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GM Campaign Managing Advice

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#1 Sarpeadon



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Posted 09 April 2013 - 03:30 PM

Hello all,

First post here, just a quick introduction. I'm a long time lurker and long time player of most of FFG's RPG lines, and I'd just like to get an idea of what some of the other Game Masters out there do to keep track of notes, actions by the party, and some other general tips you may have.

I have a tendency just to use a text document of whatever type to keep most of my notes, but I'm sure there are more elegant ways of doing that. Anyone have any neat things they do for managing campaigns? What about maps, do you use them at all? If you do, do you normally draw them out before hand or as the party discovers new areas (assuming you have a map already drawn in your notes somewhere)?

Anyway, just curious.

Thanks for your time, all. I'll be checking in and seeing if anyone has any neat tips! :D

#2 Darck Child

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 06:58 PM

Well there are lots of options.  One group has recorded thee sessions as a Pod Cast.  Another used Youtube to share his groups exploits.  Or you could do a write up as an Actual Play thread either here on these boards or over on RPG.net  


I used Baron Samedi's Geist game is an example as part of the campaign building is similar to the idea of Regiment building.  The fact that the journal entries are from the Players with insight or clarification provided by the storyteller.  There are other great examples.


Each of those examples mentioned above recounts the actual session played and is great for refering to as a storyline/timeline of events that unfold from their stories.


Myself, I have a laptop at the gaming table that have all my point form notes, NPCs, and anything else that I need for the game.  I send out attachments to each player with relevent information so that when the game starts they are on the ame page as me.  Attachments such as universe information, pics of NPCs, suggested reading material or viewing material…  even inspirational music.


I don't tend to use maps.


I also make as much notes on the Player's characters and their companion to describe story elements from their perspective and bring in those background elements into the game like the opening scene from Gladitor where Maximus is running his fingers through a wheat field…


I also tend to research the genre to death before working on a game from reading appropriate fiction (like Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts), watching genre related  videos (like Enemy At The Gate) and listening to music (Art of Conflict by VNV nation)


Hope this helped.

#3 Sarpeadon



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Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:27 PM

Honestly, yeah. A lot of that gave me some things to think about.

I am curious though, if you don't use maps how do you manage to pull combat off in an enjoyable way - especially with the 40KRPG systems?

#4 Darck Child

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 03:00 PM

I use narration for everything including combat.  Setting the stage and interpreting dice results with narration keeps everyone on the same page.  Sometimes my Players embelish the scene by adding things into that would logically be there (fallen logs in forest/woods, crates in a warehouse, etc…) 

My Players love the critical hit tables and rolling for those is the only time that pacing gets broken.


I avoid using maps as it interrupts the flow of the story.  If there is confusion or something needs to be clarified then a very basic diagram is used. Also the map gives clarity and unless the Player are taking time to observe their surroundings things should be a little chaotic.

#5 Cypherinthesystem



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Posted 24 April 2013 - 04:41 AM

Kudos to Darck Child

I think what he put in his first post is what most GM's do in general (I watch the Inquistorial Archive). Good "Managing" doesnt have to mean days upon days of prep. GM's fun is really creating and designing the adventure. The ones who create the maps and extra's do it cause they enjoy it. However, that doesnt mean your a weak GM if you dont do it. In my preps for OW, this is how it goes.

*Read over previous game notes if any

*Consider player motivations and/or what they are trying to achieve Individually/Team

*Plan mission Archetype-IE Behind Enemy lines, Defend and Hold, Attack, Other*- Based on previous games, motivations, or what EXCITES me (This is important)

*Research something I might not nessecarily know so I can better describe it in narrative/ Watch something in relation to the game

*Play Game and repeat.

The Other* is things that fall outside the scope of common OW games, and something you might find more themed with DH, RT, DW etc. Example, my group was assigned to a expeditionary force whose geller fields were disabled, inturn the ship was propelled in dangerous warp space to a Feudal world. They were the only members to survive and had to find a way off the planet. This was a game that lasted Nine sessions, and was a good pace breaker considering it was ment to have a Dungeon Crawl feel to it.

I think excitement is a important factor as well. Dont wait to do something that excites right now. Alot of groups do not last a large story arch, and GM's fall into this trend of trying to up each and everygame, with tougher and tougher mobs/NPCS. That takes away from the game, and burns GM's out. The creative process should be fun and what gets you motivated to spend the time to create a story! This is suppose to be fun for you.

Hope it helps


#6 Spazmunke



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Posted 17 June 2013 - 06:04 PM

to re-iterate what others have said:

As long as you can keep the story going forward and the players having fun, you are doing fine.

When I have GMd I have found I need to draw crude maps to let the players know where they and other things are, but beyond that, you dont need etailed maps.

As for background, for the next campaign I have will be running, I am fleshing out a lot of NPCs, A) because it is something I enjoy doing, and B) because it will let me integrate them more into the campaign as I know what they can/cant do and also what their motivations are.  Though the way I GM, I usually need about a week between sessions to prep, if I havnt prepared a lot in advance.

On prep, try and prep for longer than you would ever expect, that way if the players go more quickly than expected, you are ready, and if not, you are ahead.

#7 Tullio



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Posted 18 June 2013 - 03:08 AM

How much I do to prepare is more or less dictated by the interest of my players. I don't tend to send out background material because I know my players won't read it anyway. Same goes for a lot of the scene-setting in-game - I think about half of what I say tends to get noticed.

However, I do over-prepare, especially with things like NPC profiles. It's a lot easier to deal with the odd detours that inevitably happen if you know your main setting and characters well. Maps are a essential if your group has a habit of being distracted like mine do. My maps tend to be roughly drawn on graph paper, and we use labelled drawing pins for the participants

#8 Adeptus-B


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Posted 18 June 2013 - 09:44 AM

My prep usually consists of a checklist of major plot points that I want to hit that session, a short list of notes of info that I want to be able to access quickly (mainly the names of NPCs the characters have already met), NPC stats (I usually go overboard here, listing a character's full range of Skills and Talents, even though I know I will never use most of this info), and, yes, maps. Since I (and most of my players) come to WH40KRP via the 40K table top game (and its spin-off skirmish games), and we already collect miniatures, we play out all but the simplest combats with figures on a battleboard. These range from standard 40K tables with 3D terrain (with ranges measured with tape measures), to scale maps drawn on a wet-erase board with a printed grid of 1" squares (usually used for indoor scenes), to a long strip of brown wrapping paper with details drawn on with a Sharpie (usually used for large-scale battles, where 1 figure counts as a unit rather than an individual).

#9 Darck Child

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 11:11 AM

Another thing that I do as the Storyteller is have the Players recap the previous game session.


This provides two things of use for me: 1) it brings us up to date before continuing the story ensuring that all of us are on the same page and 2) it let's me see it the game from the Player's perspective allowing me to tweak things to come or mine it for potential story hooks or focus the story more on the highlights provided by the recap.


Sometimes I ask for Player's feed back at the end of a session.


Or I ask my Players for preferences or character future plans and goals to be incorporated in the sessions to come…