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MoonHunter Sayeth 20170609

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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Core Things to know
1) Cue Cards
2) Riffing
3) Magic Boards
4) Chronicle Packet
5) GM Journal PART II


3) Session Notes
Dip Happen. No matter how much development of the setting, the plots, and the NPCs you do – this is called DaS (Development at Start) by the way- you will need to do more. You are not “in control” of the story, so you have to adapt to the ideas and actions of the rest of you players. This forces DiP to happen – DiP Development in Play. They are usually small things you need to improvise or create on the spot to keep everything flowing smoothly. (DiP is the reason why human moderated games will always be better than computer game.)
These are the notes that occur during the game. They are notes about things you improvised – npc hot dog vendors, a low life bar near the docks, the lens of translation that you realized might be needed so they can follow along the plot, or what ever. If there are changes to a minor or majors NPC’s history or some connection with another NPC that you just did. These are also the scrambled changes and reordering of game scenes because your players zagged instead of zigged… or started to head for the left field wall.

This is where we break the ToC order here… so keep up with me.

Now remember is section 2, I have this “Journal Format”? It will effectively print a scene card or other card in the first column. It will then leave a column to the right that is blank and associated with the card. That is for my hand written notes about the card entry or typed entry on the other side. So these session notes will be in the Session Planning section. If I am being perfectly neat, a big chunk of my notes for the game will be in that section.

I am seldom neat.

I do most of these session notes on the pad of paper at the front of the Journal. I type a few hundred words a minute and I can not keep up with the game typing (and then there are the graphics/ maps, or the music or the …) … so I tend to do everything long hand (and eventually translate). Now I keep that as a primitive archive, flipping back to pages if something is short.

I tend to transcribe those notes. A short version of those notes becomes part of the EP list, summarizing what interesting or important happened. The rest of the transcribed notes tend to become “The change list”. (It is one document that I add to and add to.) So if I add a link between two NPCs that was not there in their original write ups, I need to go back and change their write ups. However, if my memory is involved… it could slip… so the change list I wrote up reminds me of that change, without having to reread the entire character history again. This tends to be in the front of the archive, but sometimes I put it at the end of session notes for ease of reference. (I used to tuck it in right after the EP sheet. What ever works for you.

Note: The change list helps you know what you need to do when you are updating the Chronicle packet.


4) List of plots and events to be used over the campaign Aka The Plot Vault

This is the section that the GM should list “the story line for the campaign” and the “big story arcs” and any “little arcs”. Now GMs have their own way. Some just run by instinct. Some create a list. Some create a graphic display of events. However, you do it as a GM, you should have it in your GM’s Journal so you review it, refresh it, or change it.

Now, doing this The MoonHunter Way ™, requires you to create story arcs and key scenes.

Each Storyline/ Story Arc follows a story or flow of events from the beginning to the end. So there are points along the way that things need to happen. Each one of those points along the way are a scene.. where something happens or needs to happen before things can go on. So a story arc has a minimum of three key scenes (something that starts things up, something that makes it complicated, something that resolves it.) Sometimes you need to put travelling scenes between those three scene. Then you can put scenes in about things that happen while they are travelling. Then there are scenes where you get helpful bits that will make it easier to fix one of those key scenes.

Each of those planned scenes should have a cue card – a scene card – that will help you keep focused on what needs to happen in that scene and where things could go next. These start as physical cards usually (or slips of paper). I then move them around and see what order and position works best.

Now there are Central Story Arcs (the one the campaign revolves around), the Character’s Reason (the plotline that each character has that is the reason why they are in the big arc), personal arcs (developing the character subplots, or other subplots that are cool), or random arcs (because sometimes you just need something to do while in the city… so why don’t you just chase a pickpocket who stole the Mcguffin from you.)

So every plotline has a letter or two. Every scene in a plotline has a number. This way I can keep track on which scenes have been used in which plotlines.

In a novel, these story arcs are a straight line… a string of plot pearls if you wish. In a game you need to plan for “other ways to go”. If you do everything right, the players find the right clue or follow the right person or just continue on with their lives. Sometimes, the players want to investigate other avenues of action. So when planning a story arc, there should be “Branches” and “Loops” and other things. The Game Story Arc should be a flow chart, showing optional paths. These options are all prepped and ready, but may not be used. Sometimes they go down the optional path and ignore most of the original path. The point is to have most of the scenes ready to go.

Running a Game the MoonHunter Way for each session means picking which key scenes are for this session, if there are any other big scenes that need to be encounter, and any other subplot lines that need to be done, then prep those. Then if logic says that certain things need to happen to get you to any of those, you can create those scenes. (You can formally write them up, or just make short form versions of them them). You will have a number of boxes on the flowchart that should happen during the session. You can then improv new scenes and paths as you need to make them happen.

Note: When I need help with figuring out the order of things for a session, I actually print out the cards and try moving them around on the table. Usually that will give me the best flowcard for the session (and show me a couple of options should change things.

Remember the Journal Note format? I create a sheet (or three) using the cards on the file. I have places for handwritten notes in the second column. I place this sheet (or three) in the Session Planning Section and do the notes on the second column.


There are two ways to create a chronicle: DIP and DAS. DAS is Design at start. It is the best way to create a setting, as you can make all the decisions at your leisure. DIP is development in play. No matter how much you do in the beginning, you will have to do world building as the chronicle progresses. Every game setting is a combination of these two… the trick is finding the right combination for you. I recommend to make all the big decisions and decide upon some general themes before the game starts and do a lot of “big picture” DAS. That way you will have a framework to fit all the DIP into.

5) Write ups for NPCs, Locations, Items, etc.
This is where you stick all those things you create in what ever system you are in. This all includes character sheets, stat sheets, maps, pictures, and other stuff.

I tend to do all the heavy lifting for my account when I am still really excited about the chronicle… i.e. before it even starts or just as it starts. I invest a huge number of hours, writing things up I might need for the campaign. (If you have read “How to set up a Campaign The MoonHunter Way” or “How to set up a Chronicle The MoonHunter Way”, you can see how that is fairly focused as the players and their story arcs.) That huge number of hours I invest early on, pay off later… as there is less for me to do as the campaign proceeds… and I can concentrate on cool details and better GMing… instead of desperately filling in things the chronicle requires. Also having all this stuff created ahead of time, I can easily edit and change things to fit the new way for the chronicle as it progresses.


6) Grab and Go Pieces
These are for my recycled pieces. They will follow me around between games in the same gamesystem (adjusted for genre in that system). You see, I will create some generic people and mooks and sometimes monsters for the campaign. There are always some details missing on them (some points unspent). So I can use and reused them over. So Albe the Tinker may be a major NPC, but I just use the Craftman Template (with the notes of add an eye patch disadvantage and throw those points to improve tinkering). I can have Hanovers guys listed as 3 tough mooks, one strong mook (with sword), and one skilled mook with a whip (female exotic). I just turn back to the mook page, and use their stats and rolls right from there.

A lot of fantasy monsters I use are the same general monster that are slightly weaker than a human being. Those monsters are often reskinned to be what I need… like Goblins, Zombies, Vat Goons, after adding flight they become Gargoyles, and so on.

I have stronger monsters and sometimes I just use the Mook Templates… reskinned to be dangerous beasties.

and there is some more (in the comments)....
 

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
7) GM’s version of the Chronicle Packet
It had to go somewhere, so here it is… full of the precious secrets of the GM and all the rest of the stuff the players know.

8) Archive
Finish using something for the campaign? Stick it back here. Session planning notes and flowcharts? They go here. Notes once they have been transcribed, they go here. NPCs that will never be seen again, their sheet goes here (though sometimes I recycle them as Grab and Go stuff). Old copies of player’s character sheets? They go here. You kind of see where this is going. You may never need this stuff ever again, but if you do… it is so handy to have it stuffed right here.

9) Anything which makes sense to you.
There is no one way to do anything. So make sure to include things you think OR FEEL you need. Even if you don’t ever use them, having them will make you feel better… and if you do need them… wham, they are right here in the GM’s Journal.

Now one thing that “makes sense” to me is to have a current copy of each character sheet and their equipment. I have found it great to be able to say, “If it isn’t on my sheet, you don’t have it.”. This keeps the players making current copies of their characters and handing them to me.
 
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MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I want to include one thing:

When I was not using the card format, I would use Cornell Note Format.

The Cornell method provides a systematic format for condensing and organizing notes. The student divides the paper into two columns: the note-taking column (usually on the right) is twice the size of the questions/key word column (on the left).

http://coe.jmu.edu/learningtoolbox/images/noteb4.gif

This system works better for many people. If you are not using the scene/ cue cards or a computer hybrid system, then Cornell notes might work really well for you. (And if you are doing paper and computer notes, it still will work well. )

The Cornell system was the bridge for me, to help me move from straight paper to a hybrid system of paper and computer files - using the cue card. It is great at keeping your thoughts organized. This organization is key to staying focused and on track, but still relaxed enough to respond.
 
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