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location Massachusetts
age 31
visits member for 4 years, 1 month
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Some coding projects and notes. http://code.sagotsky.com

Opinions on RPG game mastering. http://gm.sagotsky.com


Sep
25
comment How do I deal with players that do not put much effort on character background?
@acbabis, if you can pull that off, great. Whenever I've done that it's felt like a tangent. It also puts the player on the spot if they aren't expecting it.
Jun
2
comment When designing a campaign plot, how can I test it for complexity?
In the back of my mind I always track an active status on my plots. Some are moving and some have yet to get poked. In an A -> B -> C -> D plot, only one of those letters is active at a time. When A completes, B becomes active. I think what I'm describing is two plots A -> B and C -> D, where A and C are simultaneously active.
May
29
comment RPGs about human commandos fighting aliens like in X-Com?
IIRC it was just core, but limited to rules focusing on tactical combat. I think we also had access to higher tech level shenanigans, but only after research. This was simulated by cumulative success in different rolls. So the computer guy could roll his skill once between each mission and kept whatever value he beat the roll by. When those added up to some target number, we got new tech.
May
18
comment How do I help my players not get caught up on smaller plot points?
Updated! I'm always happy to revise answers to bring more stuff like this to light.
May
18
comment How do I help my players not get caught up on smaller plot points?
@Lohoris you don't have to hook them into the main plot. Just hook them into something. If the players find an NPC interesting, you're free to fill out his background in a way that gives them lots of game time instead of the thirty minutes you had planned. All roads leading to the same plot can feel contrived, especially if the players see you doing it, but that doesn't mean that you can't explore in different directions or let them pick which plot becomes the main plot.
May
17
comment How do you keep the book keeping/game management work balanced between players?
@MatthewNajmon, I've seen this happen a few times. You always run the risk of the friend of a friend player not meshing well with the GM. I feel like you can get away with a couple players who aren't buddies, but the GM needs to get a long with everyone and needs to get everyone on the same page with respect to the game being run. That said, I think I'll revise the statement. The GM should be responsible for selecting players. It's perfectly fine for other players to expand the pool of available potential players.
Apr
8
comment How can I plan, prepare, and enforce an episodic structure?
Examples provided in edit. I also commented on what I meant by cliffhangers (hint: I didn't really mean cliffhanger.)
Mar
24
comment How should GM deal with 'standing orders'?
@jhocking (sorry for the delayed reaction, but...) that's an example I actually used and it was really subtle but major clue.
Mar
1
comment How should I budget for ally/third party NPCs in 4e combats?
I haven't heard of this type of activity tracking before. Are the players aware you do it? Does it change how they play?
Mar
1
comment How should I budget for ally/third party NPCs in 4e combats?
Does this apply when the NPCs are under their own leadership? If orcs attack in the night, the town watch raises the alarm, and the PCs run in to help, I would not penalize those NPCs guards for following PC orders. (I'm not asking to nitpick, I'm just curious if you'd apply this rule in this case as well or if there's another one for this situation.)
Feb
3
comment Coming up with a numbering system for an 'omni-die'
Glad you like! I like the shapes on the corners way better than my idea. Two concerns with this design - how will those shapes look on a printed die? Does the detail show up or will they all look like dots? Also, will two digits fit on the 10, 11, and 12 faces?
Dec
18
comment How can you use isometric maps (or other tricks for addressing 3 dimensions) for miniatures?
@Hand-E-Food I've done that too. It takes more planning, but can be worth it. Had a good time ripping a capsizing ship in half once.
Dec
17
comment How can you use isometric maps (or other tricks for addressing 3 dimensions) for miniatures?
@KRyan answered in post edit.
Dec
5
comment Too many divergent side quests. What do I do?
I'd like to add to this answer. When you bind sidequests together it can look like a tangled web of too many coincidences that no sane person would find plausible. This is true, from your bird's eye view that sees all the links and connections. The players' POV is different. They see the coincidences one at a time, as you reveal them. That the rogue and fighter shared the same mentor, whose death must be avenged will be the big reveal for a single session. They digest that and then get more next week. Furthermore, the players won't realize all the coincidences you create. tl;dr Go nuts!
Nov
12
comment How do I prevent my players from immediately recognising an ambush?
I disagree. This is how I run ambushes so the players don't see through them right away. If you only do marching order or initiative when an ambush happens, the players pick up on that.
Nov
8
comment What RPGs that don't have randomization mechanisms exist?
In my spare time I've been working on one. I think it qualifies as hidden player knowledge. You've got your stats and skills which add up and give you a base for each check that stays consistent. Everyone also has a willpower pool which is spent secretly during each conflict. So the stats aren't really secret, but how much you're committing to a given check is. I'd treat enemy stats as hidden character knowledge in this case, but those get revealed as you fight.
Oct
29
comment How do I escape the Quicksand Box?
CatLord, could you ask them for backstories in advance? I wouldn't give my friends homework if it didn't add so much to the game. If they're opposed to writing something, just talking about the character and brainstorming ideas one on one can be good enough.
Jul
22
comment How can I fool my players into being pawns for the villain?
Not a direct answer, so I'm keeping this as a comment. Very carefully! I've pulled this off a few times. I thought it was cool but the players resented it. Any time I invalidate their actions or decisions, they get upset. In this case I did it a lot and they felt like none of the decisions they made throughout the game ever really matter since it was all manipulated. You can pull the puppet strings sometimes, but make sure that most of the players' actions are their own.
Jul
1
comment Designing and Implementing a Crypto-Puzzle Language
Could you clarify on language? Even after the update I'm not sure where to focus on an answer. You could use a different alphabet with unfamiliar symbols (bonus points if you use ones with phonemes the players aren't familiar with). You could invent a vocabulary. You could be talking about a new grammar with different syntax rules (ie, ordering by verb-subject-object. Steve kicked the ball would be kicked Steve the ball.). Or this could be about different waits to encrypt a message.
Jun
20
comment How to cut back on pre-game joking?
Duplicate? rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/4826/…