Every now and then we get asked by new GMs how to I get started, I love the universe but this RPG thing scares me. This is David and Ben giving a few pieces of advice and telling a few tales of how they learned to use the dice. Continue reading “Episode 139 – The New GM Tale”
Here’s something I’ve been dealing with lately that keeps jumping to the front of my mind. How can I deal with a published adventure that has significant problems with it but has a single diamond in the rough that will drive some great sessions?
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.
When setting a scene you should have a reason for the players to be in the encounter whether that reason is a piece of information, a contest that one is going to participate in, or an NPC they have to deal with for other reasons. Any situation the party has in front of them has multiple solutions to it and as a GM you should be trying to show at least a few of these solutions. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Rooms as Costume”
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”
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”
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”
As you’ve probably surmised I’m setting up an online campaign while I’m still running an offline game. I have great fun with this group and we have just finished going through Beyond the Rim from Fantasy Flight Games. While I do have The Jewel of Yavin I do not want to run them through it yet, since the feel is wrong for the group. The party has a Trader/Big Game Hunter, an Outlaw Tech/Demolitionist, an Assassin, and a Doctor.
For a while I was stumped about what to do next that would keep things interesting for my goup and I. Since we were just out exploring, I wanted a session or two where we were having fun in the high tech setting of Star Wars instead of out in the wilderness dodging more nexu and kobolds (or the local equivalent). The only thread I had for an impetus was the Tech’s criminal obligation triggering for three sessions running. In doing some administrative upkeep for the campaign on the private Obsidian Portal site an idea struck me as I saw what skills they haven’t been using of late.
I want them to steal a McGuffin.
They have the two needed archetypes with the Tech and the Assassin to pull off a simple heist, but they have a talker and an indeterminate doctor as well, so I figure they could be doing some grifting and investigating, too.
Realizing that the Tech’s obligations keep weighing on his mind, I thought to put this to use. He is ‘accused’ of stealing and smuggling but hasn’t been caught or prosecuted, so having someone show up with evidence of this would be a great way to hook a player who is normally meticulous. I came up with a mouth piece for a Crime Lord and a basic idea for what I wanted them to do. Now that I knew the party is being blackmailed into crime, really the worst of the oil slicked slopes, I started to wonder who they’re going to steal from.
Since their skulduggery isn’t the best, I thought they might want to charm or negotiate someone unaware of their nefarious plans. I ran through the general species they’ve seen in play so far and looked to Donjon for available random names and came up with a Mon Calamari woman.
Now that I have an aquatic woman that the players might have to charm, much to my amusement, or steal from, the question shifts to what does she do? The last thing I want is for her to be a push over so I glanced at the talent trees and came up with the idea to combat the parties’ trader with a trader. I decided that the party will need to have access to one of her computers for the caper. The data the blackmailer wants is shipping manifests from the Mon Calamari’s small company so that he can smuggle ill gotten goods in these shipments while the company itself remains unaware.
But wait, there’s more.
If all I wanted was an adventure, I’d finish with a few notes on her office security and a few of her after hours activities and be done; but this will act as a prologue to the real adventure. The tilt will be the party finding information during this fairly simple data theft that results in them racing off to a planet in search of Mr. Techie McGuffin. The longer campaign will be one of exploration and lost technologies and if I tie this in it wouldn’t feel like a rest stop adventure but something that connects it all together.
I’m working the longer plot threads into the data breach scenario and need to find out what other sorts of incriminating data can be on the system. My first thought is that she is smuggling for the rebellion, but I am suspicious of that because it’s too easy. If we stick with a theme from Beyond the Rim it could be staging for an excursion to find a damaged CIS transport ship that held a major battle station part.
The twist will be a great find for someone wanting to discover cool old technology, or trying to sell these secrets for a nice profit. This brings two player’s desires to the fore and links them into a common goal. Not wanting players to feel left out, I’m going to draw each of the players into this in the most melodramatic way possible. I am going to bring the two other character’s obligations and motivations into play. The assassins’ motivation and obligation is to protect his friends and to find his family that had been slaves at one time or another. Using this, I would say his father was the stated captain of the transport ship that was lost. Lastly, the player for the doctor latched onto the Richard Kimble story, so his character has been framed for the murder of his roommate by a one armed Bothan who I’m putting as the head of the Mon Calamari’s expedition.
Now the fine detail
This gives me enough frame work to start populating all the smaller details like an opening speech to start them on their way, a couple different ways for the data to be accessed, possibly a double cross from the instigating crime lord and it should be done with a definite direction for the party to be going on that isn’t just wandering about aimlessly.
Ben and Joshua look at the star destroyer on Jakku and let their minds go wild with possibilities for creating a campaign and integrating the history of the galaxy.
We talk about things to keep in mind as you end sessions, chapters, and campaigns during Cams final show. We have a great time as we watch out for murder bears around the campfire.