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Old 12-13-2006, 02:27 PM   #1
Lurconis
 
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Default Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

I played GURPS for the first time about a year and a half ago. It was the first pen and paper RPG I'd ever played and I rather enjoyed the half dozen sessions I played before our group broke up. Recently I've got the urge to try it again, and managed to convince three or four friends to have a go.

Only problem is, none of them have played GURPS before. One has played D&D, the rest have only World of Warcraft as role-playing experience.

I've never GM'd anything before, and I could really use a few examples of starting campaigns that don't require much experience to run and are moderately forgiving to new players.
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Old 12-13-2006, 03:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

I'm sure another poster will have some great, actionable advice about starting up a campaign for you and your players. For just getting into the game, though, maybe you should get your feet wet for a couple of sessions.

Pick a genre you and your friends like modern, military, sci-fi, pirates, ninjas, whatever (but maybe nothing too outre at first) and sit down together and make up some simple, low-powered characters (maybe just a little more heroic than normal people).

Then, come up with a a set of little, simple, scenarios they can play their characters in and try out their abilities and skills. Play a little mock combat and see how well everyone gets the hang of it. Do some role-playing and try out diplomacy and other people skills. That sort of thing.

This would be a session or two devoted to just for 'funsies' type play. That way they can push their limits, learn what game-effects their character design and action choices have, etc.

After you get through this little 'basic training' you and your players will know more about what sorts of things they can and want to do in the game. Hopefully that will help you figure out what you'd like to devote your time/money to playing more long-term.

Hope that helps out!
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Old 12-13-2006, 03:18 PM   #3
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurconis
Only problem is, none of them have played GURPS before. One has played D&D, the rest have only World of Warcraft as role-playing experience.
I'll pray for you...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lurconis
I've never GM'd anything before, and I could really use a few examples of starting campaigns that don't require much experience to run and are moderately forgiving to new players.
But seriousily... I'd grab a copy of GURPS Lite 4th Ed. (still free I'm pretty sure) Sit down with everyone, make basis "realistic" characters (100 - 150cp cops, knights, etc) and play some short examples of play (combat, roleplaying, that sort of thing). Templates and pre-made characters can help a lot with this.

You're going to be at a disadvantage starting off...
1) you are new at GMing so you are going to known just at much as the players do about the rules.
2) your player experiences with RPGs are really hack and slash... heavily combat centered.

GURPS has one great benefit and fatal flaw for new players to the system. It can be super realistic. Both you and your players are going to have to understand that. One sword blow or one gun shot can end a character.

Start it slow and simple. Theme the adventure (fanatsy, sci-fi, modern, zombies) and just play with the lite rules until you and the player start to get the hang of it.

One thing I've been thinking of writing to help some of my new players is a zombie mall game. Keeping with the simple and loose rules...

"I hit the zombie with a baseball bat" "roll against your melee skill" "passed" "good zombie is down but three more are coming"

Don't worry about the zombies full stats, just HP, Speed, brawl skill. All are pretty low. Make fright checks if the character are faced with a lot of them.

Hope that helps some.
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Old 12-13-2006, 03:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

The advice already given is above is good. Talk to your players, plan in advance. Search the boards this topic has been covered in some detail on a few others threads. Good luck
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Old 12-13-2006, 03:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crispythemighty
But seriousily... I'd grab a copy of GURPS Lite 4th Ed. (still free I'm pretty sure) Sit down with everyone, make basis "realistic" characters (100 - 150cp cops, knights, etc) and play some short examples of play (combat, roleplaying, that sort of thing).
A couple of things:

I'd probably start lower than this. At 150 points, the options begin to get rather overwhelming to new GURPSians. You can build good, efficient characters for 75-100 points -- also, coming from D&D and the MMO world, new characters at low point values shouldn't be a downer.

Once they've been at 150-175 it can be hard to pull them back to lower totals, but I've never had any trouble going the other direction.

Second, in the three groups of GURPS newbies I've started, I've looked for a way to create a non-lethal combat opportunity in the first session. Whether it was a fistfight with a bunch of hotheads in town or a hollywood-style chivalric tournament, it was great to have the tension of combat without the high stakes of a fight to the death against a potent adversary. I've found that people were more willing to try things and see how they went if they weren't worried about character death or some other major consequence.
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Old 12-13-2006, 04:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

I think one of the things that is really the strong suit of GURPS is it's emphasis of doing things other than whacking monsters/people/starships with the bigest weapon you can get your hands on. Give your new PCs the chance to meet people with some depth (not just an auto mechanic, but a struggling garage owner with one eye and a few underfed apprentices that seem to be polite even though they are obvoiusly hungry) so that they can interact more richly with their surroundings without getting bored. Do the PCs haggle with the garage owner? Find out that he was cheated on some parts and is suffering from the loss? Use merchant skill, NPC reaction modifiers, mechanic skill (assessment of repair quality), etc. to enrich their interaction with the setting, even for some occasional minor stuff.
Now that I think about it, you may have an easier time breaking your D&D and WoW player's habits if you don't run fantasy as your first setting. Go for Victorian murder mystery or space opera or something until they get the hang of it and then (once the fundamental roleplaying skills are established) you can bring on the Yrth goblin caravan without having the PC's immediately draw blades and attack. (Hey, they're green, that means they are the evil and I can get XP for killing them... CHARGE!)
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

All of the advice given above is really good. I would just like to add a few points if I may:

Choose a relativley straightforward campaign setting. Something like "vanilla" fantasy or straight-up space opera. If you are willing to spend cash above and beyond aquiring the core books you could pick up Traveller:Interstellar Wars and/or Banestorm which do a great job of providing fairly straightforward settings for these two genres.

One option that I have found to work when trying out new systems/settings is to assign each PC between one and five "fate points". One of these points can be spent to get a PC out of a situation that would cause death/extreme harm to that character. Since each character only gets a few of these precious chances and will most likely burn through the majority of them at the campaign's outset (when player inexperience leads the character to make poor combat choices, etc.), the level of danger and suspense will naturally ramp up as the players gain the measure of the new ruleset. At this point the GM can, if he or she wishes, take the gloves off. This system allows you to get a long-running campaign going from session one but eliminates worry over PC mortality rates due to inexperience with the new rules.

Another point along the lines of encouraging good roleplaying and discouraging munchkinism: make sure to provide the players with plenty of opportunity to use non-combat skills in a variety of different situations and be sure to award CP's for such actions. Also, tell the players how many CP's they were awarded for roleplaying and non-combat actions. This will train your players that they will be rewarded for roleplaying and encourage them to get in the habit of doing it every session. Additionally, set up some enemies that the players simply cannot defeat through brute force and ignorance. Force them to use their contacts, influence, social skills and monetary resources to bring down a foe. Doing this will illustrate the importance and value of non-combat advantages in the campaign and encourage even the most combat-oriented PC to develop some non-combat areas of expertise.

I hope some of this long ramble helps. Hang in there through the inevitable growing pains of the first few sessions; GURPS can be complicated for newcomers but it really is one of the best roleplaying systems out there.
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:21 PM   #8
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormcaller
One option that I have found to work when trying out new systems/settings is to assign each PC between one and five "fate points".
4e actually has an official optional rule for Spending CP on Successes.
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Old 12-13-2006, 05:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos
First, start as simply as possible. It's going to take time and practice to master gamemastering and GURPS: cut down as far as possible on the labour of designing or learning a fictional setting. In short, I would suggest that you run [more or less] realistic adventures in a real-world [historical] setting, something in which you and your players can draw to a great extent on what happens or happened in the everyday world or movies.
I dunno, I personally find historical settings more work than invented world settings.
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Old 12-13-2006, 06:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: Starting campaigns for newbie GMs

The CP for successes option is a viable route to take as well. The way I implement fate points makes them a little more powerful than CP for success, for example:

A PC gets involved in a one-on-one duel with an NPC who is far superior in combat skills. The player's inexperience with the new system prevents him or her from realizing this fact in time to retreat from the encounter and save the character's life. The combat monster NPC strikes the PC down and deals a killing blow. At this point the player asks to use a fate point to save his or her new, yet beloved character. Sneering at the young upstart's precociousness, the NPC villain wipes his bloodied weapon on the clothing of his defeated foe. Then, stepping carefully so as not to foul his boots with the PC's freshly-spilled blood, he sheathes his sword and strides away to find another victim. The battle sweeps away from the area where the PC fell and the character is left for dead. A few hours later, friendly peasants combing the battlefield for survivors recognize that a spark of life still smolders in the PC and take the character back to a remote village where they nurse the fallen warrior back to health...

In effect, fate-points act as a kind of player-initiated Deus Ex Machina. Admitedly, this tends to make the campaign feel very cinematic but since these points are a limited commodity and I never replenish them after a campaign has started, there is plenty of time to move the stories towards a more realistic tone over the course of a long campaign. In many campaigns where both myself and my players are familiar with the setting and ruleset I avoid using fate points, especially if the new setting is a realistic rather than cinematic one. They can, however, be an excellent way to provide a safety margin to players just begining a game under an unfamiliar ruleset.
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