MoonHunter Sayeth 20181023


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The Minimum Check Boxes
Or what happens when MoonHunter's Kid decides to start a chronicle

So my oldest son has decided, out of the blue, to run a game of Deadlands over VoIP for a few of his Boyscout Friends. Not D&D 3.5. Not FATE or FAE. Not his current game of the moment Champions 4ed. Nope, it has to be Deadlands. A game that Dad played once at a convention a few decades ago and only read the core rules, even though I have the PDFs for everything else due to bundles of holdings with good charities, The Anniversary Edition, and some other sources. Still, Okay. He has all of Dad's Gaming Advice to start a chronicle right? ("yes, mostly."*1) He has read Dad's Blog? (welll... I skimmed over it.) The quote that killed me was "I am going to do it like you do with The Boyscouts".

My Kids' STEM oriented Geeky troop has RPG Outings (Overnight camping plus gaming). Okay, confession time. I am just throwing stuff out there when I game with them. I tried to do a fully developed chronicle for The Boyscouts. That was my early 3.5 D&D game. I did a bit of that when we played BRP steampunk. I discovered a couple of things. Despite what they said: one, they don't like to roleplay and two, they want to bash things. A nicely developed chronicle was not what they wanted. The popular dungeon stuff had been ad hoc, randomly generated. No plan, no plot, just hit dice and trying not to kill them off by the third room. So The Nippon FAE Games have been ad hoc games. No real plot, just a video game one. Minimal roleplaying because they don't do it. Just some Samurai (and others) dealing with Asian monsters around their Clan's domain and some other domain's samurai. They get a mission and it turns into a puzzle and some combat.

Now if you have been here a while, you know I like to have a plan and do some prep so the game is great. Well, My Boyscouts are not inspiring me and the selection of Nipponese FAE was done at the last moment. Little to no prep or work on them. I am just winging it. Now you have seen my favorite ad hoc setting pieces here in my blog as examples for The Chronicle Dials. I actually have a plan on how I like to go ad hoc.

To be honest, it actually takes more GM Chops to Wing It. You need to keep it all together, coherent, and lumbering in a direction. If you are lucky and work at it, the session goes pretty darn well. A little planning makes a successful session or chronicle so much easier and the play smoother, to do. It is why I am all for as much prep and planning as you can stand, so you can then go off from there.
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So my Oldest was flailing about. The players were just messing around with the rules making random Deadland things. I gave him these questions to focus him and help him develop a very basic chronicle.

What Game System?
You would be surprised on how many people think they know the answer to this question and find out that not every player (or GM) have the same answer. The game might be the same, but there might be different editions or certain splats or support books may or may not be in play. So Deadlands Anniversary Edition

Do you the GM know the rules well?
He thinks so. He is learning all the magic rules and other f/x for specials that will be allowed.

Where in the Setting is the Chronicle?
He had no idea. Somewhere in the Weird West. We bounced some ideas around and he decided New Orleans because it had some neat monsters and plots in the books. This question helps to anchor the chronicle in what is possible. (Cowpunchers and Pinkertons might be common in The Territories, but not in New Orleans or The Maze). It also helps you choose what is possible in the chronicle (Not likely to have a stampede in New Orleans, but we now have floods).

What are you expecting the characters to be? What do you expect them to be doing?
This is the idea that helps form the nucleus the character group. It gives you a chance to keep everyone on the same page (Okay, we are The Cartwright Family.. got it). Also giving players an idea what the players will be doing (Monsters of the Week mostly. So they know they need fighting skills and maybe some magic). This framework makes the character creation easier. Knowing the type of chronicle/ stories makes designing a character easier. (His group knows what they are doing, but they do not have a reason to be together.) Sure this is the Chronicle Framework, but why use the fancy term right off?

These are for the Character Creation Phase
I tried to imprint on my oldest that The GM has to be involved in character generation. You can't just take random things together, force them into a plot/ adventure, and assume it will work. The GM has to be part of character creation (as well as chronicle creation). My Oldest and I had "The PC Halo" discussion. (The halo came from computer video games, you knew which character's turn it was because the light was around them. The PC Halo means you automatically trust everyone with it, even if you shouldn't.) He will work with the players to get a framework going.

Throw MoonHunter's Character Creation Advice at them...
It is here on the blog. They are short, easy to digest, and simple.

Everyone should have a real reason to be in the area. They should have links to the area.
This anchors the characters to the game environment. It gives them locations to be attached to (Our Gambler will be in a bar and casino. Okay. Oh, he is part owner, better. ). It gives them people to know (So he has a partner, and will know the bartender, piano player, and maybe the bar maids.) It also gives them people to oppose (like that awful bar owner from down the street.) Now you know what you and maybe the players need to create before the chronicle starts.

Every Character should have a relationship with the other player/ protagonist characters and a strong relationship with two of them. There should be stories, opinions, and ideas characters have about the other characters. Your relationships with friends should be friendly, but not always. They should work with two other players to have an interesting story and a strong connection between them.... like a shared adventure. These strong connections are what link the character to the group. (And there are two because one death does not sever their connection to the group.)

Remember, not all friends are a friendly connection. There could be tension or strong differences of opinions. This gives you role play opportunities. If you are going to wait for the GM's NPC to roleplay with, only one of you will be roleplaying and the rest of you will be bored. Your fellow players are your best roleplay options.

If you come up relationships with the Non Protagonist Characters in your places and around your areas would make it easier for you to play them later.

Everyones needs to have...
1) A reason to be involved in the main plot or type of adventure (monster of the week).
2) A personal plotline - a goal they want to achieve.
3) Maybe some ideas about what they want their character to do in the game. (Oh Romance someone rich? Okay)

Once they have characters, ask the players for Bits
What do they want to see in the game? What kind of plots, places to go, things to fight, NPCs to mess with, and so on. Ask them for what they want to have in the game. Get a few ideas from them. You can use them for later. (This will include things they want to not have in The Chronicle.)

Scribble down all your ideas.
Get a note pad and scribble down ideas. Keep doing it. Think about a character and scribble down what that character inspires. Scribble down ideas about Those Bits you collected. You will have a bunch of stuff down there.... now read through it later. Find the gold nuggets to mine from those scribbles. (Sure this is brainstorming, but you don't have to call it that).

Make some cool notes
Find what you like and you can do. Use that for the next game. Sure you can break it down to scenes and such like MoonHunter, but just put down what is important and go with it.
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That will help him set up the chronicle. It isn't a MoonHunter Way, but it should make a chronicle that has better odds of succeeding.

It might not be heavy in the roleplaying, but that might be an option.

Now I want him to look at the blog, especially the At the Table, the section on quick prep, and table presentation. I know I can not get him to do a proper Chronicle Packet, but he should do a GM's Journal. Heck, the The Directory Post has a number of categories; GM Tools and GM Techniques will come in handy. Since this is an online game, a text file of 3x5 cards, for scene cards, action cards, magic cards, and location description cards. He can read them off or cut and paste. Maybe he will learn to riff. He might find things he can use at his level of GMing. (Heck, he should read the whole darn blog. It is useful and it will make his Dad happy.)

I don't know if this game is going to fly or he is going to like it. I just want him to enjoy it so he will keep playing and GMing. I want to help him click of boxes to set it up so it has a chance.

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*1 Don't you hate when your own words come back to bite you. Yes, Mostly is a phrase that floats around The Casa MoonHunter.
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