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dragonfire2

Advice for a newbie GM?

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  Hey, just started really gming now, and we have the character sheets done, my big brothers a scum, while my little ones an ork guardsman, since he wanted to be a non-squishy humie, wearing an explosive collar, lol.

 

  Anyway, does anyone have some tips for a first time DH gm? still a little flunky, but we're doing some test runs tomorrow before starting the campaign

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The best made plans will always be screwed. Never fully plan out something completely, because the PCs will do something that you'll never expect. Believe me.

As well, an Ork Guardsman? In my opinion, that does not suit the feeling of the game. Of course you're the GM and you can do whatever you want in your own group, but, that's just not right for the feel in my opinion.

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  Oh, I think you misunderstood, "guardsman" is just the class we're using to represent an ork, since they're all shooty, and the rest i'm using an unnoficial supplement for orks.

 

 thanks for the pointers, lets see if I can get some more

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This might well be a good resource for you.  www.roleplayingtips.com/articles/index.php  Its worth taking a bit of time to browse through.

Some very basic things i'd say (in no particular order);

  1. Don't panic.  You're all new.  You WILL make mistakes.  Don't worry.  If eveyone's having a good time, that makes you a decent GM...gui%C3%B1o.gif
  2. Don't plan in too much detail.  Have the basic plot mapped out for the evening.  Have the 'key scenes' sorted out.  But let your players meander between these scenes.  That way they feel like they're in control and it avoids the most common failing of a new GM - 'railroading' the players....(sneaky GM trick that one gui%C3%B1o.gif )
  3. Be flexible.  Learning to improvise is an essential GM skill.  Your plans for the evening will go awry (that seems to be the players job sometimes!)  It is a skill so it can only get better over time!
  4. Get your players to roll a bunch of dice before hand and record the results.  That way, when you need a PC to make a randon roll without them knowing (spotting a hidden object, or clue, or noticing an ambush, etc., then you can use these rolls without breaking the suspense.
  5. Have a list of 10 pregenerated names to hand.  So when you need a random NPC his/her name trips off your tongue and the players aren't aware you're making things up as you go. 
  6. LISTEN to your players.  Especially when they don't know you're listening.  They will come up with great ideas and plots for you to quietly steal and use.  And beleive me, nothing pleases a player like 'guessing right' about part of your plot when you later use their idea in a session...another sneaky GM trick there...happy.gif
  7. There is NO Kobyashi Maru.  Never put your players / PCs into impossible situations.  Always give them options.  The more the better...If they come up with a crazy idea to get out of a sticky situation, don't make it fail just because you didn't exoect them to do it.
  8. Tell a story.  When you first start out, this is often overlooked; and indeed even experienced groups/gamers can let their games fall into repetative play..telling a story means your campaign has a narrative that stops things getting repetative and stale.
  9. Mix it up.  Try and have differnet 'types' of scenes or encounters.  Plan it out so that in the evening's session you will try to get in a combat encounter, a chase scene, an interrogation scene, a techie/fixing the widget scene, etc. Don't just string a bunch of combats together and call it an RPG.  Unless you're playing 'Band of Brothers' of course...
  10. Let the players shine.  Ensure that each player gets to do something regularly.  If you have two players then each should be involved all the time.  IF only one is, then limit your time there to say 5-10 mins then switch to the other player for 5 mins.  Movies do this - so should you...
  11. Lead in, time outs and debriefs.  At the start of the session, take 15-20 mins for everyone to chat about non-game stuf, settle down, sort out drinks and nibbles, find pencils, character sheets, etc.  During the session, its 'time in'.  Everyone is 'in character'.  If there's an interruption, if someone needs a comfort break, if discussions break down into 'out of character chat', etc. call a 'time out'.  Everyone takes a few minutes to relax, etc.  then start up again.  Ideally you should look for a 5 minute break every 45 mins or so.  After the session, take 10-15 mins to discuss with the players / group how things went.  What did they like, what went badly, etc.  This is crucial feedback and helps you learn/improve...

Ok, that'll do.  Good luck and keep your laser handy...gran_risa.gif

 

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My additions

a) Be consistant.   Once you make a ruling, it stands unless all players agree that it should be changed

b) You're the GM.  There is a fine line between discussion and argueing.  If you make a ruling that the Players disagree with, listen to them.  If you still disagree with them, then you're ruling stands, just make sure you explain why you're ruling stands. 

c) Be transparent in rules.  Nothing worse then having players who don't understand the system because the GM keeps the system a secret.  This is doubly true with houserules.

d) .  The dice don't run the story.  Rules can be restrictive and stupid at times when the dice just roll wrong.  Excessive bad luck can literally make dice rolls suddenly deadly.  While most times this is realistic, no one should die from shock, trama, and bloodloss due to a stubbed toe. (I decidedly silly example).  An important NPC who is one-shot killed by a lucky snap shot at  2000 yards by a hold out pistol should survive if there is absolutly positively no other way for the story to continue.  However, if there is any possibly way for the story to continue, then let the roll stand.

e) NPCs are second fiddle.  Other wise known as the GMs pet NPCs.  GMs are notorious for rolling up PC/NPCs who due to GM caveat just shine when compared to the PCs, or making beloved enemy NPCs who they spend hours creating and breathing life into, and then making immortal because they can't bear to loose them.   The PCs should ALWAYS be the center of your story, ALWAYS.  NPCs are the for props.  Sometimes important, very important props, but props.  That enemy NPC may always "just" escape the PCs, but the climax of your story should always have your PCs beating down the enemy.  Never allow an NPC to become so beloved that they become more important to your story then the PCs are.
 

Now that said, I'm going to suggest getting rid of the Orc Guardsman until you're more comfortable with the setting and with the game system.

The problem is, in combat the Orc is going to be great, but you HAVE to play it that the Orc is a hated member of the group, and predujiced against in every single aspect.  He's a slave, and very, very expendable in every sense of the word, and can never EVER gain the trust or be the equal of the humans in the party.  The orc is an Alien, one of the most feared aliens around, hated by ALL, wanted dead by most, and even consorting with an Alien can be grounds for heresy, meaning that every single Conservative Xeno hunting Inquisitor is gunning for both the orc and the humans working with it.

That said, its a very, very easy fix it.  Probably the easiest would be to simply make him a large human from a feral world, who for centuries has fought feral orcs on his world, and understand their culture, and in some ways has even adopted part of orcish culture into their own.  Simply, easy, and yet being still human can be an equal member of the party.

The second would be to make the orc an Ogryn.  Abhumans are much more accepted then filty aliens and while they won't be the equal of humans, won't be so marginalized in society that they can't function either, and they're not a squishie hummie either.

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 theres some sage advise here, no mistake.

I'll add.

1.) Only roll dice when you are happy for the result to be success or failure. If the adventure totally falls apart if the PC's can't caputre Heretic X, then fuge the dice and let them win. (Xathess Wolfe already said this really, but I think its an easy pit fall)

2.) get a GM screen or write yourself a rules 'cheat sheet', the game will run much smoother if you're not always nosing through a 400 page book.

3.) Find out what your players want from the game, if you're planning a subtle game about investigation, instanity and the corrupting influence of chaos, and your players are expecting DOOM: the rpg, no one will have any fun. Your players will probably all want slightly different things, and your game will need to accomodate all of them.

 

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To toss my few cents in:

 

1) Never have your players make a role unless there is definite consequences for a failed roll and a successful roll.

It's a common beginners mistake to have the players roll every time they mention their PC trying to do something. If the PC's are in some dark hall picking a lock at the far door, then they should only roll to pick it if something will happen if they fail. If nothing happens other then the lock not unlocking on a failed role, then the PC will just try again and continue to do so until the lock gives. Terribly boring. Better to cut to the chase and just describe them picking the lock and succeeding (possibly having a hard time of it if it's a difficult lock). If you want them to roll, there needs to be repercussions no matter the outcome of the dice. If they succeed, the lock pops open, if they fail, they made too much noise or took too long and a guard has come around to investigate, etc.

2) Only role the dice when the results of the role will be immediately obvious to the characters.

This goes somewhat with Ludites suggestion #4 though a slightly different tactic. If someone is laying in wait to ambush the party, then they should only make an awareness check when the ambush is sprung. They succeed, they see it coming, they fail and the consequences of the failure is a surprise attack. If a PC decides to play dead in the hopes that the guards they hear coming will pass them by as another body on the heap, then don't have them role deceive until the guards are up on them and giving the pile a quick look over. It's something of a knee jerk reaction to have the player role for the action as soon as they announce it, but sometimes, the action won't bear any fruit (either sweet or rotten) until sometime latter. That's when they should make the role, when they can see the fruits of their labors or reap the consequences, not when they announce the action.

Next, this isn't really a hard rule but just something that helps me repetition, dull descriptions and flat uninspired scenes.

3) Approach each encounter like a scene in a movie.

I find it helps me to try and think of the game session like a movie that I'm not only describing to the players, but directing at the same time. Think of it in terms of scenes. You only want the interesting scenes where things are going to happen or are happening, the rest gets cut out. When one encounter/scene is resolved and you know where the party is going next, then it's time for a scene cut. Close your eyes, and think about the opening few frames of the next scene. Focus on what the point of that encounter is. Visualize the framing shots of the scene as it opens up in an interesting way, possibly an interesting camera angle, possibly a focused shot on an interesting object of some importance or symbolism before the camera pulls back to the wider view of the characters and what they re doing. Once you have the scene framed in your mind, open your eyes and describe to your players what you just saw in your head. It not only helps the players to remain interested in

 

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Agmar_Strick said:


1.) Only roll dice when you are happy for the result to be success or failure. If the adventure totally falls apart if the PC's can't caputre Heretic X, then fuge the dice and let them win. (Xathess Wolfe already said this really, but I think its an easy pit fall)

Personally I'm not that much in favour of fudging rolls, once the players twig what's going on (and they usually do) then it affects the mood of the game. They begin to realise that it's not possible for them to blow it at the crucial moments.

What I do try and do is to redefine what failure is. When it comes to a roll I'll have in my head what the worst and best possible outcomes are

For example when climbing a cliff failure to me might not mean that they plummet to their doom. A bad failure might mean that they slip down a distance, loose some equipment, cry out for help and take damage, a lesser failure means some of those things are avoided.

That also really helps out in this game when many of the starting skills are pretty low. A blown Awareness roll doesn't have to mean that they miss the all important clue that leads to the next encounter. Rather it can mean that it costs them time, resources or contacts to get that clue.

So yes there are consequences and the worst of them means that you can avoid having to "fudge" while still "costing" the group something that a success would have avoided.

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For me Agmar_Strick has said a very very important thing.

 

Always look  what kind of characters you have. If your players are an adept and an arbitrator they want investigation adventures...Don' put them in the middle of a war. If they are an assassin and a guardsmen don't make investigation adventures they want to kill nasty things.If you have one of each categories then make sure both have their moment to shine.

I had a GM that never told what kind of character he needs and then i made my  character and a lot of times i really don't know what the hell was he doing in that adventure.

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