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DangerShine Designs

First time GM needing help

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Sorry to cross-post, but I got no responses in the Beginner Game section and was a really hoping for some advice - hoping to play between Christmas and New Year.

So, I have convinced at least 3 of my pals (some who have RPG experience, some who don’t) to give one of the beginner boxes a spin and am looking for some advice on a few things.

1. I have all four sets but have only played one (EotE), is there one that is generally acknowledged as the most fun, the most beginner friendly, or most “something else” that would help me decide which one to run? I have asked the players, which leads me to the next question.

2. The 3 of them are all leaning to a different flavor of the game and, assuming the beginner game goes well and we move to a campaign, how well does the game flow of there is a combination of Duty, Obligation and  [cant recall the FaD mechanic] or will it be problematic?

3. I have played the game exactly once and not GM’d anything in 25 years - beyond reading and familiarizing myself with the beginner adventure, what advice would you guys give?

thanks in advance!

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1. Opinions vary.  Personally I think the EotE beginner box has the best out-of-the-box experience, but the PDF followup is not as interesting.  Whereas the AoR out-of-the-box is "okay", but I found the PDF followup excellent.  Just MHO, but I think the F&D one definitely ranks last.  It's okay, but not terribly interesting.

2. Duty Obligation and Morality all work fine together.  Mix and match as you see fit.  The EotE core won't address it, as it was released first.  The F&D book addresses all three, as it was released last.  Against just MHO, but I find these mechanics entirely optional.  You really don't have to use any of them.  There are a couple talents that affect Duty, and a couple that affect Morality (via Conflict), but 90+% of the specs aren't affected, and those that are are easily tweakable.

3. There are a couple of recent "new GM" threads here or in the GM forum, check them out.  But the main thing is don't sweat the small stuff.  If you can't find or figure out a rule, just make up something reasonable and move on.  And if in doubt, err in the PC's favour.

 

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22 minutes ago, DangerShine Designs said:

3. I have played the game exactly once and not GM’d anything in 25 years - beyond reading and familiarizing myself with the beginner adventure, what advice would you guys give?

thanks in advance!

In my opinion, the best thing to do with this FFG system, is to be flexible.  Don't try and memorize rules, but be comfortable with what the dice represent, in regards to difficulty, and be comfortable with adding/subtracting based on what's going on.  

I've never played any of the Beginner Boxes, but from those who have, I hear they are pretty much designed to introduce the mechanics a scene at a time.  So there shouldn't be a lot you have to worry about, that's the whole point of the box games.  A set of training wheels, for both players and GM, to familiarize you with the rules.  

Having GM'd it several times myself, I think the best thing is simply being good at improvising.  WHEN (not if :P ) your players do something off script, just be ready to roll with it.  It doesn't have to be complex, it's still all going to boil down to a dice roll.  If it's something crazy, but doable, don't increase the difficulty (change from purple to red), instead, just toss a setback die or two into the mix instead.   If they do something really cool/clever/funny, toss them a boost die to reflect their creativity, or good in-character roleplaying.  

Since the PC's in the boxes are meant to be starting PC's, they won't have really amazing dice pools, so try and keep the difficulties reasonable.  2-3 difficulty dice (possibly even including the setback you toss in) at most.   One of the hosts of the Order 66 Podcast, who has done a LOT of GMing of this system, feels that you should keep your negative dice, equal to, or less than, your players dice pool, assuming you want them to actually succeed at it.  When the negative dice start to outnumber the positive, you are going to start tilting the odds more heavily into the failure department.   So try and keep the pools on par with their dice pools, and you should have a good ratio of win/fails to make the game fun.

Now, if they decide to do something suicidally insane(aka:awesome), then sure, ramp it up if you feel it's appropriate, but that's still your call.

Don't be afraid to make a spot call on what to do if something weird comes up.  the whole point is to play around and have fun.  Don't think about it too much.  Come up with something reasonable that the players agree on as being fair, and then keep rolling.  Don't stop the game for 30 minutes to look up rules.  Just make the call, then move on.

In my experience, if you, or your players, are good at improv, and spontaneity, then you will likely love this system.  It's very user friendly, and doesn't require a lot of rules to get things done.  They designed it to mostly be up to the GM and the players on how things will pan out.  If you or your players are more rigid and Rules Lawyery when it comes to gaming, you might have some growing pains with the flexibility and nebulous nature of the game, so keep that in mind. 

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1. I have all four sets but have only played one (EotE), is there one that is generally acknowledged as the most fun, the most beginner friendly, or most “something else” that would help me decide which one to run? I have asked the players, which leads me to the next question.

I've run both the EotE and AoR beginner adventures, and I concur with Whafrog. Escape from Mos Shuuta is a nicely put-together short adventure for EotE - the only downside to it is that it needs a little bit of setup work unless you're playing with the pregen characters. We used it as an intro to our main AoR campaign and moved some pieces around so that one character was an escaped slave (which tied into the Trandoshan slaver) and the others were members of the Alliance trying to organise a weapons deal. I haven't followed its "formal" progression into later adventures, so I can't really comment. 

Operation: Shadowpoint is, as Whafrog said, not brilliant, but it seems to fit better with an in media res beginning. I ran it later, after all the PCs were together and working for the Alliance, and its follow-on adventures are particularly good. I included links to Saw Gerrera in ours (as it takes place on Onderon), which the players seemed to enjoy. :) 

2. The 3 of them are all leaning to a different flavor of the game and, assuming the beginner game goes well and we move to a campaign, how well does the game flow of there is a combination of Duty, Obligation and  [cant recall the FaD mechanic] or will it be problematic?

Duty, Obligation, and Morality all work well together. There is no reason you can't have all of them, for that matter. We've stuck with just Duty and Morality, but you could even start "Edge-ish" with Obligation, have the first couple of sessions about working off the Obligation and finding the Alliance and whatever Force-ish stuff you want, and then drop Obligation and replace it with Duty / Morality.

3. I have played the game exactly once and not GM’d anything in 25 years - beyond reading and familiarizing myself with the beginner adventure, what advice would you guys give?

One big mistake I made early on was assuming 1 turn = 1 shot; or pretty close to. In reality, each turn consists of a number of actions, so you can be extremely narrative in how the action takes place. 

Secondly, don't beat your head against a brick wall always trying to come up with narrative explanations of how the dice roll. At first, yes - but once your players get used to the dice system, throw the descriptions back to them. We're at the point now where I hardly ever have to make the description myself. In our last game (a conversion of the old WEG "Planet of the Mists") there was a fantastic lightsabre duel which ranged from an office, down an elevator shaft, into a hangar bay, across gantries, and finally to the floor of the hangar, and the players did nearly all the narration themselves. :) 

Thirdly - and this is the hard part - remember to use NPC abilities! :o Players always remember their own special abilities, but when you're GMing, it's easy to lose track of what NPCs can do. I always have a single little note - either a physical index card, or a highlighted box in a Word document I'm using as a guide, which contains a very quick summary of what the NPC can do, because when you get to Nemesis characters, their list of specials can get pretty long. Oh, and put a book/page reference next to each ability! 

Fourthly - and this really helps with my third point: get OggDude's character generator program. It not only makes character generation much easier, it also makes putting together NPCs simpler, and has a variety of options to help keep track of them, including encounter trackers and the like. 

Fifthly - don't sweat it. The system is pretty free-flowing most of the time, which is what a Star Wars game should be. Once you get the basics of the dice system, you can wing about 90% of a game. As long as your players are having fun, you're doing the right thing!

May the Force be with you! :)

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On 12/20/2017 at 4:48 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

2. The 3 of them are all leaning to a different flavor of the game and, assuming the beginner game goes well and we move to a campaign, how well does the game flow of there is a combination of Duty, Obligation and  [cant recall the FaD mechanic] or will it be problematic?

3. I have played the game exactly once and not GM’d anything in 25 years - beyond reading and familiarizing myself with the beginner adventure, what advice would you guys give?

thanks in advance!

2. You can combine the three in any which way your table finds preferable. They're three different ways to encourage player action:

  • Obligation motivates the players to address their characters' personal problems.
  • Duty motivates the players to take risks.
  • Morality motivates players to keep their noses clean.

Speaking from my own experience, it's easy to mix Edge of the Empire and Force & Destiny character stories since they don't focus on the civil war.

3. a. Come up with a personal philosophy for how you adjudicate dice rolls and be consistent with that. "Disadvantages" and "advantages" and the like are pretty nebulous terms, outside of assigning damage and triggering critical hits in combat.

b. For whatever talents your players select from their careers, make sure you introduce challenges that use those talents.

c. Be descriptive but let the players add details that help their characters, such as describing a piece of cover that their characters dive behind that you may not have anticipated. 

d. Maps and minis slow the game down and don't add to the experience other than giving players something to stare at.

e. Be aggressive in assigning setback and boost dice to rolls.

f. Always be flipping Force points. Encourage the players to spend them, not accumulate them.

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On 12/20/2017 at 4:48 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

1. I have all four sets but have only played one (EotE), is there one that is generally acknowledged as the most fun, the most beginner friendly, or most “something else” that would help me decide which one to run? I have asked the players, which leads me to the next question.

Go with the EotE one. You have the benefit of having ran it and it is better than the F&D one.

 

On 12/20/2017 at 4:48 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

2. The 3 of them are all leaning to a different flavor of the game and, assuming the beginner game goes well and we move to a campaign, how well does the game flow of there is a combination of Duty, Obligation and  [cant recall the FaD mechanic] or will it be problematic?

They work together just fine. That said, I'm not a bit fan of the mechanics for morality (the random component doesn't sit right with me). If you're worried about mixing and matching, go with Obligation.

 

On 12/20/2017 at 4:48 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

3. I have played the game exactly once and not GM’d anything in 25 years - beyond reading and familiarizing myself with the beginner adventure, what advice would you guys give?

Fun and Story first. Game mechanics after that.

Let players know it is okay to fail and that failure doesn't stop the action, it just diverts it in a new direction.

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On 12/20/2017 at 1:48 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

is there one that is generally acknowledged as the most fun,

Having played 3 out of the 4 (VII got a box set too), I'd probably rank them and their follow ups thusly: Edge first, AoR second and Force a distant third. The followup game for edge needed some reworking in the middle part to smooth over some rough parts I didnt like, but overall was pretty good. The setting for the AoR box was great and there were tons of compartmentalized game hooks you could use. The Jedi one was just weak and boring with crap bad guys and  a dull setting.

 

On 12/20/2017 at 1:48 PM, DangerShine Designs said:

will it be problematic?

The game is designed to work together with all three, but using all of them at once gets to be a real pain in the ****. Of the mechanics, I like Obligation the best. Duty is not bad, but it requires some buy-in from the players to persue. As for morality, I've gone on about it at length here - but the TL;DNR version is that it stinks.

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4 minutes ago, DangerShine Designs said:

You guys are awesome. The first session went great, and we are going to get together once a fortnight. The tips here were invaluable - thank you again!

What would you say was the biggest issue you had running the system?

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12 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

What would you say was the biggest issue you had running the system?

My biggest issues were -

1. Keeping on top of all dice possibilities - we were collectively new to the system so being able to interpolate and become fluid with the different symbols on the fly was challenging to start with and whilst it did get easier, it was something the group had to adjust to and we did stumble with it multiple times.

2. Keeping the various rules straight - the box set does a great job of keeping things simple but keeping it all straight without slowing down gameplay

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I have played as a player often and just starting being the Main storyteller (in this system everyone helps to tell the story).  One of the biggest thing is thinking of uses for the advantages and threats.  I really don't like giving strain for threats but can't always think of something small to to fill the threats.

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49 minutes ago, DangerShine Designs said:

My biggest issues were -

1. Keeping on top of all dice possibilities - we were collectively new to the system so being able to interpolate and become fluid with the different symbols on the fly was challenging to start with and whilst it did get easier, it was something the group had to adjust to and we did stumble with it multiple times.

2. Keeping the various rules straight - the box set does a great job of keeping things simple but keeping it all straight without slowing down gameplay

Yeah, both of those are easily handled with repetition.  The symbols will quickly become second nature to you, as you really only have 6 symbols to deal with.  Once you get familiar with which ones cancel which other ones, it's a quick bit of elimination to get the result.    There are dice apps out there for smart phones, that you can get to help with this.  They do the math for you, if you and your players are up for that.  Some people don't like using them for various reasons, but it is an option.
 

37 minutes ago, damnkid3 said:

I have played as a player often and just starting being the Main storyteller (in this system everyone helps to tell the story).  One of the biggest thing is thinking of uses for the advantages and threats.  I really don't like giving strain for threats but can't always think of something small to to fill the threats.

Yeah, this is why i said being comfortable with improvisation is handy for this system.   I try and think of it like an action movie, where they will frequently ramp up the tension by adding little extra problems that have to be dealt with, that add up to a final crazy situation.    

For example, you have two people fighting on the star wars equivalent of a rope bridge, and someone rolls 2 threat.   Ok so, off the top of your head, what are some negative things that could happen on a rope bridge?  Well, a strong wind could gust through, making the bridge bounce and wobble, causing 1-2 setback die on the person's next roll.  A despair would be something like "Yeah, the ropes are starting to fray, and now the entire thing is less stable, all checks have been upgraded for this encounter"    

Or another would be, perhaps the water underneath the bridge, now has a group of very hungry, and very aware alligators, snapping up at the two people fighting on the bridge.  They are able to leap up high enough where they periodically have to dodge, costing them strain, or a setback again if you wish.

mechanically, doing things like "take 1 strain" is perfectly fine, if they just rolled a single threat, but as long as you describe it in a cool way, it's all good.

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23 hours ago, DangerShine Designs said:

Keeping on top of all dice possibilities - we were collectively new to the system so being able to interpolate and become fluid with the different symbols on the fly was challenging to start with and whilst it did get easier, it was something the group had to adjust to and we did stumble with it multiple times.

Well, if it makes you feel better, I've been playing this fool game for 5 years now and I still wind up looking at the dice and going "What the hell do I do with THIS roll?!?"

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