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TheHobomination

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  1. Not sure if this qualifies at thread necro or not, but I like Two Steps From Hell for dice rolling music.
  2. Salutations, I, too, am new to the forums, but I have a lot of experience running small party campaigns, so I decided to post a little about my experiences. For background (I plan on making a 'Introduce Myself' post here, shortly) I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to FFG games, but not to Warhammer. I've been playing and GM'ing various systems for many years, with a significant portion of time behind the screen. I've had parties as big as 8-9 players and as small as 2. I've also had my GM'ing style critiqued as being "evil", perhaps verging on "psychologically traumatizing". (I jest, of course, but I don't pull punches very often. "Grimdark" appeals to me greatly.) That in mind, I have always held discussions with my players prior to campaigns about what to expect. Regardless of group size, I always offer to run GM-PC assets for them, should role gaps need to be filled. These GM-PCs have been anything from a "healer-bot", to "lock-picking devices" that follow the group around blindly, constantly in the action with them, but providing, virtually, no other assistance beyond restoring hit-points or opening doors. I've also had powerful mentor NPCs for the party that balanced out very early game and higher end encounters. What I have found is that it boils down to the group. In my personal experiences, the smaller the group, the better it is to have a GM-PC fill the gaps. Player personality comes into effect heavily. Players who really enjoy rolling the dice and seeing results (aka "Roll-Players") often resent having what amounts to a NPC in the party contribute heavily to the game-play. Players who want to be immersed into the campaign/story (aka "Role-Players") rarely have issues with a GM-PC, as long as it's part of the story and not detracting from their influences on the campaign. While I tend to be more of the "Role-Player" type, I don't have any issues with how someone wants to enjoy themselves during game-play. I've had to add and remove GM-PCs throughout the course of many campaigns because party attitudes had shifted. What you're referring to as "GM ex Machina" is a definite concern. I've made plenty of mistakes with inserting my own PC and various NPCs that are far too powerful because I have my own knowledge and methods about the campaign and gaming in general. This has, without fail, always lead to resentment of the PC/NPC in question. As far as making a "Healer-Bot" character for the party, I've always seen groups take far more risks than they probably should, knowing that there's a dedicated healer following them around. It doesn't necessarily lead to a "GM ex Machina" situation, but I've seen a greatly reduced amount of care and consideration given to normal encounters and have had several player deaths occur because of cavalier attitudes. I'm not a huge fan of such tactics and my campaigns rarely ever provide an environment where that is a sound choice. My solutions to this usually involves allowing for the dedicated healer and making encounters more devious and difficult, or providing greater ease of access to consumables for the party (rather than the healer). Both situations have had plenty of success and failure. Running a active GM-PC rather than a follower is a very fine line to walk. I'm currently building a way to play a Deathwatch game by GM'ing through a Tactical Marine/Dedicated Team Leader (by the group's choice) and it is proving most difficult. Having a character of your own, as the GM, play a fundamental role within the group is very tricky. Too much involvement really infringes on player freedom. Too little, and the character becomes just a follower. With a small group, as you have, I always suggest that players can/should/do run multiple PC's rather than involve me in the group. Some players are more willing to do so than others. Some players firmly want me to build a character that I'm attached to, so I have something on the other side of the screen to subject to my tortures. Lastly, giving players access to followers right away is, in my opinion, the best solution. This allows them to provide for themselves without your involvement, or having to manage multiple PC's themselves. As a player in a small group, I always took a follower as soon as I could. As a GM, I always give players the option of having a follower at the beginning. Usually one or two players will take advantage, to save headaches and frustrations. At the risk of making what has already turned into a small novel of a post into a full blown reference book, I'll provide a short, specific example of my own experience as a player in a 3 player group. We were playing Pathfinder: Myself (Cleric), Buddy A (Paladin) and Buddy B (Ranger) had a long discussion with the GM about possible concerns and complications of a full-bore adventure with only 3 players. We came to an agreement that if we played intelligently and had better than average access to potions/consumables, success could be had. The GM made plenty of concessions towards us, but did not allow us to take followers until we could take feats for it, in the regular, RAW, fashion. I took a feat at level 1 which allowed me to have a minion right away. Said minion was barely useful beyond hitting things with a blunt object and taking 2-3 hits before falling to the ground. But, it was better than nothing. Game-play went about as we expected. We were all veteran players, and had several close-calls. The time came when we could finally take appropriate feats for legitimate followers. I could "upgrade" my minion to a full-blown mini-Paladin (a few levels below me), Buddy A took a mini-Cleric and Buddy B took a mini-Sorceror. This added to our capabilities immensely, and soon the GM took the gloves off because we were no longer fragile. GM attitude aside (it was not a long campaign, to put it mildly), all of the followers aided us greatly, but were delicate little flowers that needed constant attention. We all felt that it was the best solution possible, because it kept the GM behind the screen and allowed us to fend for ourselves. When we nearly died, it was our fault. When we smashed an encounter because of good rolls and smart play, that was our accomplishment. To sum up this overly lengthy musing: I can't speak for every RPGer out there, but keeping the GM behind the screen is best for all involved. As someone who has plenty of GM-PC attempts under his belt, it's such a tricky endeavor that one should really have an experienced, solid group of players for it to work well. If it can be avoided, it should be. (Sometimes that can be really, really hard to do, because you want to play too. In that situation, I make a memorable baddie that I can keep around for the length of the campaign). That's just my two fractions of currency, or several units of it, actually... Hope it helps.
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