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Author Topic: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)  (Read 393 times)

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Offline icecradleTopic starter

First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« on: October 02, 2014, 05:32:39 AM »
I've been roleplaying freeform online for about 15 years now, but I've only been playing system games IRL for about a year and infrequently at that.

That said, I'm going to be GMing a Firefly RPG (using the new 2014 Firefly RPG game) and I'm excited, but also quite nervous.

We are going to be playing with OCs rather than the Serenity crew, and so I am currently designing a custom campaign to start us off. Yeah I know, chucking myself in at the deep end.

I have tons of ideas, I'm just wondering how much or how loosely I should plan, what things should I definitely know going into the game, what advice can experienced GMs give me?

Offline Xurtan

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 05:42:32 AM »
Plan loosely. Have some ideas, plot hooks, maybe vague concepts for places and where things are. I wouldn't suggest planning further, if even that. Players will screw up plans, decide to go different directions, do strange things, and generally make a muck of any and all ideas you have. :P Just go with it and see where it goes. Also, don't ever say 'No'. Say, 'Yes, but..' *grin* Players don't like to be told no, and even if it's kind of a dumb idea, explore it. Explain what will happen as a consequence, and if they still want to do it.. why not? It's about everyone having fun, after all. Depend on the group you're running with too, admittedly. Some like more on-rails, some prefer absolute freedom.

Offline icecradleTopic starter

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 06:28:45 AM »
yeah, my experience with the group of players is that they prefer having the freedom to actually roleplay rather than being tied to really strict rules and constant dice rolls, so I want to embrace that... without letting it all descend into chaos. x.x

Offline Caehlim

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 07:58:30 AM »
Honestly freeform can still teach you a lot of the skills that you use in any system game. The creativity, imagination and ability to describe open-ended situations for the PCs is much the same in either environment. My advice if you're running a system game for things that will be different.

- Never ask for a roll, unless you're willing to accept any result that could occur from that dice roll.

- PCs will fail more when you're rolling dice than they do in a freeform game. Learn to explain their failures in a way that makes the story sound cool and epic, rather than making their characters sound incompetent. It'll make your players much happier about failing.

- If you know a situation is likely to come up in the next session (like a starship combat or something) then make sure you have a quick look over those rules beforehand just so that they're fresh in your mind. Sometimes the rules will inspire a really cool situation that could come up as well.

- Treat everything the player puts on their character sheet as a description of what they want in the game. If they buy the guns skill, they're probably wanting some gun battles. Alternatively if they put lots of skill points into diplomacy then they probably want a chance to talk their way out of a fight.

- Expect things to go a little bit slower as soon as dice become involved, especially in combat things won't go as quickly as they do in freeform games.

Offline Xurtan

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 02:37:03 PM »
Caehlim has a good point about making your players sound cool. They're here to play epic characters, after all. Usually. :P Consequently they should be treated like the highly trained adventurers they are. A failed roll can bring about all sorts of excitement. If someone flubs a roll, maybe they're interrupted by guards coming down the hall. Quirks of fate. Something -interesting- happens, instead of the adventurer just being inherently bad. If that makes sense. :P 

Offline icecradleTopic starter

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 02:41:37 PM »
yeah makes sense! thanks, good advice =D

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Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 05:36:48 PM »
Have a read of this thread, you may get a few pointers

https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=88480

and it may spark a few other questions you'd like answered in turn :)

Offline Cassandra LeMay

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2014, 11:58:50 AM »
My advice would be to plan a lot of details, but not get married to those ideas. Detailed plans can make for nice fallback positions, so to speak, but they should never be the focus of the game. Have tons of plans, but be prepared to abandon them. As long as you don't railroad your players to play with your ideas those ideas and plans can be a goldmine for you to use.

You have this great idea for NPC X on planet Y, but your players never go to Planet Y? Don't make them go to planet Y, take character X and put him on some other world. And so on and so forth.

Plan tightly, play loosely, and just have fun hanging out with some friends. Making plans can do a lot to help you get into the world and define the setting and just focus your thoughts, but you also want some flexibility.

The moments that really stay with you and the players that you will talk about for years to come are never moments you plan. They are always moments of spontaneous creativity, at least judging by my 20+ years of roleplaying. Planning provides a foundation and you can't build a house without a good foundation, but when it comes to building the house on that foundation just go with the flow and have fun.

Offline Aiden

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2014, 03:45:26 PM »
Kill one of their characters, show them who is boss.  >:)


Sample DnD session our DM once did.


"You see a large flaming boulder coming your way, what do you do."

Everyone else - "Get out of the way"
Lance (a friend of ours) "Raise my shield"
GM - "You are squished, roll another character."
-We begin to laugh till it hurts-

Offline Chris Brady

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2014, 04:14:19 AM »
- PCs will fail more when you're rolling dice than they do in a freeform game. Learn to explain their failures in a way that makes the story sound cool and epic, rather than making their characters sound incompetent. It'll make your players much happier about failing.
One thing I'd like to add about this (and the rest is excellent advice) just because the dice said they 'failed' doesn't mean that the characters failed to succeed.  It might mean a number of things.  For example, if they need to hack a computer to get out of the complex, if they succeed, they open the doors and out they go.  If they 'failed' the doors might still open, but an alarm went off.  Or they took longer than they wanted to.  Or any number of things that won't make the players see a brick wall stopping them.

Use failures to advance the 'story', and don't be afraid to improvise if necessary.  Players will keep you on their toes.

Offline foadypw

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2014, 12:47:10 PM »
Get your players to buy the pizza.

GMing is as much about running a game, knowing the system, doing dice rolls, etc, as it is about organising the night.

Food, drinks, seating arrangements, etc, are all very important to the flow of a game. As the GM, you're generally in the position to have the most control of it. If you know you're going to be getting dinner half way through the game - plan it so that there is a good time for intermission in the middle of your game.

I generally prefer a large round table for everyone to sit around if I can get it, but it depends on the number of players. You'll know your players better than us (I assume!) so you'll know what works best, but try to keep the...feng shui, for lack of a better term, in mind.

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Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2014, 01:14:16 PM »
Get your players to buy the pizza.

Chinese food is also popular.  In either case, be nice to the delivery guy - after a while, we had ours trained so well that he'd knock, come in, (we'd greet him with a chorus of 'Hi, Al!') and put the bags in the kitchen by the time that we were there to hand him the money.

Offline foadypw

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2014, 01:50:53 PM »
In either case, be nice to the delivery guy

Never know when you'll get a new player out of that too!

Offline icecradleTopic starter

Re: First time GMing IRL - advice please =)
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2014, 03:54:04 PM »
thanks all for your advice guys!

I had the first session last week and it went really well and the advice here definitely helped =) so cheers!