Episode 181 – The Deep Force Tale

Ben has Chris Ing from Silhouette Zero and Heroes on to talk about the force and some of the deeper things you can look at when using the force in your games. From what is light and dark, to the different force traditions we have ideas on how to make the force deeper in your games. Continue reading “Episode 181 – The Deep Force Tale”

Episode 178 – The Fail Tale

We talk about failure in your game and how to make it feel like that isn’t the end of the action or the story. We show how there is always effects after an action even if they aren’t the desired ones.

Things we talked about in this episode:

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Episode 176 – The Last Jedi Tale

We talk about themes in The Last Jedi and several of the things we ponder about the story, from using bombers to why using force face time would be useful in an RPG setting. Continue reading “Episode 176 – The Last Jedi Tale”

Dead in the Water Epilogue – The Force and Matu

When Matu fell into his Force vision, it wasn’t just a simple thing. He soared among the stars and found a calling to several worlds before him. As well as a person he never expected to find.

Continue reading “Dead in the Water Epilogue – The Force and Matu”

Episode 148 – The Scene Building Tale

What goes into making a scene an scene? How can you drive the players in the direction you want them to? What do you do to spur the players into motion? We talk about this and more in todays episode. Continue reading “Episode 148 – The Scene Building Tale”

Episode 147 – The Subplot Tale

This week we dive into Duty and Obligation and how to make them feel like a part of the whole story instead of a switch track stealing your plot. From simple ideas on how to weave a subplot into narrative, to ideas on where to look for incremental methods we have it here for you. Continue reading “Episode 147 – The Subplot Tale”

Episode 142 – The Escape Tale

David had the idea of trying to escape for a bit, but then we got talking about escaping prisons and how it’s done. We go from the classics all the way through to more modern ideas of prison breaks and talk about a few things you need to think of to make it feel earned. Continue reading “Episode 142 – The Escape Tale”

Episode 141 – The Rock Star Tale

We got thinking of the classic question, what do you do when you have a character that feels like a mismatch to your party? David and Ben talk about how to turn this seeming weakness into a vibrant strength. From snipers to faces and many places in between. Continue reading “Episode 141 – The Rock Star Tale”

Interview with the People on Heroes

Ben interviews the rest of the cast of Heroes of the Hydian Way. The dependable editor Kristine, the personable Chris, the deep Brent, and the energetic Leslie all share bits of themselves with you in this episode. Continue reading “Interview with the People on Heroes”

Confession of a Newb GM: Heroism at the Table

When we sit down at the table we tell tales of daring do larger than we think we could normally accomplish. I saw a tweet the other day that makes me wonder how we can encourage heroics at our tables. This brings me to musing about what makes a hero. Why are characters that would normally be the epitome of heroics be so hard to play in practice? Continue reading “Confession of a Newb GM: Heroism at the Table”

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.

Continue reading “Eyes Up – Starting to the Side of Things”

Eyes Up: Change with your Players

Plans change.

As a GM you know this at least theoretically, combats don’t go the way you expect or even don’t happen at all. The changing course of how people interpret information you give them is often seemingly bizarre. Players jump to one conclusion and are unwilling to give up on that idea. I’ve seen players do it time and again. This isn’t a bad thing, but what you do with it can be. Continue reading “Eyes Up: Change with your Players”

Eyes Up: Rewarding the Player, not the Character

Let’s talk about rewards for players. I have yet to meet a GM or player who doesn’t get the basics of rewarding players with experience points. In some systems it’s an equation as simple as putting monsters in at one end, running them through the shiny bladed grinder of players, and dropping at the feet of the players blood splattered items of surprising usefulness. This is all well and good, and keeps the characters growing in power, but this can be minor to rewarding the players for their actions instead of just their characters. Continue reading “Eyes Up: Rewarding the Player, not the Character”

Eyes Up: Focused Intentions

Hi,

I’m Deuterium Ice, you may know me a bit from Tales from the Hydian Way and Confessions of a Newb GM. I have been doing an article series about how to run adventures, but @TheAngryDM is doing that with attitude, so I’m shifting to something less obvious. When we were recording next week’s Tales from the Hydian Way it became clear to me how I could help and how I can use my own experience, foibles and all, to give ideas and guidance to people doing campaigns to try to make them more interesting. Continue reading “Eyes Up: Focused Intentions”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Scaling the Story

As I have done more and more planning for different campaigns, I find that beginnings and endings to have to be the most solid points. Without these two points set in stone the wild twists and turns that the players throw at me have a knack for throwing me into a tailspin that takes quite a bit to recover from. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Scaling the Story”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Loudly Thinging

Creating a good atmosphere with your games locations is both amazing and hard to accomplish. Adding to the tale that is retold over drinks another day is a great feeling for a GM, but a problem arises when the setting is all there is. A carefully crafted setting can bring great excitement and create an eerie mood, for instance, but if the encounters are all similar the setting slowly loses its majesties. If every room and hallway that the players get into is of a similar style, everything around it becomes routine; making any positive impressions made fade into a faint grey shroud. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Loudly Thinging”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Communicating Trust

I’ve just started a group in my Lepskin campaign. I trust that they’ll be playing to have fun and to try to tell a good story while working to bring what is cool to them to the table. They trust that I am making adventures that have direction to them, but also that I’ll let them go and explore the sector I have made up a framework for.  I’ve advertised that the players are able to make a sizeable contribution to this campaign setting and, at the moment, I’m trusted to follow through. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Communicating Trust”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Disinterested Interest

Player Engagement is a precious thing. If you lose a player to an outside distraction it takes quite a while for that player to come back and be fully engaged. When players are bored they show it in a multitude of ways, from glancing at their phone, to planning out their next level, to looking up arcane uses of their current skill sets. The ability to be distracted gets heightened online when you have a browser in front of you, it’s so easy to slip over to twitter, to a chat room if you’re on Twitch or any number of other things the giant calculator can do. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Disinterested Interest”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Played to Death

As a GM, am I out to kill my players?

In a way I am, but it’s more complicated then a yes.

Every role playing game I have played has opportunities for players to die. In campaigns, I have had very few of my characters die since I’m normally very conservative in how I play. When I’m in one-shot adventures I’m not expecting to play the character more, so I try to play to the archetype of the character and choose characters that are different from my normal support styles. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Played to Death”

Confessions of a Newb GM: Calmly Adventuring

An RPG is about people telling a communal story and having fun while doing it. If all that people do is get together to get in fights and kill things there is Warmachine or that other, more expensive, one. Players and GMs get the fun of a common goal that they work towards, the players slowly chipping away, up and down action, the GMs frantically trying to spin a story from whatever cliché they can think up in that moment. The putty to fill in the gaps between expectations and what is delivered comes from everyone buying into the premise of having fun together doing the same thing. This is the same reason why people get together to do various sports with friends, play board games, play cards, watch movies, or even just to have a few drinks together.

The difference with RPGs is that while there is a game, there are also roles to play; I mean it is right there on the book jacket. During setup everyone gets their role, depending on their desired outlooks for the game: the face, the muscle, the tinkerer, the sneaker, the mob of other people. This make up requires communication. If you’re playing a random Lord of the Rings derivative RPG and your players all have fighters, as the GM you shouldn’t spend time with a with a rogue based sneaky portion to save the party from a massive fight. Everyone ends up feeling frustrated at not being able to use their fun abilities.

To help facilitate group creation the GM can give an elevator pitch for what type of adventure is going to be happening. Even a list of a few movies or books you’re going to riff on is a good idea. A blank page can lead to anything, one person wanting to do cowboy horror and the next to create a werewolf teen basketball star, guidance is needed. Everyone sitting down at the table needs to say what their intentions are for their character.

The Long Campaign

As has been said before a miss-matched group of characters leads to inevitable headaches. I normally want to talk over with the players ahead of time what sort of campaign we all want. I may have my own ideas for the campaign, but I may be spurred on by a cool idea that a player has.

Party creation can be done in its own session and usually it helps with setting expectations for everyone. If it’s with old friends it allows for a nice relaxing time, if it’s with new people you can size everyone up and the emergence of a table leader starts to happen. This isn’t throwing away a session. You’re gathering ideas and honing them into a larger notion of where you’re going with it. It allows for the players to decide what they’re taking and to make sure that any particularly visible holes can be dealt with.

The holes matter in a long campaign, especially if you as the GM want to play around in one of the areas that the players are weak in.

Party balance is a weird beast depending on the RPG system you’re in. If you’re in a more narrative system where people are able to do pretty much anything and it’s the story that matters it isn’t as crucial. With narrative games it does still matter when considering the “odd one out.”

When I was in the playtest of @Fiddlebacks Mask of Ordo (a great module, I cannot recommend it more) we had two to three combat orientated people and a sneaker, the GM tried to let the sneaker get ahead and do stealthy things, but the rest of us didn’t let him because it wasn’t in our character’s natures.

If you’re in one of the d20 alum games it matters an amazing amount. If you are chronically without a healer that means slower going due to natural healing, no one to control the enemies for more than a round, and your damage dealers are having to evade without dealing damage. Not enough damage dealers and the fights take too long and people get bored.

One Quick Shot

One shot adventures are a completely different beast, whether it’s at a convention or wanting to try out something new. These don’t always require a balanced party, as @wood-jasond rightly points out, but it depends on what people are trying to do with it. You need to be aware of the experience you want and what you’re trying to accomplish. Is it a convention game with a bunch of hardened players for the system? Are you doing pregen characters? Can that adventure be used to welcome new people to it? Do you really want to do that one and only time you GM a zombie adventure now?

Making sure you know what you want out of the adventure allows you to give the players an idea of what is coming up and how it will affect them. Knowledge of the adventure paths allows you to also decide if player party balance matters to you or if it’s more advantageous to have a completely tilted play group. Can three fighters and a mage slay that dragon or does it need to have the rogue and cleric as well?

Adventuring Together

I’ve gone through my two types of adventure thinking here for both campaigns and one shots. I hope it helps with figuring out how much you want to know about the party before starting to plan an adventure. Planning ahead is wonderful for a campaign, but a series of independent adventures that focuses on each player can  allow for greater enjoyment.

Episode 22 – The Dying Campaign Tale

How many ways can you kill a campaign? We know quite a few and have witnessed many premature campaign deaths.

Continue reading “Episode 22 – The Dying Campaign Tale”

Episode 20 – The Ace’s Tale

Stay on Target, freshly released from Fantasy Flight Games, is our target. The new Ace Career book brings us interesting views on what an Ace is and how an Ace can fit in our game. Learn about our singular disappointment with the book as we take just some of the ideas presented and make them into usable ideas at the table.

Continue reading “Episode 20 – The Ace’s Tale”

Episode 19 – Encouraging Weird Parties

Today we talk about the wonderful things that you can do to help make your player parties less ‘normal’. With interesting ideas for making weird party concepts, talk a little on how parties are their own character in their own right, and then go on to finding ways of making things even more interesting at character creation. How can a single free rank change the entire nature of a party?

Continue reading “Episode 19 – Encouraging Weird Parties”

Episode 17 – Taking the Next Step

So you have a session 0 under your belt, why it’s under a belt we’ll never know, but now the players keep wanting to do things. How do you start getting an idea of where to take them and what to do with them.

Continue reading “Episode 17 – Taking the Next Step”

Episode 11 – Suspense and the Party

As we descend onto the wind swept forms of Gavos we take a look at different ways of getting the players to be more on edge.

From raging Wookiees to breaking into prisons, we search for ways to take the players out of their comfort zones. Continue reading “Episode 11 – Suspense and the Party”