Posts Tagged ‘Meta’

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Sean’s GenCon Advice 2016

14 July, 2016

GenCon is about three weeks away, so, I thought I would (again) share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going.

Preparation:

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Encouraging and Inspiring Players

18 February, 2016

Though that I should make an attempt to contribute to this month’s RPG Blog Carnival “How do you inspire your players?” hosted by Roleplaying Tips.

Inspiring players is often a challenge and part of the answer for a GM has to be:

GM something that Inspires You.

If you are excited and involved with the game and its world, it will be easier for the players to become inspired and involved in it.  If it is your passion, people will feel that and respond to it, just do not become too proprietary, no vision of the perfect campaign survives contact with the players; The world will both shape and be shaped by player action.

Communicate and Share what Inspires You.

Part and parcel of the first point, but let your player know what inspires and excites you about the game you are GMing.  If there are movies or music that communicate ideas about your world, share them, put together a Pinterest board (or use some other site) to share images (I have one for the Sea of Stars, another for Petrichor and for other games and genres including the Noir Revolution campaign).  Anything that helps put you all in the same mental landscape for the game.

In my experience, communication between GM and players (and between players) is what makes  or breaks campaigns.  So, talk, share, debate, build castles of the imagination together.

Not a long post, but I hope helpful.  Now, go and inspire people.

 

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Goodbye Janus, Welcome Ill-fortuned February

1 February, 2016

We now step into February which gets its name from Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa performed at this time of year.  The Romans considered February an ill-omened month which is why it is only twenty-eight days long (and we have extended to twenty-nine in this leap year).   For this month we return to the theme 0f curses, cursed items, ill-fortune and, perhaps, defenses against such terrible things.  As usual, suggestions, comments and ideas are welcome.

What was published on the journal in January, 2016:

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Boldly into October, Farewell September

30 September, 2015

October begins tomorrow, the eighth month of the Roman Calendar (thus that ‘Oct’ part of the name)  and tenth of ours.   It seems the Romans had no special association for October beyond Autumn, but we have Halloween at the end, so -as has become traditional- this month the Sea of Stars Design Journal will have Monsters as our theme.

Please consider supporting the Sea of Stars Patreon if you enjoy reading this journal.  Thank you.

If you have ideas for Monsters or horror theme you wish to see discussed here, let me know and I will try to make it happen.

September, 2015, saw the following posts on the journal:

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My Advice for Running Convention Games (August Blog Carnival)

29 August, 2015

Creative Mountain Games is hosting this month’s Blog Carnival on Convention Gaming and here is my contribution:

I have been working GenCon for AEG since 2000, missing two years along the way, mostly demoing games, and most recently back to Games Mastering.  I have run per-packaged modules before but for the last three years, I have been creating and GMing the adventures for GenCon.   So, this advice is primarily for GMs.

Be Prepared, have what you need (books, dice, notes) ready, but also have the minimum the players need as well: character sheets, dice, pencils, paper for name tents, and whatever else they may need for the adventure at hand.

For example: Legend of the Five Rings (L5R), which I GM, requires a fair number of D10s, so I have a bag of 30 for my own and the players’ use.  (Though I do usually manage to forget something, this year it was extra pencils.)

Let the Players Make Informed Choices, player do not know your style of play and (in some cases) the setting and rules, so do not be afraid to stop the game to explain the situation, risks and rewards to the players.  Start with making sure that the players are able to make an informed choice as to the characters they are playing, for something like Pathfinder Society where they build their own, this is not so much of a problem but when providing pre-generated characters it can be more of a challenge.

For example: Here are the cover sheets to the characters I used for my introductory L5R game, note especially the “Play this character if” section, that all of the advantages, disadvantages and school techniques are defined (so the player does not need to look at the rulebook), and, lastly, there are brief roleplaying hooks for the other characters.  The “Play this character if section” and defining the Ads/DisAds was new for this year and very well received so I highly recommend a similar build for other GMs as it allows the players to find a character they want to play easily and then have to tools to do so immediately.

Let the Players Set the Tone, now, my default mode for games is drama to action movie, trying to move the plot along and playing a fairly serious game.  But at a convention, you need to adapt to what the players are interested in, I start with my default setting and adjust from there.  If people want something light, play up the absurdities of the situation and let fun coincidences happens.  If they want something dark, the brutal combat system of L5R -for example- will help provide that.  Roll with the mood of the table and the game will be better for it.

Be sure that you have eaten before hand and have drinks to hand, being hungry will throw you off your game, so eat, and not being hydrated will be rough on your body and your voice (which you will be using, a lot, as a GM at GenCon, as it gets noisy), so have water or other drinkable to hand.  Throat drops can also be helpful.

Well, those are the big things that I have learned and that I think have made my games pretty successful over the years.  I hope they prove helpful to you as well.

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Sean’s GenCon Advice, 2015 Edition

9 July, 2015

The start of GenCon is only three weeks away.  So, I thought I would share my hard-earned experience and try and help out people who are going.

Preparation:

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My ‘What are you good at’ GM Challenge

29 May, 2015

From the devious mind of Barking Alien comes the ‘What are you good at’ GM Challenge.  It is pretty simple, five systems/genres you do well, three you do not, five GM skills you excel at and three that need improvement.  For me:

What genres, settings, or games in general do you GM best? Which ones do you think you totally rock?

  1. Traditional (as in D&Desque) Fantasy, fantasy is a good standby and the central pillar of my gaming experience, by now I am pretty good at juggling the needs of it as a genre.
  2. Silver Age Superheroes, when heroes were heroes and villains had themes (“Not this day, Comet Master!“).
  3. Cyberpunk/Shadowrun, the dark future is a surprisingly fun place to play games.
  4. Legend of the Five Rings, the Empire of Rokugan has always proven to be a good place to run games.  Everyone likes magical samurai, right?
  5. Action/Adventure, as a general rule, this is my strength.

Which games could you use to work on? That is, if your group wants to play one of these games, you yourself would probably recommend a different GM.

  1. Politics, I have real trouble tracking the vast number of NPCs and plots required for a really solid political game.
  2. Horror, never sure how to get player buy in for this.
  3. Comedy, while I have run games with lots of humor, a pure comedy game I suspect would collapse with me as a GM.

What elements of Gamemastering do you do best? What aspects do you nail more often than not?

  1. Flexibility, I can adapt quickly to whatever craziness the players throw at me.
  2. Making Players Awesome, I want everyone to be awesome!  So, letting players and their be cool is what it is about.
  3. Imagination, I like to think that I present an exciting and interesting world.
  4. Action/Adventure (again!), presenting high action really does seem to be one of my strong suites.
  5. NPCs that help without getting in the way, this is a skill that took me sometime to learn as a GM but I think I have it down now.

Which elements are still a work in progress? Name some things that you don’t do as well as you’d like.

  1. Organization/Note-taking, not as careful or as complete as I should be on either of these (linked) GM duties.
  2. Politics/large number of required NPCs, as mentioned above, the organization and tracking needed for large scale politics and intrigue seem beyond me.
  3. Player Commitment, not as good as inspiring this as I would like, no one seems to be willing to do more than the minimum needed to play.  Which can be understandable but to build a strong campaign some additional interaction and support is needed.

An interesting exercise and food for thought.

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