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DM's Table Tricks/Running the Game


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#1 Timeron Malachi

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 12:15 AM

I'm curious what people do in on-the-fly situations or as stand-bys for running the game in situations that aren't concretely covered in the rules. I've had a lot of fun running EotE so far, in large part because the system is built up from the narrative focus.

Here's a couple tricks I use when running the game, and I'd like to see what other DM's are using for their games.

- When players ask me "is there this" or "well, is the botton close to me" or whatever, I usually just roll a green and a purple and answer from that. Or I use a yellow and a red against each other. I use the same thing when players find guns or credit sticks or whatever, better results being they find more cash, lower results being less cash or the stick has been tampered with and they will get pinched just having the thing on them.

- When players and I have a miscommunication on something happening or particular details, I just go with whatever would be the most interesting or fun. Unless it's already been solidly established or a I have a solid plan for a specific element of an encounter to go. I find that going with what makes the table more lively or fun is best.

- I try to remember that people don't always act in their best interests or for reasons that are clearly logical: From a business standpoint, Teemo being cruel to the expense of profit seems silly. However, Teemo enjoys being cruel and has a vindictive streak almost as wide as he is. Sometimes a character knows that they just need to talk tough and not look like a victim to keep a thug away from them. However, this sentient sticks to reason, they want to explain their behavior or why what the thug is doing is wrong or senseless.

- With NPCs who are supposed to be important or powerful, when figuring out what they might do in situations I just ask myself, "What would the PCs do?" If the PCs have earned the ire of a powerful crime boss, I think about traps, ambushes, bold plans that PCs might come up with and turn them around on the group. I think this makes games interesting, and it lets players know that even when they are powerful, they still have competition.

- Some elements in the game don't have stats or involve rolls. If the party were to get Darth Vader to attack them for some reason, I would give them once chance to try to escape. If they didn't take that chance, I would remind them that they're about to throw down with Darth Vader. If they persist, I would ask them to slide the character sheets across the table, because Darth Vader has killed them. Same goes for attacking a Star Destroyer in a smuggling ship. I don't need stats to run the combat. Unless you have a very specific plan in mind, you're just going to die. I always make things like that clear to the players, but I have found this makes them respect certain elements of the galaxy more than if you said "Ok, Vader has a 5 brawn and a 4 WP" etc, because there's a certain kind of player who then just says, "Hmm, I think my Wook could take him."

- Use lots of setback and advantages. I like to throw these in a lot because I think it makes the game more interesting. I find that players tend to describe their actions more when you make use of those dice more, too. They tend to think of things to do besides making vanilla attack rolls, too. From a crunch perspective, also, if you don't add setback dice to their rolls, they can't ever use those talents that ignore setback dice.



#2 El Tea

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 04:33 PM

Those are good.

The best thing I've found so far is to really work on getting them to use those Force points - When they ask "Is there [an item, etc] nearby?" I have started to say: "I don't know… [glance at force points]… is there?"

Getting them involved in the story narration has really upped the interest level.  They generally only ask for reasonable stuff, and it gives me the opportunity to flip those points back at the most interesting opportunities.

 

Tea



#3 akbrowncoat

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 10:18 AM

Hear, hear

We were having some trouble in our game finding an elusive lead.  We seemed to be just one step behind and I decided as we were leaving a hotel to flip the light side point and "walk right into him".  It was very impromptu…but, it worked out great. 

I immediately thought of the scene from Pulp Fiction when Bruce Willis character happen to (unfortunately) bump into the Marsellus Wallace character who had been looking for him.

In our situation the person we were looking for was with 3 of his henchman… and a shoot out/chase scene ensued.  Good times.

 


"It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority." -Benjamin Franklin

"Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it." -Milton Friedman

#4 Kintaro1

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:26 PM

Great stuff everyone!

 

I only really ever have two issues, and they're really not bad :

One of my players is well-versed in RPGs, and constantly threatens to drag the adventure off-course. I try to come up with small scenarios on the fly that (two times) have turned into adventure hooks that I've then gone on to write small linking bits we refer to as the "Interstitials".

One of my other players tries repeatedly to drag real-world economics and physics into the game ("That ship with the 12 pirates aboard? Those ships are only really set up for 4 passengers." - my reply? "Pirates. They don't live there" lol)

Right now I am running Tempest Feud from the edition before Saga, and it's really easy under this system to convert on the fly, and we're having a blast!



#5 Leechman

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 06:00 AM

If one of your players is consistent in attempting to derail or go off on tangents then prepare for it.  I have two similar players, and I'm quite often the same as well (one d&d night, our dm offhandedly mentioned a relatively intact larder when describing a burnt out tavern.  We spent the next 3 hours trying to get in there, blatantly ignoring adventure hooks).  What i do to combat this is plan the sort of small adventures and encounters that can result. 

They want to go off in some random space direction?  Plan a number of random space encounters.  I modeled a few of mine off of episodes of Star Trek and the random encounters you'll face in FTL.  They're likely to go off and try infiltrate/steal things?  Plan a number of locations that allow for just this.  If you've got the base groundwork done then you can adapt for the specific situation.  One example:  I have a infiltration/stealth adventure plan that can cover a lot of situations.  It has a number of levels and entrances, and I've noted a number of locations where certain macguffins of import can be.  I have enough options with this plan that i can pick and choose to adapt to the goal at hand, and can reuse it without it seeming recycled.  So if my Slicer decides he wants to break into someone's place and download a particularly valuable bit of data, I'm prepared.  I'm just as prepared if my ex-assassin mercenary needs to sate their lust for blood.  These sorts of plans then allow for the inclusion of greater hooks or obligation appearances as well.

Secondly, if you have one of THOSE players, you can shut them down by stating GM fiat.  If that doesn't work, saying the technology has been modified should shut them up ("That ship should only fit 4 passengers, how are there 12 pirates?" "It's been modified to allow it".  QED).  As for real-world economics, I'm mostly only able to think of examples where such arguments would result negatively for the players tbh.  But again, you can get out of it by saying GM Fiat, or pointing out that the economic principles on earth are not applicable in a galaxy far, far away.  

And if all else fails, there's the ever-useful "Rocks fall, you die" scenario.  Never found a quicker and more guaranteed way of making players listen to you than fear of death.



#6 Timeron Malachi

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 12:18 PM

Having a few pregenerated areas/ships/NPCs is definitely smart. Since our group has gotten through the Beginner Book adventure and Long Arm, our adventures since then have been either player-driven or my ideas. With a game like this, I think that a combination of both is good. Fringer-style adventuring seems inherently more free-form than a Rebel campaign or a Jedi game, where someone is more likely to have a boss/commander/Master what have you.

 

The Beginner Game's adventures revolved around the PCs getting free of their boss, so now they've started their own Mercanary Company (The Black Umbrella Company) and got licensed as bounty hunters. So, most of their work has been a combination of bounty hunting and mercenary work. I've had them work with shipping magnates, swoopers, union organizers, and local police. I just think about things that would be happening in the galaxy at large and they can involve themselves in whatever aspects of it they care to.

 

Currently, they're trying to pull together allies to kidnap a Moff of the Mid Rim; They've gone back to Mos Shutta and gotten Dragul (Teemo the Hutt) to support them, they're putting out feelers with some of the Rebels they've met, also working on getting support within the Bounty Hunter's Guild, and they're curently on the way to Bothawui to try and get the support of Ota (who they've worked with past the Long Arm adventure).

 

I think that, since the game's overall design is more narrative than, say, D&D, it's easier to put some of creative work on the players. Let them come up with details and events, or talk it out briefly and then make a decision.

 

If someone points out something like "there can't be 12 pirates on this ship" and that kind of interjection has been disruptive to the game, and you've already tried talking it over out of game, then just say something like, "Ok, good point: so there's 3 ships with 4 pirates each". I think you'd find people less likely to try to derail you. But another easy fix that Leechman pointed out is that ships are modified in Star Wars a lot, so there's no reason the pirates couldn't have done some modifications (like getting rid of regular beds and having bunks or hammocks set up).

 

As for real-world physics/economics/politics, I would think two things; Are the players bringing it up when real physics would be against them? If not, either you should or you should talk with your players about what level of realism you're going for. Second, in a galaxy as large as Star Wars, there can be entire planets that have worked out the kinks of all kinds of different political/economic systems. A lot of how those work is based on people's beliefs and culture. You might have a strongly individualistic planet where there's very little government intervention or regulation in general, sentients work out their own problems privately. You can also have a planet with a strong communal mindset where they are raised to be more concerned with the well-being of others. Star Trek was always very good about that. If you're finding players want to bring those kinds of elements into the game (mine do, and so do I) I think that's a good way to handle it. There's a whole class specialization called Politico, so you could have a whole game revolving around interesting political elements of Star Wars.



#7 akbrowncoat

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 10:04 AM

Kintaro1 said:

Right now I am running Tempest Feud from the edition before Saga, and it's really easy under this system to convert on the fly, and we're having a blast!

 

I loved Tempest Fued.  I have not thought about that in years, what a great idea. : )


"It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority." -Benjamin Franklin

"Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it." -Milton Friedman




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