*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 20, 2014, 06:16:20 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 31 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: GMing?  (Read 3129 times)
Rush Wright
Member

Posts: 12


« on: October 29, 2010, 02:19:35 PM »

I've lately been GMing some RPGs. Though I do quite a bit of forethought and I come up with some nifty plot lines, I never seem to be able to implement them into a fun game. I recently designed a campaign in quite a bit of detail. I previewed in my mind every scene. Yet, come to play the game, I wasn't able to find convincing NPC dialogue, wasn't able to transition between scenes, and my explanations just ended up hopelessly incomprehensible.

Also, I'm having trouble making interesting challenges. Somehow the only challenge I can figure out to give to the players is simply combat.

Some help here?

Thanks,

TS
Logged

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for you are crispy and good with catsup.
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2010, 02:52:03 PM »

Hi TS,

Welcome to the Forge!

What game were you playing?  Can you talk a bit about a previous time when your GM'ing worked out well for you and compare to what happened (or didn't happen) this time?

I've found out that the style of GM'ing that involves preparing a story ahead of time often requires a lot of work and is very difficult to pull off well.  What I found worked better, for me, personally, is instead of having detailed prep, I go for flexible prep.   Every week the players show up and improvise on the spot, so my focus has generally pushed me towards games that let me do the same thing as a GM, or, applying those tools to games in general.

Many years back, I was running a Feng Shui campaign.  Feng Shui has some simple advice about having "one point" to any given scene or plot twist, and that way, you can be very flexible as a GM as long as you hit that "one point".

At some point during the campaign, I somehow stumbled upon the fact that, I had enough interesting NPCs who were motivated, that all I had to do was simply play the NPCs like PCs, and suddenly I was improvising left and right and interesting things were popping off without me doing much prep at all.

This may or may not be a good choice for you, so tell us a bit more about what you're doing and what you'd like to be doing.

Chris
Logged
Rush Wright
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2010, 03:08:29 PM »

Thanks for the quick reply, Chris!

I was playing a Wushu campaign with a setting somewhere between Cats and Dogs and G-Force.

Thanks again,

TS
Logged

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for you are crispy and good with catsup.
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2010, 03:38:18 PM »

Hi TS,

Can talk a bit about when your GM'ing has gone really well (or, you've played in a game where someone has GM'ed in a fashion you're looking for) and compare it to what happened in your game?

Also, in the game you played, it sounds like that was an interesting genre mix thing you had going on- how did you get the group on the same page about what that would look and play like?  Was everyone excited about it?

Chris
Logged
Rush Wright
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 04:55:08 PM »

Wow, thanks! I certainly didn't expect something like this for a reply.

My GMing hasn't exactly ever gone very well. It's gone okay... sure, we had a considerable amount of fun playing an incredibly violent Fate game, but lately my friends are starting to get bored of the dungeon crawl "Kill everything that moves" approach to role-playing games. I am, too, to be honest. The only decent scene I've managed to GM was in a tavern, where the players were trying to break free of two gangsters in search of their money. Another pretty interesting scene was a sneak through an enemy camp.

The RPG that got me hooked on role-playing games was a D&D campaign. One of my friends was the DM, and he did a very good job. It was an intrigue/adventure campaign, with plenty of allies who weren't allies, and enemies who weren't enemies. The highlight of the game for me was a tense diplomatic negotiation with a Halfling we had attacked earlier by mistake. One of the party members, a cleric, provoked the Halfling's son to a duel, and another of my party members, a fighter/barbarian, went into a rage and charged the Halfling. It was a truly fascinating incident, one that I'll remember for a long time. I can't even compare it to any of the scenarios in the campaigns I've GM'd, unless you consider the two scenes I've outlined above.

About the campaign's setting: we had both (there were only two of us) watched both Cats and Dogs and G-Force, so we both knew what to expect. Essentially how I made the campaign work is that the player started as a wild rabbit. He was caught by the "Pet-catcher" (something along the lines of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and put in a cage in a pet store. When the owner had left, three small animals burst in with high-tech equipment to free the PC. The rabbit then joined the group as a hacker (after he had read a Hacking 101 book that happened to be in the animals' high tech library). Unfortunately, from the point that the animals burst into the pet shop, my mind blanked, and I turned what could have been an interesting scene into a miserable failure. The campaign went downhill from there and we quit it half an hour later. About the level of excitement surrounding the game, I would say it was approximately average, at least at first. After my initial mediocre GMing incident in the pet store, we both began to lose interest.

Thanks,

TS
Logged

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for you are crispy and good with catsup.
Mathew E. Reuther
Member

Posts: 114

I came, I saw, I ordered the burrito . . .


« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 05:01:59 PM »

You're referring continually to what is essentially a one-on-one session in your posts. You might find that your style actually improves when you have more players influencing things. I know that I personally prefer games with a larger number of players, and that when I do run one-on0one stuff it is preferable that it be part of a larger game, usually between sessions.

Just a thought, as I don't know what the situation is like in your area. If there's really no alternative for you in person, you might try to get involved in a play by email or chatroom game group as this might give you the larger group you need to shine.
Logged

Currently:
Knee deep in the Change System's guts . . .
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 07:44:34 PM »

Hi TS,

Alot of people will mention prep as if it's part of playing the game, when really in alot of traditional RPG's it's not part of playing the game, it's what your doing to actually make there be any game to play at all! That's inventing an RPG, really. It's not easy!

Quote
my mind blanked, and I turned what could have been an interesting scene into a miserable failure.
Okay, second you seem to be 100% taking on the responsiblity for something interesting to happen.

Rewind to your fun example from another GM
Quote
The RPG that got me hooked on role-playing games was a D&D campaign. One of my friends was the DM, and he did a very good job. It was an intrigue/adventure campaign, with plenty of allies who weren't allies, and enemies who weren't enemies. The highlight of the game for me was a tense diplomatic negotiation with a Halfling we had attacked earlier by mistake. One of the party members, a cleric, provoked the Halfling's son to a duel, and another of my party members, a fighter/barbarian, went into a rage and charged the Halfling. It was a truly fascinating incident, one that I'll remember for a long time. I can't even compare it to any of the scenarios in the campaigns I've GM'd, unless you consider the two scenes I've outlined above.
Did the GM tell the group to attack the halfling? Did the GM tell one player to provoke the halflings son to a duel? Did the GM tell the barbarian to go beserk?

No! What's made this scene vibrant are players choices in how their character acts. It's not 100% on the GM's shoulders to be interesting!

Now if there was a problem with your scene, is that the scene opens with the scene/it's elements pretty much resolved already. I mean, he's been busted out and...there's no other element of trouble/potential trouble there to interact with/set off.

It depends - do you want to definately ensure something interesting happens? Or do you want to set up troubles/potential troubles and then the players take up part of the job of making it interesting by playing out their characters engaging the troubles/stuff?
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2010, 08:02:59 PM »

Hi TS,

Let's take a look at the system you're using. Wushu is, bluntly, a hamster wheel, which means a lot of cycling through mechanics that seem to be doing something, when in fact they do nothing in terms of moving in-game events into new and interesting circumstances. You talk in order to accumulate dice to roll, and you roll the dice in order to talk. I consider it one of the weakest systems of the last ten years. It's effectively a 90s "ignore the system" device disguised as Hot New Indie.

Such a system puts you in a tough position as GM. Either you take on full authority over exactly how Situations arise and how the mechanics' outcomes turn into Plot, or nothing happens. Which means you're effectively screenwriter, director, producer, and most of the actors. Some people claim they like doing this. I've tried it for many years and I hate it, whether I'm GM or player. The players are called upon for maximum blather in terms of color, but can't really accomplish anything or initiate anything without the GM's say-so.

This is only one piece of a really big question: what makes this activity fun, anyway? Chris and Callan have laid out a lot of different aspects and points of it already, so I'm tossing in this bit about system too.

Best, Ron
Logged
Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2010, 08:16:59 PM »

I agree with Callan's post.  Play seems to actually be better the more you improvise and the less you plan.  This is from my own experiences, of course, and I can't speak for anyone else.  Perhaps some people do well with a good deal of planning, but that doesn't seem like you.

Perhaps what makes it good is that players don't feel like they're being controlled by an outside force, even if the events seem completely contrived (and then...a cyborg BEAR!).  In my opinion, I believe it would be a good idea for you to practice free-form gaming, and then slowly introduce planned elements to get an idea of what works and what doesn't.
Logged
Rush Wright
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2010, 08:07:47 PM »

Wow, thanks to all of you for all this advice! I've been following your advice/suggestions and my campaigns are much more interesting now than they were a few weeks ago.

Thanks again,
TS
Logged

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for you are crispy and good with catsup.
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2010, 08:41:40 PM »

Then we demands actual play accounts!

Please? :)

AP accounts don't actually have to have any problem or such to work on to be posted here (as I understand the forge, anyway)
Logged

Daemonworks
Member

Posts: 9

I don't really care about apathy


« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2010, 10:35:35 PM »

Best advice I can think of is this: Whenever possible, let the players do the heavy lifting. 

Examples:

Don't over-script. Make sure you have a good handle on the main scenes you want to present, but don't put so much work into them that you can't handle the unexpected.

Don't over-describe. You don't need to spend 10 minutes describing a tavern the PCs will probably be in for less than hour. Provide all of the important details (and

Encourage the players to make characters that share enough of the same goals to be able to work together, but are different enough that they will actually have to talk things through to decide what to do, and how to do it.

Set up situations that will result in the players roleplaying amongst themselves. If they are interacting with you, only one can really do anything at a time. If they are interacting with each other, each gets a lot  more play-time.

Other advice:

Where possible, set up the scenes to that all of the characters have a chance to shine in a given session. That said, having sessions that revolve mostly around one or two characters is fine, as long as it's not always the same one or two.

Use the least number of NPCs you can to achieve your purpose, especially when you are starting out. Too many NPCs, and you will have a hard time keeping them all straight - and so will the players. Feel free to use physical props (hats, shades, whatever), if it helps you capture the NPC's personality better. Try to avoid too many scenes where NPCs talk to each other - that can get very confusing, very quickly for everyone involved.
Logged
ampetry17
Registree

Posts: 2


« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2010, 12:28:35 PM »

A word on preparation: don't prepare detailed plot. When you decide that you want event A, followed by event B, followed by event C, you are assuming complete directorial control over the story. Or worse, your preparations are brittle and will not survive an encounter with players who will decide that event B looks dumb, so they're going to go straight to event Q, which you hadn't even considered. Instead, prepare characters. Think on what your NPC's might want to accomplish, how they will react (or won't react) to the actions of the players, and what they might be doing while the players aren't watching. This way, when your players decide that they want to do X, you can get into the character of the NPC's who might be effected by X, and react in character to those events.

In your example, with the halflings and duels, how might it have gone if the father suspected his son of trying to murder him for his inheritance? Would he have been forced to act against the players to protect his status and reputation, even though he was happy with their actions? Was he influenced by the player characters' other actions? Or was he blinded by grief and rage that they'd killed his son?

For your game, what were the motives of those three animals that were springing them, and what were their relationships? Just by working out that dynamic, they move from plot device to spring the PC and give him a mission into characters that the PC can interact with to try and shape the story. Maybe one hates the Pet Catcher and is only in this to try and destroy this evil human that must be stopped at all costs. Maybe another is secretly in love with that NPC, and is only along to try and prove his or her worth to them. How might that character respond if the PC is suddenly indispensable to the plans of the first? Suddenly, your story includes subplots, and complications without introducing new characters.

Finally, preparation like this allows the players to drive the story. Let's say that your PC decides, "Hey, I don't care about this Pet Catcher dude at all. Yeah, he caught me, but going against him just seems dumb. He's tough, and he's just doing his job." Now, the three animals that rescued him might become the antagonists. After all, they invested time and effort into that escape, and he's essentially stiffed them on the bill. Maybe they're going after him now to make an example of what happens to appeasers in the Pet Catcher/Animal Agent war. I've had more than one NPC that I thought would be an antagonist become an ally, just because a player decided that he was more interesting than the sympathetic NPC I had envisioned as an ally.
Logged
Mathew E. Reuther
Member

Posts: 114

I came, I saw, I ordered the burrito . . .


« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2010, 03:47:45 PM »

There are some methods of preparing plot which serve to tell an exciting and interesting story.

These are, however, not simple things to master, and I'd say that the ability to do so with style and consistency is rare. As a result, the suggestion to not prepare plot is a good one for people who are not able to guide a story by making the characters really want/need to follow the plot . . . without forcing them.
Logged

Currently:
Knee deep in the Change System's guts . . .
Noclue
Member

Posts: 351


« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2010, 12:02:11 PM »

Essentially how I made the campaign work is that the player started as a wild rabbit. He was caught by the "Pet-catcher" (something along the lines of the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), and put in a cage in a pet store. When the owner had left, three small animals burst in with high-tech equipment to free the PC. The rabbit then joined the group as a hacker (after he had read a Hacking 101 book that happened to be in the animals' high tech library). Unfortunately, from the point that the animals burst into the pet shop, my mind blanked, and I turned what could have been an interesting scene into a miserable failure.

So, there's this rabbit. You capture him, giving him purpose in life: "Escape!"  Then you bring in three animals to bust him out. The rabbit's problem was created and solved by you. Now he has no purpose. No goal. And because you can't come up with one for him, the session fizzles.

What did the player do during this session? What does the rabbit want?
Logged

James R.
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!