aspects of the game.

You can then create the campaign (or revamp what you have created) making sure to use the bits the players want.

When you and your troupe are developing characters together, have them do some more bits. First, if you the GM is not involved in character development, then you get what you deserve. Secondly, by letting the group work together on their characters, you will get a troupe that will work well together, cover all its skills and bases (as all your base belong to us), and the characters might even be woven together (having common backgrounds and threads of history). This process will prevent you from having "another group of strangers". So towards the end, ask them for one to five bits. These could be campaign bits, or bits more specific for their characters: NPCs they want to see/ have, villians, monsters, types of adventures, and anything that they could need to fufill their character story and adventuring.

Then work on a few plotlines incorporating those bits.

When creating a plotline (or adventure/ scenario), determine the scenes that need to (or should) occur. Those are the key scenes. Everything else is just filler. Every scene for the adventure needs an "entry" (how players normally get into the scene), a purpose, a setting, any antagonists, the drama (what kind of action is being expected), and exits.. where you can go from there. These scenes are frequently written on 3x5 cards so you can keep them in order or shuffle them around as you need to.

You can improvise a card, by defining what the purpose of any impov scenes are. If a scene does not have a purpose, simply narrate through it and move on to the next scene.

Sometimes you will plan for the transition scene, the scene that the main purpose of getting you from one scene to another, and usually another minor purpose (showcasing the setting, introducing a character, etc). Think of Decker being taken for a ride to the police station in Blade Runner. The scene was to show us the visuals of the world.

This way of thinking of the story web keeps the GM focused on the story... this helps them with pacing.

Now these cards do not have to be played in order. You can have a plot line that will run over several months, that has three or four scenes involved with it. You just put those cards into a given game, when they fit. As the player's resolve those scenes, you can move on to the next cards.

Remember: Scenes run in "beats". If you have an development beat (where clues are discovered, characters are introduced, information is learned, settings are
defined), it should be followed with an action beat (combat being the classic, but for a game anything requiring the rolling of dice and the threat of possible harm.. chases, physical challanges, walking on ledges, etc). By making sure your scenes alternate between development and action beats, you will automatically develop a pace your game.
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
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Offline MoonHunter

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Stuff to fodder
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2003, 12:22:55 AM »
These elements have yet to be added.  
Check out The Characetr post at @fantasy

A bad GM is anyone whose game you're not enjoying. There are no objective and absolute standards to judge a GM by. It is a subjective judgement.  

A "bad GM" is a matter of context, really. While group A might not like the GM's style, group B might love his style. So, while you might not like the style of a particular GM, chances are he's not really bad. You just enjoy a different gaming style than he does.

For me, a bad GM is one that doesn't try to improve, and cares less for the entertainment of the group as a whole then he does his own. You know the kind of GM I'm talking about.

GMs who basically ignore their players because they are so full of themselves or GMs who fail to make sure that everyone around the table has a fun time are bad GMs.

The Continuing Saga -Herd the Cats: Friction between characters can make things interesting, if it does not derail the game and is dramatic/ interesting.  Friction between players is not good and will kill the game group.  You know your friends better than I do.  Do what you can to diffuse the situation.  

Points to Ponger: What makes a difference in the success or failure of an rpg session is you.

Fantasy: Mages must think stratigically, getting the most effect for the least effort.  Sometimes the more effect for the least effort is a physical action, though the mage character might never admit that.

Fantasy: Wizards are convinced that magic is superior.  

Powerful people are scary.  People assume most people who act powerful have more power than they really do.  

Please sir, can I have some more:
Progression of characters over campaigns is good. The progression must be played out to be appreiciate,

Increase options, but don't restrict them as the character's progress through the campaign.

The Destination does not matter. It is the route taken. So the character may eventually become quite powerful.  It means little to them if the campaign ends soon after they achieve that power.  While the anticipation can add interest, players need things to peak their interest now and again.  

The GM must avoid procrastination and keep score.  Players like to be rewarded with experience and other things.  Don't say, "I'll give you eps later." Do it at the end of the session, so the players can work with their numbers between sessions.  

GMs, Efficiency vs Style- My recomendation is do it with flair.  Think of the game as a movie.  If your character is not acting like it is in a movie, you should rethink your moves.

Herd the Cats: Game Buddy: Assign newer players older players as mentors and their designated rules advice source.  This ties everyone into the game and frees the GM up for other tasks.  

Rulebooks are not roleplaying games anymore than a screenplay is a movie.

Roleplaying gamesa re not something you can just watch; they demand participation.

There is no one best game system, but there is probably a game system that works best for your group.

Never get so caught up in your own creative vision that you fall to achieve your primary goal, providing fun from everyone in the troupe.

Be a Director: Keep the scenes interesting. Don't make decisions or even make suggestions for a character's actions. Even if the player agrees his character might take a certain action, the action will feel somehow dictated by you. Instead focus on observing and rewarding players who do things you feel are in character. Also, make your NPCs more than extras.

Be a Writer: This role doesn't end just before the session. When the session is over, think about all the details that changed based on your players actions in your story. Rewrite the story to incorporate these actions and the players will be more engaged by the subplots they're involved in, and in the overall story arc.

Be a Producer: Handle all the little details of rules, schedules, and clarifications quickly and with authority. If the players can't agree on something, you are the final word. Keep yourself open to suggestions and criticism, however, or the Director and Writer cannot properly do their jobs. A collaborative approach with your players will make them warmer to all the work you're putting into wrecking their characters' lives.

"Fantasy can be abused or misused, but of what thing in this fallen world is this not true?" -- J.R.R.Tolkien
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline MoonHunter

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Did you know there was a maximum post size?
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2004, 01:35:04 AM »
I got prolific and inserted some information in one of the posts... Now I lost everything at the bottom.  Crap.  Oh well.
All entered


And all the characters merely players: A good character is about personality. She has likes and dislikes. She has goals, ambitions and things to strive for.
She has mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. Maybe she talks with an accent, or has a catch phrase she uses a lot. Either Good or Evil, she has a set of morals.

And all the characters merely players: A good character has a history - a place she grew up, maybe some friends and family somewhere. She may have certain training, or she may not. But she always has a story with a REASON why she knows what she knows, and why she is who she is.

And all the characters merely players: A good character is NOT about statistics recorded on a character sheet. Game stats don't exist in the Game World - if another character asked yours, "What level are you?" the ONLY correct response is, "What's a level?" Real people don't speak in those terms, and neither should characters.

And all the characters merely players: A good character is NOT about having an attack bonus of +27. She is NOT about being nealy invulnerable to almost any sort of attack. She is NOT about combat and only combat. She may use combat as her primary method of dealing with problems, but these characters are rare, and still should have all the elements listed above.

And all the characters merely players: A good PLAYER is more concerned with telling a gripping story, and playing the role of a certain character in that story. This means dialogue, making important decisions, developing relationships such as friendship, love and hatred with other characters. This does NOT mean rampantly slayng every monster in the world, simply because they're monsters, or even because that's what your DM throws at you.

*When we started the party out at first level, equipment management wasn't too big of a deal, but now that we are eighth level it is becoming more of a headache. We usually use a porter/street urchin/inn keeper to fetch mundane equipment (sunrods, caltrops, torches and the like) and will pay a little extra premium for the service. And while we do use electronic character tools (eTools) to keep track of our characters, it still can be a pain to keep track of potions/scrolls and other items. This has also made the gathering of equipment, found as loot, to become a major time drag for both the DM and the players.

How many times has a player wrote down a potion/scroll only to have it sit there on the character sheet and never get used? Or what if items on the master loot list don't get distributed, lost, or accidentally duplicated? What if the loot tracker misspells the baddies name and the DM has to spend 15 minutes flipping through the Module to identify something you killed three sessions ago? Also, it is a very big pain to erase and re-write down frequently used items such as healing potions.

*What I did to help alleviate some of the issues is the following. I purchased several packs of white and neon colored (green, yellow, pink, orange & blue) 3x5 index cards. When an item is discovered on a fallen enemy the player will write down the item on a certain color card as well as any descriptive information that the DM can give about that encounter/enemy/room that will help him/her look up the information whenever the party gets around to identifying it. We happen to use the following color schema (tending to run through the yellow and green fastest)

Potions = Yellow;
Scrolls = Green;
Wands = Pink;
Magic Items = Blue;
Magic Weapons = Red;
White is reserved for mundane/Masterwork items.

*The items can be distributed on the spot to the rest of the players or after it has been identified. Once identified the price of the item (as well as any charges/caster level/etc) is also added to the card so that if it needs to be liquidated it the sell price can be taken as a percentage of the MSRP. Potions, scrolls and wands are kept on cards and then destroyed once depleted/used. Duplicate scrolls and potions can be added to the same card, but whenever it is used, the item is scratched through with a pen or some other permanent marker. Magical items are identified and a player selected to receive the item, at that point he/she takes the card and does not destroy it until it is integrated onto their character sheet.

*For an advanced usage, we use a simple 1-hole punch to put a hole in the top right corner and then the use a single binder ring to keep them together. In addition, frequently used items such as Healing potions can be laminated as permanent tokens that are taken away when used and given back as they buy more.

*This system is working out supremely well in the organization and distribution equipment. In addition, when the players get in a bind or during down time, they tend to flip through their specialty items to see if they have something that can pull their characters out of the proverbial fire. This gets the players more familiar with what they are carrying, cut down on the amount of times we have print and re-print our character sheets from the computer (saving both paper and expensive ink), and made identify and distributing items MUCH faster.
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*To help cut down on the rules calls, eliminate gamebooks from the table during play sessions.

"Baby sitter" NPCs are ill advised. They are powerful characters who hang around the PCs and pretty much there to prevent them from going over their heads. This is worse than the Deus Ex Machina deal the DMG warned about. It makes the players feel bad about their characters.

Don't worry too much. Just let the game flow and if your plot is ruined, don't fret, try to salvage what you can or just let the PCs do what they want and wing it.

Fantasy- Low Magic: In such a game, it means that magic needs to NOT be used against the PCs all the time. It gives an "unfair advantage" to the bad guys over the PCs, if the bad guys have it and the PCs don't. The occasional "Boss" bad guy or magikal monster is okay, as long as the characters can defeat said opponents without using magic of their own.
Fantasy- Low Magic: Combats need to be exciting in a low fantasy world. So get yourself and your troupe out of the "roll dice I hit" mentallity. Have movie nights instead of game some times. Watch John Woo Movies, or The Musketeer, or the 70s Musketeer set, or heck any of the old Flynn/ Rathbon swashbuckling movies. Take notes on what they do, so you can use the ideas and descriptions later in the game. Have the players work up their own stunts, given their skills, abilities, and gifts, ahead of time, and reward them for encorporating them into the combat. And make sure the settings for any combat you have is interesting. Never have just a bar fight, make sure there are beams and low fire pits to use and be wary of. Thus by improving the combat scenes, people will feel that they and their non-magikal weapons are just as good as their big boom magic combats.

Fantasy- Low Magic:Make sure the game system you are using can handle various combat options. If it can't, do some work on it, so it will, OR change to antoher game. Remember that most of the "cool" aspects of a combat are really just description of how you do the attack, defense, and the damage you do. Even old AD&D can have exciting combats, as long as the combat is punctuated by exciting description, narration, and the occasional odd act, even though the rules truly did not support anything but a "roll to hit, roll damage" mentality.

Fantasy- Low Magic: Take cues from your favorite low fantasy worlds (like you have CP). If anything you will do in the campaign does not fit the books standard, i.e. "could this happen in book series X?", then don't let it happen.

When crafting a story, use people, places, and things the audience knows. When the audience is familiar with the elements in your story, they will become even more involved. As soon as you mention the company cafeteria, their minds race to the cafeteria to meet you and find out what happens. However, don't use humor that is too inside. Only a few people will understand it.

Emphasize the adjectives and verbs in your stories to make them sound more interesting. Try it. Look around where you are right now and describe anything you want. Really put punch behind the adjectives and verbs and see how your description comes to life. Use specific and interesting verbs and adjectives. Say I was exhausted, not I was tired. Say, her head was nodding and drooping, not her head was down.

It is just a story -Boo! Convey that there are worst fates than death. Being a slave or being infiltrated by a brain controlling parasitic worm, is much worse than actually killing the PC of.  If you kill one off, they simply roll up another one.  If you place them in a fate worse than death, they will work and work and stress over how to get free of it.  

It is just a story - Boo! Get a PC alone, or seperate them into smaller groups. It's more work for you and slows the game down a bit, but the pay off can make it worth it. Snipers and assassins wait for situations like this.

Introduce dangerous opponents that are clearly minions of some greater adversary. Make them harsh -- a challenge in their own right with minions of their own -- and have them not fight to the death. They'll take off if things get too nasty in order to fight another day (if some don't manage to get away, just introduce others). When a few have managed to escape, suggest the idea of what a combat would be like if all those henchmen who survived were gathered together in one place.  This is an approach that stopped an uber "charge forward and lay waste" party dead in their tracks. It was amusing to see these huge, cosmic PCs hedge and haw. They said, "Maybe we shouldn't just march right into the front door..." and "If these guys are minions, imagine what the BBEG must be like?!"

Boo!  When playing out a character with sanity issues. Run the game, but insert odd twists, and monsters and such being run by other players. Take copius notes during this section. When the character "recovers", narrate through what occured in the real world.  After doing this a couple of times, have the first run be reality and the second run be wierd and the one they can ignore. All of a sudden, they won't know what to trust. Their stress and confusion will stimulate fear.

All the world's a stage: You can narrate the character's physiological responses. His mind (the player) may be oblivious, but let the person pee in their pants or sweat profusely or make a DR to repress throwing up. The players might say this is unfair. Tell them if they did it, you would not have to. (Hence players will begin to show their fear at appropriate time, rather than the occasionally inconvient times the GM might do it.


Some mechanics that help....
Director's cut - Thought Balloon: This is borrowed from the comics. Stop play and ask the player to narrate what is going through their character's head. If they do an adequite job, they are fine. If they do a bad job or their thoughts don't reflect the reality of the situation, the roleplaying aspect of their experience is penalized.  When used sparingly, it is a very effective tool.  

Nuts and Bolts - Boo! - Horror Meter:  The player's don't have to feel scared (though it is nice), but they need to act it out. This might give them the idea. If they absolutely don't get it. Rate their performance from 1-10, 10 being of an average level of play. Divide this number by 10 geting a score between .1 and 1. This number becomes a multiplier for their experience (3000exp becomes 1200 exp with a .4 MOD) or number of possible skill checks they get. (if they are ranking .3 it requires three appropriate uses before they get a check). Even the most hardened meta-gamer and power-gamer learns to roleplay appropriately with this kind of incentive.


Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle 0: Ever since the final battle in The Lord of the Rings, people have wanted to end campaigns (or large story arcs) with massive multi-army combats.  If it fits your campaign, feel free to do it. You will need to plan for this event ahead of time, so you can pull it off with the proper aplomb.  

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle I: Arrange for the players to have contact with all the various elements that will be involved in the great conflict over the course of the campaign.  That way they know what to expect when the see the various components hit the field.  It also can give them a personal tie to the conflict.  See the difference between "The White Elves Calvalry take the field. Their formations comes wheeling about to hit the Orcish line," vs "Perrignor, and the handful of White Elve lancers, who were the rear guard of the Elves travelling to The West, come thundering on to the field, wheeling about in formation to hit the Orcish line".  The players realizing that these warrior have given up their chance to join their breathern in The West to fight this battle. This gives them an understanding of the various forces involved and can add much to their experience.

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle II: Brush up on your military tactics and history.  If you are going to have a grand battle, you need to know how such battles are conducted.  In addition to giving you an idea on the hows and whys, this brushing up will increase your appropriate vocabulary, so you can describe the action in military terms.  I read up on Samurai Warfare for months before the The Three Grand Battles, involving 26,000 Samurai, we resolved. I watched Ran the day before.  It was glorious.

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle III: The GM has two options when dealing with war: scripted and non scripted. A scripted war is an event planned by the GM, acting as the author of the game. The advantage of this is that the GM can plan adventures around the events and control all the changes. The disadvantage is that the players have little to no impact on the events. An unscripted war is one where game mechanics are used to determine which side wins which battles. This is vastly more fair, but oftentimes does not provide a good "story" for the adventurers. Note to GMs: Have your players play out some battles, using the rules of your choice. Use those results to determine the results of an upcoming war in the game world.

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle IV: Now I am a big fan of the nonscripted battle. However, I will admit to giving certain plus modifiers to one side I felt should win the battle despite their game mechanic deficiates.  While I refused to script the battle, I felt justified in fudging the rules a bit for the betterment of the campaign. After all it is my campaign, not the dices'.  

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle IV: Know your battle mechanics cold.  You have to be totally profiecient in the mass combat rules you are using.  We have all played with GM's who have not known the character level combat system.  We have all experienced the halting, jerky flow of said combats.  You do not want that for your grand climax.  So practice the mechanics, even play out a few mock combats with other players ahead of time to get fluent.  

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle V: Know the terrain of the area your grand battle will take place.  Have a map set up for the area.  Familiarize yourself with the terrain.  This will give you the ability to plan for each force that will be involved.  

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle VI: Determine the basic tactics for each force involved in your final conflict ahead of time.  That way, you know what each side will do ahead of time and will not have to stop and contemplate every round.  

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle VII: Make sure that the characters are involved in the combat in some way. Often times players are not where they expect when these combats occur, so be prepared to keep them involved.

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle VIII: Get everyone into the same mood and groove as you.  While you are brushing up on your mass combat skills, see if there is a movie or three that has a large combat in the same time period or genre.  Have a film festival before the final event, so everyone is "visually" on the same page.

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle IX: If your mass combat mechanics do not have a character scale integration (Like FGU's Bushido), find a way to do it.  You need to get them involved in the mass combat, on a character scale.  The easiest general mechanic is make three "attack" and three "defense" rolls.  This determines what generally happens to you (attacks determine number of kills, while every missed defense roll is a die worth of damage).  Cheesey, but workable.  There are other ways to do this, so find the one that fits you and your campaign.  


Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle X: If your mass combat mechanics do not have a character scale integration (Like FGU's Bushido), find a way to do it.  You need to get them involved in the mass combat, on a character scale.  The way I suggest (having done it in a few other game systems) is having a handful of "in battle" scenes all set up on cards.  Every turn I flip a card and the players roll a die. On the card, it explains a battle field situation that will come up... A personal combat, the character is some how surrounded, the rain begins, encounter a leader, etc.  These "scenarios" are often modified by how the battle is going, (surrounded by enemies when you are winning is you just being temporarily cut off, while if your side is loosing means you are gravely outnumbered).  Some cards effect everyone (the rain begins and continues for 6 rounds... make dex checks to keep weapons or footing every turn).  The High or Low roller is the one that is involved in the scenario. Note: The players will often say that they are sticking together, so they can sometimes draw more players into said scenario. We resolve the sceen, and roll the next "Battle Round".

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle XI: Be prepared to play the post climax scenes.  Don't get too sticky about timing or details. Let the scene be dramatic and personal.  

Marching Orders - The Big Climactic Battle XII: Be prepared to do this all in one session, so plan an extra long, marathon session with food and drink to sustain the group.  If you break up these climactic moments into two sessions, much of it is lost.

The Continuing Saga: When considering a character for a campaign, consider the character AND the player playing it. A character which might be appropriate for one player to play, would become a campaign destroying thing in the hands and playstyle of another player in your group.

The Continuing Saga - It is your world, even if it is a license. GMs that are running a game set in a licensed setting should let go of their concerns about adhering 100 percent to the setting (canon).  While the campaign should fit the gist of the setting and the world, the GM should take the chance and run the game they see fit. So what if the canon police or the purists say that's not how it was, it's the GM's game to run as he or she sees fit. Note: If you are changing the world a bit, make sure to tell the players what changes to expect.  Otherwise they are operating under incorrect assumptions.  

It's only a game. Don't use this as excuse to slack off or get sloppy in your planning, but do keep it in mind. You and the rest of the players are presumably there to have fun, so do your best to avoid making things not fun.

Talk to the players. The world may be yours, but the game is just as much theirs as yours. If you're not all on the same page at least about most things, the campaign won't last long.

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http://members.tripod.com/~afronord/direct.html blocking shots
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Dungeon: Most dungeons are abandoned places where monsters have moved in. Designing such a place is a three step process. First: build the original. This original place had a purpose, so build it to meet that purpose, be it a temple, castle, or home. Second: "break it". Decide for what reason the place was abandoned. That determines what is left behind and what condition it is in. After those decisions are made, apply some "time". This is general wear and tear: walls crumble, floors falling away, door breaking, ceilings collapsing, etc. The third step is "to squat". The monsters (be them actual monsters or sentients) have moved in. What is the


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"A good roleplayer is someone who works cheerfully towards his own enjoyment and the enjoyment of those around him, and compromises neither in pursuing the other. "

To expand: of course some small compromises are necessary, but a good roleplayer finds the middle ground that pleases him and his group the most.

That's all it is. If their style matches yours, than that's a bonus, but I would always rather play with a good player who has my polar opposite in style than with a mediocre one who thinks like I do.

Style, character, knowledge, experience, age - none of it matters. Only the above definition matters.

I give this two thumbs and one tail up. It is everything I hope for in a post 1)An interesting effect, 2) backhistory, 3)intergation into the game world, and 4) well written. Thank you for gifting us with this item.

Player adice: A good DM is even more concerned with telling a story. They don't give a hoot about basic combat or killing stuff or finding treasure, unless those things are part of the story being told. They should make the game sound like a good novel or movie, rather than a multiplayer game of Unreal Tournament.  If this isn't what your DM has taught you about gaming, then you need to stop gaming with him. He's no good. You should game with others and see what we are talking about. Play a simple human character, with no special abilities whatsoever. See where that takes you.

Fodder: I like monsters that are easy to confront once you know their secret. In fact, most monsters in our common pantheon are easy to kill, once you know how. However, the monsters need to keep themselves cloaked in mystery and mythology, so they can continue to pray on the unsuspecting... appearing unstoppable. ONce the monster is revealed, and its weakness sussed out, it is moderate easy to kill the supposedly unstoppable thing.

Bad GM habits Fodder: Getting frustrated with players when they don't know the rules, can't add or do other little things that seem to me to be basic, but may be difficult for them.

Bad GM habits: Not providing enough information. By this, I mean that when I try to design mystery/ investigative adventures, I always fail to provide enough information/ clues for the players. The solution seem obvious to me, but to them it isn't. This is not their fault, but mine. I really need to get better at this.

Not providing enough information. I think it's tough to tell everything pertinent.

2. Waiting. I tend to be a minimalist DM, by which I mean if there's any kind of decision to be made I let the players make it. Sometimes I think there's something they may want to do or decide to do because it isn't obvious to me that a decision has been made or doesn't need to be made. So sometimes the players are waiting for me and I'm waiting for them at the same time.

Mine is designing opposition to work a a team. I usually have a opponent group play off their strengths and minimize weaknesses. My players are usually trying to grandstand and are doing their own thing in combat. I have accidentally had a a few TPK's that shouldn't have happened because I have had my opposition too tactically optimized.

I tend to emphasis role play too much: "let's do something other than talk"

Things dragging on too long: "get to the point."

Too easy encounters: "Not challenging."

Losing track of initiative order.

Followed by having a lousy sense of tactics. I'm working on this! And now I appoint someone to track init for me.

I ad-lib too much. My party just finished the first adventure, and I have nothing planned for the next one. As it's a PbP game, and has been going on for well over a month, I have no excuse.

I'm horrible with denouement. By the time the two to three hour long climactic battle is finished, I lose interest in wrapping things up, dividing the loot, saving the princess, or any other post-combat activities. I just want the players to get the heck out of my house and leave me alone for a week...

As far as the players are concerned, my worst habit is that I have a tendacy to play the opposition too intelligent. Mind you, mindless creatures are not the problem. The creatures with average and below average that are difficult for me to play.

My worst habit was that I tinkered with the rules too much during the campaign. Since the campaigns were open-ended, episodic affairs, there really wasn't a good time to tinker. Now that I run definite campaigns with definite story arcs, I confine my tinkering to the time between campaigns, with maybe some minor adjustments at the beginning if we aren't sure whether something will work or not.

Actually, my worst habit would be that I 1) allow far too much lee-way for characters, 2) take on projects I don't have a lot of experience for, and 3) procrastinate on writing down and fleshing out my ideas...

In-depth storylines dealing with mysteries in a particular character's backgrounds. Unfortunately, this means I sometimes end up 1) talking to one character at length about information the rest of the party doesn't give a whit about in-game or 2) accidentally changing a player's concept of her character somewhat drastically by filling in the 'blanks' differently than she ever intended or imagined.

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Screenwriting/ 9 acts
http://www.dsiegel.com/film/anatomy.html
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How to come up with a campaign  
http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=&threadid=100289
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Story beats and Pulp adventure creation
http://www.fortunecity.com/rivendell/gallows/954/fsuns/actionad.htm
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Timeline character creation expanded.
http://www.fudgefactor.org/2002/01/01/timeline_based_char_gen.html
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MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline Erebus

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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2004, 05:08:01 PM »
30 minutes well spent reading through the above posts - thanks Moonhunter, resonant and stimulating as always.

I am particularly interested in the theme of scene 'beats' as you put it.  It's something I play around with in a slightly diferent way...  I tend to 'break' the natural rythym of 'development scene', 'combat scene' etc and play different styles of activity off each other.

As an example, I will often prelude a very harsh scene (emotional/violent) with a comical interlude, maybe an amusing encounter.  Once all the players are having a good chuckle, I know they are then emotionally unprepared (ie defences down) for the scene of mutilation around the corner, or whatever, and the impact is heightened.  

Likewise whenever I start to feel the PC's 'know what is coming next' or are 'into' the beat of the story - I switch pace, surprise 'em and keep the bastards awake!  lol
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2004, 04:25:10 AM »
Type it are tips on playing electronic PbeM or PbP games.

Type it! - Advice to play by: Post! Yes, this is simplistic. So what. Make sure you respond to every move, even if it's a quick note saying "I don't really have something to do so I'll just do research". There is nothing a PBEM/ PbP GM hates more than setting up the game, sending out an exciting and gripping move, and then receiving no replies. Your character isn't going to be center stage all the time, but when he's not you still need to let the GM know that you are still interested in the game.

Type it! Life Happens. There will be times when life prevents you from posting. Maybe you and your family are going away on a trip. Maybe you're in the hospital having a baby. Maybe you're flat on your back with pneumonia. If possible, always warn your GM about times you're going to miss posting. If you can't warn him, send an note fully explaining why you missed responding to the game as soon as you are able. This is polite, and might save your spot in the game.
 
Type it! - Advice to play by: Write In Third Person, Past Tense.  It is a good idea to say "he did", "she did", and "it did". Try and avoid first person like the plague. Never write your narration with "I did this" and "I did that". And hatever you do, don't write "I do this" and "I do that". Remember, you're  trying to tell a story, not write a diary.
 
Type it! - Advice to play by: Write In Third Person, Past Tense.  It is a good idea to say "he did", "she did", and "it did". The primary reason this is so important is because GMs tend to write their moves in third Person, past tense. When the GM tries to integrate your responses into their moves, and you've been writing in first person present tense, the tense and perspective clash. Making life easy on your GM is a good thing.
 
Type it! Communicate with other players.  By communicating with other players in the game, you can decide on subplots and mutual actions that your characters can experience, without involving the entire troupe (in the planning stages).  This is the best way to set up love scenes, rivalries, and other interpersonal subplots.

Type it! - Advice to play by: Use Proper Spelling And Grammar. Regardless of what language you are writing in, choppy paragraphs and badly  constructed sentences make for difficult reading. People won't read your posts, or respond, if they cannot decipher what you write.  

Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid Non-Game Related Messages. If you feel you've got to say something to the people , as opposed to your character saying something to another character, say it quick, get to the point, and make sure it is in the OOC (out of character) area.  Responses back can be private or in the OOC area.  

Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid Messages From The Willingly Oblivious These messages come about when one player totally ignores something posted by someone else, be it another player or the GM. If you don't like something that's been posted, you are NOT allowed to just ignore it and move on... especially if it came from the GM. Feel free to voice your objection to the GM, in a private message.

Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid messages with the Super-Hero Syndrome. A post with this syndrome is a post of this sort involves the character doing things he simply isn't capable of doing and not responding correctly to his weaknesses. The best example would be a character who should be hobbling around in pain after being wounded, but instead is prancing around like he was Errol Flynn in Captain Blood. This is a serious issue, even in games set in the superhero-genre.  Keep your character's action within your abilites.

Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid getting involved in Flames in character and out.  We all know about occ flames, two players hurling insults at each other. That's generally enough to get you booted from most games out there. Avoid the In-Character Flame War. In such a flamefest, two or more players will use their characters to fight each other over problems they are having in real life. You can tell this is going on when two characters who have no reason to be hostile to each other suddenly start fighting. Not good. It screws up the GM's storylines and annoys the hell out of everyone else.

Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid Assassin Posts To put it simply, do not kill, maim, or otherwise destroy another character without the express permission of both the GM and (if it's a player character you're aiming to hurt) the other player. (This is not as much of an issue in games with actual rules.. then you fall into tactical time).  It really upsets people when you try to do this, so much so that you are inviting retribution by merely considering it. If you want to seriously hurt a character, remember that the only PC you don't need permission for is your own. Talk with the GM first when considering such points of action.
>
Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid Plot Changer Posts.   Do not post a message which drastically changes the plotline the game follows. The GM is there for a reason, after all, and it's his game, not yours. If you have a good idea for a plotline, contact the GM. Maybe he'll like your idea and run with it. But if he doesn't, let it go. Don't try to force him to accept your idea by jamming it into the GM's game on your own.

 
Type it! - Advice to play by: Follow Syntax Conventions When presenting dialog, use the correct encapsulating characters to help identify how the dialog is being heard by others. It varies from game to game, and GM to GM, but it's almost certain that there is going to be some accepted rules about dialog conventions. Follow the rules as found in most of the posts of the game.

Type it! - Advice to play by: In His Own Game, The GM's Word Is Law! Most Game Masters are willing to listen to opposing opinions, but never, ever present your opposing opinion to them on the game's mailing list. If a GM ever says something along the lines as "my decision stands", let the issue go. We mean it, let it drop. Continuing to argue after he's reached a final decision is not a smart thing to do if you intend to continue playing in the GM's game game.

Type it! In a play by post, the GM might edit your posts. Do not edit them back without the GM's permission.  

Type it! - Advice to play by: Treat The Game As If It Is A Game. No one is going to come up with a cure for cancer while typing away at a PBEM/ PbP/ electronic game. They are just games.  If real life is interfering with your game play, see to your real life first, even if it means dropping out of the game.

 
Type it! - Advice to play by: Be Heard, But Don't Shout Others Down   If you're naturally quiet and generally only post the minimum amount to stay in the game, try to post more often...at least enough to be recognized as being around.  If you're a big talker who responds to everything vaguely connected to your character, shut up once in a while and let someone else get a word in edgewise.

 
Type it! - Advice to play by: Plan on time for making replies. Reply to a new move in a timely fashion. It's sometimes impossible, but at least make the effort. It also means avoid spiraling time scales. It is rare that an action CAN and MUST take place at such and such a time and no later. If you can do something later and thereby avoid wedging in an unnecessary action now, you'll be the GM's friend for life.

Type it! - Advice to play by: Avoid time crunch posts.  These are those short partial posts that innevitably have the phrase "I will finish this post later" attached to them.  Post a complete post, or do not post at all.  

Type it! - Advice to play by: The game cannot move forward if everyone is always trying to get the last word in. Enter what posts you need to enter to finish the scene for your character. But remember, scenes end.  Don't just post because you can, post when you need to.  So don't enter the last world just because.
 
Type it! - Advice to play by: Always Remember The Most Important Rule This rule reads: "If You Become A Problem, You Will Almost Certainly Be Removed This has nothing to do with what the character do, as it does with the other real people and whether or not they're enjoying the game with you in it. Be considerate and polite whenever possible.

Herd the Cats: Always Remember The Most Important Rule.  This rule reads: "If You Become A Problem, You Will Almost Certainly Be Removed From The Game". This means be polite to the players at all time. This has nothing to do with what your character does with the other characters. It involves other real people and whether or not they're enjoying the game with you in it. Be considerate and polite whenever possible.

It is just a story: Shows the characters how deadly something really is, before they directly encounter it.  This foreshadowing will install the appropriate dread and respect for the danger.  It will also save the troupe the time and effort of making a new character of three.  .

It is just a story: Read for the ideas, plots, and scenes. It makes for easy adventure creation. Steal and mix shamelessly.

10 cents worth: Know the genre. While watching movies maybe a good enough way to introduce the pulp genre to players, it is STRONGLY recommended that the prospective GM READ pulp stories. There are some good reasons for this:

10 cents worth: Since the GM uses verbal means to describe scenes and action to the players, it is best to read the ways in which successful authors do the same thing. The GM will find it best to copy the style of a particular author, that they enjoy, while GMing. For a pulp game, you will find Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan),  Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan's creator), and Lester Dent (Doc Savage's creator) to be the most accessible and useful as a guide.

10 cents worth: Read Pulps for the ideas, plots, and scenes. It makes for easy adventure creation. Steal and mix shamelessly.

10 cents worth: Do not be afraid to fudge things along to keep the game moving at a fast clip. Just learn to fudge in a consistent manner. Use some simple mechanics and add some nifty and fancy maneuver/action descriptions to elicite "Ooooo" and "Ahhhhh" from your players.

10 Cents Worth: Gives the players a chance to shine and show their heroic nature.

10 cents worth: Provides action and clues for the players.

10 cents worth: Shows the characters how deadly something really is, before they directly encounter it.  This foreshadowing will install the appropriate dread and respect for the danger.  It will also save the troupe the time and effort of making a new character or three.

10 cents worth: Only in the climatic battle with the major bad guy would the combat be slow and heavily detail orientated.

10 cents worth: If the combat is simply a chance to make the characters look good, simply roll the dice just for the sound they make (the players do not know this). Roll the dice and try your best to make the descriptions sound good and make the PC look great. This process helps speed up unimportant combats to a near neck break pace. Lots of fun!

10 cents worth: In every episode/adventure of the campaign, there will usually be 3 to 6 NPCs of note. The purpose of these NPCs are multi-fold; like guest stars in an old TV series, a NPC would be killed off to show the deadliness of a situation and/or attack, to hide the villain(s) amongst the players, to provide comic relief, or maybe a romantic interest. NPCs are the GM's chance to play a character and have fun acting the role. Enjoy them all.

10 Cents worth: The climatic battle with the main villain is always done using the full combat rules and dice rolls. Though funding the occasional roll for the players is acceptable, the attention to detail makes the players nervous, hence makes the combat more tense.

10 cents worth: Old National Geographics are your friends.   They can be inspirational for exotic times and places.  They can give you a feel for the local or the era during the time of the magazine.  And the best part, is that they can be found everywhere for cheap, or you can get the whole set on CD.

10 cents worth: For every exotic location you have an adventure in, lookup some of the language on the web. You are simply skimming the langauge for "flavor text"  the names of some important features/creatures that you plan on using at some time in the adventure- along with a greeting, curse word, and goodbye. This would add a lot of flavor and "realism" to your campaign.


Tomes of all Knowledge: National Geographics.  

It is just a story: For every exotic location you have an adventure in, lookup some of the language on the web. Just skim the language to pick up the important bits you will need, greetings, curse words, goodbye, and any word that might be important in the course of the adventure.  This would add a lot of flavor and "realism" to your campaign.

Creatures: I have found the best way to use creatures is as explained in a direct quote from Aaron Allston's Lands of Mystery:

It is just a story: Monsters affect the hero in many ways: They endanger his life by trying to bite his head off, they delay him by try to bite his head off while the bad guy is getting away with the Princess, they give him heart failure by trying to bite the Princess' head off, they make him a friend by giving him the opportunity to rescue a native from having his head bitten off. Monsters add color, excitement, and an element of variety to these tales. Monster encounters should always Serve A Purpose. Each encounter should advance the plot or give a character a chance to demonstrate his thinking or fighting ability".

10 Cents Worth: If the PCs do not have access to magic and creature abilities, and you are using them against them, the players will try to get their hands on them.  Make the powers or creature unobtainable to the PCs. Destroy that mummy in a fire that consumes the creature like a dried-up wicker basket. Make sure spells require ingredients that no upstanding PC would ever be able to attend.  

10 Cents worth Keep magic low key because it could monopolize the game, making it very non-pulpish. Make it hard and expensive to learn (tomes, books, finding a trainer, etc), have the ingredients compromise the PC morals (the heart of a freshly killed VIRGIN?!?!), make the spells impossible to cast quickly (stars have to be in the right alignment, or need hours, even days, of prep and casting time), and dangerous to know (think Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos).


Fang and Claw: For easy of play, non player undead creatures don't take wounds. They are either still fighting/moving, or dead. When an undead is hit in combat, if a damage total of eight or more is done, the creature dies. Anything less and it keeps fighting. Don't forget to describe the hits the undead takes, even if it has no effect. A PC might blow off a leg/arm or shoot out an eye before the creature finally keels over. The more grisly the wounds, the more relentless and unstoppable the creature will seem."

10 cents worth: Think of your Pulp Adventure Campaign as a series on TV. Do you think the director yells, "CUT!" and rolls some dice to determine the outcome of a particular action on the show? Of course not. Try the same techniques with your campaign- Think to yourself, "What would be the best result to increase the tension and suspense of my audience (the players)?" Then find a way to apply that result. Soon you will notice that your brain will be multi-tasking; processing the player's actions, the NPCs reactions and thoughts, the best way to describe those actions, the best possible results and how to apply them.

It is just a story: Think of your Adventure Campaign as a series on TV. Do you think the director yells, "CUT!" and rolls some dice to determine the outcome of a particular action on the show? Of course not. Try the same techniques with your campaign- Think to yourself, "What would be the best result to increase the tension and suspense of my audience (the players)?" Then find a way to apply that result. Soon you will notice that your brain will be multi-tasking; processing the player's actions, the NPCs reactions and thoughts, the best way to describe those actions, the best possible results and how to apply them.

Try to make adventures that are tailor made for your PCs skills, talents, and backgrounds. If you have a Tarzan-clone character in your troop, then run an adventure in a jungle setting. The archeologist character will be the first to decipher the glyphic markings on the walls of the ruins. The collage professor would understand the language of the descendants of the lost Roman Legion. The back-alley brawler will have the opportunity to beat the bad guys(or creatures) in hand-to-hand. Everyone should have the chance to shine in the course of the adventure.

It is just a story: While it is best to give every character a chance to be in the limelight in every adventure, this could be hard to do in each gaming session. Another good way to move the campaign along is to focus on one individual character's background for that particular session. Have the group encounter a mystery/adventure visiting one of the character's family during Christmas.

10 cents worth: Allow, even encourage, vacations for the characters, then slam them into an adventure. Have the action seek them out at every turn in their lives. This gives the players a feeling of a more complete campaign world.

The Continuing Saga: Try to develop a long range campaign plot for each character. Then explore these plots VERY slowly. The plots are all there, you just have to look to see them.

It is just a story: Use highly descriptive terms in actions and combat. Make the players SEE, HEAR, SMELL, FEEL the action! The players will catch on (hopefully) and start adding their own descriptive terms, making the campaign an ongoing adventure in mutual story telling.

10 cents worth: NEVER RUIN your game by having an established Pulp hero (i.e. Doc Savage, The Shadow, etc) steal the thunder of your player's characters. After all, this IS the player's characters adventure series. Have the character always be the best at whatever skill in which they specialize. It is okay to have the character assist the Pulp hero or be better than them in one particular field.

10 cents worth: Keeping even unimportant recurring NPCs constant helps the game more than you can ever imagine. Bob, the doorman (who NEVER forgets any dames shapely pair of legs), John, the hackdriver (can get you anywhere in the city in record time, but your hair might turn white from the experience), Billy, the corner newsboy (who knows some the most amazing information and going-ons in the city)- they all add up stable and believable world.

Organize it: Keep an account of the adventures the PCs have. Make a form, using any word processor, to keep track of the; Name of the adventure or episode, when played (real time), date of adventure (game time), names of PCs and NPCs involved, location, type of adventure (mystery, horror, action, etc), highlights of the adventure, and whatever else you can think of. This log can be useful to prod your memory, see what kind of episodes you have been running, and remind you of loose ends you need for plot inspiration.  

If the GM finds keeping certain bits of paper work up and running a campaign too much for their limited time, they can ask a player to do it for them. Award the player with experience, karma, or appropriate advantages in play for their troubles. To keep this advantage from getting uneven, rotate the responsibility from player to player with each game session

Tools of the Trade - Book of I: If there are articles or websites that are useful for your gaming, copy them/ print them out, and put them in a three ring binder. This group of articles, web sites, and gaming aids can help you along when the creative gray brain matter seems to be at low tide. Putting them in sheet protectors can be a useful but costly investment.

A little help from my friends:  "Named" characters, those of historical or setting importance, are there to help you fill out your world. Never let the named take away from the PC's. S/he should be there to enhance the gameplay experience of the players, s/he shouldn't be there.

A little help from my friends:   "Named" characters, those of historical or setting importance. Be careful to introduce them, if you have a player who would get off on killing the named character. One idiot can disrupt your whole world.  (Of course if they do, the time commando's come sweeping down in their paramagical moble infantry armor, blow the PC away, revive the historical figure, and then "red flashy thing" various memories away.)  

A little help from my friends: Players expect important "named" people to live upto any stories legends told of them.  You can play it seriously, and show the character's abilities, or for laughs and have the "named" fail at something s/he "should" have done easily, then tell the players "Hey, you actually believe those stories?"


The Pulp Avengers, by Brian Christopher Misiaszek http://www.columbia.edu/~mfs10/Brians_Pulp_File.html
Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot, by Lester Dent http://dept.english.upenn.edu/~rbarrett/mc/dent.txt
John Ross' Big List of RPG Plots http://www.io.com/~sjohn/plots.htm
The Jazz Age Slang article http://home.earthlink.net/~dlarkins/slang-pg.htm
Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot. If it worked for him in writing 181 Doc Savage adventures, it would work for you (especially the "Make the reader SEE the action!" quote). (http://dept.english.upenn.edu/~rbarrett/mc/dent.txt)
http://www.blackmask.com/page.php
http://www.spaceports.com/~deshadow/
http://galileo.spaceports.com/~docsavag/


You are what your pretend to be.  An interesting idea for a roleplaying gamer.  

In the words of Benjamn Franklin, occasionally doubt your own infallibility.

Never forget, life doesn't change just because your character gets reamed.

Your actions can contribute to the group enjoyment or take away from it. It's up to you whether or not you have fun.

If real life is interfering with your game play, see to real life.  You can always come back to a game later, but if your life is in ruins you will never be back.

When considering a character for a campaign, consider the character AND the player playing it. A character which might be appropriate for one player to play, would become a campaign destroying thing in the hands and playstyle of another player in your group.

Many of my adventures are just a string of scenes in my head that I somehow tie together. I know what scene I want to have occur so I arrange to have it happen at an appropriate part of the adventure. This does not necessarily mean I "railroad" the players in any way, quite the opposite. By knowing what I want to have happen I allow the players to go where they will and do what they want- I just modify the event I want to have it happen to work wherever the players go. They have freewill while I get to run my adventure with minimal fuss. I also will shape the adventure to fit my player's characters skills and backgrounds (diversity is a welcome blessing here).

Baron Karza syndrome: It is a comic phrase, that has long outlived the comic it came from (Micronauts early 80s). Baron Karza was the big bad. They defeated him. The next metastory arc, he came back and was the big bad. They defeated him. Over the next meta arcs, one of the supporting heroes becomes Baron Karza (brain washing was involved). They defeated him. You see where this is going. A GM should either end the campaign before it gets stale or vary the "big bad" of the campaign.  Retiring a "big bad" is one of the great joys of being a gamer.

Batman Syndrome: Certain characters are not that powerful in terms of raw dice, ability to hit, and other mechanical considerations, but manage to save the day, stopping foes that should not of been able to defeat given their numbers.  Players often want to play these characters and look for game mechanics to augment them.  There aren't any. Such characters are not powerful because of what they are, they are powerful because of how they are played, carefully and cunningly.    

Every scene in a game has three purposes; The GM's purpose (forwarding their plots), the Player's purpose (forwarding their fun), and the Character's purpose (following their motivations).  By keeping this three pointed fact in mind, planning scenes will become easier.

With a ruler and some tape:  Locations of Mystery:  Always make sure to leave some "blank spots" in your world where you can fill in odd and unusual events.  These odd and unusual events can serve as adventure spring points for your characters.

Tools of the Trade: FLAVOR LIST Create a list of cool ideas, people, places, and *flavor* that you want to add to your game world. Then, set that list off to the side. These items are your reserve. When your troupe starts showing interest in a merchant they pass on the road, pull out your flavor list, pick an item off it, and make that encounter suddenly rich and vibrant. Then, after the encounter, mark down that you had a spice merchant marching north into dwarven lands, and worry later about the *why* of it. Also, then every time you have a good idea, but can't use it, you are officially saving it and don't have to worry about losing the chance to use it.  See Book of I and Campaign Binders

QUICK DIRECTIONS - Often, to confuse my players, I give them directions about as fast as their characters would perceive them. Just "right", "left", and "straight". I use terms like "a little way" or "quite a ways". This is for times when they are chasing after someone, and aren't really paying attention to where they are going. I don't give them maps until they stop and take an action to look around. (Another table-top trick I used to use was to not draw anything on a battlemat, but instead place foam blocks for walls, and when you went around a corner, pick them up. A fog-of-war technique, if you will.)

Boo! - Isolation: The protagonists need to realize that they cannot get help from any outside source. Whether it's by physical isolation (lost in the wilds, on a deserted moon-base, or stuck on a boat in the middle of the sea) or social isolation (the "no one believes us" tactic where even if the protagonists ask for help, their pleas are at best ignored or at worst taken as evidence the protagonists are cracking up).

Boo! - Helplessness: The protagonists need to understand that the direct, easy approach isn't working. Even logical deduction seldom yeilds progressive courses of action. This is the classic "you can't nuke Cthulhu" element. The protagonists should swing between "defeat the menace" and "survive the menace" throughout the scenario. Not knowing what to do is one of the essential elements of horror.

Boo! - Mystery: The protagonists shouldn't have a clear idea of what they're up against. They should chase evidence, catch brief glimpses, or stumble on the aftermath of the menace, but never get the whole picture, except perhaps at the climax of the scenario, or the epilogue. Knowing what you're facing gives an element of comfort, a sense of stability which is something the protagonists should never have.

Boo! - Take it from the begining: Describe scenes from a "first sence perceived" standpoint. Rotting dead bodies are scented before they are seen. Shambling horrors are heard shuffling through the streets. Cold winds chill the flesh. Give the players just enough to let their imaginations run wild. You'll realize that players are excellent at scaring themselves.

Boo! - Move it! Keep the pace moving. It doesn't have to be car-chaces and gunfights, but events must keep occurring. Don't let the protagonists rest too long. For horror to work there has to be pressure to keep going, the sense that if you stop you're dead.

---------------

     A simple trick to enhance a world is for the people in the story to mention, non-relevant story events.  A concert they plan on attending, spilling coffee on a book borrowed from a brother- in-law, d**n that neighbor's dog, etc.  A casual mention of secondary events can put flesh on an imaginary world and bring it to life.  

Beware of GOP, goal oriented people, characters whose every thought is solely directed to bringing the story to an end.
MoonHunter
Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
Authentic Strolenite ®©

Offline MoonHunter

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Random game tips and articles in process.
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2004, 12:50:01 AM »
Roll 4d10 and mark your results on following
table:

             1                 10
Introverted  - - - - - - - - - -  Extroverted
Peaceful     - - - - - - - - - -  Aggressive
Altruistic   - - - - - - - - - -  Profit-oriented
Dumb         - - - - - - - - - -  Intellectual


Next, note all values below 3 and greater than 8 and select
one of them, but not the most extreme. Not using the extreme
value helps you avoid cliche characters.

The value you pick determines his Profession.

Introverted      -> Hermit, Monk
Extroverted      -> Bard
Peaceful         -> Priest, Healer, Diplomat
Aggressive       -> Warrior, Assassin
Altruistic       -> Grandma, Priest
Profit-oriented -> Merchant, Thief
Dumb             -> Peasant, Shepherd
Intellectual     -> Alchemist, Priest

Now, look on his personality matrix again and you'll know how
the NPC reacts in conversations, when provoked, and in other
situations.

Now I normally use this kind of system for more traditional axis
Evil/ Good
Chaos/Law
self/group
null/honor code

Like a Pro: Clint Eastwood, in one of the screens-of-text special features on the Pale Rider DVD, said "I believe in professionalism. I don't expect to tell an actor or actress how to interpret their part. I prefer to create a comfortable working atmosphere for them to do what they do best. In that environment I think you get results you can use. I like to work fast. I prepare myself and I expect the people I work with to be equally prepared. I know what I'm looking for in most situations. I don't think a lot of takes will help bail you out of something that might be unclear to begin with."

CUT SCENES:

If I recall correctly, a cut scene is a film / TV term meaning a brief scene which cuts away from the main action.

Cutscenes are usually between members of the troupe who are not all together.  What you cry about splitting the party?  You GM, if worthy of the name,  should be able to handle the group split into two or three groups.  And as players, are your character's such wusses that you can't be alone?

Cutscenes can be used to show things that are not happening to the player. You can show NPCs, villians or something about the world.

You are not making a documentry, you are creating a story. You don't follow one character around all day, you cut between them... as each one is doing something interesting or resolving something.

Cut scenes are great at the begining of the adventure, the same way they are great at the begining of a TV show.  They help set the scene and don't (or shouldn't) give up too much information.  

they help in one rule I always follow, "The audience never misses a clue", which is taken from movies. In movies, you notice that even if the characters miss something important, or haven't found it yet, the foreshadowing is happening for the audience to see.

When I use cut scenes, it builds extra clues, cryptic ones for the players to catch onto, which add into whatever the characters are getting at the same time, and at the end, it all falls together.

Cutscene: "Yes, but what the poor fools don't know, is that she IS the vampire!"
Me: "Then the sun goes down"
Players: "Oh $#!+!"

The other nice point when using it to hand out information and clues, is that the players then know where to aim their source of investigation towards, instead of flying at red herrings all day. Of course, they might only know that "Everything hinges on Col. Mustard.", but nothing else.

In terms of relationships and NPC reactions, it's also a great way to expound what's going on with the NPCs, and to show that the actions of the PCs have repercussions all around.

The first place that I came across cut-scenes in RPGs was in the West End Games "Star Wars" RPG, which I seem to recall used an example of a different reason for using a cut scene: to show the reactions to the PCs' actions which the PCs would otherwise be unable to see. So, if the PCs fly their stock light freighter right at the bridge of the Star Destroyer and pull up at the last minute, the GM might have the players make their rolls, then launch into a cut-scene along the lines of, "On the bridge of the Intimidator, the bridge officers suddenly look up as the forward ports show the onrushing form of a stock light freighter. Panic ensues, people scattering futilely from their posts, throwing their arms up in front of their faces as the freighter fills the ports. But the destruction doesn't come. Puzzled faces are uncovered - the ports are empty. Scanners are checked rapidly, 'Admiral, I don't understand this. They've ... disappeared!'"

It's a very useful way of creating dramatic irony. The contrast between what the audience -- the players -- know about a character's situation and what the character actually knows can be a very effective source of tension and interest in the game. Recall Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex: if the audience didn't know that Oedipus's wife Jocasta was his mother and that he had killed his father, then the characters' discovery would have been a random plot twist with no punch to it. Most of the emotional power of the play arises from the difference between the audience's knowledge and the characters' knowledge.

You can also use cut scenes to reveal to the players the consequences their actions are having, even if the characters would have no way of knowing that. That can help sustain suspension of disbelief in the setting, by showing that there are consequences to their actions that reach beyond their immediate line of sight.

The bottom line is simply that the players are not the characters, and you can often have fun by taking advantage of the difference. Offering information to the players that the characters wouldn't have is just one way of doing this. (And obviously, if you don't enjoy it, then don't do it!)


--------------------------------
To make different races or cultures feel more unique, try
giving them their own alignment labels, according to what
concepts you feel that culture would hold important.

For example:


                   Good       Evil        Law        Chaos
Classical Roman  Pleasure  Suffering    Empire     Barbarism
Classical Greek  Comedy     Tragedy  Enlightenment  Unknown
               (Happiness) (Sadness)
Feudal Japan      Honor    Dishonor     Fealty     Defiance


A Lawful Good character from a Roman culture, an Empire
Pleasure alignment, would be concerned with expanding the
national boundaries, and enhancing the physical comfort (and
perhaps general prosperity) of its citizens. The Greek
culture's Comedy Enlightenment aligned character, however,
would be more concerned with the emotional well-being of
others (rather than physical comfort), and striving to
created an educated, logical and functional society. The
Feudal Japanese culture's Fealty Honor character would seek
out ways to serve his superiors in ways that increase the
lord's honor, and anyone associated with the lord, including
himself.

On the other side of the coin, the Chaotic Evil for the
Romans, the Barbarism Suffering, would likely use direct
physical violence or torture as a tool to undermine the
Empire (or take part of it for their own). The Greek
culture's Unknown Tragedy character would likely seek to
promote his agenda by poisoning wells, abducting people, and
other crimes that leave the people uncertain and in despair.
The Feudal Japanese culture's Defiance Dishonor would
probably use false rumors, planted evidence, and other
deceitful techniques to undermine the honor of those higher
up in the hierarchy, and create doubt and dissension among
the followers of those leaders.

People who share the same underlying alignment, but have
different cultural views of what those alignments are, may
well have common goals and cooperate to achieve them... but
their methods of choice and their motivations may be quite
different. Interactions between nations of different
cultures will also have potential for friction and
conflicting motivations, despite similar alignment
tendencies.

This technique could also be applied to thieves' guilds,
merchant associations, mega-corporations, military units,
superhero/supervillain teams, or any other grouping of like-
minded people who establish their own codes of conduct.
--------------------------------------------
LifeLists:  Every character should have a list of what it has encountered over time. They reinforce the character's memory, and will keep a concrete record of events for the GM

List of Places: Important Locations
List of Monsters: Things you have encountered and will know something about.
List of IP: Important People. This is not every NPC you have encountered, but a list of notable NPCs encountered
List of deeds: Summarize the adventure and list it

Tech: Email recaps of each game, so everyone is on the same page. Include hints and clues they might of encountered, but did not attach importance to. (Once they see them in the email, they will know they are important).  

A Strike File is a quasi-encyclopedia listing detailed info on a handful of NPCs, places, artifacts, etc.  It is usually a line or three highlighting something.  When begining a game session, most GMs recap. While doing so, include any important strikefile entries.  This could be the focus of their adventure, and NPC/ villian that might be back in the mix, or a place that might be a good place to go.  Strike File entries are like a combination of the recap, a hint, and the Guest Star list. They're there to give some extra depth to the game. They can also be used to plant red herrings.


When quick creating an environment's eco system, a fast way to do this is to create a food pyramid.

It was a pyramid-shaped chart that had a single 'large predator' at
the top, followed by two 'large herbivore', then smaller predators, then smaller herbivores, then so on down the size.  You need to put scavengers off to the side.  If animals feed of magic, then create a small pyramid for those.

The idea was that you would fill in the blanks for any ecosystem you
had in mind.  On the Savannah you'd get Lions at the top, followed by
Elephants and Zebras. These huge herbavores might not be hunted by the top predators. But you see how this would go...

the tundra you'd get Polar Bears over Seals and Walruses, then Lynxes,
Foxes and others...
MoonHunter
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"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2004, 12:56:20 AM »
Make a QuickBook:  These are copies of important pages, the charts and tables normally, for the game.  This allows the GM to keep the rulebook infront of them, but others can look up details at the same time.  Photocopy said pages and put them into a binder (page protectors are optional).  You can make quickbooks for character creation, experience, equipment, and spell lists.  

Make a QuickBook II: Once you are familiar with the game you are playing, all you really need to run the game are some charts and lists. You can save wear and tear on your books, but photocopying (for personal use) the important charts and lists that you use to run the game.  Clip them into a binder (page protectors optional) and for a few monetary units you can extend the usability of your main book.

Characters not to play: Walking Racial Slurs hhmmmm. Painful racial stereotypes.  

Characters not to play: Everyman Nonhero - He's just like you and me. In fact, at the first sign of adventure, he hides, and refuses to embrace any cause greater than his banal existence.  These characters have no motivation to be heroic or even adventurous.  

Hmmmmm.  The Sexual Predator: To be clear, I'm not talking about the Leisure Suit Larry types (though those can easily be very annoying). I'm talking about those with a inclination to commit sex crimes. There's just no-way, no-how that I'll tolerate this kind of character in any game that I'm a part of as a GM or as a player. Luckily, this has never been an issue.

Hmmmmm. The Out of Place Character : This is the character from somewhere or when else. No matter what you exclude for social or game consistency reasons, someone wants to play it. If you're running European fantasy, they want a samurai; if you're doing an all-mutant supers game, they want Batman; if it's an SF campaign where there are no aliens, an alien in disguise is what they want. This one isn't a problem when done occasionally, but it's a pain in the ass if most of the group does it, or one player does it chronically.

Characters not to play: The Apathetic: Characters who aren't interested in anything, and don't care about anything. The character is not motivated by anything, except maybe hanging around with the other characters for no disernable reason.  The other players accept the character only because of its PC halo.  

Characters not to play: The Wannabe Leader. This is the character that WANTS to be the leader, but the group does not want the player to be in charge.  The character tries to do all the planning for the group , makes group decisions without consulting the others, and then complains when it becomes clear the other PCs won't be having with his nonsense.

Characters not to play: The anti-social in a social game.  The character will not take anything from anyone, but does nothing but insult the rest of the group.


Bad GM problem: How about losing track of the state of the world?  What time is it? What season is it? Heck, what year is it? Where are the characters? (Who's in front/ back/ watching the horses)? Who's carrying the Scepter of McGuffin, and where's he hidden it?
How long did they take to get from town to the dungeon? (It's going to take that long to go back.)

The Emperor
This GM revels in the need to punish his players with overwhelmingly evil and superior enemies. It's not enough to just preside over, and give the players a satisfying gaming experience. It's essential for the Emperor GM to smile and cackle with glee each time the players encounter an enemy. Note that the Emperor GM will also pout and/or become belligerent if their enemies are deemed 'not challenging enough' (re: said enemies don't maim at least one player per session).

The Scholar
This GM prides him/herself on knowing factoids (historical or other) relevant to the players' current situation. In fact, said GM has so very much pride in their abilities to regurgitate factoids that they feel the need to do so during every game encounter--with Jeopardy-like precision. If the players are sailing on a boat, the Scholar GM will draw, describe, and give historical data about the boat. Even if the boat is simply a segue to another adventure. Usually, these descriptions take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, provided no one actually disagrees with the GM. Disagreements add approximately 20 minutes to each factoid lesson.

The False Emperor
A cross between The Emperor and The Scholar, this GM is similar to both in that he/she desires to dominate and humiliate the players, whether with traps, puzzles or enemies. Unlike the Emperor, however, the False Emperor is unwilling or unable to follow through with any of their "fiendish" plans. Once the players are thoroughly subdued, any harebrained scheme they come up with (with the assistance of a GMPC) will work to save the day and end the scenario. The False Emperor's goal is show off how clever the adventure is and how magnanimous the GM is to allow the PCs to survive it, not to kill the PCs.

The Improv
This GM is often very laid back. In fact, s/he is so nonchalant, that preparing for adventures before the players arrive is considered blasphemy. The Improv GM is skilled at impromptu stalling by reading adventure modules (for the very first time) at the table, and also by spontaneous, lengthy trips to the restroom in order to 'bone up' on a night's adventure. When dealing with an Improv GM, it is necessary to add at least 2 hours duration to the expected game time.

The Midas
This GM is the most deceptive of all. Often, it is impossible to spot the Midas GM even after several gaming sessions. The Midas GM appears to be fair and impartial to each of the players--at first. As gaming progresses, though, it becomes apparent that they have a 'favorite' player. Said player is allowed to circumvent rules, defy the laws of physics, and blatantly ignore proper social etiquette while under the careful watch of the Midas GM. It should be noted, also, that any player who openly disagrees with the Midas GM's 'golden child' will summarily become a target of game abuse by both the GM and the 'golden' player.


The Silent One
when he gets annoyed with folks, he sometimes responds by ignoring their questions and basically going "I've already told you the answer to that question, I'm not going to answer it again" and pretending that they didn't ask it. Which, of course, if you're asking for a piece of info that you need to decide what you're going to do, brings the game to an even more complete halt. Luckily he's not that bad about it, and usually only does it until everyone's paying attention again.

GREAT RAILROAD BARON GM
No matter what the PC's do, it doesn't matter. If it's not on the tracks of his mighty engine it doesn't matter. You can plan and plan to protect the ambassador and have great ideas but if the railroad baron wants him dead, he's dead. Maybe you figure out the villians scheme and try to stop him right away but the Baron won't let you because it's not the right time, he has a specific time and place for that confrontation,earlier is not going to happen. I could go on and on but I think you guys get the idea and have probably dealt with a Railroad Baron before.

Capes and Cowls: To make Four-Colour successful, you have to include the following elements as givens, and get the players to take them seriously:

1) The rules of psychology and physics in the world you simulate are fundamentally different from our own. This means that grown men in spandex are not considered unusual... It looks better than a snazzy tuxedo on Sean Connery. There is a gap in the processing of people's brains that reads “mask� as “Barrier�. A thin domino mask really does obscure an identity, as does changing body language, hair, and timbre of voice after donning a pair of glasses. This does make impersonation scenarios easier. People in the Four-Colour world tend to fixate less on pattern matching in base recognition and operate by iconic symbology.

2) Per physics, people can fly, not tear themselves apart or burn up using fire of super strength/speed powers, entire buildings can be lifted and moved as units without collapsing under their own mass, fires don't burn people, just hurt, there are ways to communicate in a vacuum, radiation is like light, but more like a really nasty whack with a nerf bat, etc. The world works differently.

3) There is a significant shift in base moral behaviour. Most people are really as good as they showed on TV in the 50s. Most bad guys are really as bad, for no real reason. This affects warfare, and consequently, weaponry in that the threat of killing someone is often enough to provoke a surrender or retreat. Most wars in a Four-Colour universe would be ended by amassing more and more dangerous looking and elaborately costumed warriors, with few casualties. Unlike our world, most weapons really are not meant to be used... But enough deviant villainous types exist to make the possibility real that someone might. If a death occurs, its usually dramatic and perceived as a true diminishment of humanity by everyone aware of it.

4) Characters should be generated along those axial paradigms. Someone who gains Super-Powers will use them for good or evil, and it is accepted that they will dress colourfully and assume a codename. The legal system, based on the above points, would reflect identity protection for those in costume.

5) In general, play will be divided between the pursuit of said deviant villains (“Terrorist� in a four-colour world means just that... scaring people, not harming them), and exploring the soap-operatic daily lives as a contrast between “I want to go to dinner with Missy Sue� and “...but the news is showing a radioactive dinosaur in the bay. Sigh. She's going to hate me.� The overall satisfaction of play is in the high adventure and the melodrama.

6) If players are too jaded, cynical, homicidal hack-and-slash, Literal, philosophically moralistic, or unable to find simple joys in somewhat “childish� programs or music, then this is not the style for them. There are plenty of more Authority and X-Men style games to delve into instead, which will make everyone in a mixed group happier.
MoonHunter
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"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
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Offline Erebus

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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2004, 10:49:10 AM »
Great reading - I particularly liked:

""What would be the best result to increase the tension and suspense of my audience (the players)?"

Those breaks between sessions are a God-send to ponder on what the PC's are expecting (albeit subconciously) to happen next and, for the DM to surprise them with something utterly different.  Drama is always at the forefront of my mind...  I have a few scenes circling in my head right now that I can't wait for the chance to run.
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Offline MoonHunter

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It's a mystery
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2004, 04:04:25 AM »
Mysteries are the hardest kind of games to run, unless members of your troupe are serious fans of the genre.  Most players, and by extention their characters, do not have the focus or the skills to solve a mystery the same way they do in mystery novels.  Even with game mechanic crutches like Detective Work and Forensic skill, they can not assemble the puzzle you set up... unless it was a very basic, simple mystery not worthy of the title.

So there are a few work arounds to present mysteries AND have your players feel like they have solved it.  They all involve some GM skill, which is why most of these scenarios fall flat.

First, any GM who wants to run a mystery should read and watch a few mysteries.  That way not only do you get the genre, you get the methodology of a detective and the cute tricks of a mystery novelist.  If you are really dedicated, I might recomend some books by Mystery novelists for mystery writers. That way you can get the tricks of the trade first hand.  

Just like when developing a mystery, a mystery scenario is actually designed backwards, from the crime. A GM must then determine two to five potential murderers and a method that many of them could of used to do the deed. They must consider how the act was committed and how the person got away with it, disposing of evidence/ hiding their involvement.  The GM must determine one to four glitches that could of occured in the murder. These glitches could be mistakes on the part of the murderer or random events conspiring against them. If the exotic murder weapon was tossed in the river, it was served up in the belly of a fish the next day. If nobody should of been able to see them sneak by, there was a couple in the middle of an indescression behind the tapestries. The possiblities are endless. This is all DAS, development at start. It is nearly impossible to wing a mystery and pull it off. If you can, then you should be writing mysteries.

The GM also must select clues that the players can find/ know.  If nobody is a finger print expert (and their isn't an NPC one), then finger prints are useless clues.  If one of the clues requires someone to know circus slang to realize it is a clue, then a PC (and its players) should know the slang.  Clues that people can not determine are clues are not clues at all.  (Okay say that three times fast and commit it to memory).

Once all of that is in place in your notes, the game runs as per normal, with the actual murderer being a magician's choice.  A magician's choice is when said entertainer gives the mark several options, and switches their blind choice to the correct one. In short, it is the illusion of actually making a choice.

Some of the clues will also be "Shrodenger's events". This is from Shrodenger's famous cat experiment in quantum physics. Once one clue has been found, any clue that would invalidate that clue can not be found. How the players investigate makes the decisions for them.  

The clues that no longer make sense, once a new murder is selected by the player's actions, can be written off as red herrings.

As the players run down clues (or have clues run them down), the GM listens to the players and their process. The player's actions (and the clues they find) determine the actual murderer.  Once certain people have been eliminated from the troupe's thinking, simply do not introduce the clues related to that person.  The players will make a choice, it will be right because you made it so, and everyone goes home happy.

Now if your players are of the "I won't give the GM any clues as to what I am thinking variety" (Player antagonists), you can still make shrodenger decisions to the best of your abilities.  All they will do is drag their own game session along.  

In addition, you can always have the murderer/ thief realize the troupe is getting close and take actions against them (stealing clues, trying to remove a clue before they find it, or just killing them).  This eliminates the need to fix all of it, as the players then find the bad guy red handed. (Of course, if the evidence had not previously pointed at that person, the person could of been blackmailed to take the fall....)

Of course you do have to figure out why the characters will want to investigate the mystery, why the authorities are not (or are doing a bad job of it), and how they are all involved anyways.  These are fairly standard GM issues of motivation, opportunity, and setting, just dressed in other terms.
MoonHunter
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"The road less traveled is less traveled for a reason."
"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
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Offline MoonHunter

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« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2004, 03:57:43 AM »
This list is incomplete and wrongly focused.  

For example, GM and then under that you should have DM, Storyteller, Referee, and a few of those other odd terms.  Once We refocus and reorder it, it might be a useful idea.  This is why we need an article section, to collect all the meta game and game advice pieces.  


General terms: role-playing, live-action role-playing/LARP, dungeon master, storyteller, narrator, party, troupe.
The mythical genre: cinematic, genre, realism, versimilitude.
Fleshing it out: setting, campaign, premise, tone, theme, story.
Metagame elements: metagame, suspension of disbelief/SOD, out of character/out-of-character/OOC, immersion, spotlight time, script immunity, dramatic immunity, game balance.
Conventions: group contract, social contract
Stances: stance, actor stance, audience stance, author stance, director stance.
Theoretical models: GNS, social axis/fourth axis, troupe-style.
Design approaches: develop-in-play/DIP, develop-at-start/DAS.
Describing the game: diceless, mechanics-light, mechanics-heavy, granular, coherent, system.
Task resolution: task resolution, mechanic, drama resolution, karma resolution, fortune resolution, action, contest, scene, fortune in the middle/FITM, fortune at the start/FATS.
Success or failure: critical, critical success, critical failure, success, failure, fumble, degree of success.
Combat: initiative, armor class/AC, surprise, range, round, turn, death spiral.
Character creation: class, stat, statistic, archetype, stereotype, race, scale.
Character statting: attribute, ability, skill, personality mechanic, luck point, intelligence, strength.
Character advancement: character advancement, character development, experience, experience point/XP.
The ooga-booga thing: magic, spell, spell point system.
MoonHunter
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"The world needs dreamers to give it a soul."
"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
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Offline MoonHunter

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A turn of phrase, a roll of the dice
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2005, 12:20:10 AM »
Esperanto is a constructed universal language that nobody uses.  One of the reasons is that the language is just so sterile. There is no flavor to it.

Turns of phrase help bring life to characters .  Everyone has phrases that they use... they define the person (person's personality).

Settings are characters on steroids.
1) The local accent - Imagine the southern USA without the drawl, or northern canada without saying eh?, or a Jew saying "oy" or a Chinese speaker saying Chin-gow! when suprised. One or two lingual bits, and you have have an cultural group implanted in the minds of the players.

1b) the 5 words that a person who is native in another language says in the common one. That way you can enforce the "other language" nature.  Words like Yes and No, as well as some common ones are best canidates. Heck list the five words that your common language characters use that are different than English, just to remind them that their characters are not speaking English (Slovokian, or what ever)

2) Oaths and swear words.  The original Battlestar Galactica had more swear words per hour than any show on television.  We all knew what frak! and feldercarb meant. So what do people say when swearing. Remember that your players will be saying these things, so go for the "code phrase".

3) polite and not so polite cutdowns. Turns of phrase that people will use... like the Vietnamese "You are a waste of food" or the English "wanker".  The book of Shakespearian insults is a good one.

4) turns of phrase/ common metaphors... The Ivy halls of acadamia, lead a horse to water, but can can't make it drink, sharper than a serpent's tooth....

A list of 10 or so of these..They can define your culture, as what is important becomes a metaphore.

A quick sheet for your campaign, a little dictionary of special terms, and you are one step closer to versimiltude.

So have your PCs choose a few key words or phrases from these lists that are "theirs".  That incorporates them into the setting's culture a bit more.

One thing... you... the GM... must use them flawlessly. You set the example. If you (and your npcs) don't use them
MoonHunter
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"And it needs realists to keep it alive."
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Some tips to be transcribed
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2005, 10:09:45 AM »
Character Voice: Utilize people you know (be it personally or actors) as templates for the NPC voices. This gives you an idea about the sound and diction of the character.  You can even put modifiers on it, elements to add. Note: Steer away from impersonating anyone in the gaming group, their SOs or their circle of friends.  

Bartender = Ben Kingsly - Older version
Evil Henchman = Marty Feldman from Young Frankenstein
PC's younger brother = Xander from Buffy tVS

if incapable to doing the voice, you can use this as a description. So when you say, You here the General, who sounds like James Earl Jones,  your players get the idea.
 
Character Voices: Cue Cards. Write down notes or bits of dialog that fits the character just to keep the voice fresh in your mind.

The forgotten senses
Hearing: Sure, a GM will tell you when the cavern is absolutely quiet or when the marketplace is abuzz with the din of a thousand shouting voices. But what about a tavern common room? Throw out two auditory cues - a crackling fire and a man with a raspy voice telling a joke. Can you imagine a place? Now scrap those, take two different ones - rain jogging down the rooftop and the squeak-squeak of a barmaid polishing a glass. Are the two scenes different in your mind?

Smell: Almost never addressed, which is a shame: Smell and Taste are two of the most primal senses. They're one of the most immediate details that we form an impression based on. Describe the sweet, tangy smell of hookah smoke in a Sultan's palace, or the harsh smell of steam in a city bathhouse, or the damp hay of a barn, or the mildewy cold of a cave, or the choking dust of a tomb, or ... just hit Smell once and you've got something. Hell, you know how bad a city would reek of human and animal waste before the invention of modern sewers?

To color the scene well, two separate Hearing cues and one Smell cue to every major scene description I give. Helps make things vivid.

Added 08/7
Patterns in surnames: There are many ways a surname could have evolved over centuries. One possibility is migration. A Roman name may have traveled to France and hence to England where it was later Anglicized. Case in point – the surname Lawrence went from Laurentius (Roman) to Laurent (French) to Lawrence (English) and then to Lowry (Scottish). There is also natural etymological evolution. For example, a Middle English spelling may have evolved to a modern English spelling (e.g. Stiward to Stewart). Where did your character's Surname come from?


Surnames: Most surnames fall into one of four categories. Patronymic surnames such as Johnson pass from father to son (literally, “Son of John�). Occupational surnames such as Cook or Miller stem from an individual’s livelihood. Topographic names such as Forest or Ford identify habitation. There are also a few surnames that derive from individual characteristics or nicknames – Small and Stern for example.

Surnames: The Chinese were among the very first cultures to adopt the use of hereditary surnames (around 2800 BC). But the custom didn’t quite catch on in Europe … at least not until the Venetian aristocracy made it popular sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries AD. What culture made it popular in your setting and why?


Well my best advice is start small. Create a cornerstone for you to work off of... then expand on it... things around it.. things around those... and so on

No, on second thought, the best advice is just start to write it. Once you get started and move towards completion, you can edit it and change it to make it really what you want.

I like putting up a summary first... sort of like my "thesis statement"... it keeps me on track and keeps me focused upon what I want to write. For a game, it tends to sound like a movie trailer....

Quote
"In a dark and frozen land, life is harsh. Explorers, Miners, and Gamblers have found their way to the snowy plains, seeking their fortunes and destinies.....Little did they know how shortly they would meet those destinies.[/quoute]

Well once you have a piece... write it up... or make copius notes. Then either build things "connected to it" or start going down the WB102 check list
MoonHunter
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pieces that could become atomic gaming/
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2005, 11:51:53 AM »
Characters:
It is all about the characters.

Each character, when they are inserted into the campaign has one main plot line, one subplot of players choice, and one subplot I designed. Each of these plot lines has key scenes and supporting scenes (loosely descripted). There is normally one Campaign Story Arch going on, which various character's main plots and subplots are normally tied into.  And if I am really good, I can tie some character's subplots into into other character's main plots, so they cascade. This is all determined in the first few weeks of the campaign just as play is starting.

So while I don't have a perfect plan for the campaign, I have a roadmap filled with landmarks so I generally know how to get there.

So for a given sessions, based on where we were last session, I then shuffle things together based on a) who is going to be here this session, b) Who gets to be the spotlight characters this week (someone who has not been the spotlight character recently... if I can help it), c) who has not had a subplot advance in a while, and d) making sure that everyone has something interesting and cool to do on a given session. (Oh yes, there may be some off camera events that may occur that could have a minor impact, so I check those)

I then go down every character's lists of scenes (including the campaign's list of scenes and my one-shot cool scene list) and select the appropriate elements that make sense.

So the characters must travel through city J on their way to the next Big Thing in the main story arc
J is one character's home town, so he can have a development scene (one shots- old friends show up) where old friends meet up with him.  He gets all the limelight this week.

Since that character and another are romantically involved, I have an old EX-show up and be all hissy.

One character is a shady guy, so he is contacted by the local guild for a quick job (which tied back to the spotlight character, is of his friends house).  Going back to the main story arch, maybe our Force of Evil's main minion need some minor item for something... (okay this wasn't plan, but it ties things into the main campaign story arc.

Our mage will have dreams invaded by the Evil Forces, on his teetering path towards total corruption or redemsion. (It could happen anywhere, might as well have him do it here)

And since time is marching on, it is nearly time for Spring Festival, so I have preparations happening around them.

I put a circle next to each scene I am planning on using. As player's experience them, I check them off advancing their various story lines.

I know it is all pretty mechanical. But I uses these basic scenes as springboards to fill in what happens in the game... trying to fit "the scenes" inot the game.



Aside:
Make me an article:
 http://www.strolen.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=27097#27097

Make me an article too
http://www.gamegrene.com/node/445
MoonHunter
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2005, 05:14:13 PM »
I just did 111 posts in 82 days. I actually would of cleared the mark sooner, but I forgot to check it.  So Today starts the new 100 and I am a few posts up.

100 posts in 100 days. That is the goal I want you to strive for. Is that so hard? Check this this post:
http://www.rpgcitadel.com/guild/index.php?topic=2142.0

This is being posted here, so I can bump this up in the forum.  I keep clearing off articles, but there is still a pretty great backlog.
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Mini-Generic Game Rules
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2005, 10:24:20 AM »
These are quick little game rules that you can incorporate into your game, no matter the system.

Immortality: I am tired of a starting ninety years old Elf character having the same level of skill as a 16 human kid. Elves are not stupid, nor are Elven techniques really that much better... so they need an equalizer

Remembering
1)When in a calm state, unstressed state, they can tap their vast reserve of knowledge. This allows them a huge plus to any check to know just something about any field of knowledge and lore. In calm times, this will extend to languages as well. (Those they don't know, they can often figure out or make a good guess at).

2) Given some time to reflect on a situation, they can perform any "non modern" action without negative modifiers for lack of skill. Example: They might of ridden a horse sometime in the last three hundred years, so they just have to spend a moment to remember how. They won't know how to pilot a new fangled Steam Jack because they are a recent invention.

Experience  (This is the important one)
The immortals can have superhuman proficiency in most things they know. They will have a skill called experienced reflecting that. This skill will add 1/3 its normal skill bonus to all actions the immortal has a skill for or has remembered.

Charms:
This is knowledge of static magics, lucky charms, little talismans, micro cantrips (salt over the shoulder for luck), little rhymes for magical effect (Third time is a charm), with belief and understanding of their working.
By concentrating a moment (and performing a tiny ritual or incantation/ or playing with the right amulet or charm) and making a simple metaphysical skill check, they can add small plus to any action.

Superior Technique
There are certain cultures/ groups that have a reputation for superior skill in some area of expertise. Rather than forcing every character of that culture to buy that skill at obscene levels at the start, they should take a Superior Technique gift/ feat/ boon. This boon is only available to those from that culture (or have another gift/ feat saying they have had extensive training from that culture/ group). This means the character does things at a simpler difficulty. So certain basic actions that might require a skill roll may become automatically successful for them. They now can perform feats that others would find impossible or performed at significant penalties. "So tracking someone not hiding their tracks is normally a fairly straight up skill roll. For those of the Tetecha tribe (with their superior techniques of Woodcrafts/ Tracking), it would be automatic. They would only have to roll if he was hiding his tracks or there was rain, snow, or other obscuring factors... things that would be penalties for normal skill use. "

Player Points

Fortune Rolls


If you have additional ones, either post them here and I will incorporate them into the list, or PM me with them and I will add them to the list.
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« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2005, 12:14:06 PM »
Internal consistency

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is in important in your games?
If so, how do you maintain it?
   Anchor the consistance to something - world pack

Internal consistency, in my experience, is an essential key to maintaining the suspension of disbelief  or Versimilitude

Consistency also allows for such things as predictability and action and reasonable consequence.

My concerns with internal consistency are not so much with the setting, but with my own game sessions and my tendencies as a GM/ST/whatever to improvise.

I love improvising and some of my most kickass stuff comes from it, but I'm constantly annoyed to find out that cool I've just made up contradicts something I set out earlier. It is easily solved, in theory, by keeping good notes and double-checking said notes before throwing out something off the wall. Actually reviewing the notes so you no longer need them is the true level you need.
but that's hard for some to put into practice.

Internal consistancy is extremely important to our group, because my players are very detail oriented and difficult to BS.


Very important. When playing in licensed setttings (e.g. Star Wars, Angel) I find myself retconning internally inconsistent elements. Yet I also embrace them... it is very psychotic.

When I create a world, I always try to make the players an integral part of a well-designed, internally consistent world


****I find internal consistency is crucial to enabling my players to maintain a sense of immersion and/or suspension of disbelief.

( After all, some scientists suggest that pattern-finding and suckling are the only two certain instincts in the human species. )

People always look for patterns. It is the basis of most magical systems and most scientific systems, whether based in empiricism or the scientific methods.

People always look for patterns. Some horror authors have said that the most frightening monster is the one which seemingly lacks internal consistency. I recall reading that one reason so many people fear the genuinely insane is that they can not figure out the internal consistency behind the behavior of people who are mad.

People give up on fiction which lacks any sense of internal consistency, regardless of whether it is fantasy or SF or secret agent or so-called real life. How many times have people claimed a seeming inconsistency ruined a particular television series or film for them?

According to some studies of superhero comic books and soap operas, one of the the appeals of these two similar-but-different genres is that readers/viewers who know the backgrounds well enough can find easter eggs of meaning in patterns which would be invisible to the casual reader/viewer.

The nice thing about all this is that, because people naturally look for consistency, if the game master messes up, half of the time his or her players will speculate a retcon for the GM.

Most players can deal with a very unrealistic world, so long as it doesn't contradict itself. If gravity works in reverse, it had better not work normally when it suits the plot.



***************
Element redundancy - that is, elements that are redundant (duh  ) i.e. D&D's endless number of "fire monsters" or creatures of law. I prefer uniqueness.

Asthetic Consistancy:
space-opera game defined by a clear and genuine aesthetic consistency, where that aesthetic consistency is given absolute priority and is allowed to cause the physics (for example) to fluctuate to fit.

A hard-SF game where physical consistency is given priority and (as a result) aesthetics, morals, themes and other matters will bend to answer to physics.

Whatever the central element is, that's the one that's got to work in the detail and clarity we want. Everything else can shuffle and orbit around it.

RELATED TO: genre consistency: Nothing confuses players more than being clear on a played genre and then having some PCs/NPCs act appropriate while others break the conventions. Even worse is, when the gaming books themselves seem to disagree on the genre they describe.

Thoughts: I'm totally into immersiveness  Without consistency, I find myself unable to immerse myself in a game. Niggling questions -- "Where the heck are all the farmers in the Forgotten Realms?" "How can the Traveller universe be flat?" "Taiwan and Guangdong have founded a country together?" "What the heck do dwarves eat?" -- keep cropping up. It is distracting.


Note to self: Gary Klein's Sources of Power
       http://www.museoffire.com/Games/
MoonHunter
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« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2005, 11:23:57 PM »
What Every Campaign Needs and GMs Tend To Forget:

Ways to have a strong begining
You can't know how to get there if you don't know where you are going.
*Every game has three beginings. Campaign begining, Story Arc begining, Session begining.
*Thus at any given time there are three endings or climaxes you are heading towards.

Strong Developed characters: PCs and NPCs
*Everyone has one to three goals in their lives.. what are your PCs?
*Why isn't the game based on one of these?

Create Conflict
*Keep the clock ticking.
*Reversals and Obsticles
*Something for everyone/character

Put your characters in danger or action:
*007 en media res

Create an atmosphere

Cut Scenes to other areas in the game
*including the bad guys

Ways to firm up the middle

Ways to strengthen the endings

Middles
Know your begining and approximate end point.
Narrate your way around the boring parts.
Avoid too many subplots and complications.
Add more reversals and timebombs
Flashbacks to enrich characterization

Ending
If you haven't paid attention, know where you are heading towards each session.
Find the Bang! and plant it there.
Make sure (almost) everyone has a satisfactory conclusion at the end of the game/ story line.
Avoid the too neat ending.
Finish it, don't just drop it.
MoonHunter
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« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2005, 11:43:15 PM »
Oh my god, I am quoting myself. I found this quoted on another site.

I don't think anyone is going to argue with you that story is more important than mechanics. However, bad mechanics can take away from a great story. I find it hard to immerse myself in a story if I have to spend twice as much time rolling dice and doing math equations than I do moving my character along. In fact, I think most people would agree that the less die rolling, the better.



I was in a game with a GM that had a Masters in History, who made is a point to mention that the local peasants didn't have wheelbarrows.  The rest of the players just shrugged that off but I knew that the GM was trying to tell us the peasants were on the knife edge of  starvation.

All that from wheelbarrows?  Yes, because before the invention of the wheelbarrow it took two men to carry that load.  In it's time the wheelbarrow was the most explosive production multiplier that the peasantry could  get their hands on.

this is worth two tips: One about the power of the Wheelbarrow and the other is the moral of the story...that people need to know the point you are trying to make.

UNDERSTAND STRUCTURE.
All great drama is based on the Three Act Structure which dates to Aristotle and before.

In Act I, you introduce Character, Theme, Setting, and Situation.

In Act II, you complicate. You raise the sub-story, the relationship story, add new twists, and elements for your characters to overcome.

In Act III, you introduce Final Jeopardy, tie all the pieces together, and add a prologue.

Everything must have a beginning, middle, and end. Do not meander. Do not lose the reader. And remember this above all: DON'T TELL ME, SHOW ME. You are not a journalist. A movie is a story told with pictures. A game is a story over time told with word.

Quotish:
"It's only a movie, for God's sake!"
-- Alfred Hitchcock, responding to Kim Novak's reported, "What is my character feeling in relation to her surroundings?" during filming of 1958's Vertigo

Quote Farm
"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That
is what Fiction means."  -- Oscar Wilde

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist.
Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." -- G. K. Chesterton

When written in Chinese the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
John F. Kennedy
MoonHunter
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« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2005, 07:05:49 PM »
From Idea to Story Line:
You have an idea for a story line in you game. It is a story seed really, but it has you by your sensitive parts are refuses to let go. It could of come from a movie, or some tidbit on the news, or a song. You need to grow this seed into a story. There are five key questions that guide your thinking while growing the story line.

1) Who will this effect?
Perferably, who will it hurt. :wicked:
*Find the character that has an emotional stake in the situation. That is your key character.

If it is a PC, you have the "star" of your story line.
If it is an NPC, you need to find a connection between the PC troupe and the NPC. Preferably this is an NPC that the PCs already know or have a connection to. That is much better than "you get a letter from Uncle Tony... you know... the guy you used to know... who you did this thing with these other guys..."
(Remember you can use NPCs the players know to introduce the PCs to the real effected person)

Lets use the PlotLine: Gold discovered under a farm. People to be effected:
1) Farmer and Family, If they are freemen. If the village/ farm is far enough away... it could be the entire village.
2) The Noble who owns the Land
3) The Brigand Leader who has found the Gold
4) The Dwarven Miners the Brigand Leader is bringing in to mine the gold.

2) What can go wrong?
Fiction is about things gone awry.  Put through everything you can think of on the list. Go down the list and think, what could go wrong after that. That way you can see where your story line will go. (Note: if you have a taste for disaster, this can be kind of fun)

*Brigand drives out farm family/ village
*Brigand decides to use the villagers as slave labor.
*The Mine collapses.
*Noble tries to seize things for himself ... doing so underhandily, so he does not have to pay tax on it.
*The Miners rebel realizing they are digging for non-owners. Who then get to be supressed and blamed for the crime.

You see the list goes on..

3) What Larger Issues are at stake:
This could be used for themes, aspects of stories that take the game beyond the simple by adding depth and meaning beyond itself. If that seems beyond you (and its not, but lets go with it), go with the second part.
What Larger Plot Line in your game can this be tied to?
*Do the Brigands work for the rebels at the court?
*Are the Brigands ex-mercenaries from a group the PCs have interacted with.
*Is the local noble a rebel and doing this gives him the black eye (so the players will want to help the brigand just to weaken the noble).
*Are the local spirits unquiet?

As for themes, you could choose to emphasize, Greed does not pay, The Feudal system is unjust, Who owns things.. really, and so on.  

4) Who Pays: There is no such thing as a free lunch, in the real world, in fiction, or in gaming. What happens if someone wins? Who is the loser and what is the outcome.  This varies depending upon the answers to question 1, 2, and 3.

5) Climaxes and Important Scenes
You can't know how you are going to get there unless you know where you going. There are two ways to deal with this. After thinking about 1-3, and very tied to 4, you can answer #5. Alternately, you can just select a cool ending and a number of interesting scenes and fit everything else around it. Either way works.
* Every Storyline needs closure.
... The players need to feel good about ending the plot, even if there are some loose ends (known and unknown).
* Every story line has Key moments. Capture those.
MoonHunter
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Offline MoonHunter

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Soap in a Medieval setting
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2005, 10:43:35 PM »
"How can you tell he is a king?"
"He's not covered in s**t"

This joke is not that far from the truth.

How was cleanliness treated in Middle Ages Europe,
and among the different classes? Was soap or similar substances used?
>

Many people think that people of the time only bathed once a month, or worse - once a year. This is actually not true at all.

Here's a very informative article that I found: http://www.florilegium.org/files/PERSONAL/Tubd-a-Scrubd-art.html

As for soap, many of the documents for the old Bristol soapmakers guild
in England still exist. From them, we can safely ascertain that soapmaking in England, was done primarily by candle makers as a sort of by product of their trade. Over time soapmakers split away and became a specialty of their own. It appears that there was a fair amount of in-fighting between candle and soapmakers. Authorities regulated soapmaking heavily, making it very difficult for them to conduct business or have fair access to needed supplies. By the 1600’s the export of soap in Paris supported large  factories.

The methods and ingredients employed in the production of soap does
give  some clue about its origins. Pliney the Elder, was an ancient
historian, who died in Pompeii. He wrote that the addition of salt would create a hard bar of soap - like what we use today. Modern soapmaking employs a lye product that is a sodium derivative, making this observation
correct. American colonists frequently added table salt to wood ash mixtures for this reason. Other writings by Pliny suggest that a sort
of fullers earth product for washing wool also existed.

Some researchers believe that it originated in the Middle East and was
brought to Europe by soldiers returning from crusades. Other sources indicated it was the gift of the Gaul's.

The knowledge about many of the fats and or oils we use in modern
soapmaking, has developed as a result of early regulation of the trade.
Beeswax was the preferred base for candles because it was easy to work
with and did not have a "meaty" odor. However, supplies were limited
and more expensive; making the church and royalty its primary recipients.
More commonly, candles were made from the same beef tallow coveted by
soapmakers. Over time, soapmakers learned to use a variety of oils for
their products. Soap in period was usually a gelatin-like substance and
sometimes greyish or dark in color. Because salt was precious and
bathing conventions fluctuated, the need for soap as a personal toilet
item did not catch on for some time.
MoonHunter
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Re: Random game tips and articles in process.
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2005, 05:50:15 PM »
Putting the group of characters together is more important than anything else you will do to create the campaign.

The MoonHunter way does require that the PCs are somewhat familiar with the setting being run. This is accomplished in two ways. The first is outlined in the Creating the Campaign The MoonHunter Way ( http://www.strolen.com/content.php?node=1461 ). The second is a world pack, creation of which is outlined in World Building 102 ( http://www.strolen.com/content.php?node=1148 ).

By the time of Day 0, You should of talked with each players at least once in the above process and world packs should of been handed out at least a week ahead of time.

Day 0 is the session when the group gets together to start the for the new campaign. This is not when play begins, but when the players get together to talk about the campaign and their characters are created. The players should have a good sense about what will be in the campaign and what kind of campaign they will be involved in. (They should also know the approximate length of the campaign, especially if the campaign has a definable climax.) 

Day 0 is also known as the Casting Party. At this point the players and the GMs work out all the characters together. Players help players with game mechanics and conceptions. The characters are woven together in terms of their mutual histories, so the group has a real reason to be together. As the GM I provide direction and information to the group.

Characters in the troupe should follow the following guidelines. Any character that does not meet the following criteria should be carefully scruitinized by the GM and possibly rejected.




Every member of the group should serve a strong purpose for the group.

Related to this, Every character should have his own unique shtick. Even if the group. So you might have several warriors in the group, but each has their own unique combat style (One is a knight, one is an archer, one uses pole arms) and minor function outside of combat. No character in the group shall ever utilize the same shtick as another.


Every character is either a hero (or of heroic leanings), an anti-hero that will work with the heroes, or a villian who will soon convert to the side of the heroes. Carefully examine any character of the latter two types to make sure they will work with the goup..



No silly characters or characters of overused cliches.


Every character should have a reason to be with the group and stay with the group.

Every character should have ties to the setting and the other cahracters.




 This casting party allows the players to create what will become a team with mutually supporting roles in the group, weave their backgrounds and story lines together, and get a good feel for the group.

****************************
Each character will have a unique personal role in the group, a "niche" if you will. Don't go stomping on somebody else's niche.

Each character will have ties to the setting, other characters, or plot in some fashion. These can be physical, social, or emotional, but they WILL EXIST.

The PCs are supposed to be more or less the good guys. They don't have to be nice, and they don't have to be brave, but when the adventure starts happening they need to go deal with it.

Some intra-party conflict is fun, but not too much. Make up characters who can reasonably cooperate when the chips are down. If you want to play a character who is initially against the rest of the group, make sure his conversion will happen before he does irreprable harm to the group.
******************************









8) Poll the characters II: In addition to any notes I make during the casting party, I ask each player for 1-5 things they want to see in the game, with an emphasis on their characters. This time they will give me actual roles they want to see in the game (love interest, evil wizard to be their enemy, etc), storylines they want, types of scenarios they are now intersted in, opponents or types of opponents, and so on.


The You're Not John Wayne Rule: Do not make basically the same character you made for the last campaign. Take a risk, play something different.(I swear the next two-fisted gunslinger PC I come across is getting struck by lightning  )
MoonHunter
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Offline Sydney Cain

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Re: Random game tips and articles in process.
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2006, 11:56:34 PM »
*Golf Clap* Really, I mean just.....wow.  You really must have alot of time on your hands Moon :D. The devotion and effort you put into this is amazing, you must work for Microsoft or Bioware or something, cause this is great.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 04:39:06 PM by MoonHunter »
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Re: Random game tips and articles in process.
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2007, 02:52:01 PM »
Bump. This is a thread that everyone should go through at least once or twice. This is my second time, and I've been learning something new each pass.
P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)

By the power of Bayes!

Acolyte Lithil Darkheart – Level 1 Necromancer
STR: 1 | END: 2 | CON: 3 | DEX: 3 | CHA: 3 | INT: 3

Current guild quest: --