Master Archivist of The Streets of Avalon, Hunter, and Father.
Game mastering for money. Turning your passion for roleplaying games into a profession. How much to charge. What to expect.Thanks to Dayminkaynin for posting it on our forums. Random Encounter Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games sends in a voicemail on Descriptions on Demand Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games sends in a voicemail on Descriptions on Demand Tom comments on Easy Wins Tom comments on Easy WinsI think that if easy wins happen too often, then the GM is misjudging the difficulty level of the encounters. If it happens occasionally, that’s good and provides an ego-boost to the group.I think that even if an easy win happens against the Big Bad, it can be a good thing if it’s due to excellent planning on the part of the group, an exceptionally good roll, or a fortuitous combination of attacks on the part of the group. A spell is cast that works particularly well in combination with another attack, for instance.That being said…if this was the actual end of the campaign and meant to be the real capstone fight of the whole game…then such an easy win shouldn’t be possible. But it’s up to the GM to make sure the Big Bad can’t be taken down easily, even by good rolls and strategy. It’s the GMs job to design the Big Bad to be the Big Bad, which means he won’t be easy to take down. Exactly how the GM does this will vary from system to system. If they take him down easily…then the GM messed up. I don’t have a good answer for what to do if this happens. You have to give the group something here…as long as you don’t pull what I describe in my next paragraph.What I’ve hated with a passion as a player is when we hit the Big Bad with a really effective combination of attacks with excellent rolls…only to have the GM says that he escapes anyway. We immediately followed, only to be told, “No, he’s gone.” When we pressed for how the only answer was “It’s a genre thing. He escapes.” Oh, how I hate that excuse. Bingo continues with Easy Wins Bingo continues with Easy WinsSometimes people don’t just want to know their characters can kick some ass, they want to experience it.As characters gain in level, players rightfully want to feel that their characters are becoming more effective. This cannot be expressed solely through fighting more powerful creatures – while you can get a certain amount of satisfaction from knowing your party just defeated a foe they couldn’t possibly defeat 6 months before, that satisfaction is very abstract. After all, the amount of stress and effort that went into that fight was the same amount that went into fights against weaker foes a few months before – so while the players know their characters are more powerful based on the foe, the experience is the same as it was before.That’s why it’s important to have easy wins – especially (but not exclusively) against old foes.Getting the opportunity to fight old foes at new, higher levels can be so much more satisfying because you have those old fights as a frame of reference. Facing 3 ogres and just trouncing them is really satisfying when you remember that 6 months ago the same challenge almost resulted in a TPK. It’s also just fun to tear through large numbers of weak foes. It gives players a sense of progress, and of course it tickles that thrill of power!Easy wins can’t be granted all the time or players will get bored. But they have a place. Even better is facing weaker foes with some twist that makes it feel more challenging without actually being that much more challenging – so again, setting up an easy win that looks harder than it is.I know as a player that I’ve always found it frustrating to get characters more and more powerful, but every single encounter is just as tough as always. You need the easy wins, sometimes! Laramie comments on Easy Wins Laramie comments on Easy WinsLot of good stuff, both in the episode and above.I feel “easy wins” dove tail into one of what I consider the most underrated elements in RPGs, and what was mentioned on the show after the demi-lich was wiped out. Morale. If the BBG, or A BBG gets taken down, that’s a game changed. I had a “level boss” in a dungeon get taken out in the surprise round (sneak back attacks, prepped spells and ranged attacks). As soon as the room full of mooks knew the group was there, it was because the boss man was dead, and the party was standing at the ready for the slaughter. The whole cavern just set down their weapons.And in my games, that’s a successful encounter. Full XP. Die Roll Start Playing, ttrpg’s run by professional game mastersFrom Xer0Rules on Twitter, From Nightmares, d100 unsettling items for sci-fi rpg’sJared Rascher reviews King of DungeonsCanadian’s game of D&D going for 38 years, article Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next episode – GM’ing on the fly.GamingandBS.com/ForumsGamingandBS.com/TwitchGamingandBS.com/TwitterGamingandBS.com/FacebookGamingandBS.com/InstagramGamingandBS.com/Discord The post Game Mastering for Money appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
We spend a lot of time talking about dealing with different issues, problems, players, and styles at the rpg table, but we don’t often talk about Trust. How important is it for the group? Let’s talk about it. Announcements Virtual Gamehole Con event registration and badges available now. Random Encounter Voicemail from Chris Shorb Voicemail from Chris Shorb Voicemail from Mike Watkins Voicemail from Mike Watkins Edwin Nagy writes to us re: descriptions on demand Edwin Nagy writes to us re: descriptions on demandHowdy B & SGood episodes.  Some thoughts on them from Maine…Descriptions:  Lots of ideas and discussions about GMing bring up for me the teacher training I’ve undergone and what works in the classroom.  In this case the parallels are obvious.  Teachers ask students questions to keep them engaged and sometimes because they don’t the answers.  Some students don’t like being asked questions for a variety of reasons.  Some of the ways we reduce the threat level of the questions we ask you covered.  One big one that we do is think, pair, share.  “ere’s a questions, think about it for a moment, maybe write something down, and then share it with your buddy.”  One of the important parts of this is giving people time before they have to answer.  So maybe, “You walk into the bar.  I’m going to describe the bar, and when I’m done, maybe some of you can give me the name of the bartender and what kind of local drinks are on the menu.”  You describe the bar.  “I’m going to grab a slice.  Gimme a minute….OK—anyone have a bartender name?”  This is too much to do often, but I think could be done effectively when to increase engagement.  If this is going to be an important bar, it’s worth getting their buy in through their investment in time. Sean brought up a point that I felt like didn’t quite get across that I think is worth considering.  I think Sean was trying to make a parallel to when sometimes you ask for a roll and sometimes you don’t it leads players to focus on the times you do.  Similarly, if sometimes you have a name and sometimes you source it from the table, it may actually have the reverse effect hoped for.  Players may disengage from the NPCs with table-sourced names or descriptions because they are obviously less important.  I think an answer to this is for the GM to immediately and repeatedly over time bring this information back.  This rewards the player that came up with it, and makes the info important. Easy wins:  I kept thinking as you were describing various ways to get around playing out fights that you were simply talking about different game systems.   Some game systems have a barter system for success (NBA—how many points do you want to spend?); some games have random effects for success (mostly board games that I can think of).  All these tools are valuable and can be used to set a mood, keep up pace, etc., but all risk kickback with players that like what they like and don’t want chocolate in their peanut butter.  You have had many episodes that for me come to that (and often you acknowledge it).  Are we playing B/X, Fate, or PBtA?  Why did we choose this system and do we like it?  For my own gaming, I like to get my difference more by playing different games than by mixing in bits of other games into what I’m playing.  This allows my reality to be closer to my expectations which makes me less cranky…Too many words.Edwin Rory comments on Descriptions on Demand Rory comments on Descriptions on DemandMost of the questions that the Alexandrian posted in his article are HORRIBLE examples.I play to explore and discover the mysteries of the world i’m playing in.I want to find out what the mayors secret is and figure out a way to stop it – if I find his secret diary and the dm says – “ok – you tell me what you found in there” it takes me out of the game as a player.It cuts the legs out from under the whole process.The situation is can work is when a player is discussing his back story – Thongar the Mighty comes from the swamp town of Madison – I think the folowing are reasonable things for the DM to ask during play:What did you father do in MadisonYou grew up there – how do the townfolk you grew up with feel about What was your uncles name & occupationQuestions that are “about” the player’s character are acceptable to me, I’d rather backstory came out in play rather than from an 8 page sheet.“why did you chase down that goblin and stomp his body to a pulp?”“Goblins burned my neighbors farm as a kid and killed my dog!!”I’d rather that get made up on the spot – it’s personal to the character.So Brett asking the players who grew up in a neighborhood to describe his perceived relationship an NPC to the other players is cool – but to actually define the NPC and co-create the world ehhhh.No.We;re not co-writing a book, nor are the players DMing – we’re playing an RPG, my contribution is what my character does and says, same with the other players.Frankly Brent – if I were at your table I’d rather you asked me for 10 NPC names / jobs via email BEFORE the game if it’s something you know you’re bad at.Having it come up during the game would take me out of the game as surely as a discussion about who has seen the last episode of the Witcher, or whatever sports-ball team played last night.My two cents – sorry for the late reply.Rory Roger gets back to us on Descriptions on Demand Roger gets back to us on Descriptions on DemandSpeaking of late replies: You guys covered the subject perfectly. And you know me well enough to speak for me any time.Here’s the thing: when I’m sitting down at your table (especially for the first time), I don’t know your world. I don’t know your tropes. I don’t know your rails. Is my idea totally off track with your world? A blank slate is intimidating, and who even knows where to start?On the other hand, when I’m thrust in this situation as a GM, I know my world. I know my local personalities. I know how to keep things in my comfort zone. I can go on with too much detail on demand.Thanks for this episode! Die Roll Matt Colvile video on Trust and Earth ElementalsEncounter Library Youtube channel – goes over Foundry VTTFoundry VTT Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next episode.GamingandBS.com/ForumsGamingandBS.com/TwitchGamingandBS.com/TwitterGamingandBS.com/FacebookGamingandBS.com/InstagramGamingandBS.com/Discord The post TRUST appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
Easy wins are not about killing the big bad. But we do spend a lot of time talking about “The Big Bad” in our games, helping to make those encounters/fights/etc the best they can be.  But, how much value do we put on those easy or quick wins in our games? Those times the party quickly dispatches the 5 goblin guards, or when they easily evade the Stormtroopers, or get an important clue without too much fuss? Announcements Virtual Gamehole Con event registration and badges available now. Random Encounter Stephen Dragonspawn emails us on descriptions on demand Stephen Dragonspawn emails us on descriptions on demandHello again sexy BSersIt’s been a while since I’ve written in, but I’ve been listening to all your shows. You all do a great job and are both fun to listen to. On the “Description on Demand” topic. It’s something I’ve come across as well on both sides of the GM screen. As a player I enjoy and try to add something interesting to the scene, the story or the action.As a GM, I have also come across some players that struggle a little when I place the spotlight on them. If I can I simply go to another player, thus giving the first PC some time to think about what they may want to add. Not everyone is good at improv and even the best of us can be caught flat-footed once in a while. Just give that person some time if they do want to contribute something.When I ran a Savage World – Shaintar nasty my one shot many years ago, during a virtual Con, I had the pleasure to GM for players that were new to the system, the setting and VTT. During that game I went around the “table” and often asked “Describe to me how your lethal blow takes the ghoul down” or “What does your spell look like when you cast it.A few of them had never been asked to do this but they all had fun adding in their two silver pieces. One of the players even wrote me a glowing review in his blog about the experience. That was a great and appreciated surprise.Keep up the amazing work, and Sean, please, please try to stay upright on the One Wheel, don’t bruise that pretty face (even though I don’t see it when I listen in the car). Brett, take care of yourself. Ciao my handsome studs.  Tom on the forums comments on descriptions on demand Tom on the forums comments on descriptions on demandPersonally, I’m not a fan. Especially for more detailed questions. Part of what I enjoy when playing in a campaign is the feeling that the world is known by the GM. That I’m (as a character) interacting with a fully realized world. Now, it doesn’t matter if the GM is making things up on the fly because it’s still their creation and will have the same feel. If I ask a question about the setting and the GM says, “Why don’t you tell me about that organization?” or something similar, it totally breaks the immersion for me. It tells me that the GM doesn’t know about that organization, that it would probably not have existed in detail if I hadn’t asked about it. It makes the world feel shallow or patch-together. I certainly don’t say it’s a wrong approach…for those that like it, more power to them. Just not something I like myself.There is an exception to this. Before the game starts, if a player comes up with a backstory regarding elements of the setting important to their character, then I’ll encourage them to detail it as much as they want. It’s before the game and the player is contributing. So, before the game starts, if people want the setting to include people, organizations, etc…then I’m all for it. I’ll either allow, disallow, or modify it to work.Actually, let me expand my exception above. If, at any time, a player wants to voluntarily provide additional information for the setting that they would like to see…an organization, NPC, etc…I have no problem with that. It’s a player telling me what they’d like to see. I’ll make it fit and try to work it into the campaign. To me, that’s very different than asking the players to detail things that you as GM haven’t. Old School DM on making thieves interesting Old School DM on making thieves interestingGreat episode. I especially liked the discussion of establishing difficulty through narrative description (and questions from the players.) This method encourages group participation in overcoming obstacles, instead of just picking-the-pc-with-the-best-plus.I think this is all role playing at it’s best (not just thieving).Preparation and good box-text can accomplish this. This is one of the reasons I don’t often “riff” instead of reading high-quality (aka well tested) box text.Context is everything – OldSchoolDM Kyle hit us up on making thieves interesting Kyle hit us up on making thieves interestingSo, just listened to your Thieves episode. Rogues and thieves are my favorite classes, and rogue-slanted adventures are my fave to create.Your show really exhibited one of 5e’s weaknesses: niche protection. However, there is one tool in the 5e kit to really help: Passive checks.Take something like climbing. I like to allow rogues passive acrobatics or athletics to climb relatively simple surfaces: the uneven rock walls of a ramshackle stone building, the cracked facade of a cliff, etc… other classes will be required to make a check. Even if the DC Is low there is still a chance of failure. Doing this grants thieves automatic success in climbing up to a certain level, while there is a chance for failure for other classes, reflecting their skills.Same rules apply to picking pockets. If the person getting picked is not being watchful and the victim’s passive perception is lower than the thief’s passive sleight of hand, it is an automatic success, whereas another class would have to rely on a roll vs. passive perception, introducing a chance of failure to reflect their lack of training.There was a lot of talk about situations where bad die rolls meant the wizard picks more locks than the thief. Frankly, I don’t think there is any justification for even allowing a pick locks roll for a character who does not have Thieves’ tool proficiency. Think about it this way: in the real world you could take the most nimble-fingered master of close-up stage magic, put him in front of a standard household key lock, and, no matter how staggering his manual dexterity is, if he hasn’t trained himself to pick locks, his chances of opening that door are still zero, no matter how clever his/her fingers are. In my games proficiency means more than just a few extra points to your bonus. It also represents actual training and experience that determine if the dice will even come out of the bag.Love the show. Thanks for all of your work. Tom on easy wins Tom on easy winsI think that if easy wins happen too often, then the GM is misjudging the difficulty level of the encounters. If it happens occasionally, that’s good and provides an ego-boost to the group.I think that even if an easy win happens against the Big Bad, it can be a good thing if it’s due to excellent planning on the part of the group, an exceptionally good roll, or a fortuitous combination of attacks on the part of the group. A spell is cast that works particularly well in combination with another attack, for instance.That being said…if this was the actual end of the campaign and meant to be the real capstone fight of the whole game…then such an easy win shouldn’t be possible. But it’s up to the GM to make sure the Big Bad can’t be taken down easily, even by good rolls and strategy. It’s the GMs job to design the Big Bad to be the Big Bad, which means he won’t be easy to take down. Exactly how the GM does this will vary from system to system. If they take him down easily…then the GM messed up. I don’t have a good answer for what to do if this happens. You have to give the group something here…as long as you don’t pull what I describe in my next paragraph.What I’ve hated with a passion as a player is when we hit the Big Bad with a really effective combination of attacks with excellent rolls…only to have the GM says that he escapes anyway. We immediately followed, only to be told, “No, he’s gone.” When we pressed for how the only answer was “It’s a genre thing. He escapes.” Oh, how I hate that excuse. Die Roll How to create your own kingdom’s history, article on Role-playing TipsKobold Fight Club, online tool for building monster encountersCurse of Strahd on Reddit Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next episode when we talk about trust.GamingandBS.com/ForumsGamingandBS.com/TwitchGamingandBS.com/TwitterGamingandBS.com/FacebookGamingandBS.com/InstagramGamingandBS.com/Discord The post Easy Wins in RPG’s appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
Descriptions on Demand in tabletop rpg’s. We’re not always comfortable, especially in a new game, when the GM gives us the talking stick and asks us to make something up on the spot about their game world. Here’s an article that references this approach: https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/44891/roleplaying-games/gm-dont-list-11-description-on-demandSo… what do we think about this?From Roger Brasslett Announcements Virtual Gamehole Con event registration and badges available now.Thanks to everyone that tuned-in to the live stream Saturday and donated to the SOS Children’s Villages charity. Random Encounter Harrigan emails us Harrigan emails us Gaming and BS Overlords,Two quick things. On Sean’s Flaming Train Wreck of a Session Zero for His Mothership GameSo on one hand you have Kingdom, Microscope and the like. Highly structured, highly collaborative setting builders that it seems his group dislikes.On the other, there’s completely freeform setting generation where no one can agree, key elements are forgotten about, and the GM can end up running a setting they don’t actually enjoy.Idea! Head for the middle ground. Fate and Powered by the Apocalypse games often do this. Provide a bit of structure for setting building, but don’t go overboard. Come up with the key points that matter, then provide the players with a few choices for each of them. It can be really tough to come up with ideas in a vacuum, and even harder to get everyone to agree on them, so have the players choose from a few GM-provided options. Give them a menu to order off of. They can each have a vote, or you can even make it a little set of tables they roll on randomly.For a science fiction game, set up the choices around FTL communications, FTL travel, aliens, whether artificial gravity is a thing, weapon technology, the kind of ship they have, the kinds of adventures they get up to. All the stuff that matters for the setting and the stories people want to tell.And by building these lists, the GM can ensure that they either A) stay within their comfort zone and run a setting they like, or B) get to stretch themselves in ways that are new and inspiring.Basically this: Make random setting tables and have your players roll on or pick from them. So, COVID-19. Sure has driven a lot of gamers online, me included. I’d be curious to see what BSers think now about gaming virtually. Do those who hated it still hate it? Are those who dove in starting to get tired of the format? Might be a neat subtopic — kind of looking at the state of online gaming now that we are about six months into this thing.That’s all I got.Peace,-Harrigan Roman emails us about Why Do PC’s Wander Off? Roman emails us about Why Do PC’s Wander Off?Hey dudes,I know this email is a little behind. Sorry about that. I got behind and listened out of order. Thanks for taking the survey so I don’t have to. I really enjoyed your discussion on wandering PCs, so much so that I wanted to share my thoughts with you jokers! I think when the entire party wanders away during a published adventure, it’s often just bad writing. It’s really up to the GM to keep the players engaged in the story enough to wanna stick around. Rumors of powerful magic items that can only be gained by following the prescribed path can be hard to walk away from. Conversely, when PCs wander away during a home brew game it just might be because of the home brew. Published adventures provide a wonderful linear quality that, sure, might feel a little railroady sometimes but at least you know what the hell you’re supposed to be doing. Some of the greatest campaigns our group has played have been a mashup of several different published adventure paths, modules, one-shots, and home brew adventures set in a home brew world. The world was always fresh and new but there were almost always specific goals that we understood. If players don’t understand what the hell they’re supposed to do, there ain’t no way the characters are gonna and people will get bored and go look for something to fight.  Lastly, the really irritating kind of wandering off; PCs wandering off alone. I get it. It’s a role playing game. People want to role play their character. “what’s my motivation? Waaaaah”“I’m just playing my character! Waaaahh”“But I don’t wanna do that! Waaaah”What people forget sometimes is that this is also a social game played with other people. Sometimes you need to invent motivation, change your character’s motivations, or just shut the fuck up and go along to get along until you’re totally into it again. Nobody wants to sit and watch you play by yourself with the GM for twenty or thirty minutes while you run off to find yourself. Our group typically makes decisions on a vote and we all go along. We once had a player who was so upset by another character’s actions that he announced he was going to fly home and burn down the party castle. Whoa! Time out!When shit like this happens it’s time to take a break from the session and have a serious talk. That player eventually decided to leave the group and the character went off to live in the forest. This is what I imagined happened with Han Solo. His player had to take a leave of absence, his wife had a baby, he sadly moved away, and so Han decided to fly off into the sunset instead of joining the rebellion. A couple years later, “holy shit I’m moving back to town! Is there room in the group for me?”“Hell yes, there’s room, and we’re about to start another sci-fi adventure with our old characters! This time it’s supposed to be in the forest with a bunch of teddy bear NPCs!”I’m weirdGame on! Isaiah commented on Brett taking the D&D survey Isaiah commented on Brett taking the D&D surveyHey all, first time poster. Started listening to the show last year and the way the hosts highlight the community is affirming and welcoming. The kind of openness and genuine interest that Sean and Brett display are the features of the gaming community that keep me enthusiastic about the hobby. Props to everyone on here for being a positive force!I started playing RPGs in middle school because I always wished I could do more in the video games I played. When my friend across the street showed me his AD&D books my mind was blown. I was no longer confined to what was on an NES cartridge! I think wanting to DM/GM was an extension of that, now I would only be limited by what I could create (and what others would play).Thinking about the survey and something that came up on the episode, I hope WotC is planning to expand into VTT. I would pay good money for an online platform to run 4th edition D&D. The tight design of the combat was a wonderful way for me to experience that video game-type experience that attracted me as a kid. Maybe if enough people answered positively about 4e on that survey I can play it more! Dayminkaynin posted this on our forums Not sure if this is the right place but can yall do an episode on how to GM for $$? How to get that paper! How much to charge. What to expect. and one on how to run a game on the fly? You sit down as a player and the group makes you GM. You have to use player queues to run the game. Dayminkaynin posted this on our forumsNot sure if this is the right place but can yall do an episode on how to GM for $$? How to get that paper! How much to charge. What to expect.and one on how to run a game on the fly? You sit down as a player and the group makes you GM. You have to use player queues to run the game. Die Roll Wizards of the Coast to release DM Screen – Wilderness Kit, launching Nov 17, 2020Xcrawl Classics beta-test rules out in time for Bride Cyclops ConBride of Cyclops Con, Oct 16-18 online Twitter user @meghanlynnFTW posted a thread about Blades in the Dark. View it on threadreaderappComing Sept 7, 2020, Star System: Epic Space Fantasy Roleplaying Supplements by Adamant  Entertainment. Apparently former West End Games editors involved, to include our friend Wayne Humfleet Next Episode Subscribe on iOS or Android so you don’t miss our next episode about easy wins have value.GamingandBS.com/ForumsGamingandBS.com/TwitchGamingandBS.com/TwitterGamingandBS.com/FacebookGamingandBS.com/InstagramGamingandBS.com/Discord The post Descriptions on Demand in RPG’s appeared first on Gaming and BS RPG Podcast.
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