It’s been about three weeks since I’ve put one of these up.
Since I have quite a bit of typing ahead of me for commenting on the links, I’m going to jump right in!
I hope you enjoy my thoughts and the links….
I’ve statted myself out in a variety of systems. Probably more than I care to remember. It’s fun. It’s enlightening if you’re honest about it. I never thought about it as a preventative action for avoiding anxiety, but I can totally see how that can work. When I read this post, I went in search of my GURPS (4th edition) version of myself, but couldn’t find the sheet anywhere. I remember being 350+ points in the end. Mainly from knowledge and similar skills. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and the amount of trivia (but little relating to pop culture) in my head reaches staggering levels. Useful in a dungeon? Probably not, but it landed on the sheet anyway.
I’m incorporating more portals into my current Pathfinder game, so these posts are especially timely for me. Mike adds five more ideas to how to make portals more interesting. He does an especially deep dive into “Variable-Difficulty Portals” and it’s given me plenty of food for thought and plenty more ideas as to how I can use these portals for the betterment of my campaign. Thanks, Mike!
Hearing a GM drone on about details of an area, NPC, world, table, magic item, tavern setting, or whatever is about as fun as listening to a sixth-grader recite the Gettysburg Address. The first minute or so is captivating because it’s cute or fun, but after that…. Well… the GM turns into an adult from the Peanuts cartoons and all the players hear is “WahWahWahWah.” The one major thing I have to add is from my fiction writing. If a detail is not personally important to a character in the scene, then it’s not important at all. When dropping details about something, make it personal to the players at the table. This will keep them engaged, interested, and even eager to find out more.
Ooohh… What a neat concept. Hide the metagame rules about an effect in the world until you drop the effect on the players. This will completely surprise them. I’ve never thought about this before. Mike’s got it right, though. There are some dangers to using this technique. Several of them even. However, they can be overcome. How? Well, I guess you’re just going to have to read the excellent article.
Angela asks the question, “How many RPGs have you run without having played it first?” My answer: More than I can count. Too many, probably. However, I always make sure to have gone through the character creation process 2-3 times before launching into a game session “cold” with the players. By understanding how to create different characters, it forces me to at least read various sections of the book before trying to adjudicate the game. It’s still rough, but it can be done and done well. Improv is your friend.
Douglas has a great article on making the dice matter. I’m certain I’ve told this story here before, at one point in a fantasy campaign a highly trained assassin (PC) tracked down a servant (NPC) who had openly insulted the king in front of the entire court. The player, with a gleam in his eyes, found the servant and declared he was going to attempt to assassinate the servant. Before he could reach for his dice, I told him to describe, in as much detail as he wanted, how the servant dies at his hands. No dice needed. The servant wasn’t a threat (even remotely) to the assassin, so the dice rolling would have bored the rest of the players and played out the inevitable assassination. By allowing the player to control the narrative, he still had his fun with the servant’s death.
I love these last five ways to twist around a portal to make it more interesting. I’d never considered the “gaining energy in transit” concept before, and this makes great sense (and can lead to great fun!) I have use a portal before (activated with a button push) that cleaned the character of grit and grime before transit. The party watched in horror as the first character pushed the button and a pile of dust was left behind. I ask the player that pushed the button first to leave the room. I stayed with the group and asked what they did. Like good, bold adventurers they declared their friend to either be dead (in which case they would join him by pushing the button) or alive and in trouble (in which case they would rescue him by pushing the button). It was a good moment in my role playing history. Even though the group’s pause was brief, it made them stop and think before lining up to push the button.
The top-down view of this settlement is pretty cool, but when you throw in the side view… Wow! Amazing work, Dyson!
Like I said with Angela’s post above, I “dry run” with a new system by creating characters. If I have time (rare) I’ll run those 2-3 characters through a combat. Sometimes, I have the characters fight each other. If I have a bestiary or need of testing monster abilities, I’ll group them together, find some goblins (or other appropriate minor monsters) and throw them together in a mass melee to see how things go down. This does take quite a bit of time (at least an hour, sometimes more), but it helps me get mentally prepared for things. It also allows me to become familiar with the “stat block shorthand” systems use, and this speeds up the actual game play when the time comes.
I love how Mike can take something as innocuous as waiting for the bus to have his mind dive into how bus scheduling really works (vs. the flawed theory) and then take it into the gaming world and apply it to how GMs can make some long-term plans for their campaigns. I guess I’ve been GMing for so long (30+ years) that I do this kind of thing instinctively. Having Mike lay it out in such a clear manner really reinforced my approaches and gave me some new ideas to chew on.
Mike his own link galore post from the Blog Carnival. I’ve found some new RPG blogs to follow! Yay! Thanks for the link list, Mike.
Rob has a fantastic post that breaks down Savage Worlds, Fate Core, and GURPS and how they (briefly) compare, and what GURPS can do to regain its top spot as a generic RPG system. This isn’t all in the hands of Steve Jackson and his crew, though. GMs have a role in this as well. If you’re looking to grow a GURPS group, you owe it to yourself to read through this post to see what you can do to make GURPS work well for your group.
Looking for online resources to help you become a better GM? Need someone (outside your RPG group) to bounce ideas off of? Looking for an advice network? Well, Mike has a fantastic breakdown and list of many of the awesome resources the Internet can provide. Since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have regular Internet access, so this post is for you!
I love this map! The winding hallway central to the map evokes serpentine imagery. That, in my opinion, makes this more of a work of art than a usable map. Don’t get me wrong, though! This is a great map that’s perfectly usable, but there’s something evocative about how things are laid out. Well done!