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Old 01-10-2014, 09:55 AM   #11
DangerousThing
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth Latrans View Post
Sounds like I'm talked out of it.

Maybe some day I really will feel like it. I love worldbuilding, I just don't feel like I have the what it takes for something as social and improvizational as game mastering. With luck I can get into a DF game with a custom race and/or religion :3
I strongly suggest that you GM at least three times.

I speak from experience. I was extremely shy. Without my experience at GMing, I doubt my college job interviews would have gone so well.

The reason I recommend at least three times is that you will probably think you did poorly. It takes a few times to get that out of your head. One of my favorite playing experiences is once when a friend of mine GMed. Unfortunately he thought he'd failed and he never tried again, no matter what I said.

My biggest mistakes as a GM:
  1. Do not have powerful NPCs go along with the PCs.
  2. Do not have a "GMPC"
  3. When one or more of the players proposes doing something that short-circuits or avoids your planned adventue, don't force them back on track. Ask yourself "why not?"
  4. Practice playing the NPCs.
  5. Create a few NPCs that are designed around the power level you want the PCs to be. Use this to determine the starting CPs. Be generous.
  6. Don't screw over the PCs. It's their story.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:19 AM   #12
ClayDowling
 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

So Kenneth, are you in the 313 proper, or are you out in the suburbs like me (in my case, Dexter)? GURPS is really great for doing the sort of old-school fantasy that you're looking for, but if you haven't experienced it before you're going to have a hard time GMing that setting. My regular group is having a hard time getting together on a regular basis, and I'd love a chance to run a more beer and pretzels game.

If you can get to Ann Arbor, there are a couple of public places we could meet and run a beer and pretzels sort of fantasy game.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:41 AM   #13
simply Nathan
formerly known as 'Kenneth Latrans'
 
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Location: Wyoming, Michigan
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

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Originally Posted by ClayDowling View Post
So Kenneth, are you in the 313 proper, or are you out in the suburbs like me (in my case, Dexter)?
Actually Detroy is the name of a city in one of the settings I've made and Kenneth Latrans is the name of a character that lives there (in Infinite Worlds I classed it as a Q4 Weird Parallel; Ken himself is a cryokinetic police officer). I named my account after the character rather than the other way around. I sometimes consider asking for a name change or altering my profile to suit reality better.

In reality I live in Wyoming, near Grand Rapids. Same state, different side.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:42 AM   #14
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

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Originally Posted by Gold & Appel Inc View Post
My most successful campaign with my current group was run in a world that one of them built. You could potentially find yourself a me to actually run the thing and be the other guy who wrote the setting if that's what you really want.
Dear lord, this. I have a habit of building settings I probably lack the ability to GM simply because I'd really, really like to play in them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DangerousThing View Post
My biggest mistakes as a GM:
  1. Do not have powerful NPCs go along with the PCs.
  2. Do not have a "GMPC"
  3. When one or more of the players proposes doing something that short-circuits or avoids your planned adventue, don't force them back on track. Ask yourself "why not?"
  4. Practice playing the NPCs.
  5. Create a few NPCs that are designed around the power level you want the PCs to be. Use this to determine the starting CPs. Be generous.
  6. Don't screw over the PCs. It's their story.
Excellent pieces of advice, particularly speaking as a player. A few comments...
  1. The primary GM I've played with had an absolutely horrible habit of having large numbers of super-powerful NPC's populating his worlds, and occasionally had them join the characters... which resulted in said NPC's being the only ones capable of doing anything, resulting in the actual PC's being stuck watching them be awesome.
  2. I had one of these myself during my brief foray into GM'ing, intending to eventually have the GMPC be separated from the rest of the group and later (much, much later) come back as an antagonist/anti-villain (fulfilling a similar narrative role to Magus from Chrono Trigger, although optionally serving as a Patron, not Ally), but the campaign fizzled out. The character was sneakingly stealing the spotlight as it was, however, which was rather problematic.
    Of course, in the longest-running campaign I was in the GM I referenced above actually combined the first two options. I ended up munchkinizing my own character to a ridiculous degree just to keep up, which ended up somewhat-alienating the other players (as they could accomplish essentially nothing) while silmultaneously making the game rather boring for me... so I left (leaving 1 player and the GM; not certain what became of that campaign).
  3. This can require a bit of improvisation, but if you're not very good at that a cheesy solution is to still run the same adventure, just "reskin" it to match what your players are trying for. If their idea was particularly good, give them a tactical advantage. Say they're investigating a missing caravan, and you have an adventure planned where they find the caravan (plus corpses, minus goods) then get ambushed by the brigands. Your plan is for them to defeat the brigands, then track them back to their base. If the players instead opt to head to a cartographer and try to determine where the robbers might be holed up (rather than heading to the caravan itself), and they succeed, have the ambushers instead be sneaking about near the base, and let the characters get the jump on them instead.
  4. I'd imagine things would have gone better if I'd done this, and the only session I played in where the GM appeared to have done so was excellent. Contrariwise, I've had GM's who apparently don't realize their "helpful ally" NPC isn't supposed to come off as "rude, ungrateful prick," and are shocked when the party gets wiped out by an enemy said NPC was meant to help with, due to the party not bothering to get the NPC to help them out.
  5. Additionally, be certain you're clear to your players what you're expecting. There was a thread not long ago with a player trying to create a knight on a mere 80 points (with [20] eaten up in Status). If the GM opted to do what DangerousThing suggests, he would know a knight really isn't doable on 80 points - and if he knew this, he certainly should have made it clear that a knight really wasn't an option in this campaign.
    Of course, if you're running DF, your work is already done for you.
  6. Agreed. There's little worse than an adversarial GM. If your players get their characters into serious trouble, by all means let the chips fall where they may - but don't go out of your way to screw them over, and never put them in an unavoidable situation where they can't win (the GM from [1] did this a few times, and it was always rather annoying; the time we killed off his "unbeatable" opponent was kind of fun, though).

Last edited by Varyon; 01-10-2014 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 01-10-2014, 11:19 AM   #15
simply Nathan
formerly known as 'Kenneth Latrans'
 
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Wyoming, Michigan
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DangerousThing View Post
My biggest mistakes as a GM:
  1. Do not have powerful NPCs go along with the PCs.
  2. Do not have a "GMPC"
  3. When one or more of the players proposes doing something that short-circuits or avoids your planned adventue, don't force them back on track. Ask yourself "why not?"
  4. Practice playing the NPCs.
  5. Create a few NPCs that are designed around the power level you want the PCs to be. Use this to determine the starting CPs. Be generous.
  6. Don't screw over the PCs. It's their story.
In short, "GM unto others as you would have them GM unto you."

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Old 01-11-2014, 08:14 AM   #16
Sir Tifyable
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Sheffield, England
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth Latrans View Post
There's the stereotypical fantasy setting we've all heard of, and apparently some people have played it a great deal. I haven't; I want more exposure to it than I have.Solution: find a game to play in as a player for a while, to gain a better understanding of the setting and of GURPS rules.

I keep wanting to houserule... feel free - GURPS does not demand that you play it all RAW, so make whatever changes you feel will get the campaign working the way you picture it. Just make sure to write them up so that players know them from the start.

I view being a Game Master [...] to be more of a chore than anything else. Why? Think about what you are not looking forward to about it. GMing has its own pleasures: the joy of seeing players' reactions as they work through the adventure, the sense of satisfaction you get when they work out the clues and puzzles you've prepared for them. I can see two downsides you may be worried about: you don't get to play the adventure and solve the problems (hopefully you'll find a group where there is someone willing to share the GMing so you get a chance to be a player too); and that you have to do much more preparation than players - but that's worldbuilding and creativity! So what are you dreading?

I need to be confident in what I can and will do and able to set a scheduled time to play before I try bringing a group together. Yes, but hopefully spending more time as a player will help you find contacts to be that group as well as a better grasp on game mechanics.

Hex maps are a little bit of a sticking point for meThen forget them: set up minis on anything you can use to draw the terrain on, whether that is a whiteboard or the back of a sheet of wallpaper, and estimate the distances and angles. Exact precision not required.

...the miniatures I have available... again, not important. Especially if you are not playing face to face! Minis are markers for position in the game-world: it doesn't matter if a 1930s triggerman is represented by a Tyrannosaurus twice the size of your PC characters. So many of my monsters in the early days were represented by those same six Giant Rats! Just remember their sizes and species to make sure that they don't contravene the laws of physics: an actual Tyrannosaur passing through a revolving door, for example..

I don't think I have what it takes to wing the stats for monsters on the fly Then don't. I don't, and I've been GMing various systems for many years. Make sure they are in your notes.

I'm also not sure if my first attempt at GMing should be set in such a weird world or if I should try to stick to something more familiar. As long as the house-rules are clear, one world is no more weird than the next. Run the game you want to run, that will help with your confidence. And you will instinctively know answers to many questions because it is your world, while you may be hesitant about making a call if everyone else is expecting the 'standard' setting. But you do need to make the societal norms and rules clear to players so their characters don't end up doing something stupid like insulting a Samurai.
And the key is: preparation. Luckily, you like worldbuilding, so you will enjoy that. Make sure that when you do start up a campaign, the players know what is going on.

I'm planning to start a new campaign soon, and I have the world view ready to go. It's a 1930s dieselpunk game, and the world-view is about 12 pages of the history of the world since the end of my previous 1880s steampunk game. Some people will tell you that is too much, but I enjoyed writing it, the process helped me clarify some details of the world, and the players don't have to read it if they don't want to. It won't be killing any trees or waste any face-to-face time as I'll be distributing it electronically, along with a four-page campaign outline telling the players the campaign background, patron, what kind of characters they can play, new houserules for this campaign, etc.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:45 PM   #17
DAT
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

I like the suggestion of GURPS Lite with Caravan to Ein Arris as a good starting adventure to try.

I would try to keep the number of player small 1 to 3, to give you less to try to keep track of.

Keeping the number of disadvantages down would be good too. Rather than 3 to 6 125+62+5 (max 192), I would go with:
3 to 6: 170+25+5 (max 200);
2 players: 195+25+5 (max 225); or
1 player: 220+25+5 (max 250).
For 1 or 2 players, suggest Allies.

Making practice characters, as either test NPCs or Pregrens is a good idea.

Make sure you read through everything a couple of times. Take notes, use a highlighter, make a cheat sheet, or do what ever works best for you.

Run the test NPCs/Pregens through the major combats is a good idea too.

If you have a few bucks, get Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastering (available at e23); or if you can find it on the web, get/read Uncle Figgy's Guide to Good Game Mastering.

Best advice is to ask specific questions here on the sjg forum.

-Dan
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:14 PM   #18
Refplace
 
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Location: Yukon, OK
Default Re: So I've Never GMed before...

In my experiance the keys to a good campaign have ben mostly stated above but I will hit a few for emphasis.
1. Prepare but do not overprepare. The players often want to do things you did not think of or expected them not to. This is where a broad outline and brush can help you quickly fill in the new area or NPCs without seeming to have improvised it. Pretend like you had it planned all along. Its ok to tell them later but during the game provide the illusion it is all going according to plan. Smile evilly at appropriate times.

2. Keep notes. Write down key details and random ideas during the game. Just quick notes no book or nothing that slows down play. A LOT of my best ideas came from my players.

3. Your the world builder and designer but its a group authoring effort. Let the players steer the campaign. Call for pizza breaks or stall sometimes if your really stuck but try to have material you can use on hand for any situation.

4. Dont overprepare. really you can easily do this. The trouble with overpreparing is you can waste a lot of time on unexplored options and you may feel like pushing the players towards things you made just so the effort was not wasted. Do not be afraid to recycle! Change a name or personality trait of an NPC and you have a fresh one ready to go. Make some generic NPCs to cover various roles but most NPC can be made on the fly in seconds.
Remember youd ont need to worry about points, just skill levels in key skills and maybe combat ability. Prepare generics for the latter and the time consuming work is done. recycle as needed.
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