Eyes Up – Taking the Boring out of Randomness

GMs have to strike a weird balance in ongoing campaigns. Don’t do too much preparation; so that when players go off the blazed trail you aren’t starting the nights campfire with your notes. But, also have enough structure so they aren’t just spinning on the log flume again and again going nowhere. All while having a little bit of fun while doing it. Many people look to random tables to solve the preparation issue to avoid burning out from creative fatigue. The problem with that is many of the encounters I’ve seen using encounter tables have been horrible; worse than just throwing a dart at the index. There is little life to the encounter and the GM doesn’t understand how the monsters are to be utilized in the scene.

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Confessions of a Newb GM: Game with a Difference

The other day my former DM told me what I missed in the last session. He told me told it was two combats and two skill challengesas an example of how quick the session was moving. Hence why he’s my former DM. I know my new DM cares much more about having fun than winning D&D. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Game with a Difference”

The Disastrous Tale

What do you do when you’re planning on throwing your players into a disaster? Why are there certain tropes to use and to avoid? We look to some that come up and many of the research you can use to make your game feel even more amazing. Continue reading “The Disastrous Tale”

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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Confessions of a Newb GM: Thoughts for an Epic Fight

Massive battles aren’t what role playing games are good at. I have yet to see mass combat rules that are functional at a narrative level or that maintain the spirit of the rules set out in the core book. The rules don’t matter to playing on this scale. The conceit that you’re commanding armies of people often abstracts the rules to such an extent that you are either playing a board game with its own rules or the rules you started with no longer apply at all. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Thoughts for an Epic Fight”

The Exploration Tale

We talk about exploration and how to avoid some of the pitfalls that are so easy to come up against when bringing this to your players. From having a place be devoid of life to not remembering to have a goal once the players get to a new place we give a few ideas on how to make your exploration better. Continue reading “The Exploration Tale”

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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Confessions of a Newb GM: Rooms as Costume

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”

The One Shot Villain Tale

We talk of Thrawn and grand villains as well as thugs that are easier to completely defeat. The discussion goes from why you want to use them and how you can frame long term villains within their own narrative for how they got there.

This episode would not have happened without the article posted on Eleven – Thirty Eight

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Eyes Up: Going for the Stands

As a GM we fear the loss of control. I see this everyday with myself being the one fearful, but I also see it at the gaming table quite a bit. I’m a very weird player when it comes to RPGs, I’m not attached to a character and will play it like it’s just an avatar in adventures doing things that are far past the daring do of what a ‘sensible’ character would show. This is my own take on it because of needing to let go of my fears and do things in ways I wouldn’t do away from the table.

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Confessions of a Newb GM: Skills and Structured Events

I want to help clear up a misconception that I’ve seen again and again in discussions. Skills are skills. It doesn’t matter if they’re knowledge skills, combat skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills it all comes back down to: The way you use a skill in one situation is the same as in any other situation. Continue reading “Confessions of a Newb GM: Skills and Structured Events”

The Analog Tale

We talk of Star Wars and how technology should be a support for your story unless it becomes the complete centre of it. We go from discussing the tech and some of the oddities to discussing how to use it at your table in ways that move the story forward. Continue reading “The Analog Tale”

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”