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Thread: GM Tips, Tricks, & General Advice

  1. #21

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    I've been lurking here too. This thread has given me a new appreciation for the amount of work and time that goes into making a game. It will probably be a while before I try to run my own game.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by vitor210 View Post
    I've been following this thread and I realy like it, a lot of good tips for GM.

    I have a question, though: if, for instance, a GM is using the Forgotten Realms lore and locations, is it ok for him to "make up" places that are not mentioned in said maps or any other book related to Forgotten Realm? And how about the lore itself, can the GM alter it for the purpose of the campaing he's playing? Like, for instance, in a certain campaign the GM is creating, the adventurers are told about a great war between 2 powerfull cities that happend centuries before their time, cities that, in the context of the campaign are real and the players visit it, but in the Forgotten Realms maps their's no mention of them nor in the lore about the great war.

    I hope you understand my question
    Absolutely. Any published material be it setting, adventure path or what have you is just a jumping off point. You can and will likely have to make some of it up yourself. Especially with adventuring material. The longer you play in it the more your PCs are going to jump off the rails, and its best to let them take the lead in any kind of game. I keep a simple word document with named items, stores, etc that I've mentioned to the PCs. That way I don't forget them.

    My own campaign is set primarily within a single city of the massive Pathfinder setting of Golarion. I'd say that around half of the places my players visit in that city, and around a third of the major NPCs are my own contribution to the game. I created them either because there was a need for them, or because I thought it would improve the game. I doubt my players can tell which things are published and which I created, I try to integrate them as smoothly as possible.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gshannon View Post
    I've been lurking here too. This thread has given me a new appreciation for the amount of work and time that goes into making a game. It will probably be a while before I try to run my own game.
    It is a fair amount of work, but very rewarding when you see everyone enjoying what you've built.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

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    I have a question myself Cail: How do you as a GM deal with stuff that has nothing to do with the actual Campaign? Like how you do with the side stories for our characters, how do you decide to give us bonus abilities/items that might accidentally break the main campaign?

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Tempest View Post
    I have a question myself Cail: How do you as a GM deal with stuff that has nothing to do with the actual Campaign? Like how you do with the side stories for our characters, how do you decide to give us bonus abilities/items that might accidentally break the main campaign?
    Hey Blue, thanks for visiting.

    There are two separate questions here: How do I create the side quests and how do I decide on rewards.

    Side Quests: Actually I take my cues from you guys. For instance with Lazlo (a sorcerer with the dragon bloodline) you role played your character as being very curious about his own mysterious background. How did he get his powers? Why is he a sorcerer at all? Since this was something you were interested in I created a backstory for him that will probably require the bulk of the adventure path for you to fully unravel. I dole it out in hints and rumors and let it be a persistent element of the game. Koral is interested in stealing stuff, so her side quests will likely involve that. Paizo's adventure path's ( my campaign is one of their published ones ) also suggest some side quests based on major NPCs.

    Side quests are a critical part of campaigns. A Game Master should never forget that the campaign, whether published or homebrewed is about the PCs. I'll repeat: It's not about the plot. It's about the PCs.

    Next, rewards:

    Most of the rewards you guys get in game are written in the AP. There are also some excellent guidelines for total character wealth in the PRD, right HERE

    I'd definitely recommend following those guidelines, and also to run encounters for a group until they are at least level 2 before adding in any magical equipment. Also, try to restrict the items your PCs can buy because that opens up all kinds of crazy builds that can easily be game breakers. There are some good tips for how to do that HERE

    The last thing is don't worry too much about it. If it seems to break the game, just don't allow it. If it gets in there despite your best efforts you're still the game master. Maybe the item's original owner shows up to claim it, or it gets broken in combat. Or you can always just make tougher encounters.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  6. Default

    Ok that explains material awards. But what about actual Status rewards? like when you gave me that extra point of Strenght.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Tempest View Post
    Ok that explains material awards. But what about actual Status rewards? like when you gave me that extra point of Strenght.
    Bonus abilities are just another type of reward. Getting a sword +1 and getting a +1 to strength aren't that different. Well... the strength point is a little better I suppose. Maybe around a +2 item.

    Giving a +1 strength to a non-melee character probably isn't going to break the game, and it contributes to the uniqueness and back story of your character in the particular event you are describing.

    I think its interesting how players are always trying to build that "unique" character. Unique characters aren't built, they are grown in game. That's the reason I always try to get my players to tell me where they envision their characters going.
    Last edited by cailano; 09-22-2012 at 11:58 PM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

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    Ok, here's the big question. The biggest problem that can come across a GM is the eventual "off-the-rails" situation. The characters go in the complete opposite direction, or is using the wrong information to follow or by some freak accident they attack and/or kill someone important in the campaign.

    What do you do? What do you do?

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Tempest View Post
    Ok, here's the big question. The biggest problem that can come across a GM is the eventual "off-the-rails" situation. The characters go in the complete opposite direction, or is using the wrong information to follow or by some freak accident they attack and/or kill someone important in the campaign.

    What do you do? What do you do?
    You follow the players, and have faith in your ability to get the story back online.

    Usually when you post a recruitment ad you talk a little about what the game is about. The players that sign up are interested in that type of game. So in general, they WANT to go along with what you have planned. If you recruit for a game about hunting dragons, it is unlikely your players will expect a deep role playing experience about managing a local fiefdom. That being said, there is no reason you can't deliver that along with hunting dragons, its all up to you.

    Players go "off the rails" all the time though, and its usually because they aren't sure what to do next. I find the best thing to do is to drop hints, and if that doesn't work, have an NPC come in and basically suggest what to do next. Make the "rails" more interesting than off the rails.

    If they kill someone important to the campaign, you just have to make a new NPC.

    The thing to be careful with is that you allow your players the ability to fundamentally alter the campaign setting. If they kill off an important NPC, make that a part of the game. If they want to pursue a side quest running an emerald mining operation, don't tell them they can't do it. In fact, tie it into the main plot if you can. Hunting dragons and the players want to mine emeralds? Funny... but that mine connects to an old dwarven kingdom (now run by isolated and evil dwarves of course) who have in their lore a story about the lair of the most powerful dragon of all...

    Remember, you aren't working against the players. Sometimes it seems like they are working against you and if that actually becomes the case you have to take whoever is being a problem aside and tell him or her to find something else to do. Usually though, they just want a) more attention or b) to pursue a side quest. Be careful with the former because it can leave other players feeling left out, but go ahead and let them when it comes to the latter.

    Ultimately, the story is about the PCs. You can't and don't want to force them to do anything. Let them take the lead and good things will happen. Remember, just because they are leading doesn't mean you can't guide them in the direction you want. RPGs are cooperative.
    Last edited by cailano; 09-23-2012 at 12:29 AM.
    Want to be a Game Master? Training and Tips at The D Academy

    In retrospect, Marcy probably did the right thing. After all, she did let Black Leaf die.

  10. #30

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    Brilliant Answer! Thanks.

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