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View Full Version : DM Help First-time DM--hints and tips?



fergo
2014-10-16, 05:09 PM
Hey guys,

After a while looking around to try and join a local RPG game, Iím biting the bullet and DMing my own. Iíve talked to someone from my local gaming group who predicts that I should get a fair amount of interest, so Iím suddenly chucked into the position where this is a real thing I need to do now.

To understand my trepidation, you should probably know that I have very limited roleplaying experience. I DMed a campaign online (badly), and have been to one or two real-life sessions as a playerÖ basically, I have no idea what Iím doing.

But I want to learn, so Iím gonna do this.

My basic plan is to have a pretty straight-forward, linear campaign. Iím basing it on one that I used that time I ran one online, but am trying to expand things to give the players a greater degree of freedom.

I have a few main worries, that I will set out below. However, Iíd really love any general feedback, comments or suggestions anyone had. Iím keeping things purposefully vague right now, so that you helpful people will give me good, basic, generic advice. However, Iíll be happy to answer in-depth questions on the plot Iím putting together if anyone wants me to.



I donít know how to play

Iím sure Iíll learn as I go along. I think the systemóWHFRP 2nd Edówill be unfamiliar with most people there, so hopefully my ignorance will go unnoticed as long as I stay two steps ahead of the players.

However, there are a few specific issues that I think would only come with practice. For example, how much XP points to give players, and how many enemies to chuck at them. Iím genuinely worried about having to come up with some sort of deus ex machina to get them out of a difficult situation I got them in in the first place.


I donít want them to feel like theyíre being railroaded

Like I said, I want to run a linier campaign. I want a definite beginning and, more pertinently, a definite end.

That is to say, I want to definite point where I can say, ďThatís all, folks,Ē and see what people thought. From there, I can continue DMing, start a new game, or go home and cry, depending on the general opinion.

However, this means somewhat limiting the playersí options in how they react to what I throw at them. Iím trying to come up with multiple methods in which they can solve each problem and multiple routes they can resolve their issues, but at the end of the day Iím going to need them to be heading in roughly the right direction.

For example, the first task they will need to do is get from one city to another. Iím thinking up at least three different routes by which they can get there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages and their own encounters that will happen. But what happens if they decide they donít want to go to the second city at all? What if they decide to head somewhere else, or turn an outlaw gang and haunt the forest, or set up a spoon shop and settle down for a life of whittling spoons?


Iíll be dealing with people Iíve never met before

This isnít just normal nervousness (although there is that, too). Everyone has different styles when it comes to roleplaying. While Iím up for having a laugh and not taking myself too seriously, Iím definitely on the side of wanting to get a story told, for everyone to act in character and try and get into the mood of things.

But I know thatís not to everyoneís taste. What if someone wants to charge head-first into every encounter, whether itís winnable or not? What if someone just wants to mess everything up as much as possible? (Which Iím sure would be hilarious, but Iím sure lots of you will agree that itíd be somewhat frustrating). What if someone cannot be persuaded from playing an all-round evil character thatís going to turn on the party at the first opportunity? (I know this can make for interesting roleplaying and interesting stories, but if handled badly it can just backfire and make everything miserable, and I donít know if I have the experience needed to handle it properly).

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-16, 05:34 PM
Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, or try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire. Talk to them and try to get them on board with the premise (You need to get to X city) before play begins.

And you absolutely need a good understanding of the rules, else simple things quickly spiral out of control. You don't need to be perfect, but try to get as best as you possibly can. And again, make sure your players know you are not as familiar with the system so they can be more understanding.

Glimbur
2014-10-16, 06:31 PM
The other approach to dealing with not knowing the rules is to openly wing it. If something unexpected comes up, set a short time limit for research (2 minutes?), discuss ideas for a short time, and then make the fairest ruling you can. Alternately, just make a ruling on the spot without research or discussion (faster but looks a bit more dictatorial). After the game, get a more definitive answer. The worst part about rules arguments isn't getting the rules wrong, it is wasting game time on them. Establish this policy up front, stick to it, and try to be in line with how the rules seem to point you rather than always favoring or trying to kill PC's.

As has already been said, be open with the players about the kind of game you want to run. It's not a guarantee, but it should help.

draken50
2014-10-16, 06:44 PM
Okay, so couple things.

First. If you're going to run a game, the players actions must be their own. This is big, if the players don't feel they have agency, you're in all likelihood not running a good game.

Linear can be alright depending on it's nature. If the linear is: "here's the quest", "quest","boss", "end." That can be alright, especially if you communicate both your level of experience, and if they decide: "screw the quest I go north." just tell them you don't have anything else prepared. Be honest, communicate.

Now if by linear means, you have to go here and do this in order to go to the next place to do the next thing. That's bad. Their should be multiple solutions to every problem, and the players can and should be able to devise their own. If some course of action you are un-prepared for is suggested, first determine how it could work, before determining why it couldn't. Do not arbitrarily try to stop it from working. If a wooden door is locked, and a player wants to kick it in, the door should not suddenly be wood paneled steel, because you want them to find the key. If you are changing an obstacle to be more difficult to deal with to prevent player solutions from working, your are being a crap DM.


Not railroading the players. Players can accept guidelines on where they go, and what goals they try to achieve... This goes back to, if they want to ignore what you have written, just be honest, don't magically compel them, don't drop an overpowered enemy in their faces. Just say "Hey, this is what I wrote, and I don't have anything else. If you want to just roll random encounters until we all get bored we can do that. I think this might be more fun though."

Players often feel railroaded when they come up with plans that they feel should work, and without obvious reason don't. I've had players decide they want to tell the BBEG they want to join them, and then double cross them when their defenses are down. Bad DM's say, he doesn't believe you, he knows you were paid to hunt them down. Better GM's might have the bad guy pull a joker. "You five want in? There's four openings." or point out that they don't believe that the good cleric would turn. These all make good reasons the BBEG may not have the wool pulled over his eyes, but you play with the plan, not just tell them it doesn't work.

Haruki-kun
2014-10-16, 07:23 PM
I'll try to provide a little advice. I have DM'd exactly one campaign (though twice) after only two or three times I'd played before. Other people here are likely more experienced than me, though.



I donít know how to play

Iím sure Iíll learn as I go along. I think the systemóWHFRP 2nd Edówill be unfamiliar with most people there, so hopefully my ignorance will go unnoticed as long as I stay two steps ahead of the players.

However, there are a few specific issues that I think would only come with practice. For example, how much XP points to give players, and how many enemies to chuck at them. Iím genuinely worried about having to come up with some sort of deus ex machina to get them out of a difficult situation I got them in in the first place.

What I did was disregard XP entirely and make the players level up at specific points in the story. This worked because my story worked as a sequence of different settings, but might not work for you. Its also a matter of preference. My advice is (assuming you don't want to straight-up ignore XP) research this ahead of time. Look up Average Party Levels, Challenge Ratings, and Experience points. And if you DO have to come up with a deus ex machina to get them out of a difficult situation you got them in in the first place... just don't tell anyone. :smalltongue: You totally planned it all along.


I donít want them to feel like theyíre being railroaded

Like I said, I want to run a linier campaign. I want a definite beginning and, more pertinently, a definite end.

That is to say, I want to definite point where I can say, ďThatís all, folks,Ē and see what people thought. From there, I can continue DMing, start a new game, or go home and cry, depending on the general opinion.

However, this means somewhat limiting the playersí options in how they react to what I throw at them. Iím trying to come up with multiple methods in which they can solve each problem and multiple routes they can resolve their issues, but at the end of the day Iím going to need them to be heading in roughly the right direction.

For example, the first task they will need to do is get from one city to another. Iím thinking up at least three different routes by which they can get there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages and their own encounters that will happen. But what happens if they decide they donít want to go to the second city at all? What if they decide to head somewhere else, or turn an outlaw gang and haunt the forest, or set up a spoon shop and settle down for a life of whittling spoons?

There's a sort of unspoken agreement between players and DMs: The players shouldn't actively try to ignore your plot. It would be rude if there was a very obvious plot hook coming from that city over there and the players suddenly decided they'd rather head in the opposite direction.

A more experienced friend of mine points out that what you shouldn't do is think of it like a Skyrim "here are your three options of what to say to the stranger at the tavern", because unlike Skyrim, in D&D they can come up with what to say to the stranger on the fly. You should instead focus on creating characters and settings that are ready to react accordingly. The more you plan ahead, the easier it will be to improvise. If you want the story to be linear, just make sure the line is not narrow.



Iíll be dealing with people Iíve never met before

This isnít just normal nervousness (although there is that, too). Everyone has different styles when it comes to roleplaying. While Iím up for having a laugh and not taking myself too seriously, Iím definitely on the side of wanting to get a story told, for everyone to act in character and try and get into the mood of things.

But I know thatís not to everyoneís taste. What if someone wants to charge head-first into every encounter, whether itís winnable or not? What if someone just wants to mess everything up as much as possible? (Which Iím sure would be hilarious, but Iím sure lots of you will agree that itíd be somewhat frustrating). What if someone cannot be persuaded from playing an all-round evil character thatís going to turn on the party at the first opportunity? (I know this can make for interesting roleplaying and interesting stories, but if handled badly it can just backfire and make everything miserable, and I donít know if I have the experience needed to handle it properly).

I'm afraid I don't have much advice for this. I have never played with strangers. :smallsigh: I guess you could try to set ground rules from the get-go. My first DM had a "no evil characters" rule that I turned into "Evil characters okay, just don't derail the entire story or betray the party". Some people will think this is okay, others will think it's ridiculously limiting. It's a matter of preference.

Alternatively... just be ready for a character to go rogue. Have a contingency plan or whatever.

fergo
2014-10-17, 07:53 AM
Thanks everyone for their feedback. It's all really useful :smallbiggrin:.


Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, or try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire. Talk to them and try to get them on board with the premise (You need to get to X city) before play begins.

Ok, I'll definitely be open with them from the very beginning that the story is definitely going to go from Point A to Point B, but that they'll have a wide range of freedom within these lines.



Now if by linear means, you have to go here and do this in order to go to the next place to do the next thing. That's bad. Their should be multiple solutions to every problem, and the players can and should be able to devise their own. If some course of action you are un-prepared for is suggested, first determine how it could work, before determining why it couldn't. Do not arbitrarily try to stop it from working. If a wooden door is locked, and a player wants to kick it in, the door should not suddenly be wood paneled steel, because you want them to find the key. If you are changing an obstacle to be more difficult to deal with to prevent player solutions from working, your are being a crap DM.

Not railroading the players. Players can accept guidelines on where they go, and what goals they try to achieve... This goes back to, if they want to ignore what you have written, just be honest, don't magically compel them, don't drop an overpowered enemy in their faces. Just say "Hey, this is what I wrote, and I don't have anything else. If you want to just roll random encounters until we all get bored we can do that. I think this might be more fun though."


So, an example. The game opens with that time-honoured clichť, where all the players wake up in a jail cell accused of crimes they didn't commit. There are multiple ways the players can free themselves (depending on their skill-set); if worst comes to worst, they can wait until the militia comes to take them away and then try and fight their way out (which wouldn't be easy, but would be possible).

The thing is, if the militia come and manage to take the players away in chains (either because they were overpowered, or because they decided to wait and see what happens)... well, the game is already over, or at least drastically changed. I suppose I could try and wing it, but I'd prefer not to.

I assume that their natural urge in this situation is to try and find a way to escape, so am coming up with multiple ways for that to happen, with multiple methods and multiple routes they could use, but am still worried that by assuming the players will try X, Y and Z to escape, I'm already kind of railroading them.

Any thoughts?


Players often feel railroaded when they come up with plans that they feel should work, and without obvious reason don't. I've had players decide they want to tell the BBEG they want to join them, and then double cross them when their defenses are down. Bad DM's say, he doesn't believe you, he knows you were paid to hunt them down. Better GM's might have the bad guy pull a joker. "You five want in? There's four openings." or point out that they don't believe that the good cleric would turn. These all make good reasons the BBEG may not have the wool pulled over his eyes, but you play with the plan, not just tell them it doesn't work.

Now that's a cool idea. I kind of wish it would happen now, so I can do that, haha.




I'm afraid I don't have much advice for this. I have never played with strangers. :smallsigh: I guess you could try to set ground rules from the get-go. My first DM had a "no evil characters" rule that I turned into "Evil characters okay, just don't derail the entire story or betray the party". Some people will think this is okay, others will think it's ridiculously limiting. It's a matter of preference.

Alternatively... just be ready for a character to go rogue. Have a contingency plan or whatever.

I think my basic rule will be that I don't care if they're thieves, murderers, bullies, tricksters; whether they make their living by taking from others, or whether they do it just because they enjoy it, except for three things:


They can't be unforgivably evil. No-one who enjoys killing kittens for fun.
They have to at least see the benefit of working as part of a team--temporarily.
They have to have some sort of spark of goodness, or at least public-mindedness--even if it's very deeply buried. Whether this comes out at some point in the adventure or not is up to them.


What do you think?

Jay R
2014-10-17, 10:33 AM
To understand my trepidation, you should probably know that I have very limited roleplaying experience. I DMed a campaign online (badly), and have been to one or two real-life sessions as a playerÖ basically, I have no idea what Iím doing.

Tell your players this. Bluntly and completely.

Then ask them for help, support, and understanding while you learn.

Knaight
2014-10-17, 10:44 AM
Things will go wrong. Even for GMs that aren't first time, things go wrong. You'll slip up on rules, forget setting details, so on and so forth. Everyone does. It is generally understood that everyone does.

As such, don't worry too much about it happening.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-17, 01:51 PM
No, you should have some idea of what to do if they try to fight their way out, I'd say 30-50% odds of such. They might not succeed, be able to, or think of your plans. Mind telling us the plot so we can help, or do the players frequent this place?

Nagash
2014-10-17, 04:00 PM
I ran WHFP 2e for years, its very different then D&D.

First off, run through a few 1 on 1 style gladiator battles by yourself before the game so you understand the basic combat system. Its not too tough, but you have to get used to the hit location tables and such. Also make sure you understand the magic system. Its not like most other fantasy game magic systems.

2ndly, read up on some of the novels if you havent yet to get the feel of the setting. I would suggest withfinder, the malus darkblade books and the blackhearts omnibus to get a good feel for a variety of things. Also the embassador chronicles if your group is going to head to the northern kingdoms.

3rd. Dont worry so much about balanced encounters. Between the overall low HP and exploding damage dice there really isnt any balance. All you can really do is eyeball the numbers and hope for the best. Also make sure the players understand that combat in that system can become deadly very, very quickly. Even for experienced bad asses. Its definitely a system that rewards planning and intelligent tactics, like ambushes, a whole lot more then kick in the door and charge D&D style combat.

4th. Since your new to running the game be honest about that, run a war setting. Warhammer is perfect for it and motivations are easy for PC's, basically dont get killed. To that end use Orcs, or Undead, something that doesnt care if the PC's are good or evil and wont be interested in allying with them in any way. Basically the PC's help win the war or flee the kingdom hoping to stay ahead of the horde.

On that note dont use Chaos as an enemy. PC's might see more opportunity then threat in Chaos and try to join. That will screw your story pretty hard.

Oh and 5th. Plan the first campaign to be short. Its a feeling out process to introduce the players to each other and you and to the setting and world. Once thats done you'll have a much better idea what everyone is looking for in a campaign and the 2nd one will be off to a good start.

fergo
2014-10-20, 11:34 AM
No, you should have some idea of what to do if they try to fight their way out, I'd say 30-50% odds of such. They might not succeed, be able to, or think of your plans. Mind telling us the plot so we can help, or do the players frequent this place?

I don't know if they frequent this place, because I don't know who they are :smallbiggrin:. So I think I should be ok. Still, spoilers...

It's the far north of the Empire. As the first icy winds of winter come down from the north and with the Archaon's great invasion a recent and very bitter memory, the forests of Ostermark are haunted by a growing Beastman threat--and the insidious danger of traitors in high places.

The town of Hasdorf is in ruins after a savage Beastman attack--and someone opened the gates and let them in. Its Judicial Champion, Luther Brandt, seizes and imprisons the players. Perhaps some of them helped fight off the Beastmen, while others may have hid, or tried to run away: nonetheless, for one reason or another they are easy targets for Brandt to pick as the traitors and blame for letting their foes in. The campaign opens the next day as the players wake in their cell and begin plotting their escape.

In truth, Brandt is the head of a secret cult of heretics who worship Chaos as one entity, and see the Four Gods as merely representations of different aspects the One's true essence. He knows that the players didn't do let the Beastmen in: the attack was aimed at destroying his cult and killing him, and was planned by a rival Chaos cult. He has targeted the players to keep people calm and detract suspicion from himself while he plots his own revenge.

The players face no prospect of true justice in a town where Brandt is judge, jury and executioner. However, the Elector Count of Ostermark will be in the area within the next few weeks to hold the Assizes and try local criminals for their crimes--if they can get to Heisberg, only a few days' journey away, they can appeal to him and clear their names. For those of them completely unconcerned with their legal standing, Heisberg is in any case on the quickest route out of the vicinity, and perhaps coming events will convince them of the need to seek some sort of refuge.

I realise that this is one of the weak points of my plot, as it relies on the players choosing to go there and strips them of the option of clearing their names in some other way, or simply leaving. I'm going to be open with my players that I only have the area around Hasdorf and Heisberg mapped out, so choosing to go elsewhere may result in a pretty boring campaign--but that I'm trying to give them as much freedom as possible within this area.

Heisberg's council is headed by Richart Ostulf, a well-known and mostly respected (if unpopular) local figure. Although he's something of a big fish in a small pond, under his leadership Heisberg has become a major centre of trade and industry--exporting coal and importing goods from neighbouring Kislev. He's also the head of the rival cult, in league with the beastmen that are plaguing the local area. He hates Brandt both as a local rival and for (what he sees as) his debased Chaotic theology, and it was he who masterminded the attack on Hasdorf. He'll happily make use of any rugged fugitives who come to him and give him an opportunity to bring Brandt down--but he'll be careful they don't learn too much, and will probably find it expedient to get rid of them once his task is done.

How the players untangle this knot is up to them. Brandt and his followers will come to Heisberg within the week for the Assizes, but plan on summoning a terrible daemon both to destroy Heisberg and, hopefully, kill the Elector Count. (I think that stopping this daemon from being summoned would make a good final chapter for the adventure, but I'm keeping plans that far ahead rather vague to allow for what the players do). A Witch Hunter has recently arrived in Heisberg, giving the players an opportunity to align with a faction that is genuinely uncorrupted--albeit with a thoroughly unpleasant and overzealous individual. They could also choose to hunt down the Beastmen in the forest, an option that wouldn't be part of the basic plot as I see it but something that might appeal to them.

So, now you know the overview, here's what I have in mind for the first session:

As I said, the players wake up in a dungeon, each chained by one hand to the wall. There are various options for escape:


If one of them can pick locks, they can lockpick their way out
If one of them is a contortionist (unlikely, but possible) they can escape from their chains--an opportunity the players might use to ambush the jailer and escape
The strongest player notices their chain is not fully anchored to the wall, and can try and pull it out (contrived, I know, but I want to give them as many options as possible). The door is also capable of being knocked down, but the noise will likely attract attention, so the players will have to act quickly to neutralise the guard and make good their esacpe
They can wait for the town watch to arrive and try and fight their way out then. If they choose to go quietly, they will be taken to Brandt, who will cast a spell of silence on them, and then they will be executed (or, through cunningness, they manage to kill Brandt somehow, and the campaign is a very short one)



...or, you know, whatever other ideas the players have.

So, now they're out of their cell. The obvious way to go is up the staircase, but a search of the floor will find a trapdoor in one corner. This leads to a series of dwarf-made tunnels under the town that Brandt and his cult use to meet (because it wouldn't be a proper RPG without inexplicable tunnels).

If they choose to go up, I have the three-story tower mapped out, right down to what items they would find in each room. Going out the front door is a bad idea, because they'll have to fight their way out through all of Hasdorf, but two other options present themselves. Behind the tower is a deep gully with a river running behind; the players can jump down (or find the rope on the top floor and climb down, if they're boring) and swim to safety. Behind the tower, inside of the yard, is a dung-heap, which would break their fall if they want to jump out and hide in the compound until an opportunity to sneak past the guards presents itself. They can quite easily do all of this without fighting any guards, if they want. However, whichever way they go and whether or not they choose to kill whatever random sods that were unlucky enough to be on duty at the time, before the session ends they will be attacked by a mysterious red-robed figure with a silver mask... but more on this guy in a bit.

If they choose to go down, they can either sneak out of the tunnel (will require overpowering two cultists) or, hearing mysterious chanting, search for the cult's meeting place (and what self-respecting adventurers wouldn't follow mysterious chanting?). Brandt is there, who summons this red-robed daemon and urges his cultists to attack before fleeing. (Is it too unfair to have the arch-foe escape? I hope not, it's only the first session and killing him now would make things a lot less interesting).

Thoughts on this daemon: it's not going to be particularly strong, based on the stats of a Lesser Daemon, but I was thinking that maybe it would be able to teleport small distances? Something that would give it some advantage over the players and stop them from just surrounding it and dismembering it without making it completely impossible to kill. When they kill it, it folds away into a pile of robes (sans mask) and regenerates, to fight them again another day (and another session). They can destroy it once and for all by managing to remove its mask while its still 'alive', but that'll take some forward-planning and won't be instantly obvious to them (I just thought I should come up with a way it actually can be killed, in case the players think it through and explore every possible option).

Oh, and the only unifying feature about the cultists is that they all wear a silver ring--except this ring appears to be seared onto their finger. Taking one of these rings will require some judicious surgery and, incidentally, will allow the daemon to sense the presence of whoever's carrying it (it'll be tracking the party anyways, but this way they won't be able to effectively ambush it--but it would allow them to lure it into a trap...)

As the session ends, the players are safely outside of Hasdorf--but still hunted by the law and an implacable daemonic foe. They will hopefully have decided to go to Heisberg, and can choose one of three options...

I think that should be over in around four hours. Even less, if the players decide to avoid the peripheral fights.

I have concrete plans for the encounters the players will face if they choose each one of the three options, but I'm trying not to think any further ahead than them arriving at the gates of Heisberg, since who knows how much my plans will be shaken up when faced with bloody-minded roleplayers?


First off, run through a few 1 on 1 style gladiator battles by yourself before the game so you understand the basic combat system. Its not too tough, but you have to get used to the hit location tables and such. Also make sure you understand the magic system. Its not like most other fantasy game magic systems.

I will do, thanks.


2ndly, read up on some of the novels if you havent yet to get the feel of the setting. I would suggest withfinder, the malus darkblade books and the blackhearts omnibus to get a good feel for a variety of things. Also the embassador chronicles if your group is going to head to the northern kingdoms. Although my Black Library days are behind me, there was a time that I read pretty much everything the put out and spent my free time writing fanfic set in the Warhammer world :smalltongue:. I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of the finer detail of the lore, I think I should remember enough background information to pull it off convincingly and, hopefully, capture the grim nature of the Warhammer universe.


3rd. Dont worry so much about balanced encounters. Between the overall low HP and exploding damage dice there really isnt any balance. All you can really do is eyeball the numbers and hope for the best. Also make sure the players understand that combat in that system can become deadly very, very quickly. Even for experienced bad asses. Its definitely a system that rewards planning and intelligent tactics, like ambushes, a whole lot more then kick in the door and charge D&D style combat.

I need to make this clear to the players. If they rush headfirst into every encounter they'll end up dead and, even worse, will ruin my story :smallwink:. Just kidding about the story part--I think any GM who thinks of the campaign as 'their story' is very bad news for the players.


4th. Since your new to running the game be honest about that, run a war setting. Warhammer is perfect for it and motivations are easy for PC's, basically dont get killed. To that end use Orcs, or Undead, something that doesnt care if the PC's are good or evil and wont be interested in allying with them in any way. Basically the PC's help win the war or flee the kingdom hoping to stay ahead of the horde.

On that note dont use Chaos as an enemy. PC's might see more opportunity then threat in Chaos and try to join. That will screw your story pretty hard.

Ah, damn. See the plot overview, above. I was hoping to impose a 'No Chaos' rule from the outset (stating that, if everything goes well, I'm open to running a second campaign where everyone gets to be just as evil as they've always wanted, but that Chaotic characters wouldn't fit in with the campaign I'm trying to run).


Oh and 5th. Plan the first campaign to be short. Its a feeling out process to introduce the players to each other and you and to the setting and world. Once thats done you'll have a much better idea what everyone is looking for in a campaign and the 2nd one will be off to a good start.

Depending on how everything goes, I think it should last around six sessions? I could cut it down to four if you guys feel that's a better length (or depending on how the players feel).

Drakefall
2014-10-21, 09:44 AM
The players face no prospect of true justice in a town where Brandt is judge, jury and executioner. However, the Elector Count of Ostermark will be in the area within the next few weeks to hold the Assizes and try local criminals for their crimes--if they can get to Heisberg, only a few days' journey away, they can appeal to him and clear their names. For those of them completely unconcerned with their legal standing, Heisberg is in any case on the quickest route out of the vicinity, and perhaps coming events will convince them of the need to seek some sort of refuge.

I realise that this is one of the weak points of my plot, as it relies on the players choosing to go there and strips them of the option of clearing their names in some other way, or simply leaving. I'm going to be open with my players that I only have the area around Hasdorf and Heisberg mapped out, so choosing to go elsewhere may result in a pretty boring campaign--but that I'm trying to give them as much freedom as possible within this area.


With regards to this you could try creating a "quest giver" NPC to point the PCs in the general direction you'd like to go.

Perhaps a prominent citizen of Heisberg (A merchant or some other well established community figure. He doesn't need to be exceptionally powerful, just enough that his word carried some weight) has had enough of Brandt's cray cray and sees the PCs as a means of removing the man from the city.

This individual doesn't need to know about Brandt's chaos worship. Maybe he just thinks the recent war and ravaging of the city has pushed the man over the edge and he needs to be removed from his position for the good of the town. He arranges to have the PCs freed (Perhaps smuggling the means for them to do so themselves into the prison for them into the prison and waiting at the only exit they could take or somesuch) and tasks them with delivering a letter to the Elector Count on his behalf. The Count is the only one who can clear their name anyway and this letter will help convince him to so; so it is in their best interests to accept the task.

This, I think, would help set the direction for the PCs, make their escape a little more plausible and reliable, give the Elector Count a reason to actually listen to them and provide an ally within Hasdorf and a potential future patron if such is ever applicable. He won't send anyone along with the PCs nor can he really force them to do what he wants so they retain all their agency post jailbreak.

Otherwise, you sound like you have a great attitude and the other advise so far has been solid, so I'm sure you'll do more than fine.

Hope that helps.

fergo
2014-10-21, 10:23 AM
Thanks Drakefall, great idea :-D. I'll tweak my first session to insert such an NPC.

jedipotter
2014-10-21, 01:56 PM
Well, I'll come in with the other side. Any RPG has to railroad the players: that is just how an RPG works. Everyone has this weird idea that a DM should just sit down with a black sheet of paper and a pencil and then in a second create an amazing game based on the purely random actions of the players. I guess this sounds good in theory.
But in reality a DM makes a plot that the players must follow. That is how RPGs work. A player can't just ''do whatever'', they need to follow the plot.

The real trick is: giving the players the illusion of choice.

Now most players know that they must follow the plot, or simply not play the game. But they want to kinda be tricked into thinking that they are free spirits that do not follow the plot and make their own rules. After all, just look at the example above. The players come up with the ''great'' idea to sneak into the bad guys group. Now if the DM just says ''no'', the players will be unhappy, but if the DM gives even the tiniest, lame excuse as to why the bad guy says ''no'', then everything is ok. So, that right there is easy: just have an excuse for everything. And the players will just go along with it.

You want to avoid telling the players there is ''only one way'' to do things. But feel free to tell them OOC the reason why: players love getting the ''omniscient narrator'' view of the game. Take the hobgoblin guard Bak who is guarding the door the players are trying to get through. Now back is big and tough, so the players don't want to fight him. So they come up with endless ideas to try and get through the door. So they try the ''throw a rock'' and hope that Bak will wander away from the door to check out the noise. But the DM just has Bak stand by the door. Some players start to complain about ''player agency'' and how that ''should have worked''. So then the players, with no disguises or anything, walk up to the door and try to convince Bak they are the new cooks. And lets say the DM has Bak believe them, but he still won't let them in with out the pass word. No matter what they say no pass word=no door opened. Again the players mumble and complain. And on and on the players try silly things to try to get in the door and the DM just does not go for it.

And why? Because Bak is a good, loyal guard that does what he is told. He can't be tricked by ''silly stuff''. When the characters put sheets over themselves and try to be ''ghosts'', he does not run from his post. He would rather die at his post then run. Now, the trick is: just tell the players this. It will save hours of them wasting time. They will get that only a ''good'' plan or you know the five player characters ganging up on the one, lone hobgoblin guard and killing him in a single round to get past the guy. And yes there are other ways past Bak, like they could find or figure out the pass word, they could do the ''replacement guard trick'', they could get him to drink a sleeping potion, etc.

Knaight
2014-10-22, 09:42 AM
Well, I'll come in with the other side. Any RPG has to railroad the players: that is just how an RPG works. Everyone has this weird idea that a DM should just sit down with a black sheet of paper and a pencil and then in a second create an amazing game based on the purely random actions of the players. I guess this sounds good in theory.
But in reality a DM makes a plot that the players must follow. That is how RPGs work. A player can't just ''do whatever'', they need to follow the plot.

Nonsense. The players really need to make characters which actually have goals and don't act in completely random ways, and the GM should probably come in with some degree of a setting, but predefined plots are completely unnecessary. Plots can emerge, and they will emerge provided that the players are actually on board with the game and set their characters up such that they will respond to the setting in an appropriate way, have goals that incur difficulties, etc. A GM can run a reactive game. It does take more in the way of improvisation skills (or tons of planning), but it's hardly impossible.

Will the game have issues if players actively try to go against some perceived plot that isn't there by not interacting with the setting? Sure. That's not an argument against player driven games, that's an argument against playing with people who don't want to actually play the game.

Stubbazubba
2014-10-22, 10:16 AM
Nonsense. The players really need to make characters which actually have goals and don't act in completely random ways, and the GM should probably come in with some degree of a setting, but predefined plots are completely unnecessary. Plots can emerge, and they will emerge provided that the players are actually on board with the game and set their characters up such that they will respond to the setting in an appropriate way, have goals that incur difficulties, etc.

And, importantly, those goals the PCs set for themselves must be common goals, or at the very least overlapping goals. Otherwise the GM spends his entire time trying to herd cats.

The GM can help create these goals, though: if everyone buys into the premise that you're all citizens of Gotham who have been personally affected by rampant crime now out for vigilante justice, the GM can create the criminal organizations and their motives and the PCs can gather info, make plans, and take action to disrupt and ultimately dismantle them. From there it's two competing sides trying to outdo the other. Both sides take turns being reactive and proactive.

That's what I recommend: Establish a premise that everyone buys into, then play the forces the PCs interact with (either opposed, allied, or anything else), while the players also seek their own goals (whether those goals line up with a faction in play or are independent of them all). This makes most sense on a long time-scale, but can be scaled-down to each adventure, too.

Edit: Also, it's good to review and solidify the basic mechanics of DMing. I know that sounds weird, but DMing isn't really as intuitive as everyone would have you believe. I recommend these articles, courtesy of the Angry DM:


5 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenaged Skill System (http://angrydm.com/2012/12/five-simple-rules-for-dating-my-teenaged-skill-system)
Adjudicate Actions like a Motherf$&%ing Boss (http://angrydm.com/2013/04/adjudicate-actions-like-a-boss) (censorship in original)
Four Things You've Never Heard of that Make Encounters Not Suck (http://angrydm.com/2013/05/four-things-youve-never-heard-of-that-make-encounters-not-suck)
How to Build F$&%ing Awesome Encounters! (http://angrydm.com/2013/07/how-to-build-awesome-encounters) (ditto)
Help! My Players are Talking to Things! (http://angrydm.com/2013/08/help-my-players-are-talking-to-things)
Three Shocking Things You Won't Believe About D&D Combat (http://angrydm.com/2014/08/three-shocking-things-you-wont-believe-about-dd-combat)
The Angry Guide to A$&kicking Combats, Part 1 (http://angrydm.com/2014/09/the-angry-guide-to-akicking-combats-part-1-picking-your-enemies/), Part 2 (http://angrydm.com/2014/09/the-angry-guide-to-kicka-combats-part-2-battlefields-and-battlefeels), and Part 3 (http://angrydm.com/2014/10/the-angry-guide-to-kickass-combats-part-3-lets-make-some-fing-fights-already)


It's a fair bit to read, but man, I feel energized and ready to DM every time I read one. They are somewhat D&D-centric, but the principles are generally applicable to any game.

Aedilred
2014-10-22, 10:56 PM
Hey guys
Hey fergo.


I donít know how to play

Iím sure Iíll learn as I go along. I think the systemóWHFRP 2nd Edówill be unfamiliar with most people there, so hopefully my ignorance will go unnoticed as long as I stay two steps ahead of the players.

However, there are a few specific issues that I think would only come with practice. For example, how much XP points to give players, and how many enemies to chuck at them. Iím genuinely worried about having to come up with some sort of deus ex machina to get them out of a difficult situation I got them in in the first place.
The nice thing about WFRP2, as opposed to D&D, is that progress is incremental. Players get to spend XP in relatively small chunks on relatively trivial upgrades relatively frequently, rather than large chunks on big upgrades relatively infrequently. So you can play it by ear a bit for a while and see how you're getting on without running the risk of breaking the game.

The other thing is that while there is definitely a gap between characters at different levels, the levelling curve is much shallower, so combat against random goblins/bandits remains dangerous even for experienced characters. So if you accidentally do give out too much XP, it's not going to be a game-breaker. Probably.

In fact your biggest challenge is probably going to be not killing the PCs by accident. It's worth making it clear to the players at the start that at least some of their characters will probably die, suffer debilitating injuries and/or go mad, and that these effects are not easily reversible (not at all, in the case of death). It's just the way the game is. This will be the case regardless, really; many WFRP players/GMs would say that if your characters are all still alive at the end of a campaign you haven't done it properly. A character who makes it onto his third career is doing well; four careers is getting into "famous hero" territory. Five is pretty much "epic-level" and if any PCs reach that then either something strange has happened with jumping around early careers or they've switched team and sold their soul to the dark gods or something.

For system-specific advice I recommend the Strike to Stun forum. It's reasonably friendly once you penetrate the grumpy old man exterior, and they know everything there is to be known about WFRP2. There are also some ideas for patching some of the more infamously buggy parts of the system, like the economics and, most critically, combat. Stuff about the combat issue in the spoiler.


The main issue is with Swift Attack.

The Swift Attack action was, from what I understand, a late fudge into the rules to eliminate confusion, and leads to a couple of problems, most specifically:
A character with Swift Attack will always use it where possible.
A charging character is at a disadvantage compared to his opponent as he can only make one attack.
Swift Attack is the only sensible option for characters with multiple attacks, so they miss out on other combat options, like manoeuvring. Combat becomes a slogfest.

There are really two slightly separate issues here- firstly that swift attacking is "overpowered"- in a fight between two characters with 100% WS, S, T and Ag, and 3+ Attacks, the character who does anything other than swift attack every turn- including charge- will always lose unless the dice revolt. The second issue is that because doing anything other than swift attacking in a high-level fight is so boneheaded, there's no room for anyone to do any of the other actions, so combat comes down entirely to the dice and player input is rather limited.

My players and I looked at about twenty different options for dealing with this, but eventually, iirc, we decided to fix charges only, by running them by the RAW but saying that for each extra attack on your profile you got an additional +10% to hit and +1 damage. That was enough to make them a viable option again, especially when combined with some homebrew mounted combat rules which led to some trule awesome moments.

Knaight
2014-10-24, 07:48 AM
And, importantly, those goals the PCs set for themselves must be common goals, or at the very least overlapping goals. Otherwise the GM spends his entire time trying to herd cats.

Absolutely. Some amount of conflicting goals can be good for tension, but there needs to be a reason for the group to come together, and the players are really the people that should be providing it - unless it's built into the core concept of the game, in which case it's what they build the characters around in the first place. A bunch of people making characters with no communication and hoping they sync up okay is a recipe for failure.

Jay R
2014-10-24, 07:00 PM
One thing you need to remember is that all DMs have been where you are. Every single DM has had a first time.

Every.
Single.
One.

Need_A_Life
2014-10-25, 03:09 AM
basically, I have no idea what Iím doing.
Well, I've run rather a few games by now and I still feel that way; I've yet to come away from a session without thinking "damn, I really should have done X differently" but as long as everyone had fun, it's just a mental note for future reference not a critical issue.


I donít know how to play
...
You'll pick it up. I usually start off with small, low-risk encounters in any new system (whether it's a system new to me, to the players or both) to get a feel for things, then just escalate things as needed further on. That being said, I always make it clear that encounter size and difficulty is at least partially dependent on the players; the level 1 D&D party who try to massacre a council of archmages are going to be obliterated without any drama, because they took on something that was waaay beyond their capabilities. Running away from an unwinnable fight is the right choice.


I donít want them to feel like theyíre being railroaded
That's a tricky one. On one hand, preparing a plot does automatically create a bit of rail, but pure sandbox is likely to be paralyzing in its freedom (unless your players are very proactive, in which case it'll be a matter of juggling their inputs and reacting).

What I do is that when I plan, I start off not with a plot but with those 2 or 3 scenes I think sound really awesome in my head and then structure a plot that will incorporate those ("I really want them to end up in the hospital basement, being stalked Aliens-style by a serial killer" => Okay, so I need to find a reason for them to either be hunting a serial killer or go into the hospital basement).
Now, where that in practice differs from a plot structure is that I might end up having a piece of paper with, say, 8 boxes of scenes connected with various possible transitions (much like a flowchart). Suddenly, it doesn't matter that they didn't find the evidence in one scene (or ignored a plot hook), because doing that just means that a clue or plot point is moved behind the scenes.

I feel that I didn't explain that well, but if you want to see the sort of structure I'm talking about, download one of White Wolf's SAS modules (say, a quick-start scenario, since they're free) and look at their plot structure; a few scenes each with one or more triggers or paths to it, with a couple of bottlenecks.
It gives the illusion of far more freedom than you're actually giving them, allowing for a good balance of freedom and structure.

Of course, when the players go really off the rails and you realize that their unexpected action just invalidated the rest of what you have going on, put your notes down and improv; it's a surprisingly easy thing to do as long as you know your material and, ideally, your player's preferences.
If need be, ask for a 10min break to gather your thoughts.


Iíll be dealing with people Iíve never met before
I tend to get around that by having the first session being a character-creation session (with a short story prepared just in case) and, while people are making their characters, ask people for their "no-gos" (I, for example, will never play at a table where sex is on-screen; we can refer to it, but I don't want to listen to people's sexual fantasies), their preferences and my own GMing style.

That way, everyone knows what's going on and I can, through jokes and observation get a feel for the new group and what parts of the GM toolbox I should be using to "trick" them into having fun. :smallamused:

fergo
2014-10-25, 04:58 AM
Thanks everyone, this has been really helpful. Especially Knaight--I'm trying to think up a few ways to deal with these issues with the combat system, which in any case shouldn't be an issue immediately.

I have two players sorted with one more as a strong maybe, and will hopefully be meeting more interested parties at an event this weekend. I'm hoping for four players--three as a minimum, plus one extra so there are still three if someone can't make it each week.

Our first session should be on Tuesday. I'll let you all know how it goes :smallbiggrin:.

fergo
2014-10-30, 02:31 AM
So, the first session was a couple of days ago. It went... far better than could be expected :smallbiggrin:.

The downsides included there only being two players, plus one guy who was filling in for someone else. I think they may be slightly under-awed by the turn out, but to be honest three is about perfect for me--the less people, the easier it is to keep track of, and the easier it is for everyone to feel comfortable acting in-character and forming a cohesive party. Hopefully as time goes on we may find another player, or maybe two, but it's not a priority.

Another downside included my own nervousness. At the start I had a pre-prepared dialogue between two people to read out--well, needless to say I felt pretty damn silly going through it. Things got better when I was speaking on behalf of characters speaking directly to the players, as it felt much more natural. Anyways, I'm sure this is something that will get easier with time.

Good points--well, the players didn't go drastically off the rails, decided that they needed to go to where I was hoping to go to, worked out who the big bad was and why he was a threat, resolved to bring him down, and even had a good amount of in-character dialogue. One player is playing a sort of Chaotic-notverynicebutnotquiteevil character, but (while continuing to argue why, say, killing and stealing wasn't that big of a deal after all) he allowed his character to be dissuaded (or at least bribed) from doing anything self-destructive or jepordising his relationship with the new (and quite small) party.

And, to my absolute amazement, the players chose the most sensible, quietest route out rather than trying to fight their way through half the town; they chose the prospect of imminent freedom over investigating a cult; and, most impressive of all, they chose to leave their enemies alive (tied up or locked away) rather than kill them outright. So if things continue like this, hopefully they'll be happy taking a place in the story I'm building without breaking it too much.

On the downside, with the players taking a quick and easy way out, the session was somewhat shorter and less eventful than I had planned. I'm compensating for this by working really hard to give them a lot more to do next week, which involves mapping out an entire city and filling it with plot hooks... :smallsigh:. Ah well, I brought it on myself.

One worry I do have is regarding the third player, the one who wasn't there this week. The guy playing his character said that he was just there to roll dice, but by the end of the session he was getting involved, using his character's skills to help the party out, and thoroughly contributing to the session (but still taking a backseat in the long-term decision-making, which makes sense). However, I've been hearing horror stories about the guy who should be playing the character, and have to admit I'm not looking forward to his return--apparently he makes no effort to get involved in the campaigns he's in, sitting there on his phone rather than paying attention to what's going on, to the point where in his previous campaign his character elected not to follow the others into combat because he couldn't be bothered to roll dice.

I don't really understand why anyone would take part in a campaign that they weren't really enjoying :smallconfused:. It's just a game, after all. If you weren't in the mood to play XBox, you wouldn't play XBox; if you weren't in the mood to go to the pub, you wouldn't go to the pub. But I've seen plenty of stories on here where players just... stay involved in campaigns they're clearly not enjoying.

Anyways, one uninvolved player out of five or six isn't a big deal, but one out of three could potentially ruin the game--not least if I plan an encounter to be a challenge for three people, and this guy decides he'd rather sit this one out and lets the two others go in alone. But I'm sure I'll be able to deal with it. And anyway, maybe what I've heard about him is over-exaggerated?

That's it for now. I'll keep you updated as the campaign goes on. Any further advice or suggestions you have are greatly appreciated!

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-30, 12:03 PM
Something blows up/someone important dies. Guards keep people separated into districts and under curfew at night. This way, instead of a city, you only have one district to work with. They might still try to get into other districts so have a basic idea of those, but it should at least stall them a bit. Also, use the dangling keys method, in that some basic but rewarding plothooks might compel them to stay in the more fleshed out district.

Knaight
2014-10-30, 12:24 PM
One worry I do have is regarding the third player, the one who wasn't there this week. The guy playing his character said that he was just there to roll dice, but by the end of the session he was getting involved, using his character's skills to help the party out, and thoroughly contributing to the session (but still taking a backseat in the long-term decision-making, which makes sense). However, I've been hearing horror stories about the guy who should be playing the character, and have to admit I'm not looking forward to his return--apparently he makes no effort to get involved in the campaigns he's in, sitting there on his phone rather than paying attention to what's going on, to the point where in his previous campaign his character elected not to follow the others into combat because he couldn't be bothered to roll dice.

It might be worth checking if the substitute player wants to join in more long term.

fergo
2014-10-30, 12:39 PM
Something blows up/someone important dies. Guards keep people separated into districts and under curfew at night. This way, instead of a city, you only have one district to work with. They might still try to get into other districts so have a basic idea of those, but it should at least stall them a bit. Also, use the dangling keys method, in that some basic but rewarding plothooks might compel them to stay in the more fleshed out district.

Good ideas. I've decided on the general districts of the city, which cross the social stratosphere and will hopefully provide hooks for all of my players (the de facto leader is a noble, which will definitely help with the main plot, but I'm working on various side-plots to give the less influential players a chance to shine).


It might be worth checking if the substitute player wants to join in more long term.

Yeah, I asked. Unfortunately, he's not able to. I've asked my other players to let me know if they meet anyone interested in joining a campaign, so hopefully we'll be able to get a couple more people involved at some point.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-30, 12:55 PM
If one's a noble, what is the other guy?

fergo
2014-10-30, 01:49 PM
There's a noble, a mercenary and a bounty hunter. Providing plot hooks for the bounty hunter is pretty easy (if the player engages in the game enough to seek them out): I can have bounties posted on various people loosely connected to the main plot. I can also do something similar for the mercenary.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-30, 02:00 PM
Could have the noble, or a family member of the noble hire the other two. Perhaps a little...Condescending or patronizing to the noble scion. I don't know this setting, but surely there's a way to work in the idea that nobles need to get off their butt and do something productive.

Offing the noble family seems a little cliche, so perhaps they get dishonored instead. So the guy has few allies to rely on to recover the name of his family and his ancestral lands, since he's homeless and poor now. But the other nobles are not hiring and if they get him back into power, his family is likely to be very grateful...

Maybe have enemies of the noble family decide to (directly or not, intentional or not) screw around with allies of the PCs, or bounty hunters/mercenaries in general. Perhaps they have their own little army and don't need this rabble polluting the city with their uncouth behavior. Or one of their captains of their private army picks a fight with one of the other PCs over a table/drink/wench, causing him to bear a completely unreasonable and petty grudge against the guy, one he's willing to keep pursuing.

Again, I don't know the setting, but if you are comfortable with the idea, maybe the noble has some attractive relatives/allies? Lesser nobles (or illegitimate children, or wards, or rivals) could be married off to the lower classes if they prove themselves worthy.

Milodiah
2014-10-30, 04:02 PM
Do not try a linear campaign, without some discussion with them. Players very often look at your hooks and then try to accomplish it in a different way, not touch it, or try to do the complete opposite, or somehow set it on fire.



I will be sigging this, just as a heads-up.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-30, 04:05 PM
I'm flattered, actually. Go right ahead.

Perhaps a little more information on the active players?

Melzentir
2014-10-30, 07:40 PM
First of all, let me tell you that I consider myself a Chaotic Good DM who believes the ideal game creates a memorable and epic experience for all the participants. I hold the SilverClawShift campaigns as one of my ideal scenarios. If you don't know what that is, don't dare looking it up unless you're okay with being trapped on the internet for several (worthwhile and highly satisfying) hours.


Hey guys,

I donít know how to play

For example, how much XP points to give players, and how many enemies to chuck at them. Iím genuinely worried about having to come up with some sort of deus ex machina to get them out of a difficult situation I got them in in the first place.


Don't throw anything at the players they can't handle. Start off with easy foes, one or two encounters. Then, put in a tougher fight; one to keep them on their toes, so they won't think all fights will be that easy. Make sure to describe the threat as dangerous. Too many players charge a dragon headlong only to be devoured or burnt to a crisp the next round.
"What do you mean it's head is big enough to swallow me whole?"
Avoid this by opening the fight with the dragon swallowing a cow whole.
"Dragon's breath is just normal fire, right?"
Avoid this by having it breathe fire at a nearby boulder or stone wall and have it melt. Melt.

Same goes for any other foe. Poisonous spider? The venom dripping from it's mandibles sizzles on the ground, creating scorched patches that reek of death.
Experienced knight? The man holds his sword with the unmistakable confidence of a seasoned veteran. No doubt dozens of men have fallen before him before.
Pack of rabid dogs? The hounds' eyes tremble with unnatural fury, causing a shiver up your spine. Their skin is covered in hideous scars: it is clear they have survived many grievous injuries and lived.
Be creative.



I donít want them to feel like theyíre being railroaded

Like I said, I want to run a linier campaign. I want a definite beginning and, more pertinently, a definite end.

That is to say, I want to definite point where I can say, ďThatís all, folks,Ē and see what people thought. From there, I can continue DMing, start a new game, or go home and cry, depending on the general opinion.

However, this means somewhat limiting the playersí options in how they react to what I throw at them. Iím trying to come up with multiple methods in which they can solve each problem and multiple routes they can resolve their issues, but at the end of the day Iím going to need them to be heading in roughly the right direction.
[/b]


All you have to do is dangle the bait clearly in front of their eyes. As long as the players care about saving the princess, they will. If they feel no attatchment, they won't. Play their emotions. Movies and video game storylines do it all the time.

Furthermore, don't think in solutions; that's their job. The only thing you should guarantee is that the skills their characters have are the tools with which it should be possible to do the job. Don't force them to go in a certain way unless they're clearly stalling or going in the wrong direction. From that point on, give them clues that remind them of their goal. And if things get really sidetracked, resort to "You suddenly remember that you should be meeting up with Doctor Jackson over at Carrotville soon. He could probably tell you more about the situation."




For example, the first task they will need to do is get from one city to another. Iím thinking up at least three different routes by which they can get there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages and their own encounters that will happen. But what happens if they decide they donít want to go to the second city at all? What if they decide to head somewhere else, or turn an outlaw gang and haunt the forest, or set up a spoon shop and settle down for a life of whittling spoons?


And to be honest, if they think that's more fun, then let 'em have it. Why not? I read something here recently on the forum; something along the lines of this: a bad DM would say "No. You can't do that." and a great DM would say "Awesome, how would you like to do that?"

But eh, I consider myself a Chaotic Good DM. I'm not much of a railroader by any means.




Iíll be dealing with people Iíve never met before

This isnít just normal nervousness (although there is that, too). Everyone has different styles when it comes to roleplaying. While Iím up for having a laugh and not taking myself too seriously, Iím definitely on the side of wanting to get a story told, for everyone to act in character and try and get into the mood of things.


Read the above again. Then read it out loud to your players. Simple.

As long as everyone agrees doing so would improve the experience I see no issue. Players don't want to feel forced into acting a certain way, and sometimes the players just don't match with eachother or the DM. In that case there's no simple cure, except either getting new players or just rolling with what they like instead of what you like, which is a leap of faith that can end in all kinds of ways. But maybe fate has rolled you a 20 you'll find yourself liking it.



But I know thatís not to everyoneís taste. What if someone wants to charge head-first into every encounter, whether itís winnable or not?


Give them a crystal clear, fair warning that any moron should understand. "The thugs are bigger than you, scars of past conflicts cover various parts of their bodies. They display an air of confidence and seriousness, and the way they hold their high quality weapons shows that they clearly know how to use them."

With that said, a DM should try to make a player's wish come true. Especially if it's a death wish.

Disclaimer: In order not to let one person ruin everything, if possible, try to let party members who disagreed with attacking flee. A display of caution (the players clearly knowing the threat and trying to take heed) should to some degree be rewarded.


What if someone just wants to mess everything up as much as possible? (Which Iím sure would be hilarious, but Iím sure lots of you will agree that itíd be somewhat frustrating).

Mess up how, exactly? There's a million ways to mess things up. Just know that each action has consequences; some can be bad.


What if someone cannot be persuaded from playing an all-round evil character thatís going to turn on the party at the first opportunity? (I know this can make for interesting roleplaying and interesting stories, but if handled badly it can just backfire and make everything miserable, and I donít know if I have the experience needed to handle it properly).

Inform the player that it is your goal to create a good experience for all the participants. Not just one.




In the end, just remember the most important thing is to have fun. That's why you're here and that's why your players will come to you.