Game Mastery

player management

GMing for large groups

by on Sep.17, 2010, under dnd, GM, player management

So this isn’t a problem I’ve ever had to handle as a GM, but it’s one that comes up regularly and I’m sick of retyping my answers.  I’m also a programmer, so I find the optimization of repeated tasks to be interesting.
At any rate, here are some tips for speeding up a game with too many players.  I expect to add to this post as I find more solutions.

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Why didn’t I think of that?

by on Apr.17, 2009, under organization, player management

Alright, so Game of Thrones is finished.  It was a good game but had some flaws.  One of the biggest flaws wasn’t entirely my fault.  We had a player who had trouble remembering what was going on.  That player happened to be a spy.  When he got caught and was explaining himself, he fabricated some pretty wild lies.  The problem was that I couldn’t tell if the character was lying or if the player simply couldn’t remember.

Now, I’d done my homework and kept a pretty detailed log on our group wiki.  The information was there, if the players cared to read it.  There was actually a lot of content there, but it was by and large ignored.  With the exception of our “rotating DM” game, I’ve never seen a game’s website get any real use or serve any purpose other than to frustrate the GM.  Long story short, I’ve been discussing this online and somebody posted a very simple, elegant way to get your players to use forums.

Post experience and loot there.  Even if your players aren’t loot whores, nobody wants to miss out on some good magic gear.  Level ups even less so.  Use the loot to get your players into your forum or wiki, and once there they may actually use it.  I think the best part of this idea isn’t even that the players will use the forums, but that division of loot will happen outside of game time.

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Disappointing the characters while keeping your players happy

by on Sep.29, 2008, under player management

I’ve always been a big proponent of beating up the characters a little just to make their victories more meaningful. Okay, so I’m a big proponent of beating up players a lot. It’s how I make the game personal. If a bad guy kicks their collective ass, but the players narrowly escape, they will both respect and hate that bad guy. The next time they get to fight him they’ll be really into it because this fight is personal.

This kind of storytelling (as opposed to “you just killed the bad guy, but wait! His daddy is here and he’s got 10 more barbarian levels. Now kill him instead!”) has served me well for creating meaningful villains in my stories. I recently took it a step further and it backfired spectacularly. I know why the game session failed, but I’m still at a loss for how it should have been run.
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by on Sep.04, 2008, under GM, player management

This is a D&D specific post, as it deals with the topic of alignment.

Last night our game ended and it was time to discuss what to run next. The new guy asked what we thinking of evil characters and accidentally triggered a well rehearsed and lengthy rant from yours truly. The topic comes up fairly often. My thoughts on the matter are well refined from rehashing them over and over. Since this blog is a central repository for RPG issues that keep resurfacing, I figured this topic was post worthy.

First off, let’s talk evil. One of my favorite topics. Evil (and chaotic for that matter) often gets misplayed. I’m talking about the sort of evil that wonders off from the rest of the group to go barbecue an orphanage for shits and giggles. Sometimes it’s one character seeing how much carnage he can get away with. Sometimes it’s a whole party taking part in a verbal depravity contest. Characters like that aren’t evil, they’re monstrous. They’re beyond the brink of sanity. You can’t roleplay something like that, you can only perform a freakshow of disgusting acts.

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Why Won’t They Roleplay – Part 3

by on Aug.25, 2008, under player management

Welcome to part 3 of my Why Won’t They Roleplay series. If you’re having trouble with your current game, you may be a little late in reading this post. However if you’re looking for ways to fix your next game, this one’s for you. It’s about setting expectations and inviting players. (continue reading…)

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Why Won’t They Roleplay – Part 2

by on Aug.25, 2008, under player management

Alright, so last time we discussed players that really, truly do not want to take part in roleplaying. This part of the article isn’t for them. It’s for the players who are potentially interested but don’t know how to roleplay or won’t come out of their shell. The best advice I can give here is to make it personal. The character needs to care about the plot he is involved in. This is why I’m not a big fan of uber save the world quests where the players are the only ones capable of standing up to overwhelming evil forces. Those quests aren’t personal, they’re right place, right time. Whenever I run a game I require a character backstory. No exceptions. Period. End of discussion. Players who object don’t get to play. And in all fairness players who don’t want to write a page or two about their character probably wouldn’t enjoy my style of game anyway.

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Why Won’t They Roleplay – Part 1

by on Aug.25, 2008, under player management

This is hopefully the start of a longer series wherein I discuss how to get your players more involved in the roleplay aspects of the game. Many GMs get frustrated by players who don’t bother getting into character and I see a lot of forum posts about the topic. I feel that one of my biggest strengths as a GM is in drawing players out of their shells, and I’d like to share my methods.

Before I begin I need to make clear that you can’t force players to roleplay. RP isn’t fun for everyone. Many have tried it and decided that it’s just not for them. Some of these players show up for a beer ‘n pretzels style hack and slash fest. Others like building and optimizing characters. Some people just show up to game because it’s where all their friends are. (continue reading…)

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