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.

The Lead By Example Tale

We look at Lead by Example and poke it with sticks, trying to find interesting ways of playing the new specializations along with some ideas on how to use the new special abilities.

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The Conflicted Max Tale

We talk with Max Brooke about how to use the Dark Side in your Star Wars game.

How do you make it more nuanced, and not just good vs. evil? How do you deal with people that don’t respect the force and player force users that aren’t major nemesis?

Continue reading “The Conflicted Max Tale”

The Whole Party Tale

David and Ben talk about making a party and not just a bunch of characters, how this requires more then just a few lines and some deep thought.

Then Ben challenges them both to make a party that is going to show up in Meet the Party soon.

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The Converted Tale

We talk about converting adventures to your table, starting with The Temple of Elemental Evil and going through to making Onslaught at Arda I work for you and not throwing in unknown characters.

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The Awakens Tale

We talk about The Force Awakens and how you can take several of the lessons from it and put it at your table. From how to deal with a Big Bad to how to move time along in a believable fashion.

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The Holiday Tale

As we enter into the longest night we look to holidays in Star Wars and role playing games in general. From what makes up a holiday, to covering a few ideas and themes that you can do from major adventures all the way to little bits.

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The Boldly Going Tale

David was talking about his Nebulon-B campaign and the idea was cool enough that we decided to do an entire episode about campaigns being set on a ship and the cool things you can do with it. Taking cues from The Hunt for Red October and Battlestar Galactica all the way through SeaQuest we talk about how to bring being on a large ships bridge to life.

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A Tale of Social Contention

This week we talk about the five social skills and how they can be used and characterized by the NPCs and the players.

It isn’t just choosing from the list, it’s part of the character and how the character is perceived throughout the entire adventure.

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The Tale of Hiring Guns

Hired Guns are a huge pillar of Edge of the Empire. One of the six careers. But, the basis behind how you can make the most of them is not quite as easy as it sounds. We dive into the career and find some people who help bring the nasty pain to their opponents and how you can make an even better one.

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The Tale of the Second Story

Ben and Cam started talking about ships and the big concept ways of using them and the topic started to drift quickly. They slingshot past how to make things more interesting from the outset of a campaign and end up talking about how to keep a campaign interesting over the longer term and how to ratchet up the difficulty.

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Who’s Tale is it Anyway?

We start off with a simple question of how to deal with a guard house full of security personnel with out shooting it up and expand into how we run low prep games and bring the players into a scene.

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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.

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The Underside of the Galaxy

This time we look at criminal organizations, how to use them, one of many ways to use law enforcement with them. Even how to use the “Big Galaxy” approach when dealing with planetary Criminal organizations.

You can find us on Twitter at @DeuteriumIce and @Xphile101361

You can find us and much more at TheHydianWay.com

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Or you can sit down with us as we hide out from the bounty hunters we’ve seen and listen to more Tales from the Hydian way below.

Not the Normal Way

We had a bit of fun, starting with monsters and finding some ways to bring them into an adventure, but quickly the Wookiee and Trandoshan rivalry reared its head and we were off chasing ideas down.

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Blowing up Published Adventures

While Adventure Campaigns are fun, we find that using the two words interchangeably to be infuriating.

We take a look at ways that we can expand upon the Fantasy Flight Games Adventure settings and how to make them less infuriating to use at the table. Lengthening them to the point of making sense for our own narrative and not just the ones on the page.

You can find us on Twitter at @DeuteriumIce and @Xphile101361

You can find us and much more at TheHydianWay.com

Please rate and review us.

Or you can look out the observation window and watch the slowly cooling debris as we talk about having fun with adventures on the edge of a singularity.

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 “Suspense and the Party”

Making Adventures Usable

We talk about how and why to use published adventures.

Then we expand from there to how to make them more useful to your game. Continue reading “Making Adventures Usable”

Playing in the Sandbox

Come out of the blowing desert winds. We take a look at beginning sandbox campaign creation, running them, and common pitfalls.

We have a few ideas for campaigns we want to run and seeds that will eventually let us make them.

Items and sites mentioned in this podcast:

Donjon

Fantasty Name Generator

The Galactic Campaign Guide

Grand Admiral Zaarin

You can find us at @DeuteriumIce and @Xphile101361

You can find us and much more at TheHydianWay.com

Please rate and review us.

Or you can pull up a chair as we look over the Crater Sea and listen to the episode right here:

Joining the Rebellion

Come with us as we join the Alliance to Restore the Republic and see what Age of Rebellion can tell us about  creating new characters and the sorts of stories we can find.

From finding stories and archetypes for the confusing Commodore to talking about how to bring Ithorian and Gran sensibly into a fighting campaign.

A Tumblr post that was brought up in the show can be found here at Club Jade

You can find us at @DeuteriumIce and @Xphile101361

You can find us and much more at TheHydianWay.com

Please rate and review us.