Episode 137 – The Active Set Tale

We talk about the wonders you can find in the background of a scene. From the rolling conveyor belts of a factory to the people in a bar the extras you bring to the scene in description will be paid back in fun for your whole table. Continue reading “Episode 137 – The Active Set Tale”

Episode 134 – The Downtime Tale

We talk about how your characters got their first experience and a give few ideas how they spend time between campaigns. From ways to give out experience to ideas for training montages we give you many ideas for passing the time between and before your main adventures. Continue reading “Episode 134 – The Downtime Tale”

Eyes Up – Starting to the Side of Things

Something weird happened with the last Eyes Up, people asked questions and commented. Here’s one that I knew would take me longer than a 5 minute response to have the answer be any sort of use.

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Eyes Up – Directing Your Campaign

You need direction at the table. If you’re reading this I’ll assume you aren’t trying to flesh out your Imperial Assault or Descent games just for that little extra bit of story. I mention this because the standard villain of the week approach is boring. It’s boring on TV and it’s boring on the table. A campaign has structure. A campaign needs structure, even if it’s loose, otherwise you and the players will spin your wheels after a while and people will drift away.

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Eyes Up: A Trouble with Terms

Never talk to me about adventures, because if you are trying to it’ll be a book in length and I’m going to be bored, or it’s going to be a about something that isn’t all that long but I’ll be wondering where the rest of it is because I’m expecting the whole novel. Adventure is a meaningless term that could be anything from going and building a snowman to throwing some jewelry into a volcano, or even following the adventures of a Naboo ship-repair droid as he goes through the galaxy orchestrating the overthrow of an evil empire.

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Eyes Up: Teasing A Bigger World

When creating a campaign you have a story you want to tell. This will have its own rising and falling actions, but, if you’re designing this week to week, it becomes near impossible to find ‘act breaks’ and make it fit well into the tropes of a nice classic three act structure. The best structure for planning long campaigns I’ve found is to follow the pattern of TV shows or comics, for example Saga, Babylon 5, Farscape, and Leverage. Continue reading “Eyes Up: Teasing A Bigger World”

Confessions of a Newb GM: When the NPCs Aren’t There

In the last article we looked at the basics of why an NPC is in a scene. Today we’re looking at where an encounter is taking place. I know I’ve covered it, @Brometheus has covered it, and @theangrydm has covered this before. Here I’m going to be looking at it a little differently. What happens when an NPC isn’t in the room, but you still need to get information across to the players. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: When the NPCs Aren’t There”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Making NPCs That Care

Getting a group together and sitting down to play can be fairly nerve wracking for a GM. Building the world that people are living in is a weird sort of skill to expand. I see the expectation time and again in many RPG products, GMs are expected to be able to go create something and make it wonderful for players off the top of their head. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Making NPCs That Care”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Learning From Mistakes

Finding the right way to go back:

I have had the Lepskin Sector bouncing around in my head for a while. The creation of it sprouted from my offline Star Wars: Saga Edition campaign. The crew was a little down on their luck, the rebellion was disappointed in them, and they needed a place to go to recover their good name and their confidence. I came up with a sector of 25 named planets, I have no idea how the names came about, and a big McGuffin, a deep space manufacturing facility.

Based on my past experience with this group I had expected it to go with a bit of investigation and branch out into a sneaking assault on the facility causing it to either explode or for the group to pull a ‘Red October’ and steal it. The party had a history of stealing ships and repurposing the captured ships as their own so I was betting heavily on them going straight for the facility and taking it over leaving time for me to develop a plot. This bet backfired to the dismay of everyone.

I had it in my head that I could wing it completely, my problem was I didn’t have a series of goals for the players.

I didn’t give hints leading to the bread crumbs to take them to the next piece of the plot because I hadn’t thought through what the meta-plot should be. My players, being players, upturned my plans and decided they wanted to go on a tour of the sector and try to start a business. Due to the lack of planning I wasn’t able to herd them in a direction closer to a plot and from there it turned into Star Wars Tycoon.

Since that time I have played in games outside of my little group as well as coming to realize that there are some good people out there in these forums and a few other places. By absorbing as much as I can, from how to plot out books, adventures, and TV, I’ve learned how to make something more cohesive than just “I have a great idea” and have started to put it into action.

I am now approaching the Lepskin Sector in a dramatically changed fashion now that I’m going back. I really like the idea of an open sector where almost anything the players do has an effect and creates ripples. The problem I had with my first implementation was that I was using the sector as the campaign, not as the backdrop. This blinded me to what the players were doing and the failings of what I wasn’t doing. The campaign setting can be a very living and cool thing, but it isn’t the campaign; the campaign is the adventures that go towards the goal and I had lost sight of this. My plan for the first campaign in the Lepskin Rising saga is to blow up, or steal, the same deep space facility. This can be done in a variety of ways depending on the characters and archetypes chosen by the players.

Actual entry into the campaign is always dependent on the players; they need to choose what type of group they are and how they react to each other. A great method of doing it is the introductory session which, for this campaign, will be an explanation of how they get in the sector and to the secret rebel base that’s ‘cleverly’ hidden. After this, it shifts to one of two methods, if there is enough interest I’ll do a prologue event in the style of Executive Decision, otherwise, I have several bread crumbs already worked into the cast of rebel characters that will provide the first adventure inside the sector. From this beginning I can create incremental adventures leading to the harrowing resolution.

It’s this focus on incremental adventures and planning that is different for me. Before, I had a large plan and thought that it would hold out over many sessions, and that my players would want to follow with me to the end, because obviously I thought it was awesome so they would as well. On reflection I have found the grand idea was exciting, but the session to session was boring. Session to session is where game groups live, if it is boring from time to time it’s okay but consistently boring will kill a group.

Having a one or two part adventure that solves a portion of the puzzle without having a true idea of the final picture is a much better idea than having the picture of the puzzle and not realizing five pieces are missing.

Episode 69 – The Strongholds Tale

Joshua and Ben have the book Strongholds of Resistance and give their reviews. David leads questions and joins in with his thoughts. We all talk about how to bring this book into making your tales on the table all the more awesome.

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