Not much to say this week other than we have a great collection of links! So let’s get to ’em!
Mike’s post hits the nail on the head. When the players gaze lovingly over the GM screen at you, they expect you to know everything. Not just the rules or the world or the flavor of the game or the monster stats. They expect you to know physics, magic, law, government, history (even the made up stuff), biology (especially the made up stuff), sociology, the history of tattoos, chemistry, music, genetics, alchemy, etc.. They know you’re omnipotent. You’re the GM after all. They also expect omniscience as well. How do you pull it off? Mike has tons of tips in his post. I’m going to echo two of them here: 1) Read, read, read. Even if it’s in little tid-bits, the more breadth of your reading experiences, the more of an “expert” you’ll appear to be. 2) Wikipedia is your friend for gaining broad, general knowledge, and then hit the references at the bottom to see what the true experts (most of the time) have to say on a topic.
I’ve used this technique in the past. I’ll let John’s article speak for itself on the ins and outs of the approach, but I need to say something he didn’t. If all of your breadcrumbs point to a single person/item/location, then it will come off heavy-handed. I thought I was being subtle once by having different NPCs give different bits of information about a monastery I wanted the group to visit. Of course, the common theme was the location, so the players almost didn’t go there just to spite me. Fortunately, they were a good group of people and went along with it.
It’s not often that Dyson does a regional map, and he’s got a great looking one here. I love the paper he used for the “old world” effect, and the stylized mountains, hills, and forests. I realize the map isn’t done yet, and I can’t wait to see the finished product!
These random charts aren’t the typical fare of “let’s create a city at random.” It’s a high-speed method of creating features on the fly during a high-action chase scene. It’s one of those times when you don’t want to sit down and figure out the “miles-to-feet” conversion of a large city map to figure out how long it takes to from from the door to the alley, etc.. Very good work here, and can be put to good effect. It reminds me of the random car chase “directions” mechanics in Top Secret S/I’s High Stakes Gamble expansion box set from back in the 1990s.
If you’ve been running games for any decent length of time, you’re going to have a train wreck. It just happens. We’re human after all. I read Mike’s post and felt very sorry for him. He had set up something that could have been a wonderful piece of narrative storytelling, and it turned into a decent piece of narrative with little interaction on the part of his players. Ouch. I’ve been there before. The upside of this experience for Mike is that he learned from it. You can to. Read through what went wrong in his gaming session, but make sure to stick through it until the bottom where he gives some great GM lessons that can be applied by everyone.