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What's Your GM Style?


Darran

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I saw this in another thread on another forum.

OK, I posted the following:

________________

Notes on my GM style

No fudging by GM - I do all my die rolls in the open. That's what I enjoy.

No cheating by players, A player who can't have fun without cheating is not a player I want at my table.

My priority is player satisfaction through sense of accomplishment - through in-game achievement in the face of genuine opposition and risk of failure. The game is stacked in favour of the PCs to a degree, but through incompetence* or great bad luck the PCs can fail and (in a typical D&D adventure) die. I think the risk of failure makes the sense of accomplishment on victory much greater.

If a PC does die I'll ask the player to create a new PC, possibly having another player supervise die rolls, and I'll endeavour to have the PC join the group as soon as reasonably possible.

I create very PC-centric settings where the PCs have the opportunity to be the world-saving heroes, if the players & PCs can 'step on up' and live up to their potential. I like NPCs to be competent within their area of expertise, but generally overshadowed by the PCs.

*Incompetence in real-world terms (eg intra-party fighting), not lack of rules mastery. I won't punish a player for lack of rules knowledge and I'll explain 3e combat options.

So question is 'what is your GM style?'

If you are not a GM what style do your prefer as a player?

Cheers, Darran

Continuum 2014. John Foster Hall, Leicester University. UK.

Friday 25th - Monday 28th July 2014.

http://www.continuum.uk.net

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Here's mine:

I am fast and loose with my games, especially at RPG conventions. I like to focus on story and setting mainly and like to have the game rules support this. Hence I use a rules-lite system like HeroQuest.

I follow the game rules but I try to allow players creative freedom in the game with their actions, characters and with the setting.

I like to have a good pace but I also allow the players to slow down and plan their moves and speculate on what is going on [this is where I get my coolest ideas from, paranoid players are a great source of inspiration].

If players have a choice between taking a sensible action that is boring or a more risky action that is more fun, I will support the more fun option.

All dice rolls, even my secret ones, are in the open as failure is often more fun than success.

Expect plenty of props, handouts and maps!

My plots are not sacrosanct, having fun at the gaming table is.

Cheers, Darran

Continuum 2014. John Foster Hall, Leicester University. UK.

Friday 25th - Monday 28th July 2014.

http://www.continuum.uk.net

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Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.

I haven't heard that line in quite a while, Tom!

Pretty much sums up my motivations as a GM, too... However, I am plot / character driven. NPCs, that is!

My scenarios are created with my PCs character sheets in-hand, I know their skills and interests (they're interested in using the skills and powers they put on their characters). I tailor the plot to involve them as the protagonists. Then, I give the NPC leaders agendas, goals, and a timetable.

Each session represents the opportunity for the PCs to a) discover what the NPCs are up to (in an investigative game), B) react to their plans, and c) use those skills and powers they chose. For the NPCs, each session gives them a chance to a) advance their agendas, B) learn more about those who oppose them (quite often the PCs), and c) adjust their goals based on what "happened" during the session.

Because I - as GM - have omniscience, I make sure that the NPC only reacts to things their minions report back, or that they themselves can confirm. That's actually quite a hard thing to do, but it's enjoyable. As for the "flow" at the table, I tend to chose BRP because it provides the toolkit which can help push through challenges without getting in the way/slowing us down. My rolls are made in the open on the table, but the NPC stats are kept squirreled away. This has led to previous players starting a "character sheet" for major NPCs. Each skill roll made helped them "triangulate on" the character's actual skill percentages...

My plots, because I made them staring at the PCs stats, are typically something that the players are interested in anyway. Pace is entirely determined by the PCs. If they choose to sit down at the local Starbucks and enjoy a latte while the NPCs continue to abduct homeless people for their experiments, I'll throw out clues to the fact that they're wasting time. Newscasts about where the latest abductions took place, overhearing conversation from a volunteer at the local soup kitchen worried about missing regulars, etc...

But again, if the PCs waste their time, the NPCs don't sit on their laurels. They're out there doing things. That's the pressure that keeps my players interested, motivated, and trying some of the maddest stunts I've ever seen!

Hidden Fires, my Modern Cthulhu Mythos game, got short-circuited pretty quickly by the PCs choosing not to interview the families of the plague's victims, but instead going to hang out at the local Menonnite community to "shake out the cultists".

The cultists really appreciated their efforts - I can tell you that much!

Oh - and as for convention games - I made my plots up while looking at the pre-gens I wrote for the scenario too.

Edited by GerallKahla
thoughts on preparing for convention games

Emerging from my Dark Age...

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Prepare for everything. Nobody likes seeing a GM stumble through a game. Expect the players to do the unexpected. Be prepared to let them go there. Let the players have fun, but to do so within the parameters of their character. Don't overuse non-player characters and don't let the players use them to do the heavy lifting. Give them a reason to want to like and grow attached to their character. Give them every tool they need to be successful and be prepared to accept alternatives if a player raises a good point about a particular situation. It's your story, it's their game, have fun.

Roll D100 and let the percentiles sort them out.

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Far-reaching subplots involving a few background NPCs.

Storylines that progress remorselessly in the background, ready to pounce on PCs when necessary.

Foreground scenarios that interact with the PCs' backgrounds and the players' likes and dislikes.

Sketch scenarios, nothing written up in too much detail.

Flexible plotlines and storylines that can turn on a sixpence in response to a good player idea/PC action.

Combat light, but sometimes deadly-ish.

High-octane adventuring, when I can get the players to work as a team, otherwise slow meandering until they happen to fall over a clue or plot point.

Major NPCs have stats, minor ones don't. I can make up stats on the fly, all I need are an attack chance, damage bonus and rough idea of armour/hits.

I tend to sometimes throw in something familiar that turns out to be very different.

PC actions always have consequences. Sometimes they do the right thing for the right reason in the right place and things still don't work out how they expected.

I throw in some HeroQuests now and again, not enough to make them boring or routine, but enough to keep the players on their toes. They are trying some HeroQuests of their own at the moment, so I am winging them.

If they do something strange, go somewhere unexpected or try something different then I wing it as far as I can. If it leads to one of my subplots or impacts on one of the background plots then great, if not then they will spawn future scenarios.

Don't keep beating a dead horse. If a plot point has died or the players aren't interested then move time on and have an NPC resolution. If that means the PCs are disadvantaged then so be it.

Try and include all the PCs in plots/scenarios. Have different things happen for different PCs. Don't make it too easy for any one PC, try and make things challenging but not necessary lethal.

Always have some backup scnearios written so that you can move into one if something else fails.

Don't be afraid of using published scenarios.

Don't be afraid of changing published scenarios.

Have a general Timeline to hang things from but don't be afraid to change it.

Above all - having fun while GMing and playing. There's no point doing things if nobody is interested.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Prepare for everything. Nobody likes seeing a GM stumble through a game. Expect the players to do the unexpected. Be prepared to let them go there. Let the players have fun, but to do so within the parameters of their character. Don't overuse non-player characters and don't let the players use them to do the heavy lifting. Give them a reason to want to like and grow attached to their character. Give them every tool they need to be successful and be prepared to accept alternatives if a player raises a good point about a particular situation. It's your story, it's their game, have fun.

I agree with the Fun Guy here!:happy: Myself, in addition to all the above, I try to keep it as rules-light as possible. That, incidentally, is why I love BRP so much.:D

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*I fudge the die rolls but make sure I don't get caught

*I do kill my players but always have an npc ready to be taken over and I allow pcs to be rolled up to the level of everyone else

*I rule with an iron fist but i am prepared to listen to appeals and say "sorry I made a mistake". I am definitely in charge though.

*I ignore cheating if the player is having a hard time but don't if they are taking the piss

*I believe in physics, natural selection and socio-economic factors even in Glorantha.

*The world goes on around the PCs as if it is real so, no, they can't see the King and yes if you jump off that you will die. The world doesn't exist as a solipsist dream and I do roll dice for npc vs npc action but in a fudgy way.

*They can see the king if they roleplay properly and in character.

*I'll try and find a way for the PC to use his "Gold to hay" spell. They hardly ever notice its forced.

*I flow from free-wheeling-no-strike-ranks-some-dice-rolling to full on tactical-hit locations-strike ranks mode.

*Yes you can use oratory to stop the troll battering you.

*Language skills are boring

My Glorantha fan site: http://www.clan-tula.co.uk

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Always using BRP with a couple of houserules. All the NPCs have names. All ways lead to Rome - but I always take care to maintain the illusion of free will. The players should fear death. Mortality rates are relatively high, but the illusion of danger is higher. Players fearing for the life of their character play more intelligent.

SGL.

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.

Although I have a few players characterize me as a killer GM, I have only whacked 7 characters in...OMG... 20 years of gaming! One of those was my GMPC and my first character ever created, and the other 6 were a TPK (total party kill) when a singular spaceship attacked a planet...that knew they were coming...and sent a squadron out to meet them...and instead of talking, they just flew in and started shooting...

Granted, I do not reward dumb thinking, but I rarely kill characters as the 7 KIA in 20 years should attest to.

I am a story driven GM and all of my games have HUGE amounts of background developed before play ever starts. In order to do that, I have to have the type/setting/style of game the players want...from that come binders of background data...that way if the PC's shoot the contact, I know who will be angry, what the bounty will be, and who else can serve to fill in the PC's.

All my rolls are made in the open, as are all my players rolls, but I do allow 1 reroll per session, per character. I despise cheaters and have booted a few of them from the table for up to a month at a time.

I reward characterization far more than "goals" that may or may not be acheived, and since I use BRP, just playing in character builds the character, stat wise so that makes the few stat monsters I've played with happy.

I am big on NPC's, plans and maps.

The best is when my wife and I both GM...I do the plans, the plots, the maps and she does the voices, the seat of the pants stuff.

It is actually really awesome to have 2 GM's and 6 players. That is our preferred way to play.

My wife is all about NPC characterization and spur of the moment GM'ing, but just as my weakness is forgiving dumb players and NPC voices and mannerisms, hers is plot continuity and setting differentiation.

Sorry for the long post :deadhorse:

-STS

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