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Thread: New GM, Looking for tips and advice!

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    Registered User Jenivere's Avatar
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    Question New GM, Looking for tips and advice!

    I have recently started playing a couple of tabletop RPGs with a small group of friends. At first my cousin took the GM role for our first game, but he was a fair bit younger than the rest of us and kept applying Pathfinder rules to our Star Wars campaign. So the second session we all went away and designed a map each having agreed to a main plot arc beforehand. After playing these we thought we might just take turns as GM and do a short campaign each, so my partner wrote one. It went pretty well but soon I had my own ideas - sadly my partner isn't quite as obsessed with Star Wars as me so lacks some knowledge in areas - so I spent a week putting together a shortish 6 map campaign to continue where we left off before. Having played most of this now, I felt like my many pages of preparation didn't prepare me for the devious players and their use of unconventional skills and abilities. I also didn't bank on their semi resistance to sharing information within the party and worried a lot that combat took too long or that I was boring them (I am anxious by nature though!)

    Anyway basically I have decided to run 2 seperate campaigns. One following a potential Dark Side path set at the beginning of the Mandalorian Wars (Revan/Malak era, pre KOTOR), the other following a generally lighter path set in 127ABY around the time the One Sith make their moves and the Yuuzhan Vong terraforming tech is sabotaged. The first is because I adore KOTOR, the second is swayed by the reappearance of Bane's holocron around this time.

    I am looking for any tips or tricks that help with planning campaigns and encouraging players to follow the story or enter battle rather than standing back waiting for something to happen. Or any tips for a shiny new GM in general? Any would be appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Jenivere
    Darth Bane - The Ultimate Sith

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    Every session, try to give each player something cool to do.
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    Registered User hisham's Avatar
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    Here's something that's a staple for Star Wars RPG from WEG to FFG: when you start an adventure, do it in media res. You don't start the PCs out looking for work with some noble, or around a table in a tavern, or going out into the wilderness to see if there's anything out there.

    You start them under fire by Stormtrooper as they are escorting an recently-rescued princess from Imperial Security Bureau with their ship just 100 meters away, or they've just stolen a Corellian Corvette and before they have to jump to hyperspace there's a picket line of TIE fighters right ahead coming in and firing at them, or an NPC has just betrayed them and sabotaged their ship as it falls into the atmosphere so the PCs have to split up to repair the ship before it crashes and also neutralize the NPC.

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    Cannot help with the post NJO setting because... still pretending that isn't a thing ( ), but as far as the KotOR era stuff, I can expand on Sarge's advice a little.

    Jedi, in every iteration of SWRPG, will often tend to hog center stage because of the great utility and potential of Force powers if the player is judicious enough in his/her design. With that in mind, play sometimes to the specific strengths of any-non-Force Using characters. In my experience, that tends toward slicing, fixing things, and sometimes piloting.

    Think about the strengths and weaknesses of your players, and every adventure (if not every session), throw a challenge in there that gives everyone a chance to shine. That can either mean utilizing a given character's unique skills, or a compound challenge that requires multiple players utilize different skills (i.e., one pilots the getaway ship while another desperately tries to repair the hyperdrive... while another character tries to ward off pursuers with the turret guns).

    As far as prodding characters into action, again, it is up to you to know your players. Will any be motivated by innocents in distress? If they are Jedi, they ought to have a pretty strong RP justification for not intervening when Sithy guys are doing Sithy things to innocents. If they are of a more mercenary bent, then hint at gear/cash as a reward. Then again, put them in serious debt (financial or moral) to a far more powerful entity (i.e. Han Solo & Jabba, life-debts, and so on), and players will have consequences for their behavior.

    Reading between the lines a bit, I think you should also be open to the idea of side-lining the mission for a bit of flavor on the side if players think they have found an interesting thread. Or, you know, took totally the wrong message from the plot hints you have dropped. Don't be afraid to call a five minute beverage break and brainstorm a quick side-mission based on the players' actions. If things get too side tracked, an anti-climactic end to the sideline and brief reminder of their original mission usually does the trick.
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    Registered User Jenivere's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice so far! It's all useful as I am painfully green at this and my confidence is a little more than just shaky!

    To Hisham, I did attempt to just leap in to some action but the players weren't satisfied that they had adequate reason to work together as they had created some wonderfully complex characters but found it difficult to agree upon a reason why they would be fighting together. Apparently throwing them in by chance isn't enough any more! My partner GM'd the campaign before us, and decided his character (who the rest of us had recently met during a bar fight, which was agreed upon by the players in advance as a meeting point) his character was kidnapped - but then the party weren't satisfied we had enough reason to go and rescue him. When it came to my story, I tried to pick up exactly where he had left off to keep some continuity, and threw the characters into a mystery. The droid that had stowed away on our ship in an earlier mission was found stashed behind some crates with his memory core missing and with more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese. But on entering the ship the party split up, then when one of them found the droid and did a repair check to find the memory core missing they didn't feel like telling the others...

    Another example would be the level just before the last one in the series I wrote for them, which followed a space battle in which the Bounty Hunter's ship (the same guy who they eventually found out had stolen the memory core) crash landed on to a planet. The last thing the Bounty Hunter did was fire off a torpedo causing the party's ship to descend also. When they crash landed, there were a few Reeks grazing around (not attacking unless provoked) and the Bounty Hunter and crew were the other side of the map. My thoughts were the natural instinct here would be to search around and see if they could find the other ship that went down. But instead they all decided to stealth it, one of them checked out the wreck of the other ship and they took forever to decide to actually attack the guys who they were supposed to be after. I tried to make it more interesting by writing in a mechanic where if any character missed their attack with a blaster type weapon, I would make a roll (with a difficulty for me based on how badly they missed with their attack roll) to see if the blaster fire went completely awry and hit a Reek therefore initiating combat with the otherwise peaceful creatures too. Instead the Jedi in the party decided to use a telepathy skill to put an image into the head of a Reek of the Bounty Hunter with the thought "enemy" and attempted to coerce it into attacking. I thought I had covered myself by double checking the Handle Animal skill meant they were unable to train or tame one of the beasts in less than a year.... Plus when the party did enter combat, the other members of the party just stayed hidden/stealthed and didn't join until they absolutely had to. Is this the kind of thing I should be better prepared for? I'm a little worried my story wasn't compelling enough to make them want to progress it, though I know one of them was staying far too in character as a soldier addicted to stims who just wanted to get off the planet and go to a bar it still felt like a bit of a flop!


    To Rostek, I think I tried to do this but failed. We only had one Force user in the party, and I like utilising the other skill sets like computer use and repair so I set up options where for example on board the ship the players could use a computer console to look at video feeds from the other rooms to check for clues or danger, there was also a room with a child hiding under the blankets of a bunk who had to be persuaded to talk because they were scared (having boarded the ship to play on it and hidden after hearing blaster fire and voices which mentioned key info) but after gaining that information it wasn't immediately shared with the other members. In the space scenario I tried to give everyone different positions in the ship (the different weapons, a pilot and an engineer to do shield repairs or have the chance to get an extra kick from the engine and give the pilot an extra speed burst for that round....but I don't think it worked so well. Plus it took a while for them to decide which role each should have.

    I'm just a bit concerned that I'm not giving the characters enough motivation to actually explore and follow plot leads. I added a side mission in a non combat market scene which they seemed to be way more interested in than the main plot :s but it was a short side mission involving a fight between pirates and a trader plus his thugs over a delivery transaction so I couldn't really expand it because when it was over everybody was dead!

    Oh also how do people work out inter-planetary travel when the players do not have a ship of their own? Should they need to seek a lift on a passing freighter or something similar to the way Luke and Obi Wan found transport with Han and Chewie?
    Darth Bane - The Ultimate Sith

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    Registered User Jenivere's Avatar
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    One last thing, is it a good idea to include main/established Star Wars characters or is it best to avoid messing with established plots? I'm happy enough to weave things around main existing plots so it fits but have toyed with ideas of going in to the bigger bits eventually...
    Last edited by Jenivere; 20 August 2013 at 08:19 AM.
    Darth Bane - The Ultimate Sith

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