A day late. Probably a dollar short, too. That’s okay. Friday was a crazy day and I didn’t get a chance to finalize the post. Saturday was JAM PACKED busy with two different non-profit events. That’s okay. They were great events, and I had a good time at both.
On with the links!
John has some great advice for folks that forget to bring their rulebook, cheat sheet, GM screen, or notes to a game. The best advice in the column is to continue on like everything you need is at your fingertips. I also love the advice to jot down notes about what you can remember of the homebrew rules and then expand on those notes as the game progresses. This will keep things consistent.
Mike’s post here does a compare and contrast of the advantages of electronic documents and hardcopy ones. When it comes to RPGs, I’m a huge fan of hardcopy. I can always seem to find the rule that I need faster in a book than I can in a PDF (even with search functions). Once I’m familiar with a rulebook, I don’t need to memorize page numbers. I remember where rule X is in relation to rules Y and Z. When I split open the book near the rule/spell/monster/item/whatever I need, I can easily see that I need to move a few pages forward (or back) and can isolate the thing I need very quickly. Even if I have the PDF of something, I tend to print it out (unless it’s heavy on the graphics or incredibly lengthy), three-hole punch it, and throw it into a binder. This results in my gaming bag being very heavy, but the extra back pain is worth it to me.
This pair of posts by Peter are very interesting. His approach on identifying items in AD&D 1st Edition are almost identical to how I approach things as a GM and a player. It was a great read to see that someone else does what I do. The house rule to the GURPS Analyze Magic is a great one. If I ever return to a GURPS game, I’ll probably do something along those lines as well.
The five-point breakdown of what it takes to have a successful game session is pretty cool. I’d like to add two caveats: 1) Hitting all points will not guarantee success. 2) Missing a point or two will not guarantee failure. Hitting all five areas well simply ups the chance of everyone around the table of having a good time.
Having a steady (or even better, engaging) rhythm to a game is one of the hardest things to achieve as a GM. All of the prep and improv practice and knowledge of rules and experience in the world can’t really assist GMs in nailing down pacing and rhythms and flows of the game. This comes from experience as a GM and being mentally aware of what’s going on. Mike has some advice and tips in his post on how to better capture a good rhythm for your game sessions and campaigns.
I’m doing this in my current Pathfinder campaign. I know the boss they’ll be fighting in the grand finale of the campaign. I don’t have a single stat for that boss NPC yet. I can’t because I can’t predict the level and powers the characters will have when they get done gathering support for their efforts and gaining levels while tromping about in the countryside. As they get closer to bringing the campaign to a close, I’ll start pondering what level to make the NPC and what additional powers and abilities he might have. I’ve also got to come up with a few appropriately powerful henchmen for the NPC, but I haven’t bothered to put down stats to paper yet for the same reasons. I know I’m setting myself up for a few late nights of prep immediately before the Big Battle with the Big Bad, but that’s okay.