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SolennelBern

Green GM/RPGer kindly asking for help

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Hey all! I'm a board gamer and PC gamer.  I love RPGs in all their formats but never played a tabletop classic RPG.  I know and understand the basics: GM runs the game and players interact with the story...but that's about it.  

 

I read many threads here, on BGG and other dark places to learn a bit more about GMing, which seems really fun once you get the hang of it.  I'm someone very imaginative and somewhat extraverted with my good friends so I think it will help me in the long run.

 

I'm also a fan of anything Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Star Wars, etc.  Not the kind of fan that know the name of the dude that sold some blue milk to Luke's tutors though.  I know the basics of the Star Wars universe but nothing more.

 

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Now, after seeing the many great reviews and comments about EotE and being an FFG game I decided to buy the Beginner Game.  But not long after (couple of days max) I bought the Core rulebook, the Game Master Kit and a set of dice.  I also downloaded and printed the many files (new characters, LaofH, etc) from the minisite.  So I have everything I need to start playing lol.

 

I'm slowly reading the beginner rules but didn't finished it yet.  Nothing frightening rule wise for now.  My main fear lies in GMing and telling a great story to the players.

 

I'll try to keep things as simple as possible and will go with questions.  So here they are:

 

1) How do you react to new elements brought by players? Like in the thread where the players want to amass a huge droid army or want to kill some shopkeepers for fun.  Do you simply ask them to make X roll where X is an attribute you, the GM, decided would fit for the roll? And how many dice? Still the GM to decide how tough the roll will be?

 

2) If you don't know much about the SW universe, ships and vehicules technical terms, anything really, how can you remain credible? Like in a thread I read that the players wanted to replace their ship transponder and someone added that replacing a transponder requires some BOSS changes, a console blingbling thing and a YU-59649+616646 stuff to do that...can you make things up on the fly if you don't know all those details? 

 

3) Can the GM bring new events to the story that he think would add some fluff?  How much can you improvise?

 

4) I guess GMing requires LOTS of note taking? I certainly don't want this to feel like work and drag the game while I take notes and don't interact with my players...

 

5) How do you keep track of where you're at when finishing a session? Notes I guess? Any tricks on how to quickly write/summerize where the story is at when you finish a game night?

 

6) Any other tricks and tips to GM like it's hot? :P

 

Thanks a bunch all and I hope I can be a good GM one day!

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1. The players always should decide their own actions. However, all actions have consequenses. Building a droid army is gonna cost craploads of credits, and will most likely attract a lot of unwanted attention from imperials and other elements. A lot of this stuff you just need to judge with common sense. You dont resolve big stuff like this with a simple roll.

 

2. You dont. Basically you bring your own level of knowledge to the game and you take it from there. It sure helps to have some knowledge of the universe, but the most important thing is to get that certain star wars feel. If you have seen the movies you know what i'm talking about. Other stuff you just decide what best fits your story. Want to introduce world eating space slugs, go right ahead ;)

 

3. You are basically the storyteller in an interactive story with the players acting as the heroes (or anti heroes more likely in this case ;) ). The level of improvisation needed depends a lot on how much you have prepared of the story beforehand, and how much you want to sandbox it. Sanboxing it means having the players decide more of what they want to do and have more freedom, while a prepared story tends to have the GM subtly (or not so subtly) lead the players along. A balance between these is usually the best. Not fun to feel you are playing a computer game with artificial hero blockers all around you.

 

4. There is some note taking yes, but not that much tbh. Usually it takes a little bit of note taking to set up an encounter, like deciding initiative order, some notes on enviromental advantages or penalties that apply for the scene, keeping track of damage done to your NPC's and so on. Not too much, and should be easy enough once you get the hang of it.

 

5. Well, i guess it depends on how often your group play. We play once a week usually and i have no problem remembering where we left off last time. If its far between, just write down a few things from the end to remind you.

 

6.  Some hot GM tricks? Well, dont fall for the temptation of giving the players too much too fast. Keep them hungry for more. Or you can give them a lot, and then take it away from them. Create memorable villains for them to go up againt, and some of them should become recurring characters that they learn to hate. I've been doing this for 25 years now so i can honestly say you will learn new things about GMing all the time. Good luck! :)

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I'll add by 2 credits to Khalayne's input:

 

1) As above, players can make any choice they wish. As a GM you show them the cost or consequences of their actions. If they end up killing innocents, everyone from the local law to the general populace will quickly turn against them, or it might result in a bounty on their head (Obligation).

 

2) Yes, you can (and often must, regardless of your SW knowledge) make things up on the fly. The key is to keep the Star Wars feel in anything you make up. In other words, call it a XJ-38 Sand Speeder and not a Megacorp Hovercraft. If you keep the Star Wars feel, your players will never notice.

 

3) Yes, and yes. This is encouraged. If you see a possible plot hook that's cool and ties into the background of one of the characters - go for it. They'll have more fun and you'll have more fun.

 

4) Not really, especially with this system. The story can be mostly in your head, though some GM's like to have copious notes about the plot - or use published adventures as their "notes." Keeping a few key adversaries tabbed in your rulebook prevents you from having to keep too many notes there. Other than basic housekeeping (initiative order, etc.) just jot down a note or two as ideas for furthering the plot occur to you.

 

5) If you're in the middle of a combat or scene where position is important, then take a picture of the table. We assign one player the job of taking notes during the session, which is then appended to a Google Doc. This not only keeps track of where we are, but also is VERY entertaining.

 

6) Tricks? Ham it up. Be overly animated. Use accents. Use body language. All of this will make your NPCs memorable. Challenge your players. Make sure that they feel the risk and feel they their successes (and failures) are close, hard-fought battles.

 

Enjoy! GMing is fun.

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Don't sweat it too much, Sol. I am a new GM as well, and just started a campaign I wrote myself with my group. THEY LOVED IT! even more then any of the precons. It's really about being adaptable. I have found that I lean toward an "yes, and..?" type of approach. I always let my PC's do what they want, and there are consequences typically. That's why I love the narrative dice. not only does it give the PC's some flexibility in telling the story, (taking some off your shoulders) but it also allows you to give them some setbacks if they fail. Or even if they succeed with Despair or Threat.

 

Also, once you get a feel for the stat blocks, you will be able to be a lot more on the fly. And worse comes to worse, if your PC's REALLY throw you for a loop, take a 10 minute break and whip up a map or some mobs. They'll like it much better probably if they realize you are creating a world that changes with their decisions instead of saying, "that shopkeeper is indestructible." (terrible example, but you get it.)

 

The best advice I've gotten is HAVE FUN. I'm probably 8 sessions in, and we are having a HUMONGOUS time. This game is really, REALLY sweet.

 

gl:hf

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All great advice above.

 

My advice is to start easy. Run the beginner game module first...Yes, its a bit railroady, but its a nice way to learn the game. Then move into Long Arm of the Hutt, etc...As you play these you will get a feel for GMing and a feel for your players, which is important.

 

Its harder for players to "go off the rails" in these adventures, but even if they do, it should not be hard to move it along, since the players do have a certain set of tasks that need to be done to move forward. When they throw you a monkey wrench just roll with it and use common sense when setting difficulty. A general rule I like to use is to mornally make difficulty set to lower than or equal to the characters skill in that ability, and add a setback or 2. It can go higher but only do this in certain extreme cases and only once in a great while. Some tasks will be naturally easier than others.

 

Once you are more comfortable, you can start your own ideas and stories. Not knowing much about star wars is not that big a deal, just make something up...its not Science Fiction, its Science Fantasy. Anything can go. In fact Im bringing in a 7 headed Hydra to my campaign right now and it still feels star wars-y. If your players are have more star wars knowledge than you do, you can always have them add details too.

 

Learn by example. Maybe take some time to watch a few game sessions played by others, maybe on you tube, skype or blogs. You will quickly find things you like and things you dont.

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Learn by example. Maybe take some time to watch a few game sessions played by others, maybe on you tube, skype or blogs. You will quickly find things you like and things you dont.

This! I was fairly bad at GMing until I started listening to "actual play" podcasts. Those helped a ton.

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One of the great things about Star Wars is it kinda suits all different aspects of adventure fiction--swords, guns, spaceships, monsters... even magic, to a certain extent.

 

Hopefully you don't have any super-OCD Star Wars rules lawyers in your group trying to correct you about the metric tonnage of a YT-2400 cruiser or that sort of thing. I wouldn't worry about the knowledge, I'd get familiar with the ships, aliens, planets etc listed in the book, and feel free to improvise outside of that.

 

You might even just let your players know up front, "I'm not a walking Star Wars encyclopedia, if you want to help me out with the names of things, feel free, but I'm going to run the game the best way I know how."

 

As others have said, improvisation is one of the things you'll absolutely have to do in EVERY game :)

 

Especially if it comes to questions like which skill a certain action applies to, don't be afraid to ask your players. "What skill do YOU think should govern that?" and if there's no good reason why not, go along with it. Within reason of course :)

 

One thing that I've noticed in my recent game sessions is that I enjoy the game a LOT more when I keep focused on the narrative aspect of it--make sure that INTERESTING things are happening, when your NPCs talk, act out what they say, use accents, languages, make it interesting.

 

When a combat is happening especially, encourage your players to narrate their actions and roleplay their conversations. If they're shooting at an enemy, have them describe where they are and what they're doing specifically. If they're attempting to coerce or deceive somebody, feel free to play out the conversation a bit (with the PC talking to you as the Character and you as the GM replying as the NPC) before rolling dice to determine the outcome.

 

You can turn this:

 

PC: "We're here to install the Hypermatter Reactor Igniter"

 

GM: (rolls dice) OK you succeed, he lets you on board the ship.

 

into this:

 

PC: "We're here to install the Hypermatter Reactor Igniter"

 

GM as Trex the Bounty Hunter: "Grr, really? Since when does the junk shop deliver parts?"

 

PC: "The owner's my cousin, we were stopping by the shop to chat and he got into a fight with his R5 droid, the droid was zapping him with his little zapper and my cousin was whacking the droid with a hydrospanner! Anyway, he wanted to close up shop early today so he tossed me a few credits and asked me to bring this over to the landing bay. By the way it'll be 500 credits, cash."

 

GM as Trex: "That sounds like him, the lazy nerf herder."

 

Now you as the GM might put together a Deception roll with a setback die (because Trex wasn't expecting a delivery) and a boost die (because of a clever, believable story told by the PC).

 

This makes it more fun for everybody involved and makes the dice rolling feel less mechanical.

 

Just a thought!

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1) How do you react to new elements brought by players? Like in the thread where the players want to amass a huge droid army or want to kill some shopkeepers for fun.  Do you simply ask them to make X roll where X is an attribute you, the GM, decided would fit for the roll? And how many dice? Still the GM to decide how tough the roll will be?

 

 

Really, this is just a matter of learning to improvise, a skill that can only be learned over time. Many a time the GM has trouble herding the cats in the right direction - hell, just last week me and my refusal to surrender when the ship was being overrun by big game hunters looking to conscript us into The Dangerous Game caused a moment of "Hmmm, what would the bad guys do next" moment for the GM - well, all the way up to the point where I skipped the ship across a lake like a stone and got them ALL stuck.

 

But yeah, players will always come up with a much more devious or interesting way around roadblocks, plot-points and problems in your game, requiring you to think outside the box.

 

(Occasionally I don't even plan a solution - just a problem. "Here is a high security prison they have to break into. Lets see what they come up with" and I go about simply designing the floor plan and personnel of the facility)

 

 

 

2) If you don't know much about the SW universe, ships and vehicules technical terms, anything really, how can you remain credible? Like in a thread I read that the players wanted to replace their ship transponder and someone added that replacing a transponder requires some BOSS changes, a console blingbling thing and a YU-59649+616646 stuff to do that...can you make things up on the fly if you don't know all those details?

 

Details? Bah! You already know everything you need about the game. Everything else is just color. Just make some stuff up that serves your plot and continuity be damned. They need to swap out the transponder and you don't know about BoSS and all that other stuff? Guess what - your planet doesn't have the proper offices. Just send them to the DMV after a couple of programming rolls and some shopping trips.

 

 

 

3) Can the GM bring new events to the story that he think would add some fluff?  How much can you improvise?

 

 

Oh hell yes. Bring whatever you think will serve the story best. There's been times where I have my story all written up, we're in the middle of the first act and one of the players says something off-hand about what might be coming down the pike at them, an idea MUCH better than mine - and I'll scrap what I have then and there and wing my way through the new content.

 

4) I guess GMing requires LOTS of note taking? I certainly don't want this to feel like work and drag the game while I take notes and don't interact with my players...

 

 

Before the game? Sure. After the game? Sure. During the game? Not so much. I might write down names and places - and I'll certantly track wounds and strains and stuff, but that's all pretty light lifting compared to outside of game. Actually I find myself taking more notes as a player - but then I like to document the adventures as we go, so I'll be scribbling away bullet points to remind myself later.

 

5) How do you keep track of where you're at when finishing a session? Notes I guess? Any tricks on how to quickly write/summerize where the story is at when you finish a game night?

 

Since I usually write up my games in advance, I'll just make a note in the word document or a huge X in highlighter where we left off.

 

Tip 7: Don't sweat it. Everyone was a new GM at one time, everyone was in your boat at one time or another. Go get yourself some canned games (which will require a touch of work on your part to adapt the stats, but not nearly as much as coming up with your own story) for the first handful of games. Keep the training wheels on until you get an idea of pacing and story structure, then you can try some on your own.

 

The best canned games? Tatooine Manhunt, Strikeforce Shantipole and Starfall are some of the best ones that WEG put out. The first two are a bit rebellion-centric, but can give you a good idea how put together a game. Starfall can be staged in either a fringer game or a Rebel game.

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When a game runs over more than 1 session, I like to start with a recap. It is useful because it reminds he players and I what happened. One of my players has Ausperger's syndrome and can recall a lot of details quickly, if he isn't there the rest of us just chip in with what we remember.

The amount of notes you take depends on what you feel you need to know what is going on in your game. Some people like very detailed notes other people like very brief notes.

If you are worried about knowing details of the setting, the best thing to do would be let the players know at the start that this is YOUR'S and THEIR'S Star Wars universe so some details may be different from Lucas' universe. It's your game.

Being a GM is a creative business, you will have to make up a lot of details and be willing to ad lib. It's great fun :)

The most important piece of advice about GMing I have ever seen is, "Make sure it is fun for your players and you." If they or you are not enjoying yourselves then something is wrong. If you are all having fun it doesn't matter if your universe is completely different to everyone else's or that you have used the wrong name for a race or you have forgotten a major movie or EU character or that your characters ran Luke over in their speeder and blew up the Death Star.

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This has been really helpful as a new GM. My own question would be that i have a large group (7+) PCs. Any suggestions on how to make sure everybody stays involved?

 

Our group has 5 players and it still feels like quite a few, and a challenge to keep everyone involved.

 

One thing I'm going to focus on doing more to help that is describing the environments in such a way that there are lots of hooks for everyone to have an idea of what they can do in a fight.

 

Like, if it was clear there is a big pile of crates near the enemies, one of the less combat-able character might still get the idea to sneak around and go knock over the creates onto the bad guys. That kind of idea might not come up without having described the crates.

 

And then hopefully the players might start getting the idea of adding to the narrative nature of the game by coming up with their own stuff. If the GM doesn't point it out, the players might say "is there any kind of sign or chandelier that I could shoot down onto the bad guys?" and then you say, sure, there is!

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2) If you don't know much about the SW universe, ships and vehicules technical terms, anything really, how can you remain credible? Like in a thread I read that the players wanted to replace their ship transponder and someone added that replacing a transponder requires some BOSS changes, a console blingbling thing and a YU-59649+616646 stuff to do that...can you make things up on the fly if you don't know all those details? 

My wife was never big into star wars G-Canon, but she really enjoys the little bit of EU she has been exposed to, such as SWTOR, KOTOR, and TFU1.

 

So after a while, she really wanted to run a star wars game, but she didn't know a whole lot about the universe. I encouraged her. Me and my fellow players are huge fans and know a lot about the universe, but we're also very supportive when someone new sits the GM's seat. I encouraged her to let the players know even before the first session, that the she wasn't too familiar with much of the star wars universe. There may be things that are different, and all of our players were happy with that.

 

A different perspective can be a good thing.

 

 

 

 

And then hopefully the players might start getting the idea of adding to the narrative nature of the game by coming up with their own stuff. If the GM doesn't point it out, the players might say "is there any kind of sign or chandelier that I could shoot down onto the bad guys?" and then you say, sure, there is!

 

Sounds like a good excuse to spend a Destiny Point. Granted, my players are very stingy with the destiny points, (I am too), so I'm more willing to make them spend a destiny point for things like this. They're Ok with that.

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TIP:

 

Let the dice help you tell the story.

 

Say yes or yes, but (but saying no is ok if its really breaking the fun, but talk to that player later and explain why).

 

Remember that each roll of the dice is about a minute's worth of action, not just one shot.

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I've got six players (when everyone turns up).

Make sure everyone gets their say. It took a bit of training but most of my players are good at taking turns. One guy does try to dominate and will butt in on other players turns, he gets told to shut up and wait. When it is time for players to announce what they are doing we go around the table, starting with either the player on my right or left (I pick, and change every so often) every one gets their say.

Look out for the quiet player, they can easily be ignored. Make sure you ask them "What do you want to do?"

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