Okay, for an actual question. Feel free to slap me if it is one you've already answered, but what is more important to you when looking at running a new system: the setting or the rules? Which do you feel is easier to go light on while still being faithful to the system itself?
I’ll slap you anyway for the fun of it!
Rules trumps setting.
Don’t get me wrong, there are settings that absolutely blow me away. I’ve talked at length about how I love Forgotten Realms, the universe of Warhammer 40k or The Sixth World, but if we’re viewing games as games, then the rules are more important.
A game without rules isn’t a game. Games are essentially a system of rules that we voluntarily take part in for leisure.
A game without a setting/story is still a game. I love Tetris and GURPS.
What's your favorite thing about being a GM? Conversely, what's your favorite thing about being a player?
My favorite thing about being a GM:
I really, really love making games for other people to enjoy. I’m not entirely sure how to quantify that experience or break down the individual parts, but I legitimately find fun in letting other people have fun through my designs.
My favorite thing about being a player:
I love being characters. Becoming a character is one of the most fulfilling experiences behind tabletop play. Getting super attached to another “self” in that regard is intoxicating and I love it.
Soooo I'm currently getting ready to run a zombie apocalypse game with the loosest game mechanics known to man (essentially make your character, grab your dice and hang the system, we'll make it work). I've been encouraged by my players to create some 'special' zombies ala Left 4 Dead, but I don't want to just outright import them from other sources and slap some homebrew paint on them. I'm in a bit of a creative muddle at the moment, so any advice would be helpful.
Ankle-Biters: Zombies that are just crawling torsos.
Screamers: Kids that scream while they bite your knees and alert other zombies.
Fido: Zombie dogs.
Burrowers: Zombies that dig underground and pop up, dragging you into the earth with them.
Hammerheads: Zombies that headbutt, using other zombie heads.
Existential Crisis Zombies: When they ask “Brains?”, they’re plagued with never knowing the answer.
You want mellow? Okay... if Cheech & Chong were a pair of player characters, what would their race & class be?
Cheech would be a halfling BARD.
Chong would be a half-elf Druid.
Cheech: "I use suggestion to get him to open the door."
GM: "What do you say to get him to open it!"
Cheech: "I say ‘Open up man, it’s Dave!’"
GM: "Sorry, it doesn’t work on him"
Chong: "Dave’s not here, man!"
What's your favourite game for a mellow, relaxing evening with friends?
Mutants & Masterminds.
It’s so easy to pick up, it’s so easy to use, it’s so easy to play, and there is nothing more fun than being a superhero for a night.
First off, big fan of your blog. I always love what pops up on the dash. I am in need of some advice on one thing. Companions, I like to have companions in my games, ever since I read only war I've been hooked on them. It allows for diversity and my players love interacting with them. But in combat they seem to get kind of stuck as I like to have one or two tough solo monsters in fights instead of a bunch of minions. How can I keep the companions out of the fight so the PC's get their glory?
Thank you so much for the kind words!
I love the idea of companions as well, however managing an army of companions can become tiresome quickly. Only War accomplishes this by somewhat ensuring that companions don’t live for very long.
When I was playing Dark Heresy, everyone had a companion. Mind you, this was long before “companions” were a thing, I simply enjoyed having NPCs to mirror my PCs. Due to the constraints of the system, it was easy to have almost all of the NPCs “stay on the ship” while taking one with the party.
Alternatively, while playing Pathfinder, I give the players NPCs to talk to and create relationships with but distinctly craft their focus as real, living individuals. This would mean that while they can accompany party members on trips and through dungeons, they have reason not to do those things, as they have their own lives to lead.
Both of these examples give companions a place to be while PCs do the fun stuff, which makes them relevant (and potentially in danger at times) without stealing the show.
A secondary solution could be to have the companions simply be not very good at fighting.
This can be constructed narratively or literally. If the companions have skill-sets outside of combat (being a medic, for example) that provide utility to the party without taking over the big action moments, or if the PCs have character quirks/flaws that makes them less prone for the punching, they would also take an understandable backseat.
The point of both solutions is to give the companions a reason not to fight, which in turn gives them a reason not to take the spotlight. The reason comes from your game/setting/system, of course.
It’s the middle of the day, early in the week. We all have big things to accomplish as time goes on, but why rush?
Let’s take it easy today, followers. We can chill out, max, relax all cool. Maybe shoot some basketball outside of various, nondescript schools.
Mainly, let’s have a casual questions day. No urgency to ask on your party, and some urgency to answer on mine.. Give me your most laid-back queries.
Double points for tabletop related questions.
Triple points for keeping it mellow.
Let’s have some fun today, but only if it is relaxing.
Can you play as a Jedi knight in Edge of the Empire? Someone was telling me about their campaign idea which involved Jedi but I thought the whole point of EotE.was to not play Jedi.
Although the book is very much focused around being a non-force user, it’s possible.
There is a small Force section that can be used in the Edge of the Empire core rulebook that details the ability for characters (who aren’t droids) to become force sensitive and use a small array of Force Powers.
The official line for force users will be called Star Wars: Force and Destiny, and will come into beta and release after Age of Rebellion.
I'm just getting into DMing, but I have an issue: I'm very noise-sensitive and tend to get anxious with lots of shouting or people talking all at once. I've explained this to my players, and they try to respect it, but everyone forgets in the heat of the moment. Do you have any tips for managing rowdy players and keeping people from talking over each other?
At the risk of decreasing the tempo, a solution to this may be consistently keeping players in check.
It’s easy for a group of players to get excited, due to the nature of play. More often than not, players will begin talking louder and louder without realizing, simply because the overall noise level of the table has grown (from talking).
For this situation, you can treat the players a lot like you would treat a classroom. Distinctly and specifically call for responses when you’re looking for them, encourage people not to interrupt, and remain consistent with your statements/
If the players are beginning to raise above the din of normal speech, take the authority of calmly reminding them to settle down a little. To ensure that this doesn’t come off as accusatory, keep a calm demeanor and be consistent on your checks.
Alternatively, try playing games that encourage a more laid-back atmosphere rather than an active or frenetic style of play. “Slice of Life” games are rarer, but do exist in the tabletop scene.
I hope this helps. If anyone else has advice, please feel free to drop it in!
Tell us about your favorite/most successful red herring plot. Bonus points for a story where you were perfectly distracted by a GM.
This is going to sound strange, but I tend away from red herrings.
When we played Spirit of the Century, I had a side-character named Rett Harrington that was initially going to kidnap another side-character, Sassy Flapper Peggy Gaffer, which in turn would distract everyone from the Germans stealing the robot.
In the end, I axed Harrington and kept all other pieces. Mainly, I know my players are too deductive to fall for a red herring when they see one. I’d rather go for a long-con than a red herring.
I don’t have any good stories on myself being perfectly distracted by a GM, but I do have a story of perfect distraction where I was a player.
In our first season of World of Darkness, the pizza delivery guy was tackled and dragged away by what turned out to be a werewolf. We saved the pizza delivery guy and avoided confrontations with the werewolf as the campaign continued.
The GM for the session hinted one time that the pizza delivery guy may be a larger part of the story, which in turn caused another PC to become unnaturally fixated on that pizza delivery guy for the next thirteen sessions. He would often refer to him as a “key player”.
As it turns out, the pizza delivery guy had nothing to do with anything. As such, whenever a PC is creating an imbalanced favor towards an idea that doesn’t seem to have a purpose, we refer to that idea as a “key player”.