Tips for RPM's

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Tips for RPM's

Post by Holsety on 8th September 2012, 9:14 pm

Adapted from this wikiHow page.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare. Get EVERYTHING in one place. Sketch out maps, visual aids, relationship or plot diagrams. Double-check to make sure all the major stuff exists; you can flesh out side characters, other areas, and such during play. Or, my personal favorite, flying by the seat of your pants. Make sure you have an idea of general direction for both the session and adventure, or at very least a general theme. No plan survives first contact with the players. Not intact, at least. Make cheat-sheets for combat, types of actions, movement... Whatever is going to come into play frequently. Keep things organized.

2) Starting role plays is hard. Going from creating a character straight to playing them is always going to be a little rough, and it's your job as a GM to keep things running until people settle into their character personas. There are many ways to start a game.

Try to avoid the cliches of taverns and mysterious strangers. Don't tell people out-of-hand that their characters already knew each other, unless it was something already discussed in character concept. Better to have most, if not all, first meeting happen during play. It helps define the relationships realistically, and gives a much more interesting time. A good tactic is often to start with each character separated; more work for you, but more rewarding in the end. Over the course of one, maybe two sessions, let them all run into each other. They might even be pitted against each other initially, or working together, but hostile; don't force friendships. Things will develop.

3) If you're indecisive and overly loose in your GMing, your players might start feeling adrift, and pointless, without a plot to follow. 'Sandbox' worlds, where they have to find their own stories, can work, but it takes a very rare set of players. Most will just get frustrated and bored.

On the other hand, being overly controlling, forcing your players' actions and reactions, will make your players feel railroaded. You can use these feelings for short stretches of games, if they have a valid in-game reason to exist, like a manipulative superior showing up as the villain, but they have to be something that can be stopped. Players will get incredibly frustrated when they can't make their own decisions, and get apathetic and angry, because they're no longer involved in the story.

4) Never tell a player 'no'. This is, basically, improv theatre. A 'no' is a destructive answer, and it interrupts the game's flow. Here are the alternatives:

- If it's something you have no problem with them doing, something you feel would be good for the story, just say 'yes'. If this gives one player an advantage, make sure you play fair, though, to avoid feelings of favoritism.

- If it's something you're not sure of, that you like, but seems unlikely, tell them 'yes, but'. Qualify it. Tell them it'll take special effort, or they'll only succeed partially, or they can't manage that, but something similar...

- If you think it'll unbalance the game, hurt everyone's experience, and make things less fun, tell them 'you can try'. And let them try. They can even roll dice. And they might manage to do something. But at the same time, don't be afraid to tell them in that case that they failed.

5) If someone proposes an action that will disrail or bypass your planned story, ask yourself these questions: Can I make another story with this? Will it be fun? Will it be more fun than the planned story? Can I pull it off? Will the other players enjoy it? If you answer yes to these questions, then let them do it. If you can get the players to drive the story, it's that much less work for you. Just get a step or two ahead of them by the end to give them a twist or two and a good reward, and let them run with it.

6) Above all, have fun. Cultivate your writing skills. Practice your evil chuckle. Be a friend to the players, and cruel fate to their characters. Collaborate with individual players on events centering on their characters, from abduction or major alterations to family issues. Do this for everyone, at one point or another. Each story can get everyone involved, make the featured player feel special, and develop the campaign as a whole, all at once.

*Make sure to read the tips at the bottom of the web page linked at the top of this post, they can be very useful as well.*

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Re: Tips for RPM's

Post by sagiri on 9th September 2012, 9:39 am

This is really good advice! Especially numbers 3-5; RPs shouldn't feel like there's a script to follow. Players should be able to be spontaneous and it's up to the RPM to adapt to that. :3

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Re: Tips for RPM's

Post by spectral on 9th September 2012, 9:44 am

This is awesome thank you Anghel.

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Re: Tips for RPM's

Post by Zenyatta on 9th September 2012, 10:19 am

Dude, this might help me improve--I've needed it for a while now, thanks!!

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