PDA

View Full Version : My 1st Job as a GM, Tell me what you think...



IvinesK
22 July 2002, 08:37 PM
The other day I as a GM held my very 1st roleplaying game using the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. I simply would like you to tell me what you think about it so that I may improve on it and make my future game sessions better. It's small and there's no real story, but that's because I planned it as a practice session (the players later voted and it became a real game). Anyways, without further ado:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Star Wars: Practice Session #1 - Cargo Bay Under Fire

You arrive in a cargo bay of a capitol ship, on duty as a guard (or guards) to make sure nothing happens to the precious cargo. Your employers have offered a rather lucrative payment. Surely nothing can go wrong today. As you stand there on the Eastern side of the room next to the doorway, you notice there is definitely a lot of cargo. There are yellow barrels (presumably full of exotic or dangerous chemicals) in the corner of the room to your left piled in neat stacks almost all the way to the ceiling. Also, on the far Northwestern corner, you can see even more barrels, although these have not been stacked. They seem to be spread apart about every 2 meters or so. To your right you notice that there is a docking bay door, and you can see out to the beautiful stars outside. Other than the barrels and the docking bay door, you see nothing else of interest. The cargo bay itself seems to be about 20 m x 20 m. and is about 30 m high. What do you do?

Search Check vs. DC 5 to notice the tiny flammable symbols on the barrels.
-You see some small markings on several of the barrels. They appear to be illustrations of a flame with a universal “no sign” overlaid on top of it.

Spot Check vs. DC 10 to notice the large freighter flying towards the open hangar.
-You notice something coming from the docking bay door. As you peer out you notice a rather large freighter coming towards the entrance, not slowing down in the least. What do you do?

The freighter crashes into the cargo bay with the sound of wrenching metal. It slams into the Southern wall stopping suddenly and destroying the front of the ship. Several of the barrels fall from their stacked positions threatening to crush those near by.

Balance Check vs. DC 20 due to the impact of the incoming freighter or fall prone.
-The impact of the freighter causes a large shudder to ripple through the hangar bay. You fall prone as your legs come out from underneath you.

Reflex save vs. DC 15 (DC 19 if prone) to avoid falling barrels
-A barrel falls from a nearby stack and lands on top of you. You take damage from the impact.

Reflex save vs. DC 15 to halve the flying shrapnel damage.
-You get hit by several shards of razor sharp shrapnel from the crashed freighter. You take 4d6+1 points of damage.

In the next instant you see the door to the ship blast open. You also see smoke coming from the entrance. What do you do?

A man in a flight suit comes running out of the ship, screaming hysterically “Run for your lives! They’ve escaped!” With that, a bright flash of red light momentarily blinds you; then you hear a blood-curdling scream. The man slumps to the floor with a disturbing thud. You can see deep scorch marks in the center of his back. What do you do?

Search Check vs. DC 10 or higher to notice blaster pistol in his holster
-You see a blaster pistol in a holster around his waist.

As the smoke clears from the entrance to the ship, you can clearly see what made the scorch mark in the man’s back: a droid. It is about 2 meters tall and is standing in the doorway. It is circular in shape, has 3 legs and 3 beady, red eyes staring down upon you complete with 2 heavy repeating blasters equipped to its arms—also staring down upon you.

At this point the battle scene begins. Everyone rolls initiative.

Notes: 1) The barrels have a Defense Bonus of 5, Damage Reduction of 10, and 12 Wound Points. They detonate when they are reduced to 0 Wound points. There really is nothing the players can do to stop the crash. 2) Any attempts to stop it automatically fail. If any of the characters are in the flight path of the freighter, they must make a Reflex Save against DC 35 or take 4d4 points of ramming damage and may be pinned underneath the ship. It takes a Strength Check DC 50 to unpin the character. Roll 3d10-3 to determine how many meters the barrel fell from its stack. Both the barrel and the character take 1d6 points of wound damage for every four meters that it fell (damage reduction applies). 3) A second Reflex Saving Throw with the same DC may make the wound damage vitality damage instead. If the barrel is destroyed it will detonate dealing 2d8 points of damage to all those within 4 meters (damage reduction applies). 4) It takes a move-equivalent action to grab and arm oneself with the pistol.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DESTROYER DROID STATS
Stats: Init –1; Defense 15 (+4 class, +1 Dex); DR 3; Spd 4 m, wheel mode 25 m; VP/WP 0/15; Atk +13/+8/+3 melee (1d4+1, appendage) or +13/+8/+3 ranged (4d8/19-20, heavy repeating blaster); SV Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +3; SZ M; Face/Reach 2 m by 2 m/2 m; Rep +3; Str 13, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 8, Cha 6
Equipment: Light armor, two heavy repeating blasters, shields (DR 9), & remote processor.
Skills: Listen 5 ranks, Speak Basic, Spot 5 ranks
Feats: Ambidexterity, Armor Proficiency (light), Multishot, Point Black Shot, Rapid Shot, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Group Proficiencies (blaster pistols, heavy weapons, simple weapons).

Notes: Firing blasters with Multishot gives it’s attacks +7/+7/+7/+2/-3 for the 1st blaster and +7/+7 for the 2nd blaster. Firing blasters with the Rapid Shot feat gives it’s attacks +5/+5/+5/+5/+0/-5 for the 1st blaster and +5/+5 for the 2nd blaster.

All pf the players consist of 1st level characters: a Wookie Scout, a Gungan Tech Specialist, a Kel Dor Jedi Guardian, a Kel Dor Soldier, & a Zabrak Jedi Guardian.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Okay, now here's what happened in a nutshell: Two of the players, after the ship crashed and there were a few injuries and 1 dead pilot, readied actions to attack whatever would come out of the ship.

As the Destroter Droid came out of the ship, the Wookie went first. With his baton he charged in a mad Wookie rage (which effectively made his strength a 24) he landed a critical and was supposed to kill the damn thing in one hit. However, not wanting it to be so easy and give all the glory to the Wookie, I lied. The next character, the Zabrak Jedi Guardian used Force Strike, and did a little extra damage. Then the other Jedi Guardian, a Kel Dor went. He circled around the ship to sneak up on it. He successfully snuck upon it, and attacked it with his lightsaber. Bypassing the Damage Reduction, he sliced it in half. The other players (The Gungan Tech Specialist and the Kel Dor Soldier didn't even get a chance to go). I couldn't lie this time around because 1 of the players saw the wound points of the Destroyer Droid (Don't worry I penalized him). He told the group and the players that played the Kel Dor Jedi Guardian and Wookie Scout about it and they got into a fistfight about who actually killed it. All in all it was a weird game. It was made so it could go into any era. Now, due to the fact that they all went before the Destroyer Droid, it didn't have a chance. However, if it did, the players would have been slaughtered outright with it's amount of attacks and damage reduction with it's shields activated.

They all (even the players that didn't go) got enough experience to get to 3rd level, however, since the rules state that you can only go up 1 level per adventure, they are all 2nd level heroes now and 1 point away from being 3rd level.

After the game they voted on what era they wanted it to be in. It's come out to be the Rebellion Era. This is kind of cool because it gives me plenty of ideas of why they were attacked by a destroyer droid (The Empire sent it to kill the two new found Jedi and Wookie [which is supposed to be enslaved] and throws the other two players into this loophole of "the Empire is after you, beware!" kind of thing) and what I could do later on...

So, How'd I do?

Grimace
22 July 2002, 10:10 PM
Overall, I'd say you did pretty good. A couple of things of mention (in my book) are:

First off, don't let your wookie player jump into that "wookie rage" for every combat. Make sure that there's a good reason for the wookie to do it, as it seems rather ludicrous to think that every time a wookie gets into combat, it's in a wookie rage state. Think of it as when close friends are in great danger, or if the wookie has taken damage and the enemy seems like it's so powerful that only a raging fit will stand a chance against it.

Secondly, good call on not having the first attack take out the droid. Unfortunately all of the players got to go first, so the end result was the same. Fudging some things is important to learn, though, as you'll have to do it in the future both for the main NPCs and for the players (so you don't casually snuff a player with an accidental amazing roll).

Third, and this is one that I'd correct RIGHT AWAY. Don't let your players ever see your notes in game. I'm not sure if you're just lacking a GM screen, or if the player actually looked around the screen, but if the result is a fight between your players, you've GOT to stop people from looking at your stuff. Either get a GM screen or sit further away from your players so that they can't casually look and see. Also explain to the offending person that if they intentionally look again (assuming the look was intentional) you'll have to kick them out. I wouldn't put up with it, especially if it causes fights within the group.

Fourth, you might want to try to fudge the way combat rounds are run, especially with something like the Destroyer droids. Perhaps let it make half of it's attacks after half of the players have made their moves. Basically try to keep the action fluid so that the bad guys don't just sit there while the good guys run roughshod over them. Mix things up a bit. This is actually a skill that will come with time...you'll get the feel of when to fudge the action a little and when not to. As the combat you mentioned happened, I wouldn't have felt very threatened by the "main threat" (the droid) since it was snuffed in the first round of combat. Remember that you don't necessarily have to make all of your attacks as the droid, especially if you think the challenge might be too powerful from the get go. Just don't make things too easy on the players.

Finally, and this is just my personal preference, I'd apply experience based on what actually happened. Only three characters effectively attacked the thing, so only three characters should receive experience. Also, considering that the droid did absolutely nothing to them, I wouldn't issue full points for the thing. In the beginning, levels should be fairly easy, but gaining a level and nearly a second one in a single adventure is WAY too much experience. Keep those points toned down otherwise you'll have to contend with super characters and the balance problem associated with that in the near future.

Hope this helps.

scottyboy
23 July 2002, 05:23 AM
I agree with Grimace, it was very good for your first time. One thing struck me as funny though. I would think that a ship crashing into a PC at a high rate of speed, would do a little more than 4d4 points of damage. That just seems a little on the low side. I would think that if the characters got hit by the ship, they would be dead. But I know that you don't want to kill your characters 10 minutes into the first session you've ever run (if you did, you probably wouldn't be running too many sessions in the future!) So, I would say that if they did make the check to notice the incoming ship, give them a strong bonus to dodge it. If they don't make it, then there are a million ways that you could "fudge" that one. That was really the only thing that I noticed that Grimace didn't already mention. Good job man, keep it up you'll get the hang of it!

IvinesK
23 July 2002, 06:52 AM
Thank you very much, I really appreciate the input. I had my brother help me out a little bit on the game (He DMs for the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting) though. He's the one that came up with the starship damage. According to him, that's what he looked up in the book, so I just went with it.

I was kind of afraid they'd all get slaughtered, not because of the droid, but because of all the saving throws some of them had to make. Take for example, everyone fell over from the ship crash, and had to use a move action to stand up. However, they (at least those by the door on the East wall, which was effectively half of them) had to make reflex saves with a penalty due to being prone or get torn up by flying shrapnel. Nobody was hit by the crashing ship so that's good to know. But at least two of them got torn up (not dead, just really hurt) from the flying shrapnel.

As for my next idea I intend for the Empire to send in one of the bounty hunters from the movie. I was thinking IG-88 (Look up his description on the Star Wars Database in the droids section-Expanded Universe, if you haven't already. His story is so cool) or maybe that Trandoshan Bounty Hunter they showed for a moment in Episode 5.

In either case the bounty hunter will be powerful enough for them not to kill him/it. I intend for him to survive for the movie and maybe come back later for a final confrontation when the players are a little more powerful.

So, what about all you other people out there? What do you think of it?

joshuadivine
23 July 2002, 07:23 AM
A couple of things-

1. Try to describe what the characers see, but not what they feel. Don't say "the beautiful stars". Describe the stars and let them decide how they feel about the stars.

2. You really need to do some extensive starwars reading. It is $50 but you can get The Starwars Encyclopedia. You should know that that Trandoshan is Bossk, the second most deadly bounty hunter. Just browse books and comics. picking up any information you can.

3. You don't need to make search or spot checks for insignificant things like flames on barrels. You can just say that is there. It makes everything run a lot smoother.
Please rate me after reading the post.

scottyboy
23 July 2002, 07:51 AM
I think that instead of using one of the pre-created characters from the SWU, like Bossk, you should try to create one of your own. Make it a reoccuring character. Someone that your players will grow to hate, but love at the same time. Someone powerful enough to pose a threat to the players, but not powerful enough to obliterate them. Don't overuse him either. Use him frequently at first, then slowly start to make him sort of "fade out". Then when it seems like he's gone forever, bring him back for the "final confrontation". Now keep in mind that this could take a while to do, several campaign's if you like. That's just my opinion. Back when I had a group to game with, I did that, and it got to the point where my players didn't really want him to be "killed". They wanted to fight him, and win, but they enjoyed his part in their "universe" so much that they didn't want him gone forever. But now he's just part of the archives (especially since my group has long since broken up!)! Well, hope this helped a little. Let me know if you want to do this and I could give you some tips on creating him!

proxima centauri
23 July 2002, 09:27 AM
You probably did better than I did on my 1st GM game so what I say here is based on my still growing experience.

Unless the PC readied their weapon right when the NPC came out crying, I would have ruled that they are surprised, and a surprised round would occur, allowing only one action from the PC part and then you could have used the fact they were all flat-footed, so they couldn't use their Dex bonus for Defense. Or anyway, there is no way I would let my PCs have the initiative on the droid, I mean they have no idea of what's going on.

I can understand why you didn't though. The destroyer droids are meat grinders, which brings me to my second comment.

Challenge rating.

Although your PC miraculously survived this encounter, they should all have died in a couple of rounds. And with all the goodies around (barrels and all the like). Now, I don't know what your intentions were, but this can be a dangerous game to play if you don't want to kill your PCs.
I myself used a destroyer droid in my 1st game, it was positioned at one end of a corridor and was supposed to create a threatened zone where my players would not dare to go. Of course, they outwitted me and went another way, but that's another story. At 1st level, I would have had killed them in an instant.

I try to make my combats last more than one round. If one destroyer droid was not enough, send two more ;) j/k.

As for XPs, as a rule of thumb, from 1st level, to 2nd level should be more or less easy. I mean, 1st level characters in the SW universe are really prone to dying with only one dice of vitality points. So they should level-up in the 1st or 2nd game session. It gives players the chance to flesh out and differentiate characters as they tend to be the same at 1st level espescially Jedi characters. Thereafter, I try to make them leve up every 2 or 3 sessions. If you make them level too fast, you're just inflating the encounters, it's not any more or any less fun. Let your players enjoy their PCs levels and feel that they improve when they level up, otherwise, they just get power hungry.

Other than that, I think your setting was great. Very action oriented, just like my PC like :)

Like others said, try to keep the skill checks to a minimum unless it is crucial. Like it has been said, try to picture the scene for yourself, when entering the cargo, your eyes would see the flames, right? unless they were faint. anyway, just ideas.

LiquidSaber
23 July 2002, 09:39 AM
Good cinematic bent the IvinesK I like but there are a couple things I thought I should note.

You had a hazard (the shrapnel) at 4d6+1 which is rated as an extreme encounter for the party of 1st level heroes (page 256 RCR for the section on challenge codes for a party of 4 at the appropriate level)

It does not seem very sporting for the poor pilot to gacked so soon perhaps you could make a crash like that more cinematic.

Now about the destroyer droid. It's challenge code is F on the chart it shows that this is an extreme encounter for 9th-11th level characters to deal with. Mayhaps abit over the heads for a group of 1st level characters eh?

A couple things you might want to note about the destroyer:

The destroyer droid has shields you seem to have neglected. A destroyer droid automatically has its shields activated once it has unfolded from its wheel-mode. (360 degrees btw) The shield has DR 9 and this works against lightsabers as it is a shield and not armor.

Also it may have taken a bit longer than a round for any character to sneak around and get the jump on the destroyer from behind (negating its dex bonus only)

For the wookie to be able to damage was pretty lucky he may have bypassed the shields and their DR but the droid still has armor DR though its only a 3.

Likely as not the destroyer would have had a turn and there would be one fried wookie and friends...


(btw thanks goes out to Grimace for his advice and saving my keister, we're here to encourage people. My first version sounded too critical. Sorry to all!)

Grimace
23 July 2002, 12:39 PM
Liquidsaber, please take a moment and realize that this is a "first" GM attempt. Be careful how you phrase things, as you're being quite critical of someone that may or may not know about the challenge codes, much less have any idea on what is too deadly. Offering helpful advice is much better than criticizing and calling a person who's new "unfair".

You brought up some good points, but some of them may have been lost due to the tone of your post. Balance is important in games, and the GM should be somewhat familiar with the bad guys that he is going to use.

Let's keep things helpful, please.

LiquidSaber
23 July 2002, 01:54 PM
Absolutely correct grimace my apologies to IvinesK and all, I'm afraid I had to leave abruptly and could not finish me post.

Grimace is correct what I posted was a tad to critical for even my taste *gasp* and I'm embarrassed (is what I get for leaving on the fly).

I must remark that for a first time GM your adventure was remarkably well structured IvinesK and you definately seem to have a good grasp on the feel a game should have and the "feel" of grandeur and action a good GM imparts to his players.

Though mayhaps you may want to check again on them silly challenge codes eh? :p

No worries.

IvinesK
23 July 2002, 05:56 PM
1) To Scottyboy- After my last post I looked up the Trandoshan Bounty Hunter on the Databank and know that it is Bossk. I have decided not to use him.

2) To Joshuadivine- I didn't intend to tell them what they feel, but I know these players. They're from my brother's game and are almost completely devoid of feeling in a game. To them it's just do the action, come up with a cool result. Besides, I was trying to describe to them what they saw. Their characters just all happened to agree the stars were beautiful. That's all. Thanks though. No thanks on the $50 book. I'll just stick to the databank. Oh, and the flame symbols, well, I guess you were right. Because no one even bothered.

3) To Proxima Centauri & Liquidsaber- I know it's a lot of stuff for 1st level characters. These players have had lot of experience before and I wanted to make it decently hard. However, after we did the game, my brother and I looked up how hard the destroyer droid really was and were like "oh my God..." That's why they're all 1 point from 3rd level. I may change the way I give experience later on but I'll leave it for now due to the fact that the players are usually better with higher level characters (They are with D&D anyways).

Really, thanks for the input you all. I really do appreciate it. So, for those of you who have given me input is THANK YOU. For those of you who haven't, keep them coming, I want lots of opinions. Oh, and some ideas for future games might be nice too.

Here's a starter for why the Empire hates them: The Empire wants this party found and dead. I mean come on, it consists of 2 jedi, a wookie, and a soldier that stole an Emperial starfighter (custom made), not to mention the Tech Specialist, who just happened to repair and use the destroyer droid for her own purposes. This whole game took place in the Rebellion Era! The whole Galaxy (well, most of it anyways) is going to try to flush them down the toilet. So, help me think a little, okay.

Ravager_of_worlds
25 July 2002, 09:40 AM
I'd agree with the 1 round sneak. being aware of movement/action is all important in star wars for both belieavability and balance in the game.

however, i'd give the characters the benefit of anonymity for the meantime- the galactic empire is huge, all encompassing and functions through bureacracies. these office workers takes a while to work- which means the characters could become part of the 10 most wanted list- but they will have to do something to 'earn' that distinction. just having 2 jedi in the group... which btw, your players should have really really GOOD reasons they get Jedi in the rebellion era...

everyone else have great recommendations- but i'd disagree with Grimace on "fudging" the combat round; initiative checks are critical in combat and is random enough already. I wouldn't fudge the initiative checks after they have been established just so the NPC gets a shot in. If you feel a bit slighted... think about allowing certain NPCs to "take 10" for their initiative checks instead of rolling it. they are more assured to have a place between characters, which is closer to real life and the movies anyway. however, i do agree with the people advocating the knowledge of movement/action above. that is the real way a GM can make sure their NPCs have a chance to 'threaten' the characters.

just one question though... an extreme encounter (destroyer droid) is less than 1,000 base for 1st level characters i think. how does that divide between 5 players? Really, the only real challenge is the droid- the starship crash/boarding is more... um... cinematic. A saving throw could be XP worthy... but falling barrels? they should just count themselves lucky they didn't break a bone or something.

all in all, you did a good job for your first time around. but since your players are D&Ders... make sure they realize they are playing STAR WARS. and the tactics in D&D doen't translate 100%. The Standard Operating Procedures are different- as they should be. Best o luck.

IvinesK
25 July 2002, 05:34 PM
Okay, thank you!:)

Jaggard
25 July 2002, 06:42 PM
well you might consider:
The destroyer is obviously sub par. No sheilds and a slow start on combat. It might have a pit droid brain. Or it's real function is not really to attack and destroy the characters but to attack if possible but the majority of the system is designed to observe the party and relay reports of the apearance and fighting abilities of the characters. Now you can send a real villian that seems to know who get the best initiative and who is more likely to sneak up behind. Initially they may not have really been the target. There may have been valuble cargo onboard for the rebellion. The hauler obviously thought it was valuble enough to pay hansomely and to hire a soldier two jedi and the others. Why did he hire a scout and a tech specialist for flamables. There may be something more he's not telling. Maybe he is hiding something in smuggleing compartments. Something that requires tracking abilities, and a tech to fix or maintain the thing or it's containment setup. Maybe he was shiping nothing you were all duped by a slaver who promised you income for watching lighter fluid and was just about ready to knock you out with a gas in the cargo bay disarm and shackle you and then sell you at the next planet and the destroyer droid was sent by rebel (or imperial) forces to rescue you in hopes that they could get new agents for their side.
Or maybe all of the above. Man that would be nuts.
Adventure above all else, the numbers are just ther for chance. It's a movie where they decide what happens and enjoy the adventure. Fudge when you need to and just because it taste good.

IvinesK
26 July 2002, 07:06 AM
Well, Jaggard, those are some really nice ideas you've got there. I've actually already thought up of the idea of the droid relaying images to the Empire to let them know about the players, and then sending somebody more powerful (as I've mentioned, probably a bounty hunter). But I didn't come anywhere close to your other ideas. Just like everybody else, thank you! And keep them coming.

Lord Diggori
26 July 2002, 09:45 AM
This is a good example of starting a campaign with a bang, IvinesK. Kudos to the new GM. :D I won't give you specific things you could throw into adventures cause I dont know you're style really. I can though give you a frame of mind I have found useful in my years of GMing. "Teach a man to fish..." you know.

Turning this encounter into a larger story involves simply fleshing out answers to the general questions your audience (the players) could ask: Who was the ship's pilot? Where did the droid come from? Why did it attack? Etc.

Once these are answered and interconnected in your own mind they'll form the story arc that the PC's will deal with.
Each adventure starts out with a new hook (a piece of the arc) that requires a PC reaction.
Each reaction leads them to a new encounter which leads to another reaction and encounter.
All of these gradually show the big picture based on the choices of the PC protagonists. This is how camapigns form best and easiest, IMHO.

I recommend instead of looking up and noting each required DC (draining after a while) name DC's on the spot. First off know how good the PC is at a skill so that you can describe the task properly.
Remeber: Average Joe P. Galaxy (like us) usually rolls a 10 on most checks, 5 on his off days, 15 when he's in the zone, and will tell his grand kids about the day he did a thing worthy of a DC 20. Accordingly, most of the tasks PC's attempt deserve a description that will boggle the mind of your players (and it should ;) ).

10 plus the skill, ability, or attack modifier = the average roll a PC will make (AvR). The level of challenge you want determines the DC.
For common to tricky stuff the DC = AvR to AvR +5
For hard to miracle stuff the DC = AvR+6 to AvR+10, you cant roll higher than this.
If something is sorta easy DC = AvR-1 to AvR-5, if even easier dont bother asking them to roll just show'em what it is.

I hope I haven't bored you with alot of stuff you already know.

imrtl
26 July 2002, 05:31 PM
I would say pretty good for your first session, here are a few GMing tips that I like to pass along to new GM's

Of course all of these may not apply. Just remember the most important thing is that everyone has fun.


1) Railroading - never force your characters to take a certain track.
2) NPC in the spotlight - If you have Npc's never let them steal the show from the PC's
3) Rewards - Be careful when dishing out rewards, not all rewards need to be monetary, just surviving could be reward. assign experience based on the threat to the PC's not just because some book says its worth X amount. If your PC's kill a major encounter with little or no danger to themselves then they should receive much less if any xp.
4) Details to death - While some detail is a good thing, too much will kill a game.
5) GM vs PC - you are not against the PC's or with the PC's you are neutral and telling a story
6) My way or the highway - Its your world as the GM, but at the same time get a feel for how the players want to play and try to join the 2 into something thats fun for all
7) Rules Lawyers - We all have seen them and know what they are. You as the GM are the only rules lawyer for you game. Make sure the players understand that you probably have interpreted the rules differently than they have. And don't let a rules arguement stop game play, make a decision and tell them that it will be discussed after the session if they wish to discuss it.
8) Roll-play or Role-Play -- Personally I like to Role-play, dice are nice for adding randomness and things but don't dwell on dice rolling for everything. Also I reward role-playing in my games those characters get more xp, than those that don't role-play.
9) Create a world not an adventure - Personally I say create a vast world for the PC's to live in, and the adventures will tend to themselves. If a world is alive The PC's will usually find trouble without much help from the GM. Of course when creating your world pay attention to number 4 above.

As for campaign ideas, start small with just a few mini adventures and allow the compaign to evolve normally, remember not every villian fights to the death, and not every villian will want to kill the PC's. Recurring villians are some of the most memorable for parties at least in my experience.

Well hope you found this useful

IvinesK
27 July 2002, 07:54 AM
Okay, you guys give so much input it's almost too much! Anyways here's my reply to Lord Diggori & imrtl:

Lord Diggori-

I have fleshed out some of the answers to the questions you've mentioned already. Here's what they are:

1) The pilot was simply a pilot. His role was to deliver the cargo to the bay, he did that, rather successfully and unsuccessfully.

2) The droid came from the Empire. It was sent in to scout out any rebels, and kill them. Once finding out the pilot was a rebel, it killed the pilot and crashed into the very ship it was being taken to. Once there, it found a very big cash load of Imperialistic enemies, namely the players. Due to this fact and the orders it was given, it attacked and RECORDED the players in action before it was destroyed. So now the Empire knows about 2 rogue Jedi, an unenslaved wookiee, a soldier who they identify as stealing an Imperial ship & blowing up an Imperial facility, and also the unlucky Tech Specialist caught in the middle of it all.

As for the DCs, I think I did fine with them (albeit a little too many of them).

And no, you didn't bore me in the least, even though I do already know it. ;)

imrtl-

1) I know I'm not supposed to railroad PCs, I know this because I've actually tried to do it to them before (in a D&D practice session, not SWRPG). Believe you me, I know how bad it can get.

2) I won't ever do that.

3) I know this, and I've already said that this will probably change.

4) I try to only give enough detail to explain their surroundings, since we don't use a grid or map.

5) I know this also. I went against the players in that D&D Practice Session mentioned earlier, and they all hated me for it. So I know not to do this. As for being lenient (If that's how you spell it; is it?), I obviously did that in the last session mentioned fully in this thread. I didn't much like that either. So that's how I know this and I will definitely keep it in mind.

6) The only problem I have with this is my brother. Since he's a DM for D&D, he feels he should be able to know things about SWRPG and work with me. This isn't such a bad thing, because he does help at times (He helped me with the above adventure). But he does have a tendency to try to get better stuff then the other players or figure out what our future in-game plans are. I simply wish he wouldn't do this as a player.

7) I wish I knew this one when they started fighting over who killed the Destroyer Droid...

8) I'm neutral on this one. For 1, as mentioned above, I'll try not to have so many mundane things (such as the flammable barrel search check, etc.). For 2, as I've said about the adventure, only some of the players got to go, not all. I feel that it would be wrong to give all the experience to those who role/roll-played and none to those who didn't even get the chance.

9) Why should I have to create a world when it's all right there before me (i.e. the Star Wars Universe)? I like to keep it small and contained. Kind of like going from Episode to Episode (TV show episodes, not the Movie Episodes).

Okay then, It's all going pretty well, I have gotten lots of help from all of you (thanks guys) and I have a general idea of what I want to do (Send the Empire after them via bounty hunters, etc.). My only quesion now is, How should I do that? I currently have GM's block (spinoff of Writer's block, meaning you can't think of what to write. In this case, answer the question I have, or at the very least, give examples).

imrtl
27 July 2002, 12:11 PM
I didn't mean to imply that you did or didn't know any or all of those things I listed. They are just things I like to keep in mind when I'm creating something for my players. So I thought I would pass it along

as far number 8, by this I simply meant those that stay in character tend to get an extra percentage of XP in my world. example
if each character gets 1000 xp, those that stayed/played in character all night could get anywhere from a 10-25 percent bonus to that number. This keeps all the player members fairly close to same level, but allows a bit of a faster progression for those that roleplay.
I find this also reduces the number of OOC conversations that may side track the game. (remember when we were fighting that dragon?)

As for number 9, maybe I should reword it a bit. Try to make the world seem alive, maybe there are repair droids moving through the area, or a power droid doing what they do. Just little things that seem to make the place more alive.

Like I said you may do that already. I don't know.

Tony J Case, Super Genius
28 July 2002, 04:17 PM
Originally posted by IvinesK
he landed a critical and was supposed to kill the damn thing in one hit. However, not wanting it to be so easy and give all the glory to the Wookie, I lied.

That's one way of dealing with that problem. The other way could have been like this: "Congratulations - you've absolutely ripped that Destroyer droid to itty-bitty pieces. Of course you, being right near the hatchway, are in the perfect position to see the remaining eight destroyer droids directly behind it. Care to roll your dodge?"

As for other advice - try this on for size . . . .

Rule one: Fun is the name of the game -
This rule, above all others cannot, must not be broken. If the participants are not having fun, then what's the point of getting together? Everyone might as well be staying at home, watching TV. Now I am *NOT* saying that the characters should win and/or be successful at everything they set out to do. Some of the best game's I've run were one where the players had their butts handed to them on a platter - but everyone still enjoyed themselves. The heroes can lose and still have a good time doing it (case in point - Empire Strikes Back, where the Rebels lost big time, but it was a great movie).

Also - this rule applies to EVERYONE, including the GM. If the GM is not having a good time, it will show through to the work, and the game will suffer for it. Balance the game, so everyone including the GM, is having fun.

Rule One-A:Don't Be Unfair -
This is not a game of 'You' versus 'Them' - there are no winners and losers (well, if everyone has a lousy time, then I guess you are ALL losers). The worst thing for a GM to do is to "play against the players". Let the PCs succeed if you can't think of a reason why they shouldn't, even if they seem to get away too easily. On the other hand, don't give them everything they want, that WILL end up boring in the long run.

Rule Two: Rules are CRAP!
Observation #1: The Star Wars game mechanics consists of lots and lots of rules.
Observation #2: Star Wars is a fast, action packed universe.
Conclusion: If not handled correctly, the game will bog down to a slow, boring crawl.

I wont lie, GMing any game (including Star Wars) is a lot of work. Characters to write up, settings to construct, a good story to write and dozens of rules to memorize. For a beginning GM, it can be overwhelming.

As a GM becomes more and more adapt at the game mechanics, eventually you get to the point where you can determine, without rolling dice, what succeeds and what fails. You learn to streamline the rules to keep up with the fast and loose setting that is Star Wars. The player just bust out a stream of absolutely brilliant dialogue while trying to bamboozle that Stormtrooper - let them get away with it. Do you need to look up EVERY range for EVERY weapon in the fire-flight - just call it medium range and get on with the fight. Know the mechanics well enough to employ them when necessary, but know them well enough to ignore them as well.

Rule Two-A: Dice are CRAP!
At the climax of the campaign, In the final conflict between the characters and Ultimate Evil - the Wookiee rolls enough damage on the very first shot to kill your villain outright. Suddenly the grand confrontation is in jeopardy of being un-satisfying and unrewarding. One shot, one kill. What can the GM do to save the end of the game?

Lie.

The Villain spent a force point, or got really lucky on the wild die - something to keep him in the fight. However, with great power comes great responsibility - never, ever abuse this ability. Alter the game only when Rule one is about to be broken. Also, don't be afraid to use this tactic on the players, also - killing them out of hand from a lucky stormtrooper shot is. . . anti-climatic at best.

Rule Three: No battle plan EVER survives contact with the enemy -
Be prepared to be flexible at any time during the evening. There are more players than there are of you, and they can be a lot more devious than you - so be prepared to diverge off the course you have carefully plotted out, for they WILL come up with coming you hadn't thought of. Of this, I guarantee.

For example - at one point in my game, the Chaos Crew owned a bar on a resort rim world. The GM decided to throw some underworld action at the players, by having the local Mobsters trying to get a cut of the action. The GM fully expected us, in typical Chaos Crew fashion, to go after this Mob Boss guns blazing - and normally he'd be right. However, one of the players casually asked if there was an regional governor election coming up any time soon. Upon hearing that there was one coming up in six months or so- the player then proposed the cunning and subtle plan of: "Lets run for governor and put him out of business the legitimate way!"

All the other players thought it was a great idea, and set about how to out the plan in motion - totally ignoring the direct approach. Meanwhile, the GM, behind his screen, looked down at his suddenly useless stack of NPC thugs and detailed plan of the Mobster's stronghold. If the GM wasn't confidant in stepping off the proscribed path, the game would have come to a screeching halt.

Rule Four: Free will Vs the Story -
There are ways to constrain the characters and make them do your bidding and/or follow the plot of the game. However, these methods must appear to be almost undetectable, or otherwise the game suddenly feels artificial - like if the characters look the wrong way, they'll see the edges of the set, complete cameras and crew. They should feel as if they COULD fly off to Bespin at the drop of a hat if they wanted to.

What's a poor beleaguered GM to do then? The players may be devious, but the GM has a much more potent tool at his disposal - the power to manipulate the universe. The Characters want to leave planet to chase down the villain from last game? The spaceport is locked down due to an upswing in terrorist activity. They want to run for regional governor? The Mob Boss in question kidnaps one of the Character's friends and forces the confrontation. Or the background check is too extensive for them to run with their Rebel Alliance background.

Rule Five: Know where you are going -
You don't have to have the very end of the campaign plotted out in every detail, but certainly have an idea where the story is going. That way, you can start foreshadowing from day one. Little, subtle things - throwaway lines like "He has too much of his father in him." "That's what I'm afraid of", or slowly revealing more information about the main villain of the game. All of the above will make the conclusion that much more interesting and satisfying when the time comes.

The trick to it is to make sure that what you say makes the players take notice, without being obvious enough that they say to themselves "OK, so the GM wants us to know ______." One thing that I like to do is have a Rule of set ideas for what will develop in the campaign universe: conspiracies, brush wars, military coups, whatever. Once you have these ideas in place you start casually dropping hints about what is to come for all of these ideas, but (and this is the devious GM trick) depending on the actions and interests of the PCs, only a few of your ideas actually happen, or only a few of them are of any importance to the characters! For example, in one session you casually let the players know that a man from an archaeological dig who tends to get drunk and tell incredible stories about ancient technology goes missing. The players automatically think "Oh, the dig must have uncovered something powerful, and somebody wants to make sure that nobody else finds out." Just when they're finishing whatever they are currently doing, and starting to prepare to find out more about this dig you throw them a curve ball and let them know that the guy who went missing was actually on a 2 week bender, but that Star Destroyer that they saw in drydock last month (and have now virtually forgotten about) has just destroyed a New Republic taskforce with an unknown new weapon. . .

And of course the further out you can plot and plan the better. If you can set up the climax of the whole campaign in the very first scene of the first game, then go for it! However, with that level of detail, be prepared to re-write on the fly - again, battle plans and contact with the enemy. Build all the PCs and NPCs with trap doors, just in case of accidental death, unanticipated character disinterest or a sudden flash of GM inspiration. Don't get so locked into The Plan, that you lose sight of telling a good story.

Rule Six: Cause and effect -
Everything the characters do should have an effect on the game world - or if not have an effect, not get contradicted later in the campaign. To do so then gives the players the impression that their actions didn't really matter. Luke blew up the Death Star - there are going to be repercussions, both good and bad, from that. It should be the same for your characters.

One interesting method of showing the players that they don't exist in a vacuum is to prepare a 'newsnet' handout. This contains brief local stories about all types of news, some of which may be foreshadowing for the campaign, and some of which may have nothing to do with them. When the players read about something that their characters did, it's very rewarding for them, and interesting for them to see how the 'other side' sees them.

Rule Seven: Anything you say can and will be use against you -
The biggest bombshell ever to grace the silver screen - "I am your Father!" Now sure you can't unleash a Dark Lord of the Sith on EVERY player, but you can come up with your own twists and turns for your characters. I am, of course talking in a much larger scope than just villains being distant relatives - I mean using everything. That Imperial officer that the players have to capture? Why not make it the same officer who ordered the execution of X-Wing Pilot Bob's family. Suddenly the mission has a very real stake to one of the players, and done right could have a dramatic scene or two (PC1: "Put the gun down, the alliance said we needed to bring him back alive." Bob: "And let him get away - AGAIN? I don't think so. . .")

But the scope has to be bigger than that - old lovers, academy buddies as underworld contacts, unexpected offspring from that one night stand years ago, characters as descendants of disposed royalty. Each one has just loads of plot potential, either as sideline material or for a full game. Don't waste it.


Rule Eight: Bigger is better -
This is Star Wars - make the games BIG! Not necessarily having the players save the galaxy every week, or blowing up a Death Star on a regular basis (although they SHOULD do this from time to time), but pushing the characters to the limit and beyond. Think of the game a juggling act for the players - keep tossing them more and more balls to juggle until they have so many in the air, they cant blink without having everything come crashing down around them.

Lets say the climax of the game is a simple gun fight between the a gang of Mercs and the players. Put the gunfight in a hospital. - in the nursery ward. Then set the hospital on fire. Then have the Empire show up and surround the building with walkers and scores of stormtroopers. Then have the Imperial troops led by the Dark Jedi that's hunting the characters. And the players are running out of Force Points.

That's when the pregnant rebel operative goes into labor.

This is called the onion style of gaming. The players keep peeling back the layers of the onion until they get to the center - but by the time they do that, they should be crying.


Rule Nine: It's technical. It's one of our little toys -
Don't be afraid to use . . . other materials to enhance the game experience. Bring toy lightsabers and blasters to the game, scatter lead figures across the table, throw the Phantom Menace soundtrack on the CD player, use action figures, bubblegum cards, Pez dispensers, micromachines - anything to make the game more realistic, believable, and fun.

Besides - players love waving around toy lightsabers during a fight.

Rule Ten: Random encounter tables are your friend -
ALAWAYS have some stock encounters on-hand. Since there are more player brains than GM brains and players are statistically more likely to create a new path than follow the one so carefully and lovingly made by the GM, the GM should "stack his deck" to keep things flowing smoothly even when they're actually flapping for dear life! And there's nothing like a fire fight with some bounty hunters to buy you some thinking time as you reorganize your thoughts. . .

IvinesK
29 July 2002, 06:33 AM
imrtl, it's okay, you didn't do anything wrong that I noticed, you simply gave advice and that's okay with me. As for you, Tony J Case, do you study with Yoda or something? You're giving me so many more rules to remember, it's making my head hurt (j/k). But seriously though, thanks for the advice (all though I already knew half of it). Anyways, check out my other post I put up that is entitled "My 2nd job as a GM, tell me what you think." And post some advice for that job as well, it'd sure be helpful.

VixenofVenus
29 July 2002, 06:53 AM
Wait ... you didn't know ... Tony is Yoda's second cousin once removed.

I think you did a great job ... I can't tell whether you a) LACK CONFIDENCE or b) ARE SECURE ENOUGH TO ASK FOR HELP


This is a fine line ... a good GM will know to ask other ppl for advice, but a good GM also needs to be very confident ... there WILL be instances where you need to be the most domineering person in the room in order to hold the group together during a tough spot.

For instance, some people just annoy the heck out of other ppl, and it happens often with role-players ... so when a fight errupts (or just constant teasing that disrupts the game), you've gotta step up and STOP IT, otherwise it could lead to very hurt feelings ... usually, most of the ppl there want to roleplay more that fight ... so you just gotta lay down the law.


I think this is the hardest thing to learn as a GM.

IvinesK
29 July 2002, 06:59 AM
That's funny. That deserves a custom smiley - 8^)

Eudaimic
29 July 2002, 09:05 AM
Mr. J Case, that was a convincing post! I consider myself an experienced GM, but you brought some really good examples to the table.

Tony J Case, Super Genius
29 July 2002, 11:51 AM
Gosh, thanks guys. You make me blush.

Anyway, if you are looking for more thoughts on how to run a game, allow me to direct you to my page (I wont waste Mordin and Armage's bandwith any more than I have to)

How to come up with game ideas:
http://www.the-chaos-crew.com/swrpg/gm/resource/how2game.htm

How to run a campaign:
http://www.the-chaos-crew.com/swrpg/gm/resource/how2run.htm

How to build a fully fleshed out character (this one is more for players than GMs):
http://www.the-chaos-crew.com/swrpg/gm/resource/how2pc.htm

Plus there's a whole bunch things - of lists of names, thoughts on running a Episode 1 era game, 20+ questions to flesh out a character and whatnot.