• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Lessons you've learnt that made you a better GM and/or player

Sangrolu

Social Justice Ninja
Validated User
Don’t call for a die roll/test unless you, as a GM, are comfortable with any result of that roll.

If you say a failed pilot roll will destroy the ship and everyone on it, don’t back out when the player rolls poorly.
 

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
A Secret Kept Is Wasted
Which is to say - anything that's only in your head, be you a GM or a player, isn't in everyone else's head, and they can't do cool things with it.
Is your character feeling things about the latest plot elements? Say them out loud! "My character feels sad"! Let everyone else at the table know! Characters will react to each other, and the GM can use that to build on the future.

Amazing secret history that informs the setting? Unless something about it is currently engaging the PCs, it doesn't matter. If it hasn't hit the table then it doesn't exist yet. The 1000 year history of the Glorgan Empire doesn't matter to the PCs. What the spymaster did last week very well might. That is what the players need to know.

Not sure whether you should tell a secret to one PC and not the others? That's a simple answer - what would be more entertaining for the group? Last session I had an NPC tell a PC that they really should keep a particular plan under wraps from their allies... and IRL, I said it in full view of everyone else. Because then they can set up all kinds of entertaining scenes of trying not to let each other catch on, without me having to push for it. On the flipside I kept one particular (not very critical) secret from all but one of the players, precisely because the sense of smugness it gives them over the others informs the atmosphere of play positively.
 

Biffmotron

No longer worrying...
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Player characters are forces of chaos. Embrace chaos.

A roleplaying game is about asking each other "what happens next?" The rules help us find interesting answers to the question.

Any check or test or action has three parts. This is what I am trying to accomplish. This is how I am going about it. These are the consequences.
 

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Any check or test or action has three parts. This is what I am trying to accomplish. This is how I am going about it. These are the consequences.
If you trust old Forge theory, they'd say it's actually four - intent, initiation (the one you left out), execution, and effect. The distinction being at what point(s) the mechanics might enter. For example, in DND you might say "I stab at the orc" and then wait for the rest of the resolution, because "I kill the orc" is not generally a valid statement in DnD-combat (but it might be in other games).
 

DestinyPlayer

Registered User
Validated User
Reward Unexpected Behaviour instead of Punishing It. One time I was GMing a faux-Exalted game, and wanted to play out the moment when the players awakened. For one player, I was expecting perseverence, curiosity, as they looked through every nook and cranny of a dungeon and resisted a corrupting artifact that was trying to take over their mind.

And then the character proceeded to gather their will, and punt the damn thing into the wall. After that display, I couldn't not make them a Solar-equivalent. And this became one of my favourite moments in any game I'd ever played or GMd.


And as a sidenote, I have a small request, even though I'm not the thread's OP. Could anybody give some things that you'd learned from text-based roleplays? As much as I'd enjoy a proper voiced game, all of the people that I know that play RPGs live overseas. Not only are we really away from each other, they also don't really like talking in voice, so we're stuck with text-based. I'm fine with it, but I'd like to find out what lessons you've found out about doing it this way.
 

Timon

Unabashed optimist
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Be delighted to sacrifice your stuff
This is the Apocalypse World "look through crosshairs" advice that really helped me. There is no limit to the amount of monsters, disasters, obstacles and conundrums I potentially have. If the players cunningly roflstomp my big bad boss that is awesome.

No load-bearing bosses before the end of the game
The corollary to the above is that if my whole premise was depending on that one big bad boss then it needed better underpinning and I need to get right on that or alternatively the players just won everything, which is fine.

Ask questions that make people pause
Another AW one: making players think about what their character cares about or needs drives interesting play.
 

Dragonlover

Registered User
Validated User
If you talk confidently and make even a modicum of sense, you *will* end up as group leader. Do it enough, and it'll start transferring between games if you're not careful.

Dragonlover
 

Timon

Unabashed optimist
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Could anybody give some things that you'd learned from text-based roleplays?
Lean on relationships
PbP is slower and more descriptive than face-to-face so you will want to emphasise relationships between players, have them play those out in dialogue.

Describe thing lavishly
Set a standard in your posts for describing things carefully, adding details that are specific to how a particular character perceives things: The priest sense that this clearing was once a sacred site but the ranger sees that the undergrowth here is different and the trees seem shallowly rooted as if there were rock beneath the soil.
 

Daz Florp Lebam

Registered User
Validated User
More and more, when I need to come up with details on the fly about a person, place, or thing, I will turn to a player and say, for instance: "Russ, what's the name of this teacher Kevin's character has to go see? David, this Mrs. Haversham has a secret that might involve Kevin - what is it?" It keeps the players involved when the focus of a moment or scene isn't on them
 

D13

Luckily Unlucky
Validated User
Never ever say "I don't know" or "it doesn't matter" to your players about your setting or game

You are the GM, you should know and you should care. If you want player immersion and investment then you need to know even if you don't know the answer, and you need to care even if you don't. If a Player asks the name of a place, thing, or person do not say "I don't know" or "it doesn't matter" that will destroy a player's immersion in your setting. If you are trying to sell players that your setting is a living breathing place the PCs should care about, then "I don't know" or "it doesn't matter" are not acceptable answers to player questions. Those answers are signals to your players that they shouldn't care about your setting or your game. You want your players to care! Which leads to my next bit of advice:

Improvisation is built on preparation
Fortify your weaknesses. If you know you are bad at coming up with names, then make a list of appropriate names for your setting. Keep those cheatsheets at the forefront of your notes. If you use digital tools while you GM, keep a browser open to a name generator appropriate to your setting.
If you know you're bad a descriptions then write down ten generic descriptions for things in words you'd probably forget to use in real life. There are also description generators online for all sorts of things. Invent descriptions that can be as specific or vague as you want. "as (blank) as the/a (blank)."
...as blue as the ocean.
...as resplendent as a king.
...as lithe as an elf.

You can always add another sense too. "and (sense) like (blank).
...and smelled like morning dew.
...and sounded like an angry gander.
...and felt like a slimy toad.

This also helps players keep immersion, as you can have Galahad the knight whose armor reflects as a mirror in the sun, and smells like roses on an autumn day.
Instead of "uhh I don't know Bob the knight wearing plate armor." There is nothing wrong with Bob the knight, but immersion is important for player investment into your world.
 
Top Bottom