This was a great week for RPG blogs. In a normal week, I save off 5-7 bookmarks that I pick from for making my Friday Five. We’re not quite done with Friday and I already have ten topics to cover. Without any further delay, here they are!
My heart goes out to Mike over at Campaign Mastery because I’ve done this more times than I can count. I come up with a vivid, realistic, wonderful and overreaching world and campaign arc, and I want to share every last detail of my brilliance with the group… and they don’t want to hear it all up front. Most players would rather start with a small nugget of the world (like their starting village/city) and then learn about the rest of the world as the game carries their characters through the world. Mike, I’m right there with you in making this mistake, and I try not to do it anymore. My advice to other GMs out there is to start small and then filter in details as the PCs grow. It’ll be easier for them to digest.
Here are five great tips from Jim Davenport over at Roleplaying Tips. They cover how to introduce a new system to an established group. I can’t say it any better than Jim did, so if you’re thinking about starting up a Geist or Pathfinder or some other newer game (or even dusting off an older game like Mythus, Paranoia or the original Champions) then head over to Roleplaying Tips and see what Jim has to say.
JackOfHearts over at the At-Will blog has a great idea for coming up with character traits. Of course, instead of carrying around the deck of cards and the charts, simply modify an existing deck of card with the traits written on them. This is a great way to generate NPCs or help a player establish their character’s traits.
This is a good post by the bonemaster over at The Bone Scroll blog about whether or not a party should flee in the face of certain defeat. I could write an entire blog post about this (and just might someday), but my opinion is that while the group may be comprised of heroes with great power, there is always something out there with even greater power. The party should always consider fleeing an option if things get too heavy for them to handle. Not fleeing is a sign of sheer stupidity, and that’s the #1 cause of a character’s death in my games.
How do you get a campaign to last years instead of months? Seeing as how I’ve rarely been in a long-running campaign, I was pretty much clueless in this department until the folks from Campaign Mastery came along to educate me. The longest game I’ve ever run lasted a little over a year, and I’m quite proud of that number. The longest game I’ve ever played in lasted a little over three years, and it was a great three years. I’ll always remember that character with fondness because of everything that I went through with him. If you want to give your players memories that will last a lifetime with a long-running campaign head on over to see what the blog has to say about it.
I lived in the country as a teenager and finally made my way back out of the city into rural areas a few years ago. Unless you’ve been in an area with only natural lighting at night, it’s nearly impossible to truly appreciate how dark the night can get, especially during a new moon. RPG Blog II gets it right when explaining just how dark it can get. If you run a game, I highly suggest that you run out into the countryside some night, turn off the headlights and take in the true experience of natural lighting. It’s amazing and will change your perception (no pun intended) on just how dark it can get outside.
When the party splits up in the dungeon, the GM pretty much has to handle two (or more!) groups of people running amok in their carefully crafted areas. However, when they hit the city, it’s a different matter. It’s totally possible to allow one player to play an NPC merchant while you handle the wizard’s research in the library. This does require some level of trust in your players, but if you don’t trust your players, it’s time for a new group anyway. I’ve had the pleasure of doing this in a Vampire game many moons ago, and it worked quite well. It wasn’t a city setting, but rather a large party full of vampires. The Storyteller had us play our own characters, but told us that when our character is out of things to do to pick up an NPC to run with. He had little cards printed for us to tell us about our NPC and how to player them. He was obviously prepared and planned for this to happen. You can’t always do that with impromptu splits of the party though, so that’s where you get the players to play something other than their own character for a short sprint.
Adding a new ingredient to any established recipe can spell disaster for the dish. Adding a new player to a set group is no different. There are ways to make this go more smoothly, and this post by Brandan over at D20 Source has some great advice on how not the spoil the soup.
The folks over at Key Our Cars came up with achievement ideas based on their theories of what they’ll find in the freshly released D&D 4e DMG2. I like some of these, and may throw them into the mix of my game if I ever get behind the screen again. I just picked up my DMG2 yesterday, and I haven’t made it to the “achievements” section just yet, so I may have more input on this idea at a later date.
I’ve paired these last two posts into the tenth topic I’m covering today. These are posts from Chatty DM and Newbie DM. Chatty has years of experience and Newbie (as his name implies) is fairly new at the trade. They decided to team up together to see what they had to say about the same topic. While they post different qualities, words, thoughts and ideas, they both did a great job on their posts and I think every GM of every game system should take a gander at these two posts. You’ll become a better GM for it; I promise.