Monday, March 2, 2015

System vs. Narrative - Initiative

Over the weekend NewbieDM was talking about initiative and how he has issues with how it is handled in games. His problem, in specific, was that initiative is kind of a smash cut that breaks you out of the narrative at an intense moment in the story and slows everything down so that book keeping can be had.  Today I wanted to talk about that.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Discussion - Personal Plots

This week we talked about personal plots from the perspective of GMing them. Today, for discussion, I'm curious if you have any personal plots you've either run or witnessed that you thought were particularly grand? How did they play out? How did it work?

One of my favorites is the plot that ended up costing me my first character in a friend's short lived Dresden Files game. The best part about this personal plot? It wasn't even mine.

The story went that there was a group of werewolves in the area who were also tied to the russian bratva (mob.) One of the players was a coyote shape shifter, and as wolves and coyotes dislike each other so do coyote and wolf shifters. What started as a "big event" for the whole group quickly began to focus on the coyote shifter as the wolves wanted to paste said shifter, and the PCs rallied around their friend.

As the story progressed and escalated, my winter court changeling became more and more involved. The problem was that said character's involvement was less about stopping the werewolves and more about building up the coyote friend into the type of hero who could face said werewolves. As things got closer to the climax, my changeling was more and more building things up until, in the end, he had staged things so the leader of the werewolves and the coyote shifter were isolated in a blizzard with a full moon shining down on them.

The coyote shifter did their thing, ended the fight, and even made peace with the werewolves...and my changeling had found where he belonged in life, and it wasn't in the human world. The next day my changeling pledged full fealty to the winter court and became a full blooded Fae in service to Mab, and I had to bring someone new in.

Still, it was a hell of a story. One that no one else at the table even realized was going on underneath the other events until it was too late.

How about you?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crafting A Personal Plot - Involving The Other Players

On Monday we started talking about personal plots in your game, and where to start looking for the seeds and ideas for those plots. Today I want to talk about getting your other players involved, as well as how we're going to keep that in mind while we design the adventure itself.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Crafting A Personal Plot - Initial Design

As a GM you are going to want some of your plots to resonate on a more personal level with your characters. The grand adventure, saving the city/world, is all well and good, but sometimes you want the problems from home and life to come up. Where to start when you want to do this then becomes the problem. After all, you may want to build a plot around Sarah's barbarian, but how do you do it while still engaging the other four to five people (or more!) sitting around your table?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Discussion: Your Best New Player Moment

With this week focusing on new players in our games, I thought it would be fun to have a discussion about our favorite moments with new players.

In the interest of not stealing all of my current group's stories for this game, I think my actual favorite new player moment happened years ago during my first experience with Legend of the Five Rings. This was before I even fully knew what I was playing, but I knew enough about "Samurai Culture" to not have the same culture shock.

The moment was simple enough. Myself and the other new person trying out the game were in a market and had to pick something up. Along the way the other player decided his character was hungry and asked if there was a food stand around. The GM said yes. The player, for some reason, decided he didn't want to pay and instead tried to steal the food. They had a roll, the PC failed, and the GM described the merchant seeing the player, noticing his swords, and then looking away as he took the rice ball.

The player was confused, but also curious. So he took more things. Eventually he asked what was up and the GM explained that because he was samurai the peasants would not talk back to him. In effect they were honored to let him have those things. The player did not catch the hint in the GM's voice that it was still wrong and being noticed. Why would he? Now he was a kid in a candy shop that could take whatever he wanted.

And so the theft continued....until a passing Mirumoto saw what was happening and took offense on the part of the peasants. A quick argument/discussion on the role of the samurai and a sound trouncing later and the player's comeuppance had arrived.

Now, in hindsight, I'm not sure if the GM handled this the way I would have. I think I would have warned the player more bluntly that just because a peasant wouldn't say anyting didn't mean there couldn't be severe reactions. At the other end though, the way the situation played out was a great introduction to Rokugan and that kind of society, including the extreme difference between the classes.

Also, the player totally had it coming. The Rice ball they could have gotten away with, but by the end they were taking just to take. It is the kind of thing that gets noticed.

What's your favorite new player moment/story?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Players and Big Moments

The end of my last L5R session focused heavily on the newest player in our group and a plotline she was involved in. The event itself went well, but it also pointed out some things. Some of these things I already talked about on Monday with "Socializing a New Player" but I wanted to speak more directly about new players and big moments today.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Socializing A New Player

New players are a joy and wonder to have in your game. They are a necessary thing for the hobby to grow, and can breathe a whole new life into your game. However, they also present some challenges to your game that as the GM you should be aware of. This is especially true during any set piece moments, particularly those that focus on the new person's character.