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JetBlackPanda

GM + Playing a Character

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Our group has a rotating GM, and we each maintain a character for when not GMing.  The character is often around, and can be used to help guide the plot a bit, or some fun roleplaying, but we usually try to keep them more in the background so the active PC's can be the stars. 

 

We've made it work pretty well, but we've been gaming together for 20+ years, so have learned how to make it work.  You'll want to be very careful to not step on PC toes.  EotE lends itself to the GMing playing better then most systems though.  The narrative dice allow some fun interactions.

Edited by Split Light

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Our group has a rotating GM, and we each maintain a character for when not GMing.  The character is often around, and can be used to help guide the plot a bit, or some fun roleplaying, but we usually try to keep them more int he background so the active PC's can be the stars. 

 

We've made it work pretty well, but we've been gaming together for 20+ years, so have learned how to make it work.  You'll want to be very careful to not step on PC toes.  EotE lends itself to the GMing playing better then most systems though.  The narrative dice allow some fun interactions.

 

Thanks for the info. I think I will give it a try and like you said let the PC's run the show.

Edited by JetBlackPanda

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I do on occasion but over time I've moved away from it namely due to the overhead required to make it work (a GM already has a billion other things to worry about) and to avoid GMPC syndrome.  Now if/when I do this I make them purely background/support.  I learned the hard way how GMPCs suck for players (and recently had a negative experience seeing one again that completely rendered all our PCs irrelevant - my first ragequit in decades of playing).

 

In a game like SW you could also just make them droids (our old Saga game had almost 2-3 droids per PC once we included the stolen FX medical droid in medbay and the ASP loader/GNK duo in the cargo hold).  Droid GMPCs work a bit better because of the nature of Star Wars (they tend to be single-function/purpose things so they don't crowd PCs, the movies use them primarily for humour and hero enablers, they are reasonably easy to remove from play if they become overwhelming or problematic (needed maintenance, gets shot, memory wipe, stays on the ship, "we don't serve their kind here", etc), and are in-setting considered property.  One could use a living being here but... bad Ewok movies/Jar-Jar flashbacks prevent this from being a good alternative.

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If you must include a "GM PC," make him/her a recurring character (not one of the main cast) and make sure he doesn't outshine the PCs. Also, try to drastically limit GM PC interaction with other NPCs. Long conversations (more than 2-3 sentences) between NPCs get really tedious and uninteresting for players.

A GM PC can be helpful to move the story along, as long as he isn't used as a crutch by the GM or players. And when appropriate, give him a meaningful death (a la Obi-Wan on the Death Star) so as to spur your PCs on to greater things.

All this aside, I do agree that the GM has enough on his plate than having to worry about his own character sheet and running one of the "star" characters. Better to let the PCs get on with it, crafting encounters that are challenging (but beatable) and interesting to their characters, rather than trying to "fill a gap" in the party. They can do that themselves with a bit more XP and skill training.

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Our group has a rotating GM, and we each maintain a character for when not GMing.  The character is often around, and can be used to help guide the plot a bit, or some fun roleplaying, but we usually try to keep them more int he background so the active PC's can be the stars. 

 

We've made it work pretty well, but we've been gaming together for 20+ years, so have learned how to make it work.  You'll want to be very careful to not step on PC toes.  EotE lends itself to the GMing playing better then most systems though.  The narrative dice allow some fun interactions.

 

This is exactly what Venthrac and I are doing with our game. We each have a PC and there's currently one other player with her PC. When we run an adventure, our PC tends to stay in the background or support, though sometimes when a situation comes up, the PC comes forward to do what they do best. We both try to avoid the GM's PC talking to the NPCs too much, because no one wants to hear a GM talk to themselves.

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I'd be leery about including a GM controlled "PC" in a game that he's actually running.  it's a very difficult balancing act between having that PC be useful to the party while also not taking advantage of information that only the GM has access to.  There's a reason that "GMPC" is viewed as a dirty word in many old-school and collegiate gaming circles.

 

I've tried it a few times to try bolster up a small group, and frankly most of them ended badly, to the point that I won't do it even though I'm an older and wiser GM than I was back then; I'd rather let the players (of a really small group) have multiple characters than introduce another GMPC.

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  We do it and let the dice run the game.  So we play a part of the story and the dice create it.  Obviously this cuts down on surprise but it shows why FFG adventure content is important to us.

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One of the groups I GM is a small group (2 players).  We typically find that in any system we play, 2 players just doesn't work out that well.  2 many needs, not enough character to cover it all.

 

In other systems though, the GM playing a character always comes off weird.  You're supposed to be a competant character, but you have to act like an idiot savant.  You have to really play your character kind of dumb.  He/she can't really offer a lot of advice.  If you give away too much, you ruin the adventure.  If you give false leads, then the players start to suspect you and can take things off the rails.

 

EOTE however has a great way to fix this issue, and that is droids.  Droids are purpose built.  Seldom do you see a well rounded droid.  You can be a player's personal droid or a free droid.  You can gimp areas like presence and willpower and duck out of conversations by explaining that your programming doesn't cover areas of urban tactical assault.

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I like the idea of playing a driod. I really don't want to talk to myself much or lead the story with that character at all. Howerver these players are fairly new and might need a little push in the right direction by a droid etc.

 

this would only be for the beginner box.

 

once we make it ouf of that and if they are still interested I would probably drop the character.

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An R2-type character that drives the plot forward might just do the trick.

But just make sure early on to ingratiate the players to the droid. Either have the droid save their skins in a heroic way, or make it so that droid is invaluable to them for whatever reason, so that they care about it. THEN you've got a solid pusher-of-directions.

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In my group, I recently created a character since on of our members wants to try his hand at GMing some sessions. I made my character pretty much as the pilot of the group and when we ran our last game I had my character stay back at the ship and provide intel if they needed it. Mostly it just came down to character interactions. They would comlink back to the ship and ask if the scanners picked up anything, FIRE UP THE ENGINE! etc. Was really fun and worked pretty well. 

 

I think for the most part we've been referring to the absence of PCs (either by a player missing a game or someone else sitting in the GM chair) as that characters "Trip to dagobah." 

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We have a GM and 2 players. When we are lucky we have 3. When we are super-duper lucky we have 4. So I run a character and GM whether its Star Wars or Pathfinder. My character is not the leader of the group. If they players get stuck because they can't figure something out, like the party scene in The Long Arm of the Hutt, then they are stuck. (Boy was that a frustrating scene). One of our players doesn't role-play. He's there for the fighting. So often its me the GM and one player roleplaying. (God, please send me a couple more regular players).

My character is basically there to fight and pilot the ship and make wise cracks. I play a droid based loosly on Cylons and Bender. He's funny and oftentimes gets people in trouble. Then he fights his way out of it.

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We are doing this as well, hot-swapping GM's. There are 6 of us in total, 3 of us plan to GM at some point, but we want all of our characters to advance at roughly an even pace...so we've decided to sit our own characters out to avoid the GMPC issue, but award them the 15 base xp per session so they don't get left behind as far as advancement. We wont consistently have all 6 there either. We had 5 the first session, and 4 the 2nd session...but 2 of the guys that were there the first night missed the second. And one of the guys who missed the first one, started in on the 2nd. 

 

Basically, we have ...

 

a human Colonist-Politico (defacto leader)  - who is currently GMing the GM kit adventure.

a human Smuggler-Scoundrel - who GM'd our first adventure, the one from the Core Rule Book

a medical droid - who will not be GMing, missed second session

a Jawa-mechanic - who will also not be GMing, also missed second session

a Wookiee-Marauder - who wasn't there the first session, also not GMing

and my character - a Hired Gun/Merc Soldier - will be GMing Beyond the Rim after GM Kit adventure.

 

We had the droid shut down for repairs on our ship, and the Jawa was sick - quarantined in the crew quarters. 

The current GM didn't explain his character's absence, and is very much against the GMPC idea. I don't mind it, as long as they are purely there as a support role....(for instance, my character is the ship pilot...so might make sense if he simply flies them around and I roll his piloting (space) checks, etc. We'll see, I may just have him take a trip to Degobah when my turn comes up.

 

My main issue (as a player) is the fact that when I GM, my character gets left out of advancement and his share of creds, etc. But I think our solution to award base session xp will work ok...and we basically throw all of our loot on the ship and use it as a joint bank account anyway. The only thing I feel wont and really cant be addressed is the missed opportunity to reduce Obligation. My character has 20! and the other GMs have not been incorporating the Obligation mechanic very well...they forgot to roll the obligation chart before every session, and there has been zero opportunity to reduce Obligation so far....Anyone have ideas or advice on this subject?

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This is always a terrible idea. one of two things happens...

 

1) GM dominates everything horribly. Players get runover. No one but the GM has fun. You would think that perhaps the GM would not let this happen, but man... some of the stories i have heard on podcasts... horrific.

 

2) The GM has to cripple his character from being able to solve anything making him almost pointless other than combat. This is what I have tried, and honestly it is more trouble than it is worth. I would say if you have a small party and need the extra muscle, you are better off with some kind of NPC henchman the PCs can boss around. I would go Droid in that case.

 

The rotating GM idea is kind of neat, but it would prevent long story arcs. I always was complaining about never getting to play... eventually I realized that all I wanted to do was GM anyway.

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In my group, I recently created a character since on of our members wants to try his hand at GMing some sessions. I made my character pretty much as the pilot of the group and when we ran our last game I had my character stay back at the ship and provide intel if they needed it. Mostly it just came down to character interactions. They would comlink back to the ship and ask if the scanners picked up anything, FIRE UP THE ENGINE! etc. Was really fun and worked pretty well. 

 

I think for the most part we've been referring to the absence of PCs (either by a player missing a game or someone else sitting in the GM chair) as that characters "Trip to dagobah." 

 

YES! Now, I am not saying yes because its correct and everyone else is wrong, I am saying yes because this is exactly what I had in mind for what I want to do.

 

I will it seems more than likely be the GM for our group (New group, just met up) I had a good time GM'ing but I really really wanted to create a chareter, so that way I can jump in the game down the road if we get someone else who wants to GM. Like I said my idea would for my guy to either be an explorer or pilot, staying on the ship and only interaction would be with other PC's, no combat outside of flying the ship. I honestly dont see any real ways this would cause problem with the story, but there is always something that can go wrong.

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The GM playing a character has been historically a sign of railroading, although it doesn't have to be.  Many times in my past it's ended up with everyone looking at the GM to make the next move, which incidentally robs the characters of the chance to figure things out for themselves.  

 

That said, I have a surly r5 unit that accompanies the PCs from time to time but is markedly unhelpful and sometimes just downright condescending.  It's still an NPC though, but the players aren't looking to me to solve their problems for them, either.  

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We almost always do this in our games. It works out surprisingly well as long as you follow a few simple rules:

 

1) The GMPC never, ever gets the spotlight. To put it in Star Wars terms, during the battle of Yavin, at best he (or she) would be Wedge Antilles, never Luke or Han.

 

2) They generally fill a role the PCs need, for example, a mechanic if noone wants to play one but it is needed. (Mine often end up being the party scholar/researcher. For example, in Buffy my GMPC was the group's Watcher. Rarely do my players want to make the more intellectual types. It works out well, the GMPC sits in a library or whatever and after awhile gives them the information they need.)

 

3) They add extra support during combat if needed but never get to kill the important characters. If the PCs fight Darth Vader,the GMPC either gets taken out of the fight early or simply has to do something else while the fight happens.

 

Generally they are used as a way to get more roleplaying with the PCs done. They more or less feel a sort of sidekick role and it works out just fine. I actually am running Dark Heresy currently and my players were a bit disappointed when I first started the game without a GMPC around so I made one with input from them. That's when you know you're doing it right btw, when the players WANT them around. :)

Edited by Riggswolfe

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