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32

Option One: Start Closer To The End It's not actually cheating to start at a higher level, and that's a weird expectation that games don't bear out. The inclination to "make those bastards work for it" is not a helpful GM attribute. I really enjoyed playing Feng Shui for the first time when it came out because by specifically allowing the players to be ...


21

Support characters We do this all the time. When one or more characters are separated from the group for a long time, the GM gives the other players characters to play with. The players must acknowledge they are playing secondary characters and most protagonism must be with the main character. In your case, give each player except the cleric a goblin. Give ...


14

I get conflicted intentions here. You want to start "low-level" (which can mean many things) and you want to see the heroes reach this epic ending. So you want both the epic journey and the super cool finale but you're impatient. Forget the "low-level = beginning" paradigm of video games (and usual games) In Star Wars, no major character on screen is level ...


14

I get the sense that you have a very specific story you want to tell. I do hate giving this advice, but if you have a beginning, middle, and end in mind, perhaps you should write a novel instead of running a game. It will be more artistically satisfying for you, in those cases. However, if you really want to run a game that meets a particular end, some ...


12

My best villains are based off the what the players care about. I'll talk about methods and some recent (in the last 3-4 years) examples. You may want to check out my 7 Types of Antagonists as well. What the players care about - Flags So first off, I tend to play games with explicit mechanics for the players to tell me what kinds of conflicts they're ...


11

Here's a little tidbit that Microscope taught me: every scene has a particular question (or questions) associated with it. When that question is answered, the scene is over. You want to skip over scenes with questions that are uninteresting, and jump to the ones which are interesting, and that's exactly what you did. This is why nobody runs games with ...


11

The villain is villainous because they do bad stuff™, but the villain is hated for other reasons. The villain does not have to be exceptionally evil/villainous (i.e. does not have to be trying to destroy The Kingdom/The World/The Multiverse), but give the players lots of petty reasons to dislike the villain. Some examples: Let the villain make a habit ...


9

Some more suggestions on top of Wesley's. Suggestion #4: Play a campaign where it doesn't matter If you run a very genre-aware, tongue-in-cheek dungeon crawl, such as Order of the Stick started out as, then you can just have people suddenly appear out of mysterious portals and get sucked into them. It doesn't break the immersion because there is no true ...


9

Suggestion #1: The Cliche Ensure that your campaign includes frequent stops (that is, between dungeons - so to speak) at a common gathering place for adventurers. This makes it easy to accommodate players moving in and out of the game. This is aided by ensuring players understand that they are expected to stick with the game through the end of any adventure ...


8

I don't think it's as much a problem of empathy, as it is of suspension of disbelieve. The problem isn't probably you aren't capable of relate to people, but you aren't forgetting you are playing a game. What makes a book or a movie exciting is when you forget you are reading or looking at a screen and you start "living" the piece, as it was true. Do you ...


8

Lead With the Cool Stuff You don't have a system tag and you're posing a question that spans genres, so I assume you have freedom to choose a system. So choose a system that empowers your choices and start with awesome. Systems like Fate Core and GUMSHOE assume competent PCs from the get-go. Some systems let you scale your PCs to the plans you have, like ...


8

I don't believe that there are some hard and fast rules about this. It's too much dependent on the situation, the context and the state of the players. But there are some ways that you can use in order to be better at spotting those "dead-meat" scenes. Know the genre you're working with No matter what game you are playing, it will fall to a certain genre. ...


8

Burst Out Of The Enemy's Tribute Chest, Covered in Pork Chops This is not the only way to handle this situation, but it's what I always do. Always. You know that trope when the 'party is split' in a movie or TV series, where you follow one character as they uncover things or do things that affect the things the main party is doing? They see the secret, ...


8

I have been called for, it appears. Canonically, of course, every origin or background of Asmodeus is a lie of some kind. While it's definitely accurate that he fell into Hell from elsewhere, and reasonably likely that his most well-known appearance is not the true nature of him, no one account best encapsulates the reality of what the Lord Below is. That ...


7

The following is from an article by Justin Alexander, found here. I won't re-post the entire thing, but this excerpt is the core of the article's thoughts. The main article goes on to refer to examples in media where the hero and villain dynamic is developed well (or not) and why, as well as giving some game table examples. It's part of the "Don't Prep ...


6

Asmodeus is actively spreading lies about himself Everything we think we know about Asmodeus, we think we know because Asmodeus wants us to think them. All of the stories about his origins, deeds, difficulties, and triumphs, are heavily, actively, and constantly monitored, filtered, and altered by Asmodeus and his agents. Nothing known about him in AD&D ...


6

Your problem is that you have a certain end in sight, but don't have control over all the agencies that need to come together to reach that end. The exact same situation exists in much smaller scales, for example if you have an encounter where the players need to get past two guards. You plan out a whole back story, where they go and talk to the guard's ...


6

Some stories are not suited to some systems. An antagonistic magical item will be modeled with the intelligent item rules. These rules, as a relic of 3.5, are... pretty horrible. Let us call our artefact "The one ring." It's a Lawful evil (or chaotic, or... whatever), ring which can cast a 4th level spell at will. That's more powerful than normal, but ...


5

I think the key question that needs to be addressed is do you want your players to hate the villain or your characters? If the players themselves find the villain depraved, they'll end up finding reasons why their characters should go after them. For example, I have a player that absolutely loves animals. Regardless of the character they play, if you ...


4

Anchor Characters to People If characters you encounter in an RPG (NPCs, and your fellow players' PCs) are feeling too abstract when they are just words online, try assigning pictures to them. For each character, use a tool like Google Images to find some pictures of real humans that you think can match the character's description. Look at the picture(s) ...


4

As long as your players/characters are suitable to gel as a team, and the non-plot-linked characters have abilities that allow them to contribute something special, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Characters end up being important because of what they actually do, not because of the reason they show up in the first place. So provided that all characters ...


4

First, we need to understand what a fractal is. Then we can see how that applies to a story generating system, for this I'll use Microscope as an example since I'm familiar with that game already. Wikipedia: A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. If the replication is ...


3

Well, the two players in question wanted to develop their characters during play, right? Sounds like a good thing to do would be to take them aside, between sessions and see if they could see ways to tie their characters into anything existing, or adding a minimal amount of additional things to bring into the game. I'd have them look at things like the ...


3

In DW failure means consequences, even DEATH When a character rolls 6- you make a hard move. That means a move that has immediate and irrevocable consequences. In my opinion (I'm unsure on the exact rules) a hard move always comes after a soft move, and the soft moves shapes the hard move. Soft moves cause danger and prompts players to act and therefore ...


3

The West Marches style of campaign was built for exactly this sort of group. Put together an oversized group of players, a hub of civilization (be it small town tavern, big city adventurers guild, military outpost, frontier monastery, whatever theme works for you) where PCs can recuperate and plan, and fill the surrounding geography with opportunities for ...


3

On SAS (Storytelling Adventure System) format of World of Darkness (and other games) adventures scenes are structured with the following fields: Challenge Overview Description Storyteller goals Player goals Actions Consequences Storyteller goals are what the Storyteller (or adventure writer) intend to achieve with the scene. Can be the presentation of a ...


2

One simple question: What is the conflict in this scene and why do I want to highlight it. If there is no conflict, just say it's done and move on. if you don't want to highlight the conflict, roll dice and move on. Should you find the scene both interesting and filled with conflict, go to town.


2

In our campaign, my character always seems to be running off on her own, either because she's not interested in what the other party members are doing or she has something else she needs to take care of. The GM will spend the majority of his time working with the other party members and their actions, and then on occasion he will switch back to my character ...


2

It could be ok if they players with the basic backgrounds were ok having basic backgrounds. Since they are now feeling disconnected from the plot, it seems like probably everyone would be happier if you worked in some connections. You might want to make sure all of the players are ok with how you do this, but some options could include: If the players who ...


2

The Big List Here is S. John Ross's big List of RPG Plots. I find this list to be very helpful, especially when I'm not sure what to do for the next session. Your side quests can be bonus objectives for every main quest, or the subplot within a plot. You can find S. John Ross's suggestions under the tips and tricks section. These plots work in a variety of ...



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