I have recently bought myself a miniature for the Xorn, a D&D monster which eats precious metals or minerals.
Basically this thing exists so a DM can mess with an adventuring party’s treasure. And I like oddball monsters, I really do.
Aside from that, I was recently reading Green Devil Face #4 and one of the articles (‘Wand of the Weird’) had a table for random effects a magic wand could do. One of them was the following:
“The subject’s eyes turn into gems worth
5,000gp each. The eyes function as normal
as long as they remain in the subject’s
Now… You can also insert that effect into a magic trap, a spell, a mutation, it doesn’t matter… What matters is that to someone who suddenly has gems for eyes, the Xorn has gone from being a nuisance to being a terrifying monster who wants to eat his eyes!!!
As mentioned in a previous post, I bought myself the ‘Angel Roleplaying Game’ and will start a game set in the Buffyverse soon.
I remembered that one of the guys playing in my D&D campaign had two brothers who had wanted to join the game but I said no because we didn’t have enough room for more players. (We’re already seven including myself and my gaming table is not big enough to fit one more person! I dread to imagine how it would go down with nine people!)
I already knew one girl who was interested in joining my Buffyverse game, so I needed to find at least one more person to get things started. The logical first step was to check with the player who had brothers interested in roleplaying… I started by asking him if he liked the Buffy and Angel shows. He told me he watched Buffy, but not Angel. Okay, good start, he was familiar with the universe. When I mentioned the game to him, he said he watched the show mostly for the cute girls in it and that he thought it was too ‘teenage girl’-like for guys to play in it. I explained that this universe wasn’t only for teenage girls, that it contained cool characters like Giles and Spike and that the Angel spin-off was a very manly show! Plus the game would be a modern fantasy game about kicking monster butts and saving the world! It doesn’t get cooler than that!
It didn’t convince him. I asked about his brothers and one of them who was with him said that he’d play D&D, but not a Buffy game. Fine. I then asked the two girls who already play in my D&D game and since one happens to be a huge fan of the Buffyverse too, she said yes. I had two confirmed players! And both have a friend each who might be interested, who happen to also be girls.
So this is the story of how I might find myself GMing an all-female cast (player characters are named ‘cast’ in the Angel and Buffy RPGs) in my next tabletop RPG game!
I do find it slightly ironic that after trying to explain to another guy that the Buffyverse wasn’t just for girls, none of my players will be male. I don’t really care, but I can see the humor in that…
Today I passed by the hobby store just to browse and found they were having special prices on lots of older products. Basically they were trying to make room in their inventory by getting rid of used books and older RPGs that they’ve been keeping for years.
I found two great RPG books that cost me 13$… COMBINED!!! :D
One is the ‘Angel Role-Playing Game’. The book is new and only cost me 10$!
I’m actually going to GM a Buffyverse game with this (on top of my current D&D campaign).
The game will follow the current events of the Buffyverse as seen in the Dark Horse comics, for better or worse. This means a few things…
- Magic is gone. If any of the players wanted to play a witch or a warlock, they can’t right now. (This is a bit bad, since it limits choices and magic has always been an important part of the Buffy t.v show since Season 1!)
- Because magic is gone, newly turned vampires are actually mindless beasts. Xander starts calling them ‘zompires’. (This is neither good or bad for the game in my opinion since the traditional Buffyverse vampires are still around, they just can’t make new ones since their victims will turn into zompires.)
- As per the ending of Season 7, there can be as many Slayers in the story as the plot needs. (Very good for the game, especially if one or more of the players want to play a Slayer!)
I might actually start posting about that game once it starts.
As for the other RPG I bought…
’Silver Age Sentinels’… for 3$!!! Sure it’s a used copy, but it’s in VERY good condition! :D
I already had the rules for the Tri-Stat system that this game uses because you can get the PDF for free here at the DriveThru RPG web site!
Still, I intended to print it someday because unless you own one of those electronic tablets (which I don’t), having a rulebook in PDF format is not that useful. Now that I found this book, I won’t have to! It has everything needed to do a super-hero game. And it cost me less than it would have to go print the PDF somewhere! I couldn’t be happier, especially considering that the game is currently out-of-print!
Doing a super-hero game is something I really want to try someday, but of course between my current D&D campaign and the Buffyverse one I want to start, the supers will have to wait!
As a side-note, the Tri-Stat system started off with ‘Big Eyes Small Mouth’, a generic ‘anime’ role-playing game. When it comes to cinematic rules for over-the-top action that are easy to learn and use, the Tri-Stat system has a very good rep.It’s currently owned by White Wolf, the company behind the World of Darkness and they are not doing anything with it, which is a shame.
So those are my purchases. I’m a very happy camper right now to say the least! :D
Being a Game Master for an ongoing Role-Playing Game demands some work and preparation, but it’s very rewarding when the story develops in interesting ways and the players are having fun! :)
Part of the preparation for me is not only browsing through books to choose monsters and characters that the players will meet, but also acquiring and readying maps and miniatures for each session. Since our campaign uses the rules of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, miniatures are a must. Even if they weren’t though, I feel like it’s really useful to use maps during combat as it clarifies where everyone is and helps speed up the encounters.
With that in mind, I turned a section of my kitchen counter into my miniatures work place now that I’ll have to start gluing and painting them… :p
Since we all play close to supper time and pause the game at some point to eat, I was finding myself with plenty of dishes to wash once everyone left, so now I started buying disposable plates and glasses! I have six players, that was a lot of dishes! o_o
Every group has its particularities and inside-jokes. During last week’s session, one of my players washed her hands… with my contact lenses liquid! And to clarify, yes it still had its sticker identifying it as such when that happened, I just removed it to tease her as follows… xD
All groups like to customize their game in certain ways. In our case I reward good RP with ‘Chance Points’ (which I’ll explain in detail in a future article) and we use Paizo’s ‘Game Mastery’ cards for Criticals and Fumbles. They add a little something to the game and make combat more exciting… for better or worse! :D
Before my players arrive, I like to have everything ready on the table. I place their character sheets where they usually sit, make sure they all have their own pen and the dice they’ll need (many of them don’t own dice). I keep all the other dice closer to me but off the main table. An uncluttered table means less stuff will fall to the floor during the game and it’ll be much easier to make room for when we need to unfold a map.
A trusty notebook is essential! The way I prepare my games and use the notebook is as follows; I’ll write down how the NPCs will react to what happened the last game session… And that’s it. (I might have made it sound simpler than it actually is!) The way I make my games is to ‘simply’ know who all the NPCs involved are and have them act accordingly. This way I make sure my players are actually affecting the world around them. They’re not just going along with my story, they are shaping it themselves with every decision and action they make.
For example, I might write things like ‘The city guards want to ask the players involved in last night’s fight about what happened exactly’, then ‘The main bad guy sends some assassins to dispatch a certain NPC that has been helping the heroes’ and ‘The bad guy will also send Monster X to kill the heroes at this time and place.’
GMs are always warning players not to meta-game, but the truth is that it’s hard for GMs not to meta-game either, if not harder. They know EVERYTHING that is going on in this world! Wouldn’t it be tempting when a player thinks of something to go “Well, I didn’t think of this but I’m sure my main bad guy would have, so he’ll be ready for that!” or “Hmm, not a bad idea, but what I had prepared will still happen anyway!”
A lot of GMs go with ‘What I prepared will still happen no matter what.’ but are good at hiding that fact from their players. Others are not so good at it. The latter will make players feel like their decisions don’t matter and therefore they might decide they might as well read a book, play a video-game or watch a movie. Even if the GM does that and is good at hiding it, where’s the fun in it for the GM him/herself? He/she might as well write a book then, if the players can’t influence this world and it all goes down according exactly to the GM’s plans!
One of my greatest joys as a GM is precisely the fact that I don’t know what will happen next, what the players will come up with! They might change the story in ways I never expected! It becomes a collaborative process of storytelling.
So going back to the previous example of ‘The city guards want to ask the players involved in last night’s fight about what happened exactly’, ‘The main bad guy sends some assassins to dispatch a certain NPC that has been helping the heroes’ and ‘The bad guy will also send Monster X to kill the heroes at this time and place.’
I have no idea how the players will handle the situation with the city guards, which in turn will influence what happens in the story. It will develop very differently if they talk to them than if they decide to avoid the guards! What if one or all of the players decide to visit the NPC the main baddie sent assassins to kill during the time when the attack is supposed to take place? That NPC might actually survive thanks to the hero(es)! Or the hero(es) involved might actually die too or get captured trying to defend the NPC! And if some of them went to see the NPC and others remained behind where the bad guys expected them to be, that means that they’ll have to face the monster sent to them with part of their group missing, and thus not with their full resources!
If as a GM you’re familiar with your setting and all the characters involved, it’s actually very satisfying to run games this way, a lot more than creating a straight-line story where things will happen when you decide they happen no matter what the players do. As a GM, you become excited yourself to see what else will happen next!
Of course that means that you have to stick to that mentality for better or worse. If the players choose to separate, they DO have to deal with the consequences of not being at full power as a single united combat unit, but maybe it’s also needed to do so at times if they can’t be at two or three places at once. They have to act smartly, because even though I’ll never put highly unfair challenges their way, there are always challenges that are potentially deadly, and if they make the wrong choices their characters might pay for it.
That’s another thing though… I like all of the characters in the game, every time I KNOW they’re going to get into trouble I do worry for them. But I stick to my guns and the story is all the better for it, I believe. And it goes both ways anyway! If the players have prepared extremely well for an encounter to the point where the challenge won’t be as deadly as it would have been otherwise, I won’t amp the challenge just because I want to see them struggle! Their wise choices and preparations will actually (almost) ensure they survive!
The trick to make sure the story moves forward when using this style and not having it be stuck in place is to have a world full of characters who are living their lives and have their own goals. Through them the story will continue moving forward, and if the players make wise decisions they will find the clues needed to know where to go next. While it’s okay to have someone tell the heroes ‘There are bad guys over there!’ from time to time, it’s much more fun to have them discover this through their own investigations and choices. But again, if it makes sense for a certain character to know something and to want to help the heroes, then by all means should they be outright told! Some improvisation and making up ideas as you go along is obviously a must, but when you know the world the story takes place in well enough, it comes naturally.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Game Mastering and I encourage anyone who’d like to share opinions or anecdotes to contact me! :)
While my D&D campaign goes well generally speaking, the other day I suggested to my players we change rules. I told them about what that would imply for their characters and we voted on our Facebook group… So at our next game session, we’ll convert all the characters from ‘Castles & Crusades’ to ‘Dungeons & Dragons 3.5’.
‘Castles & Crusades’ is great for what it is, a retro clone of D&D’s earlier editions mixed with a unifying mechanic based on 3rd edition’s and a compatibility with all previous versions of D&D… But in the end, the Bard couldn’t do much under C&C rules and the ranged attack-centric Fighter was stuck with melee abilities that didn’t suit his purpose.
D&D 3.5 simply allows you to customize a lot more and the players will get the characters they had in mind before I started to explain what the C&C classes could and couldn’t do. The worst part of it was that I kept thinking “If we were playing 3.5 we could do this very easily actually, but I guess it’s best to stick to simpler rules.” (As all the players are new to RPGs) And in the end I found that the rules of C&C are not that much simpler than those of D&D 3.5… They are, but not dramatically so. In some cases, C&C even has more complicated rules. What’s more, my players enjoy the miniatures aspect and strategy of the game, which are an intrinsic part of D&D 3.5.
In the end, while both Castles & Crusades and D&D 3.5 have their ups and downs, this campaign will be better served with D&D 3.5. Castles & Crusades will remain in my collection as an equally valid version of D&D, and in another type of campaign I’m sure I would have chosen it over 3.5… But for now, I’m sure my players can deal with Attacks of Opportunity.