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Author Topic: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions  (Read 56579 times)

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Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1100 on: September 25, 2014, 10:05:10 AM »
In my particular case, they weren't dead when the sheets were written. ;D

The game's been going for a bit over four years at this point. A lot of characters have come and gone, for various reasons, and we've gone through at least two or three 'sheet formats'.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 10:22:16 AM by TheGlyphstone »

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1101 on: September 25, 2014, 10:20:01 AM »
Another reason for creating character sheets for dead NPCs, is if the deaths of those characters is somehow central to the plot.

For example, in a murder mystery, the victims need to have their details recorded somewhere, because those details could well give clues to the motive of the kliller.

Offline persephone325

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1102 on: September 25, 2014, 06:12:47 PM »
Thank you Chrystal and Glyph. ^^

And Chrystal is right. The dead NPCs were all important to the plot, and died either during or right before the major plot point in the game.

Online Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1103 on: October 01, 2014, 07:31:15 PM »
So I'm trying to put together an NPC sheet for a game of mine. You'd think it would be easier, because NPCs usually need less in depth info than PCs. But I'm having quite a difficult time trying to figure out how to make one. I know I'll be putting in the basics, but I just don't know how in depth I should go.

I should point out that I'm making NPC sheets for several characters, including some that are deceased. They're different races as well.
I'm assuming that's a freeform game, but you should just take a tip from Fate, well, from Jadepunk, actually ;).
Write 5 sentences, which might be as informative or evocative as you want. One explains the High concept, who the character is or was. One explains the Trouble, the source of enmity that plagues the character. One is Origin, where you're from. The next is Inciting Incident, how you decided to do what you're doing, or for important dead NPCs, how they died. The last one I tend to make Ideals, what they stand up for, or Relationships, or you could just have six of those ;D.
I've run NPCs in system-based games, and I mean NPCs were central to the evolving plot with half that, meaning I was limiting it to three sentences followed by a number for the system data >:).
I should also note that the more screenplay an NPC gets, the more is established and common knowledge about him or her, the less info you need on the character sheet. The character sheet for the main NPC in a game that ran over a year was constantly revised, removing unnecessary details, until it consisted of just her name, and the number after it, and everyone in the game, either me or the players, could run her with that >:).

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1104 on: October 02, 2014, 05:40:40 AM »
I should also note that the more screenplay an NPC gets, the more is established and common knowledge about him or her, the less info you need on the character sheet. The character sheet for the main NPC in a game that ran over a year was constantly revised, removing unnecessary details, until it consisted of just her name, and the number after it, and everyone in the game, either me or the players, could run her with that >:).

NPCs evolve the same as PCs

However, if you plan on allowing new players to join the game, I would hesitate to remove details from the character sheet, because while players who have been there years will know the NPC intimately (in some cases, maybe even literally, *snerk*) new players will not, and may be wondering just what the heck everyone is talking about with this character that doesn't belong to anyone and doesn't seem to have a character sheet!

Online Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1105 on: October 02, 2014, 06:44:10 AM »
NPCs evolve the same as PCs

However, if you plan on allowing new players to join the game, I would hesitate to remove details from the character sheet, because while players who have been there years will know the NPC intimately (in some cases, maybe even literally, *snerk*) new players will not, and may be wondering just what the heck everyone is talking about with this character that doesn't belong to anyone and doesn't seem to have a character sheet!
Chrystal, remember I'm talking about one of the system games I've been running? Players didn't have access to her character sheet, or any character's sheet except their own, until very late in the campaign, as is customary in system-based games. Doing otherwise would have spoiled the surprise, in that specific case, and as a bonus, they had to discover who she is and what she's good at.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1106 on: October 02, 2014, 12:49:44 PM »
Chrystal, remember I'm talking about one of the system games I've been running? Players didn't have access to her character sheet, or any character's sheet except their own, until very late in the campaign, as is customary in system-based games. Doing otherwise would have spoiled the surprise, in that specific case, and as a bonus, they had to discover who she is and what she's good at.

Ah, right, gotcha.

But then I was offering general advice.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1107 on: October 16, 2014, 02:36:44 PM »
Not a question, but this might be of interest to some people

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atlasgames/feng-shui-2-action-movie-roleplaying-game-by-robin

2nd ed Feng Shui kickstarter, ends in 32 hours. Feng Shui is a fun game, my old group played it a few times.

Offline persephone325

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1108 on: October 16, 2014, 04:18:20 PM »
Question for those who have some knowledge of systems:

I'm looking to try and make my own system for a fighting game, and was wondering if anyone could possibly help me out. Or, better yet, point me in the direction of a helpful guide. I'm just looking for something easy, and if I can experiment with it myself that would be great.

Does that make any sense? lol

Here's the link to the thread, just in case: https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=215662.0

It would probably help to have a setting/plot, but I'm still working on that.

Offline Ebb

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1109 on: October 16, 2014, 04:49:19 PM »
Question for those who have some knowledge of systems:

I'm looking to try and make my own system for a fighting game, and was wondering if anyone could possibly help me out. Or, better yet, point me in the direction of a helpful guide. I'm just looking for something easy, and if I can experiment with it myself that would be great.

Does that make any sense? lol

Here's the link to the thread, just in case: https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=215662.0

It would probably help to have a setting/plot, but I'm still working on that.

What you have looks like a neat concept for a game.

Before you decide on a system, though, you need to think about what you want to get out of it. At a very basic level, the question is "When X and Y fight, who wins?"

Now in the console games that you're drawing inspiration from, the answer to that question probably depends on:
1) The relative skills of the people holding the controllers,
2) With an adjustment for which character is fighting which. Some characters might be stronger or weaker against others in particular.
3) And some luck.

In your forum game, you don't really have that first element. But you're telling a story, so maybe there are other factors that you want to work in. Off the top of my head, you might include:
1) Writing skill. Basically, whoever writes the more convincing description of their combat moves has an advantage.
2) Role in the story. Maybe X is bearing a grudge against Y because Y killed X's parents? Maybe that gives X an advantage? Or maybe it gives Y an advantage, as X is more likely to make a mistake?
3) Player skill at some kind of mini-game that you invent.

#3 could be as simple or as complicated as you want. You could have lists of moves, with players secretly choosing maneuvers and then looking up how they work against each other. You could have rock/scissors/paper. You could have players allocating points between attack and defense.... There's lots of possibilities.

But ultimately you need to decide what you want to get out of it. There's no reason you couldn't go with just a simple coin flip for each match, and then have the players write out the results in as much detail as they want. But maybe you want a system that people will have fun playing with, picking moves and rolling dice and so forth. If so it's probably better to steal an existing system than to make up your own from scratch. There's a better chance that it'll be fun to play, since presumably people have already been playing it. Is that what you're looking for?


Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1110 on: October 16, 2014, 04:50:54 PM »
Are you against just using an existing system, instead of trying to write your own from scratch? There are a wide variety of systems ranging from simple to in-depth and detailed that could be adapted to a fighting game.

Offline persephone325

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1111 on: October 16, 2014, 05:00:06 PM »
What you have looks like a neat concept for a game.

Before you decide on a system, though, you need to think about what you want to get out of it. At a very basic level, the question is "When X and Y fight, who wins?"

Now in the console games that you're drawing inspiration from, the answer to that question probably depends on:
1) The relative skills of the people holding the controllers,
2) With an adjustment for which character is fighting which. Some characters might be stronger or weaker against others in particular.
3) And some luck.

In your forum game, you don't really have that first element. But you're telling a story, so maybe there are other factors that you want to work in. Off the top of my head, you might include:
1) Writing skill. Basically, whoever writes the more convincing description of their combat moves has an advantage.
2) Role in the story. Maybe X is bearing a grudge against Y because Y killed X's parents? Maybe that gives X an advantage? Or maybe it gives Y an advantage, as X is more likely to make a mistake?
3) Player skill at some kind of mini-game that you invent.

#3 could be as simple or as complicated as you want. You could have lists of moves, with players secretly choosing maneuvers and then looking up how they work against each other. You could have rock/scissors/paper. You could have players allocating points between attack and defense.... There's lots of possibilities.

But ultimately you need to decide what you want to get out of it. There's no reason you couldn't go with just a simple coin flip for each match, and then have the players write out the results in as much detail as they want. But maybe you want a system that people will have fun playing with, picking moves and rolling dice and so forth. If so it's probably better to steal an existing system than to make up your own from scratch. There's a better chance that it'll be fun to play, since presumably people have already been playing it. Is that what you're looking for?



Thank you. ^^

What I want, is some kind of interactive system for the players to be able to have the fight not have any kind of random "luck of the draw" outcome. I had thought about having a section of the character sheet devoted to allocating stat points, or something similar. But I'm not too sure how to incorporate those numbers into the dicebot. (Which is something I'm heavily leaning towards using, since it's already available to E members.) Though I'm not opposed to using something else, so long as it's simple to use and easy to understand. I'm still new to system games.

Are you against just using an existing system, instead of trying to write your own from scratch? There are a wide variety of systems ranging from simple to in-depth and detailed that could be adapted to a fighting game.

At the moment, I don't have any kind of system set up. I know creating one from scratch would be hard. But I also just don't know where to begin looking for an existing system that I could modify for my game.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1112 on: October 16, 2014, 05:22:34 PM »
What I want, is some kind of interactive system for the players to be able to have the fight not have any kind of random "luck of the draw" outcome.

There is always the "non-system" system....

If you don't want any sort of "luck of the draw" involved, you could leave it entirely to your players to write the PvP fight scenes without any reliance on a system whatever, they simply decide who wins based on who wrote the better post.

For a better description of how this works, a good person to talk to is Ember Star. But no matter what you do to a system, no matter how you weight the dice rolls, you are always going to have the "She Bows Politely Then Explodes" possibility (With thanks to HH for that thread) of a really strange dice roll giving a totally unrealistic outcome!

So, as Ebb said, it's down to what you want out of it, and what you want your players to get out of it?

Most systems (at least in my extremely limited experience) are geared for PvE rather than PvP.

To have a diceless combat system - which is effectively freeform - all you need are a set of simple rules: No auto hitting, no auto dodging, and a maximum number of follow-on moves (if-then-else constructs like "If this blow lands then I follow up with a kick, else I take a step back"). Everyone is an adult (we assume until proven otherwise) so allowing players to work it out for themselves with no dice involved isn't going to result in "Bang-your-dead, No-I'm-not-you-missed, No-I-didn't, Yes-you-did", exchanges, and if it does, you, as GM step in and declare both characters as having killed each other, and then report them both to staff as being underage!

*Runs away dodging madly before the proponents of systems can catch me*

Online Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1113 on: October 16, 2014, 06:53:01 PM »
Chrystal, dear, everything you said is the kind of things which are true until you consider the exceptions.
 
At the moment, I don't have any kind of system set up. I know creating one from scratch would be hard. But I also just don't know where to begin looking for an existing system that I could modify for my game.
Your inspiration is console games. How about using a system that's created specifically to emulate console games? And yes, it exists, since you're not the only roleplayer to like console games.
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/79179/Fight-The-Fighting-Game-RPG
I leave it up to you how to obtain the game.

Offline persephone325

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1114 on: October 16, 2014, 06:58:49 PM »
Chrystal, dear, everything you said is the kind of things which are true until you consider the exceptions.
 Your inspiration is console games. How about using a system that's created specifically to emulate console games? And yes, it exists, since you're not the only roleplayer to like console games.
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/79179/Fight-The-Fighting-Game-RPG
I leave it up to you how to obtain the game.


Hmm... Interesting. I'll have to take a look at that.

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1115 on: October 17, 2014, 01:30:00 PM »
I'd say the first thing you want to look at what feel you want for it.

Should it be straight health based (I still have 1 hit point left, I'm fine)?
Should damage decrease, or even increase, the characters abilities?
Should there be special attacks, combos and fatality moves, or is everything a variation of punch / kick?

I've played a couple of fighting card games (Kung fu and muskeeters, but they use the same basic style), where at the start of the hand, each player gets so many cards. These are a mixture of attack, defense, combo (to increase power of an attack) or special. Each turn they can make one attack against another player. For example, I might throw down a jumping (combo card) spinning (combo) chair (special - weapon) attack for a grand total of 8 damage. Unless my opponent can somehow block / dodge that attack, they take the damage .. but it doesn't leave me much in my hand to defend any attacks against me. Optionally I might have just done a spinning chair attack for 6 damage, and kept that jumping to boost my dodge by +2 if someone attacked me. If not, I can always use it next turn.

There's also the scissors-paper-stone approach where one technique gains a bonus against another, and is weak in comparison to a different one.


Offline eBadger

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1116 on: October 17, 2014, 01:48:11 PM »
One possibility is to base your rules on a card game: Lunch Money comes to mind (as it's a card game specifically about a bunch of people in a fight) - buy a deck and deal out cards, have players choose their actions based on that. 

If you want a quick, simple, and nearly systemless game I came up with this for one of my role plays (it was a gothic adventure, so you'll want to tweak the actual stats a bit, but the concept was sound):

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Mechanics:
I'm not big on stats and dice rolling in online games; record keeping, resolution, and rules knowledge are a hassle.  However, I feel that having some balancing structure is important for characters and a quick resolution system is helpful. 

Innocence and Depravity are primarily used as roleplay and by the GM to determine outcomes.  Neither is inherently 'better' overall, although one may often prove more helpful in a particular situation.     
Innocence: Your character's optimism, purity, conscience, virtue; innocence may grant protection, draw predators, escape nightmares or resist temptation. 
Depravity: Your character's pessimism, worldliness, corruption, evilness, perversion; depravity may intimidate, gain allies, enable violence or fuel powers. 
Innocence and Depravity are rated from 0 (least) to 5 (most) and must add up to 5.

Vigor:
Strength, vitality, health - your ability to persevere and withstand harm
Dexterity: Quickness, alertness, coordination - your ability to act and react
Wits: Intelligence, cunning, personableness - your ability to think and communicate
Vigor, Dexterity and Wits are rated 0 to 5, and may add up to no more than 8. 

Abilities may be natural talents, skills, or supernatural features.  These are things you will generally always succeed at. 
Brawling, fencing, shooting, stealth, singing, lock picking, shape changing, healing, can see in the dark, inhuman speed, throws fireballs, pet ghost, etc. 
You may have two abilities. 

Weaknesses are failings or vulnerabilities, either natural or supernatural.  These are things you will generally always fail at. 
Mute, susceptible to sunlight, faints when surprised, lecherous, cowardly, etc.
You may have up to two weaknesses; for each one, you may have an additional ability or point of Vigor, Dexterity or Wits. 

How the system works: contests between characters or challenges will only take place when logical.  They simply involve a comparison of statistics.  Avoiding a trap might require a Dexterity of 2, for instance, or a brawl might compare Vigors.  In a comparison, the highest wins.  Abilities trump contests; a character with a Vigor of 2 and the ability Boxer will win a fist fight against another character with a Vigor of 3.  Weaknesses, similarly, automatically fail: a Lascivious character will not be able to resist a seduction, whatever their Wits.  Ties result in an impass: two characters with Wits of 4 will never talk each other into going down the dark hallway first (time to flip a coin).  Modifiers may be levied at the GM's whim, and will be applied if the same contest is repeated excessively (after a number of victories at chess, the lesser player will learn to watch for that trick with the rook).  In all cases, players are expected to resolve contests in a logical, productive and mutually enjoyable way. 

Offline Sophyta

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1117 on: October 23, 2014, 05:53:17 PM »
*orders something odd and strong*

I guess that I suck for getting people in and keeping them.  I can have people and then they leave by my hand.  I'm around if you need more info.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1118 on: February 18, 2015, 04:00:56 AM »
*wanders in and helps herself to a large glass of something*

This thread is awfully quiet at the moment...

I was just thinking, we should have a "Hints and tips for new GMs" thread. With helpful bits of advice gleaned from the pages of this and other threads, stickied/pinned so it can be found and possibly locked so as to avoid it becoming unwieldy with random comments...

I think probably my contribution to such a thread would be "Never start a story at the very beginning".

This is something I've learned from personal experience and from watching others make the same mistake. What do I mean by this? Allow me to elucidate.

Let's say I have a great idea for a group game story that involves a group of survivors of (say) a plane crash on a remote desert island (cf Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, only with adult characters, or possibly the TV series "Lost"? Don't know because I never watched it). The way this would start in a 1970s style movie would be with all the characters arriving at the airport, kissing goodbye to their loved ones and getting on the plane.

The way it would start as an episode of a 2010s TV series is with the plane ploughing into the ground...

Why? I don't know. I think people have shorter attention spans today or something...

Anyway, the temptation with any story like this is to start it "at the beginning", with the characters meeting up. I have seen this so often. Someone has a great idea, they create the setting and they start the story with the characters all meeting up for the first time.

It nearly always fails.

What ends up happening is that ten or fifteen players express an interest. Of those, two-thirds actually submit characters: 7 - 10. One or two never actually post, leaving between 5 and 9 active players. These player characters arrive and (taking the plane crash example) settle into their seats. One third of them will post once and never post again, simply because they are waiting for something to happen that doesn't.  That leaved 3 - 6 players. If it's already down to three, that's it, three players do not make a group game. That's a three-way which can actually go into the solos forums because it really only needs a single thread. Very few group games continue with less than four players, although there are exceptions.

But okay so assuming we still have 6 players, what happens next? Well, the GM (who is playing the pilot and cabin crew) taxis the plane out onto the runway and takes it off... All very exciting stuff in real life if you've never flown before, but hardly something to capture the interest of a group of role-players... We then have to endure the flight. Flying on a commercial airliner is tedious in reality. It is uncomfortable, cramped, the food is mediocre at best, and people tend to read, watch the in-flight movies, or sleep. Not by any means an ideal environment for role-play.

So the number of players dwindles very quickly down to, well, probably one!

That is the worst-case scenario, obviously, but I have seen it happen again and again! Every time I join someone else's group game I make the suggestion to start the story with the action. Some times this suggestion is followed, some times it isn't. I'm not going to say that every story that starts with the characters meeting up fails, nor that every story that starts with the action succeeds. There are far more factors involved than just that one. But there is a definite correlation.

Start the story with the characters crawling out of the wreckage of the aircraft, at least you have got them to the setting and they can start trying to survive. Start the game with the characters already at the party then at least the party is underway. Or, one of my favourite examples, start with the colonists arriving on Mars, then at least they have made it to the planet, and don't all die en-route!

An ancient Chinese proverb says "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". This is true. But equally true is that many people do not take that first step because they are daunted by the five million steps that must follow it. Drop the person in the middle of the journey, however, and they have a choice: go on or go back. Most will choose to go on.

So, to summarise: When starting a story-based group game, to maximise your chances of getting the party to where the action is, start the story where the action is! Don't start with the characters meeting up in a tavern/pub/airport/port/taxi or any other location.

The same applies to a certain extent to sandbox, have the player characters already on location, that way, none of them will get lost en route.

Online Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1119 on: February 18, 2015, 06:45:49 AM »
*orders something odd and strong*

I guess that I suck for getting people in and keeping them.  I can have people and then they leave by my hand.  I'm around if you need more info.
OK, what is that supposed to mean?

*wanders in and helps herself to a large glass of something*

This thread is awfully quiet at the moment...

I was just thinking, we should have a "Hints and tips for new GMs" thread. With helpful bits of advice gleaned from the pages of this and other threads, stickied/pinned so it can be found and possibly locked so as to avoid it becoming unwieldy with random comments...

I think probably my contribution to such a thread would be "Never start a story at the very beginning".

This is something I've learned from personal experience and from watching others make the same mistake. What do I mean by this? Allow me to elucidate.

Let's say I have a great idea for a group game story that involves a group of survivors of (say) a plane crash on a remote desert island (cf Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, only with adult characters, or possibly the TV series "Lost"? Don't know because I never watched it). The way this would start in a 1970s style movie would be with all the characters arriving at the airport, kissing goodbye to their loved ones and getting on the plane.

The way it would start as an episode of a 2010s TV series is with the plane ploughing into the ground...

Why? I don't know. I think people have shorter attention spans today or something...

Anyway, the temptation with any story like this is to start it "at the beginning", with the characters meeting up. I have seen this so often. Someone has a great idea, they create the setting and they start the story with the characters all meeting up for the first time.

It nearly always fails.

What ends up happening is that ten or fifteen players express an interest. Of those, two-thirds actually submit characters: 7 - 10. One or two never actually post, leaving between 5 and 9 active players. These player characters arrive and (taking the plane crash example) settle into their seats. One third of them will post once and never post again, simply because they are waiting for something to happen that doesn't.  That leaved 3 - 6 players. If it's already down to three, that's it, three players do not make a group game. That's a three-way which can actually go into the solos forums because it really only needs a single thread. Very few group games continue with less than four players, although there are exceptions.

But okay so assuming we still have 6 players, what happens next? Well, the GM (who is playing the pilot and cabin crew) taxis the plane out onto the runway and takes it off... All very exciting stuff in real life if you've never flown before, but hardly something to capture the interest of a group of role-players... We then have to endure the flight. Flying on a commercial airliner is tedious in reality. It is uncomfortable, cramped, the food is mediocre at best, and people tend to read, watch the in-flight movies, or sleep. Not by any means an ideal environment for role-play.

So the number of players dwindles very quickly down to, well, probably one!

That is the worst-case scenario, obviously, but I have seen it happen again and again! Every time I join someone else's group game I make the suggestion to start the story with the action. Some times this suggestion is followed, some times it isn't. I'm not going to say that every story that starts with the characters meeting up fails, nor that every story that starts with the action succeeds. There are far more factors involved than just that one. But there is a definite correlation.

Start the story with the characters crawling out of the wreckage of the aircraft, at least you have got them to the setting and they can start trying to survive. Start the game with the characters already at the party then at least the party is underway. Or, one of my favourite examples, start with the colonists arriving on Mars, then at least they have made it to the planet, and don't all die en-route!

An ancient Chinese proverb says "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". This is true. But equally true is that many people do not take that first step because they are daunted by the five million steps that must follow it. Drop the person in the middle of the journey, however, and they have a choice: go on or go back. Most will choose to go on.

So, to summarise: When starting a story-based group game, to maximise your chances of getting the party to where the action is, start the story where the action is! Don't start with the characters meeting up in a tavern/pub/airport/port/taxi or any other location.

The same applies to a certain extent to sandbox, have the player characters already on location, that way, none of them will get lost en route.
Chrystal, that thread would be possible if there was one school of GMing...
There isn't, and likely never would be, just one school. Want me to prove that? Take three advice given in this thread, except "talk to your players if there are OOC issues", and quote them. It would be easy to find blog posts, or books with GMing advice, that recommend the exact opposite. Or, if you go through the thread, someone might have contradicted it already ;D.

Thing is, they're all right - for the kind of game they want. If you don't want that kind of game, tough luck. Find out how to get there yourself >:)!
Of course, I cheat and use advice from other sources, but that's besides the point :P. Oh, and some groups might hate a specific way of getting to that kind of game, but like the kind of game itself, so you'd have to find a walkaround either way.

Or, for example, let me take your advice and example. You say "start them on location".
I say "allow PCs to zone out just the way you would if something boring is going on". I mean, I've recently traveled between continents, exactly like in your example. I don't remember much of that, I remember what I did while I was there.
Give them a post or two to get to the commercial airliner, the flying saucer, or whatever, and then describe the following.
"The plane taxis around, flies off, and a couple hours later, you hear an alarm."
After that, proceed to catastrophe site, or even describe them surviving and go from there. Either way, you can post in the OOC they can tell you in retrospect what they were doing during the trip and the crash.
Why is that different? Simple, I'm framing the scenes by skipping meaningless interactions. If said interactions are important, feel free to tell me about. If you were dozing off, you don't need to be bored out of your mind by posting regularly "I'm snoring", and then telling us how you're dreaming of whatever, and possibly having a hard-on that bothers or intrigues your neighbor who's not going to survive the crash anyway...
Yes, you can spin it, but what's the point, if we all want a totally-not-Lost game?

But, maybe you're a GM that doesn't like cutting off material like that? Well, mention that in the recruitment thread. If you get a group of players that would like to and are able to describe dozing off and so on, as in the example - and I've seen enough of those - you can play through that, too. But basically, unless you're planning to play out the lives of your characters 24/7, don't bother.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1120 on: February 18, 2015, 03:19:27 PM »
Chrystal, that thread would be possible if there was one school of GMing...
There isn't, and likely never would be, just one school. Want me to prove that? Take three advice given in this thread, except "talk to your players if there are OOC issues", and quote them. It would be easy to find blog posts, or books with GMing advice, that recommend the exact opposite. Or, if you go through the thread, someone might have contradicted it already ;D.

Hi Thuf.

I take the point, yes there are as many different styles of GMing as there are GMs... But there are certain universal truths too, such as the one you mention, or "IC drama needs to be kept IC, and should not be allowed to spill over into the OOC", "Non consent applies to the character NOT the player".  Equally there are general rules which can apply to many different types of game although they may not apply to all, such as, perhaps, "Players are only allowed to edit posts so long as no-one has replied", which is great in story based games because it makes players think about their posts, and forces them to accept the consequences of their characters actions.

I did not intend to imply that all hints and tips are useful in all circumstances, just that it might be an idea to have such a thread, kind-of like a FAQ of GMing.

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Thing is, they're all right - for the kind of game they want. If you don't want that kind of game, tough luck. Find out how to get there yourself >:)!

I agree totally!

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Of course, I cheat and use advice from other sources, but that's besides the point :P. Oh, and some groups might hate a specific way of getting to that kind of game, but like the kind of game itself, so you'd have to find a walkaround either way.

If the group wants a specific type of game but doesn't want to work in a particular way, that is something to be brought up in pre-game discussion with the GM... Which is exactly the sort of tip that should be in the FAQ-thread!
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Or, for example, let me take your advice and example. You say "start them on location".
I say "allow PCs to zone out just the way you would if something boring is going on". I mean, I've recently traveled between continents, exactly like in your example. I don't remember much of that, I remember what I did while I was there.
Give them a post or two to get to the commercial airliner, the flying saucer, or whatever, and then describe the following.
"The plane taxis around, flies off, and a couple hours later, you hear an alarm."
After that, proceed to catastrophe site, or even describe them surviving and go from there. Either way, you can post in the OOC they can tell you in retrospect what they were doing during the trip and the crash.
Why is that different? Simple, I'm framing the scenes by skipping meaningless interactions. If said interactions are important, feel free to tell me about. If you were dozing off, you don't need to be bored out of your mind by posting regularly "I'm snoring", and then telling us how you're dreaming of whatever, and possibly having a hard-on that bothers or intrigues your neighbor who's not going to survive the crash anyway...
Yes, you can spin it, but what's the point, if we all want a totally-not-Lost game?

I'm not sure here whether you missed my point entirely, or are actually agreeing with me without realising it. I would offer more specific examples, but without permission of the GMs concerned I hesitate to do so publicly.

But in essence you are agreeing with me that no matter where the story starts, the long drawn-out period of getting from the start point to the action scene should be skipped in some way? I am simply stating that it becomes easier to skip from the "let's all get on the [mode of transport]" scene to the "OMG WTF is going on?" scene if you don't have the first one at all... Because people get involved in scenes that they don't want to just have ended, they get upset with the GM for imposing a time skip and leave the game. Or they continue their scene regardless and either force everyone else to wait, or create continuity problems in the IC thread(s).

I'm not saying that a "meet and greet" scene isn't useful in some situations, I just think that having an action story start there is a bad idea, because it can leave people wondering exactly when the action is going to start.

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But, maybe you're a GM that doesn't like cutting off material like that? Well, mention that in the recruitment thread. If you get a group of players that would like to and are able to describe dozing off and so on, as in the example - and I've seen enough of those - you can play through that, too. But basically, unless you're planning to play out the lives of your characters 24/7, don't bother.

Um... yeah, see, this is exactly my point. Why play out the scene with the players dozing off? It adds nothing and is just padding, and it can result in players getting bored and dropping out. But if you are not playing that scene out, why do you want to play out the scene with them getting into their seats? What value does it add to the story? Why not just cut straight to the chase? After all, everyone has seen everyone else's character sheets, so there's no reason why the characters can't already know each other, so the "meet and greet" bit serves no real purpose.

Online Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1121 on: February 20, 2015, 12:07:01 AM »
Hi Thuf.

I take the point, yes there are as many different styles of GMing as there are GMs... But there are certain universal truths too, such as the one you mention, or "IC drama needs to be kept IC, and should not be allowed to spill over into the OOC", "Non consent applies to the character NOT the player".
Well, then unless my knowledge of GMing techniques is extremely limited, there are exactly three rules that apply to all styles.
"Manage expectations". Talk to your players about character lethality, genre conventions if you're using any, their expected feedback on the story, your GMing techniques, the social and personality mechanics or the lack thereof, and so on and so forth. If you intend to change elements out of the blue and want that to be a surprise, tell them surprises are possible and nothing is sacrosanct. It doesn't have to be a discussion, in fact it helps to make it clear in the OOC or even the recruitment thread. This is the game I want to run, who's playing? But to be able to say that, you should make the rules clear first. (And yes, "stick to genre X" is a rule if you're talking about it and sticking to it).

"Don't cross IC and OOC, resolve IC matters IC and OOC matters OOC". The non-consent rule is just a sub-set of this, if you look closely.

"Set up the game so you could stick to your guns and deliver on what you promised in the first step". This includes everything from systems or lack thereof, to setting and NPCs you're introducing, and how much narrative rights the players are allowed.

Not much material for a thread, if you ask me. Unless you're planning to make it a "help, where did I go wrong" thread >:)?

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Equally there are general rules which can apply to many different types of game although they may not apply to all, such as, perhaps, "Players are only allowed to edit posts so long as no-one has replied", which is great in story based games because it makes players think about their posts, and forces them to accept the consequences of their characters actions.
I can easily think of a set-up for a story-based game where this wouldn't apply because the characters could have powers to edit reality. But, yeah, this one works. Still, most such rules are something to be covered in the "managing expectations" step.

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I did not intend to imply that all hints and tips are useful in all circumstances, just that it might be an idea to have such a thread, kind-of like a FAQ of GMing.
And I'm just saying I'm sceptical. You need to make it something like a table, cross-referencing genres and styles of play and sexual content levels and the kinds of players you've got in a four-dimensional structure. It's likely to spiral out of control, or leave lots of spaces uncovered.


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If the group wants a specific type of game but doesn't want to work in a particular way, that is something to be brought up in pre-game discussion with the GM... Which is exactly the sort of tip that should be in the FAQ-thread!
It's covered, above: talk about your GMing techniques.

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I'm not sure here whether you missed my point entirely, or are actually agreeing with me without realising it. I would offer more specific examples, but without permission of the GMs concerned I hesitate to do so publicly.
Well, either is possible, how would I know whether I was wrong ;D? To me, it looks like you were advocating starting in media res.

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But in essence you are agreeing with me that no matter where the story starts, the long drawn-out period of getting from the start point to the action scene should be skipped in some way?
Yes, but you were talking about getting the characters together to storypoint X, not about "starting the action". I'm currently running a game elsewhere where the PCs don't know each other yet, and it's been a couple months since the start. They've had investigation and action already. Only two of them had a common scene, though, and it's because they had common background so I started them together.
Getting the characters in media res so they'd have the common story milestone X isn't the same as "starting the action". You can have the latter without the former, is my point.
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I am simply stating that it becomes easier to skip from the "let's all get on the [mode of transport]" scene to the "OMG WTF is going on?" scene if you don't have the first one at all... Because people get involved in scenes that they don't want to just have ended, they get upset with the GM for imposing a time skip and leave the game.
In my book, I have a simple recommendation about anyone who can't just open a thread or use PMs to resolve the scenes that were cut short, and instead gets angry that the GM is framing the scenes (which is what a GM does, first and foremost). Keep in mind, said people should be doing that while playing in the next scene.
Go find a GMless game, you're not a good fit for one I'm running, is the recommendation :P.

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Or they continue their scene regardless and either force everyone else to wait, or create continuity problems in the IC thread(s).
I read that "or they get kicked out", for some reason ;D.

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I'm not saying that a "meet and greet" scene isn't useful in some situations, I just think that having an action story start there is a bad idea, because it can leave people wondering exactly when the action is going to start.
If people can't wait one scene for the action to start, well, I get suspicious how long they're going to keep up with the game. Maybe it's just me, so I'm not offering it as any kind of advice.

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Um... yeah, see, this is exactly my point. Why play out the scene with the players dozing off? It adds nothing and is just padding, and it can result in players getting bored and dropping out. But if you are not playing that scene out, why do you want to play out the scene with them getting into their seats? What value does it add to the story? Why not just cut straight to the chase? After all, everyone has seen everyone else's character sheets, so there's no reason why the characters can't already know each other, so the "meet and greet" bit serves no real purpose.
Because it doesn't add anything to you.
I know GMs and players who hate skipping stuff, and don't like reading other players' character sheet. To them, starting in media res and clearing it later how you got there is confusing.
Furthermore, there are other people who think starting in media res (or just skipping large chunks) means the story isn't developing organically from the characters' actions. After all, if they were playing it out, maybe this story milestone would be avoided, or it'd have to be amended.
To them, this is more important than starting in the thick of the action. As stated before, you're obviously disagreeing, and I suspect you disagree that the players being able to amend the story is of great value.
It doesn't mean either of you is wrong, though. It's just something that should be made clear in the managing expectations phase. Guess which heading this falls under in my list :P?

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1122 on: February 20, 2015, 02:19:28 AM »
Okay, I had to look up "in medias res". Not an expression I've heard before, but yes it is appropriate.

I think we are on the same side here? I agree completely with everything you just said in your last post, except for one small factor...

I don't think I have ever kicked a player out of a group game.

I have, in the past, asked a player to change the way they were posting in a game I was running which has resulted in them leaving the game, but that isn't quite the same thing. And quite honestly, if a player posts something that is unacceptable to me as GM, I would much rather they change the post and continue in the game than leave.

I think the main difference here is that we are looking at this from two different perspectives: You are looking from the point of view of the top of the mountain. You have that orange "GM" badge, you are involved in running at least one group game that has made it to "Big Game" status, passed the 1,000 post milestone and has its own sub-forum. So from that perspective, with a successful game and a loyal group of players who keep it going, getting over that initial hurdle of the first few weeks of play isn't an issue.

I am looking at this from the perspective of someone who has run dozens of group games, all of which (except two, currently) have died, usually because of players dropping out. I am trying to find ways of preventing players from dropping out.

Now, this all comes down to your point number 1 - Manage expectations!

If you start a game with people meeting up in a tavern, you are going to get players who like having characters who meet in taverns and sit around drinking.

If you start a game with a group of soldiers pinned down under heavy enemy fire, you are going to get players who enjoy having characters that like to find ways out of tricky situations and tell Arnie "You've been back enough, I'll be back"... (Kudos for spotting the reference).

Now, I'm not saying that those two types of player are mutually exclusive, far from it. I happen to fall into both categories myself. But there are players who will join a game thinking "Oh, this is going to be one thing", when it ends up being another. Those players drop out and the game dies.

For example:

I am planning a sci-fi war game. I expect to attract a type of player who enjoys sci-fi, guns, battle armour, gadgets, getting shot at, shooting the bad guys. You agree?

If I start the game with the troops going into battle for the first time, landing in a hot LZ, explosions, bullets flying every where and a half dozen NPCs getting killed, this meets the expectations and desires of those players. It also gives me a very easy way of removing from play any characters who's players drop out after posting a couple of times! *snigger*

After the battle is won (or lost) I can change scene to a different place, have a more gentle scene for the players to catch their breath, the characters get to know each other and have smutt scenes, before the next action scene happens, if players so desire, or these can be skipped over, or put in a separate thread...

However, If I start the game with the R&R scene, players who want the action, joined for the action and are expecting the action are likely to get bored and wander off. Players who enjoy the R&R scene are likely to want it to continue. So when the scene does finally get to the action, they are going to wander off.

Of course, if the game is all about the R&R scene and the player interactions, and NOT the combat, then obviously the R&R is the place to start, and it is the combat scenes that get skipped over.

Am I making sense?

I have loads of other examples I could use, games I have run and games I have joined, but using one that hasn't happened yet and applying the scenarios to it as I see them is safest.



Oh and in terms of a "basic guide to GMing" I was thinking of, I just found this https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=88480.0

Which is pretty much the sort of thing I was thinking of.... ;-)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 03:27:30 AM by Chrystal »

Offline Ontan

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1123 on: February 27, 2015, 09:17:28 AM »
*Stumbles in, looking around with a stunned expression* HuhÖ how long has this place been here?

Some of this might be borderline necro-posting, but I just had to throw my two cents in on a couple of topicsÖ


I think probably my contribution to such a thread would be "Never start a story at the very beginning".

This is something I've learned from personal experience and from watching others make the same mistake.

[Ö] the temptation with any story like this is to start it "at the beginning", with the characters meeting up. I have seen this so often. Someone has a great idea, they create the setting and they start the story with the characters all meeting up for the first time.

It nearly always fails.

[Ö]
So, to summarise: When starting a story-based group game, to maximise your chances of getting the party to where the action is, start the story where the action is! Don't start with the characters meeting up in a tavern/pub/airport/port/taxi or any other location.
 

This!
Itís happened to all the group games Iíve joined on the E forums, and most of the RPs Iíve tried elsewhere. Iím at a loss to explain why it happens, but at this point Iím absolutely convinced that the initial Ďmeet and greetí phase is toxic to RPs. Iím not saying itíll always cause every single player to leaveÖ but it does seem to be the single biggest factor to RPs stalling before they reach the interesting bits. Itís a tragedy because itís clear the GM has big plans for the story, yet things never get that far because 90% of the players drop out before things even kick off.

As an aside, thatís not a criticism of the players. RPs should be fun, and if theyíre not, then itís usually a sign that somethingís wrong with the setup rather than the people involved.

If you want a quick, simple, and nearly systemless game I came up with this for one of my role plays (it was a gothic adventure, so you'll want to tweak the actual stats a bit, but the concept was sound):

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide
Mechanics:
I'm not big on stats and dice rolling in online games; record keeping, resolution, and rules knowledge are a hassle.  However, I feel that having some balancing structure is important for characters and a quick resolution system is helpful. 

Innocence and Depravity are primarily used as roleplay and by the GM to determine outcomes.  Neither is inherently 'better' overall, although one may often prove more helpful in a particular situation.     
Innocence: Your character's optimism, purity, conscience, virtue; innocence may grant protection, draw predators, escape nightmares or resist temptation. 
Depravity: Your character's pessimism, worldliness, corruption, evilness, perversion; depravity may intimidate, gain allies, enable violence or fuel powers. 
Innocence and Depravity are rated from 0 (least) to 5 (most) and must add up to 5.

Vigor:
Strength, vitality, health - your ability to persevere and withstand harm
Dexterity: Quickness, alertness, coordination - your ability to act and react
Wits: Intelligence, cunning, personableness - your ability to think and communicate
Vigor, Dexterity and Wits are rated 0 to 5, and may add up to no more than 8. 

Abilities may be natural talents, skills, or supernatural features.  These are things you will generally always succeed at. 
Brawling, fencing, shooting, stealth, singing, lock picking, shape changing, healing, can see in the dark, inhuman speed, throws fireballs, pet ghost, etc. 
You may have two abilities. 

Weaknesses are failings or vulnerabilities, either natural or supernatural.  These are things you will generally always fail at. 
Mute, susceptible to sunlight, faints when surprised, lecherous, cowardly, etc.
You may have up to two weaknesses; for each one, you may have an additional ability or point of Vigor, Dexterity or Wits. 

How the system works: contests between characters or challenges will only take place when logical.  They simply involve a comparison of statistics.  Avoiding a trap might require a Dexterity of 2, for instance, or a brawl might compare Vigors.  In a comparison, the highest wins.  Abilities trump contests; a character with a Vigor of 2 and the ability Boxer will win a fist fight against another character with a Vigor of 3.  Weaknesses, similarly, automatically fail: a Lascivious character will not be able to resist a seduction, whatever their Wits.  Ties result in an impass: two characters with Wits of 4 will never talk each other into going down the dark hallway first (time to flip a coin).  Modifiers may be levied at the GM's whim, and will be applied if the same contest is repeated excessively (after a number of victories at chess, the lesser player will learn to watch for that trick with the rook).  In all cases, players are expected to resolve contests in a logical, productive and mutually enjoyable way. 

Absolutely love it. Iím one of those people who get put off by system-intensive games, but equally there can be some balancing issues in games that donít have any technical rules. This ultra-light system offers a great compromise between both camps, offering a numerical standard to compare powers, while still putting an emphasis on character concepts rather than efficient builds.
In other words, Iíll happy shamelessly steal adapt that system with your permission if I ever ran a game.

SoÖ banal agreement, and gushing praise. Thatís my highly constructive contribution to this thread. 

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #1124 on: March 11, 2015, 06:18:40 PM »
Has anyone here ever had success running FATE or one of its relatives (Spirit of the Century, Dresden Files, FUDGE) in a PbP format? I'm feeling the urge to try my hand at running a PbP game again after a very long time, and FATE seems to strike the balance I'm looking for of having a built-in system while being rules-lite enough to not scare off people who habitually prefer freeform RPs. Plus, the way it integrates roleplaying/concepts into the mechanics via aspects and fate points looks extremely interesting.

What I don't know, though, is if it's a good choice for PbP pacing.