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The Chaos

Tips for a new GM

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Hello everyone

A group of friends and I have recently decided to give Black Crusade a go. Ive taken the role of GM and Im really excited and looking forward to giving the system a try.


My main problem is that I have never GM'd a role play game before (everyone has to start somewhere right?). Im both excited and quite daunted at the same time. Ive read through the rules several times over now and I think ive got a good genreal grasp on things.


Ive decided to use the Broken Chains starter adventure to kick things off and will then most likely move on to the hand of fate adventure.


I just wondered if anyone has got any general tips and advice for a new GM, if theres anyone who used the Broken Chains adventure i'd like to hear how it went for you and if theres anything I should maybe plan and prepare for.


We've set a character creation night for Wednesday evening so after that ill have a bit more of an idea of the type of characters everyone will be playing and an idea of everyones hopes and expectations.


Thanks for taking the time to read this, any hintsm tips and advice would be greatly appreciated. 

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I'm pretty new to the GM arena myself so hopefully another more experienced one can give you more imformation. What I would really like to know is if you know your friends usual playstyles in other rpgs and so on. Are they psychopaths like the PCs in my campaign or more rational and well, better players? 

I began with broken chains, and it was a success. Although I skipped the part where you have do kill the henchmen among all the servitors (it would have taken too much time otherwise. Although that part were in the adventure after broken chains) my group had fun interacting with Karnak Zul, Queen Scarna, the beast which sits on the key and the dark eldar Telashyr (I inserted her to be a sort of guide when it comes to imformation about the world and such). A good idea is to let the players know about the universe they will be a part of. Highly recommended. In my case I gave them imformation about the gods, general backstory and fan fiction around the adventure at hand. If they do their homework or not is another question, but for the gameplays sake, they should do it. Write and ask if I have forgotten something.

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Here are some very general advices for being a GM, i hope they are not too trivial for you. They are all just from my personal experience there is no guarantee your group might work like ours :)

Create atmosphere by getting personal
For me, a successful roleplaying session is not measured in xp. If you can pull your heretics into the world of the Screaming Vortex you've achieved the first and most important step as a GM. Everything else is secondary. An easy way i use to create that atmosphere is having solo npc-to-pc-player conversations. If a player has to directly speak as his character he is forced to imagine the situation and think about what his character would do. It doesnt even have to be a critical situation, just make him answer fast and individually. (as opposed to "freeze time and space and have a nice talk with the other players before actually reacting")

While i enjoy Deathwatch and the whole Squad-Mode thing, Black Crusade is encouraging the approach to act as a character. Individual contracts, different ways to pleasure different chaos gods, i see a lot of potential for personal challenges here that might even interfere with the challenges of the other players.

Be prepared
Know the rules, know your adventure, have all tables ready. This is easier said then done as preparing a single evening can take a few of your own evenings. Let's say you're playing the Broken Chains opposing party, some of them have like two pages full of skills and psychic powers that you better know before combat starts.

If the rules can't help - you're the GM. Don't just overrule everything with "You just can't do that, it's not covered in the book.". Reward creativity, give them a hint that the chances of their acrobatic super-hero-both-guns-blazing-ambush-move while using a booster pack in a small spaceship are slim, but it could be really fun to see them trying.

Always a challenge
Give your heretics a challenge. If it's too easy it is boring, so always give them a challenge worth of a heretic. Killing 100 gretchins or unarmed civilians - not a challenge for a chaos space marine. Solving a riddle every child could solve - not a challenge. Tricking an Imperial General to actually fight for you instead of against .. hmm :)

Drama moments
I try to place a highlight in every evening. There are key situations in every adventure and when it comes to one of those i try to create a denser atmosphere. In a movie this would be the moment where the dramatic music starts. While you can actually play music i prefer to talk them into drama by describing the scenery more detailed. If it's a combat, let them picture their opponents in their heads.

I hope i could give you some ideas.


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