Monday, June 24, 2019

Watch Other GMs

One of the easiest ways to get better at being a GM is simply to play in a game - or watch games that are streamed - and pay attention to the GM and how they run their game. This is true for those of us with decades of experience, and it is true for those who have never run a game before. It can be used to learn how to run a specific system. It can be used for how to run specific scenarios. It can also be used for just general ideas for how to run. Today I want to talk about why some of the best advice you could ever find for GMing is going on all around you.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Discussion - Have Your Players Ever Chosen To Be TPK'd?

In talking about games past with some friends recently, I remembered that I had an L5R game end when the players deliberately chose to be TPK'd instead of taking a more....sane...path.

The situation was fairly simple. The PCs were members of the Lion Clan in the fictional "Akodo Second Army" and were specifically sent to check the border with Dragon Lands. Unfortunately for the Lion, this was as the Dragon were attacking Lion Lands.

Their two person squad was between a Lion army and the rest of Lion lands. The situation to me seemed obvious: return to base, report the army, the war starts. The PCs took a different path.

They sent 1 person home - the character of the player who couldn't make that session - and they attacked the dragon army. They knew it was death. They also knew it could, and would, slow the army down at least a little bit. If nothing else, it would buy the closest villages time as their runner went through them to spread the word.

We rolled out the fight to see how well they did. They did better than I expected they could. They made an impact on the army. They killed 2 to 3 times their number. They made the Dragon take notice....but they all died in the end.

The best part was all the players were completely happy with the result. So it made a great end to the game.

Still, I am curious, anyone else have a game end on them like this?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Decision Points Are What Matter

I somehow stumbled on this article by the AngryGM the other day, and while it wasn't what I was looking for at the moment it was something I am interested in in general so I took a look. Angry's voice isn't for everyone, but I've found his advice on GMing is generally pretty good, and this article is no different - if a bit long for my tastes. One thing that he mentions that I want to reinforce is just how important Decision Points are to not only an encounter, but to a session and to a campaign as a whole. Honestly, by focusing on decision points and reducing time between decision points it seems you can make your game a whole lot stronger.

Monday, June 17, 2019

You Can Let The Player's Drive The Action Sometimes

When prepping for a game session there can be a lot of pressure on the GM to have stuff for everyone to do. It's pretty much the focus of all session prep advice: how do you prep what to do for the session? And with certain plots you have to make it so they come to the player's attention, entice them to take them, and then know where they go.

However, that isn't how it always has to go. You can let the player's drive the session. And in fact, it can be a good idea to do so on occasion. Today I want to talk about how that works.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Table Craft: The Importance of Session 0

Session 0 is a common term used in communities discussing table top RPGs. For those unfamiliar, Session 0 is the first session of the game that takes place before the game starts. At Session 0 you make characters with the other players (sometimes anyhow), and in general talk about the game before the game gets going.

It is a good chance to talk to the GM and the other players about your character. It lets you set up pre-existing connections with other PCs. It lets you say where you want the game to go. Most importantly, it enables everyone to get on the same page regarding expectations for the game.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

NPCs Should Have Goals

One of the other lessons that I kind of forgot to apply while running the D&D games is that NPCs should have goals.

Yes, I mean that as a blanket statement. Every NPC in your game should have goals. Those goals might be simple. A merchant you weren't planning on but have to run because the PCs went shopping could just want to make money selling their product. But everyone should have a goal.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Play To Your Strengths as a GM!

A year or so ago I wanted to work on some of my GM skills that are emphasized in games different from what I was playing at the time. It coincided with interest in D&D 5e and so I started to run a 5E game. Then from various tricks and twists of life I ended up running a second 5e game.

Now you can run any game any way you want, but the goal of running 5e was to run D&D - something that felt like the D&D games of old - and not my normal type games. So I tried running D&D in what I thought was how D&D was supposed to be run, supported by the books, streams, and even advice sections in videos, reddit, and other blogs.