Friday Faves: 2014-06-13 6

We’re continuing with the experiment of compiling the post with links as the week goes on instead of doing it all at once. Last week worked well, so we’re going to see how things go this week before I call it a success. Mike from Campaign Mastery also suggested that I rename the column from “Friday Five” to “Friday Faves” since I sometimes have four, six, or sometimes even seven links to share. I thought that was a good idea, so I’ve made that change as well.

Now on with the links!

Size Is Important…

This is a great size comparison visual aid for folks that want to know what various swords’ lengths are in comparison to other swords. It’s a great find for role players, game designers, and writers of fantasy.

Why Should I be Interested? Treat Your Game Like Selling A Product

John makes a good point here. You can’t just slap together an idea and expect your players to “buy in” because they are your friends or RPG table mates. They may not be spending their hard-earned cash, but they are spending their time to invest in your game. You have to draw them in and keep them happy with the product… er… game you’re selling to them. Keep this in mind. They can always earn more money, but once time is spent on an effort, it’s gone forever. Help your RPG group invest their time wisely.

Ask The GMs: My table runneth over (too many players)

The largest group I was ever part of as a player was somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen players. Yep. Fifteen of us all staring at the game master and expecting a quality game. Somehow Joe pulled it off! I remember having a blast at the table even though there was considerable downtime during combats and between encounters. I didn’t mind because I was sitting in a room of great role players, and I was still honing my RPG skills. I learned quite a bit. Would I repeat the experience? Despite the fond memories of the campaign, I don’t think I would do it again. As far as GM’ing goes, the largest group I ever ran for was about ten characters, but we only managed to get 6-8 of the players at the table with any consistency. I’d do that again in a heartbeat, but I’d probably pick a “rules light” system (Fate? Savage Worlds?) to run the game in. I love running games for large groups, but they need to be mature people. (Maturity is not a reflection of age, but willingness to participate and pay attention when the spotlight is on someone else.) There are just so many crazy dynamics that come from a large group that you don’t get from 2-4 players. Granted, the 2-4 PC range does offer a more intimate feel to the game, which is just as great.

Story vs Mechanics

Callin over at Big Ball of No Fun brings up a great point in his post. His chief complaint is that sometimes a player will use in-game mechanics to back choices for their characters because the number crunching comes out in their favor. This destroys the flow and style of most stories. Callin asks if there is a “fix” for this problem. The only one I have is a little heavy-handed, but here goes…. Invoke “Rule Zero“. While Urban Dictionary makes it sound like Rule Zero is a bad thing, it can be used to good effect to maintain a story. If someone states that they are jumping off that 100 foot cliff because they know the math is in their favor to survive (if not having guaranteed survival), the the GM can easily Rule Zero the results and declare the character dead unless they make an amazing single die roll. A Fortitude Save of 30, or a System Shock check at half their normal percentage, or something equally dangerous. Give the player a chance to pull it off, but make it one of those very slim chances. The players will quickly learn that Rule Zero is a key part of the game, and if they get stupid with their numbers, the GM can also do the same to their detriment.

The Other Side of the Screen: GM’s Should Play More

I agree! I know I’ve said before that I think every player should GM at least one short series, if not a whole campaign. It gives them the flavor and perspective of what it’s like behind the screen. On the flip side, we all-to-often forget that GMs need a break from Playing God. Everyone, at their very heart, is a player. Yes, there are some folks that GM much more than play, but even those GMs would like a chance to focus on one character with personal goals rather than try to herd the cats. It’s also a great battery recharger to take some time and just play a game for a while instead of being responsible for running it.

3 Feet In Someone Else’s Shoes: Getting in character quickly

This is along the lines of walking a mile in another person’s shoes to learn their life and perspectives. Mike makes a great point that GMs rarely have time to travel that far in an NPC’s shoes, so this leads to NPCs coming off as one-dimensional, flat, fake, caricatures of reality, and so many other bad things that we don’t want the “flesh and bones” of our world to be. There are solutions to this problem, and it really doesn’t take all that much time. When I started reading this article, my reaction was along the lines of, “Phsaw! Yeah. Right. Like I have time to travel a mere three feet in my NPCs shoes to learn them better.” Turns out that gut reaction was wrong. Mike drops a ton of great tips and tricks for getting deeper into your NPCs’ heads. Take a look at them. Pick and choose a few. Experiment with them. Use the ones that work for you. Thanks for the article, Mike!

6 thoughts on “Friday Faves: 2014-06-13

  1. Mike Bourke Jun 15,2014 11:44 PM

    Many thanks for the Kudos, Hungry. As someone with real-world experience running and playing in large groups – something I lack – can you offer a thumbs up or down on the suggestions that I make for coping with those situations. As I said in the article, my experience of groups that large was nil, and my suggestions strictly theoretical – I’d love to know whether or not you recognized any of those answers in your real-world experiences, especially since they seem to have been so positive.

    I was really pleased with the other article from Campaign Mastery, these are all tips and tricks that I constantly use myself. They can save a ton of prep time and seriously improve the GMs capabilities behind the screen; it’s the sort of advice that CM was set up to deliver.

  2. Hungry Jun 16,2014 9:44 AM


    I’ll drop by your site and drop a few comments on your site regarding the large group post for the edification of other readers of your site. I’ll swing by some time today.

  3. Mike Bourke Jun 16,2014 9:46 AM

    Much appreciated, Hungry 🙂

  4. Hungry Jun 16,2014 10:57 AM


    I’ve tried several times to post a fairly lengthy comment on your blog, but it’s not going through for some reason. I tried shortening and chopping things up, but it didn’t work either.

    If you can check things on your site, I’ll drop my comment later.

  5. Mike Bourke Jun 16,2014 12:27 PM

    Just tested it using a spare (valid) email address and my test comment appeared to vanish without a trace, but was waiting in my pending comments when I checked. There were no signs of your attempted comments, though, so I can’t tell what’s going on. Can you provide any further info to me on precise behavior observed, browser, etc (direct to my email if you like)?

  6. Mike Bourke Jun 19,2014 11:04 AM

    Still haven’t been able to fix the comments issue so I posted your contribution both as an update to the original article and as a special out-of-continuity article in its own right. That takes some of the time pressure off getting the issue resolved. Thanks again for taking the time.

Comments are closed.