Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ten Tips for New Gms

Thinking of starting a game and taking the challenge of being the game master? Here's ten quick tips to get you started.

1. Every player wants something different from the game. It's your job to be sure to setup a method for them to get it. Some like roleplaying or want the spotlight,  some like meta, some like crunch. It's your job to find their motivation and work it into the story.

2. Players are likely to want to be involved in the story in meaningful ways. It's ok to let them be involved with the story but remember to keep an air of mystery about the world and the plot so they don't get bored having full control.

3. I enjoy hamming up as a gm. I do voices, mannerisms, gestures, and use description to really get the character and the scene flowing in their heads.

4. Keep a random list of names and quirks handy. It's helpful for making npcs on the fly. I suggest any baby name generator or the fantasy name generator. That one includes places and things too.

5. Be willing to improvise. Some of our most memorable games were when the players went off the adventure. 

6. Be fair but just. The rules are a guideline but you must be consistent in your rulings or players will see it as favoritism. If you are going to be hard core rules then stay that way. Me, I run somewhere between story and rules and my players know it.

7. Do not use the rules against your players and do not encourage them to use rules against you. If it happens then nip it in the bud quickly. A nice way to do that is to use the same trick the player did on the player if it becomes overly used trick so they will back off on it a bit. I.e. a flaming sphere knockdown spell can be cast by the bad guy wizard too.

8. Villains are not dumb.  Play that up. A good villain will know the players strengths and weaknesses because they'll have tested them through the campaign. When it's finally time for the showdown the villain will dictate the time and place. They will be prepared and ready for the challenge.

9. Most Dragons are smarter than people. Think of all the ways they have stayed alive as long as they have. Like villains, dragons only fight when they want to.

10. It's a game. It isn't a contest or pvp. It's supposed to be fun. Your job is to be a good facilitator of the world. Your word is law and you can involve your players as much or as little in the meta and rules discussions as you are comfortable with. Just be sure to set expectations early on so everyone is on the same page. There is no wrong or right way to play or to run. Have fun!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unknown Player Narrative Control

One trick I like to do is to listen to my players roleplaying discussions between themselves and npcs. I do this because I enjoy roleplaying but also because I like to take parts of their discussion about "what if" and use it in our games. Players can be a suspicious lot and one great thing I have found is to play into that suspicion a little bit and in so doing the players actually have some control over the world with just their comments. If used sparingly it will give both you and your players a great satisfaction. Many notable npcs are created this way in my games on the fly. Sometimes, the dungeon really does have that mirror pool with the fire wand.

You can even incorporate the idea into the roll aspect, for instance I had a player ask me what he knew of trolls for the upcoming battle. Now I recalled his earlier discussion with another player that they roleplayed beautifully in which one suggested the trolls from the forest where these came from were a dark bluish color and were immune to fire but water hurt them. Now when he made his roll and scored well I rewarded him by telling him the exact thing he just said to his buddy in game. A smile parted his face and the following encounter was moved to a nearby river where they setup an ambush using their knowledge. I had never intended on using trolls at all and was going to use something else but because of the players passion it changed the story.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Castles and Crusades - The Red cap Menace

We finished up our castles and crusades adventure with Pat as our Castle Keeper today. Our party was hired by a nearby town to stop the red cap goblins and after several weeks ending in a climatic battle with a ghost Naga we did just that!  Bonus, I got to keep the 3d printed Naga for my sword and sorcery games.

I really love the Castles and Crusades system.  It has a lot of similarities to both the 3.0 dnd and adnd.  I like that the classes get only some different abilities but it is streamlined and doesn't make use of feats or fiat systems. The game really has an old school feel to it. Ability score mods are on a three point spread instead of the normal two point spread. This means that a 12 is a plus 0 and an 18 is a plus 3. I also like the way they do primary and secondary ability scores with primary having iirc a standard DC of 12 and secondary a standard DC of 18 to succeed. The saves are modified of course by factors in the game and ability modifiers. This game does not use fort,  reflex, or will saves and instead uses the core abilities.

I quite like c&c and will be playing much of it in the coming years.

End of Castle Naetar

Epic game tonight to the ending of Castle Naetar. They finally put Azabra Joss the red wizard to his end after negotiations with the resident ancient black dragon and his children, who they bested in battle last session. Azabra and the cult reanimated the green and blue dragons the party defeated in the siege of Brannockburg. They fought the dragons and a horned devil as well as wraiths of firmer cult leaders and specters of cultists risen by the wraiths once they fell. They braved high cliffs and high swinging rope bridges. The final challenge was the portal locks and the lightning trapped portal.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Inspired GMs

Gm protip: run what you want and what you are passionate about and you'll attract others who will play in your game. If you attempt to appease everyone on everything you will alienate everyone. Find a happy medium but remember you need to have fun too.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Five

We started a sandbox style game this weekend. I am having one of our players draw the maps as they encounter and explore them. As this is a full sandbox style game even I as the GM will be discovering what is where as we make the story up on the fly. To accomplish this goal I will be using a variety of random generators and dm books. I will be using the three environment books from 3.5, the game masters handbook from paizo, the gary gygax world builders book, and many online resources. This is only one square represented on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch grid paper. The kingdom of SouthRose is a small part of a much larger continent.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Orlando Netwars

I am at SANS 511 this week in training.  The course is designed to train crypto and packet capture carving hunting techniques. Sans stands for SysAdmin, Audit, Network and Security. SANS is a world-renown training conference for Infosec professionals. It is the gold standard for the white hat.

What does this have to do with gaming, you might ask? Well, I have found several fellow gamers here. This itself is no surprise.  Many Infosec people know that it takes both left (the creative) and right (the analytical) sides of the brain used at once to be involved with this career - it also helps to be mildly crazy.

I hit the jackpot too because our instructor, Eric Conrad is a highly respected Infosec professional and a big time nerd. Eric proudly showed us Dragon magazine #71 where he did the Boothill module that won third place in the competition. 

I prefer the term geek when speaking about Fandom and gaming myself but he's an old school dnd player.

I guess, when it comes down to it, I am a nerd and a geek. I admit though that SANS is like drinking from a fire hose.

This is my second SANS class. The last one I took was in Vegas and was Sec 504 Incident Handling and Hacker Exploits.  That's right! They teach us to we can fight the big bads.

They also teach us to hack so we can play Netwars. What's Netwars you ask? Imagine a hundred professional hackers in a room, with beer, a network,  and a game - formatted similar to the movie Hackers but with less Angelina Jolie.

Sans has had two Netwars challenges up until last night - Core and DIFR. Last night I played the blue team Defense Netwars part I. Tonight is part II. I am happy to say that I am on the leaderboard.

The theme is Game of Thrones. That's right, we are Night Watch and we are defending the wall from wildlings, wights, and the darkness by carving packets and breaking encryption keys!

So much fun but also quite a challenge. The reward is the coveted Netwars coins. These coins are special to each event.

So you see... there are games everywhere.  Oh,  it's also Star Wars weekend.

I am in heaven. The only thing that would make it better is if my family were with me.

My handle is cronickain in the challenge. The first ten win awesome coins with got themed sans.

The class challenge is Battlestar Galactica. The blue team game is on the final day six. I have assembled a good team. I hope my team wins it. It's a viper coin.

Friday, April 7, 2017

AFK Update

It has been a while since I have posted. In that time we have established a small farmstead and attended multiple game conventions.

We've been playing games at our new house this year. A lot of games. Now that things are settling in and we are getting back to normal I hope to post an update at least once a week.

We are currently finishing up a year-and-a-half campaign of Tyranny of Dragons. We are also playing Hells Vengeance and just wrapped up our Savage worlds Hell on Earth campaign. The Hell on Earth Campaign was largely a combination of Deathlands by James Axler and Vampire Earth.

The ToD group is having a blast with the castle exploration and not only have I been able to use a good deal of miniatures I have also used both Miniature Building Authority and Dwarven Forge terrain in their adventures.

On the miniatures front, ever since I came back from Rapier I've been in love with All Quiet on the Martian Front. I have hosted several games and have built a sizable collection of the miniatures. I highly recommend this system. There are many new planned factions now that Ironclad Games has purchased it from Alien Dungeon.

The game system,  Warengine is one that many of you will remember me getting into five or six years ago. I recently ran a Starship Troopers game with the system and that got me back into both Starship Troopers and Warengine.  If you aren't familiar with Warengine it's a fun generic system used for Shock Force. It's an easy build system that turns out to fairly balance the leaders to their troopers.

All is not quiet in the game design front. I am currently helping to develop several new game properties though I am not at liberty to disclose them.

Gamers Tavern has selected me to be the cohost of their podcast. I had an absolute blast sharing my gaming roots, gaming history, and gaming advice in our episode we recorded last night. We expect that the episodes will be ready within a few short weeks and then we plan on releasing an episode weekly. You can find them online at 

Enjoy the gaming photos

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Mines of Naeyter

Holy crap that was an epic game! The party found a secret tunnel that led from the inn where they were staying to a cavern complex in an abandoned salt mine. They followed the trail left by whatever had ported the cargo from the abandoned wagons. The hunch was that the cult must be using lizardmen to porter the stolen goods.

As they entered the mines they wee ambushed by a small group of grick. Not long after they heard the tell tale sounds of bigger creatures and a massive grick emerged from the crevices and attacked the party with a mighty breath weapon of corrosive gas.

The wizard used a fire ball and toasted it's three young and damaged it. It attacked but began to retreat into the pit. Oh not on my watch!  The paladin used misty step to teleport 30 feet above a massive grick monster hanging from the side of the cliff after the monk charged at it and critically hit it the same time it critically hit her and swallowed her whole.

The paladin Crit the grick with one swing and out fell the monk as the wizard hurled fireballs and a zombie dragon came out of its lair but then retreated back into it once it saw the carnage.  Unfortunately, the monks bloodlust and the paladins justice kicked in and they charged with haste at the cave where the zombie dragon had just appeared.

Another epic battle ensued with the cleric turning undead and channeling the might of Bahamut. The zombie dragon and a horde of zombies fought hard against the players. In the end, the zombie dragon was defeated by combined arms although the heroes were on the brink and and deaths door more than once,  they were victorious. They claimed the 5000 gold it was sitting upon as its bed

Licking wounds and hurrying out of the mines they came to a set of narrow stairs that had multiple empty sacks and treasure dropped in the halls.

They then emerged from the mines into the Mire of Dead Men and saw the castle Naeyter in the distance signifying their next target.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Savage Worlds - Deathlands

I have been running Hell on Earth meets a combination of post-apocalyptic Graphic Audio book series for about three months. I have used Savage Worlds Hell on Earth as the rules. We are loving the fast-playing rules and I love the ease at making stuff up and rulings on the fly. 

So far the players have worked their way out of the hospital they woke up in fifty years in the future, fought through some sec men and robot cops, zombies, ghosts, manatu, reapers, and bike gangs while searching and scrounging everywhere. They've learned the ville they are in is ran by a guy calling himself Ronald. The new tech and info is their ace on the line since they chilled the barons second.

Last night they entered the next phase of the game and learned from Project Cerebus about the Multiplex and time streams. They were given black suits and told they could pretty much go anywhere.  When asked who it was the smoking man appearing on an air display holo vid just said to call him Mr. Johnson or Archon.

Now I have effectively opened up the players to Weird WW1, WW2, Colonial, Vietnam,  Modern, Future, Fantasy, Shaintar, Pulp, anywhere. They have effectively become apocalyptic time agents but the game is still very much gritty and tough.

For starters, they have no control over the mat Trans (matter transmitters) except they can attempt to strongly think of the same place and convince the machine to take them to that place, time, etc in relative terms. Secondly, items and tech, weapons and gear does not transfer outside of its invention period. In other words, one cannot bring an uzi to the middle-ages because it was not invented yet. Thirdly, should they cross paths (cross the streams) with themselves on a different time stream they may be tossed into a time vortex or lost in the abyss. The key from each time or place is dependent upon the theme and not all areas have mat trans. So, now they are at the whim of the Archon. They can stay in Mortiston USA or they can go somewhere or some when else.