March 4 is International GM’s Day!
Since 2002 this day has been designated as a time to appreciate your local game master for all the hard work they put into giving you an enjoyable gaming experience. It is also, coincidentally, the fifth anniversary of the death of E. Gary Gygax, the grandfather of all GMs and father of Dungeons & Dragons.
So get out your old Player’s Handbook and give it a read in a coffee shop. Return the pencils you stole from your GM. Thank your GM for their hard work and imagination. Players and GMs alike should take the opportunity to celebrate what they each bring to the table to make a fantastic hobby.
I’ve now run my first two Pathfinder sessions and I have to say I’m mostly pleased. While character generation seemed to take an awfully long time (especially as we had one rulebook to share amongst four players and a GM), it truly prepped us to have successful encounters later on in the game.
My PC party is comprised of two human sorcerers and two half-Orcs (one a ranger, the other a fighter). They are in a Viking-esque region of my campaign world and have now encountered a small band of marauding Orcs, a handful of bloody, regenerating skeletons, and the eldritch horror of an ancient temple. The combat encounters went fairly smoothly from behind the screens and we even got to use The Box of Doom™ (the ominous black box that I’ve placed critical and fumble decks in for drawing). I think the players are having fun with it–which is the most important thing.
We also tried out the “take 10″ and “take 20″ rules. I’m not sure if I handled them correctly and felt like I was getting munchkined a bit. Nevertheless, I think it helped with my overall philosophy of giving the players the benefit of the doubt. Plus, no harm was done. I’m just used to rolling for nearly everything as we go along and these rules–which make perfect sense–are a new experience for us as a group.
I really like the way combat flows fairly smoothly. I was afraid that we would get bogged down in minutiae but so far, so good. Even the “attacks of opportunity” rules (which I was very worried about) seemed to flow pretty well and make sense.
So, overall, a successful beginning to the campaign. Now if I can just keep it on track and keep things moving forward…
So, as of right now I’ve had only 60 respondents to my online survey. I’ve also conducted a paltry 6 interviews (one of them being with myself). So it is safe to say that this project has stalled.
I honestly don’t know how many responses I need to have but I know that this is not the response that I’ve been looking for.
But I’m not giving up.
I’ve placed flyers up at various local gamer hangouts. I’ve Tweeted (via my own account) to various RPG sites to drum up “business”. I’ve placed ads in various RPG forums.
But I’m not giving up.
I am trying to contact a local sci-fi con to allow me to place flyers in at the freebie table and in the guest bags. I may set up a separate social media (Twitter, Facebook) for this project.
It’s only been six months. I keep trying to remind myself of this.
Not. Giving. Up.
I’ve been really busy of late trying to run two different campaigns: one is the Dresden Files RPG and the other is the Pathfinder RPG. These are two very different systems that are completely new to me, so it’s quite a challenge. This is coupled by the fact that I’ve been developing my own campaign setting and will be creating my own adventure paths for the players. So, a lot of work for me but I hope a lot of fun for my players.
One of the things I love about the Dresden Files RPG is the character background process. It is just a brilliant way to develop a party background with real adventure hooks and emotional ties. So I decided to try a little hybridization with my Pathfinder campaign and had my PCs go through a slightly modified character background process that included the Dresden rules. I wanted to get out of the “you all meet at the local tavern” rut, plus I wanted to establish real ties between the characters–especially as they are playing characters that can best be described as “morally flexible”. I’ve found that these parties are harder to gel and can fall into a inter-party squabbling a lot easier than those that are more heroic.
Here is the process I used:
- Pick a Race
- Pick a Class
- Pick an Alignment
- Name your character
1. Where did you come from?
- What nation is your character from? What region? What culture?
- What were his family’s circumstances like? (Rich? Poor? Scholarly? Isolated? Religious?)
- What’s your character’s relationship with his family?
- How big is the family?
- How was your character educated?
- What were your character’s friends like? Did your character get into much trouble?
2. What shaped you?
- This is the “middle-history”, a seminal event in your young life that helped define who you are as a person. It probably highlights your alignment, bringing it into sharp relief where you had to make a choice. Describe that situation. What lessons were learned? Did someone in particular influence your choice? How?
3. Your First Adventure
- Remember—you’re young and only 1st level, so this isn’t going to be epic. Maybe you and some friends explored some local caves and crossed paths with a goblin. Maybe some raiders came to your village and you and a few others managed to protect the children.
- Describe it in just a few sentences. The details will be filled in later.
4. Who’s Path Have You Crossed?
- Now you’ll take your First Adventure and pass it to the next person, who will add themselves as a supporting player to your adventure. Maybe they came with you to the goblin cave? Maybe they are the child you saved from raiders?
- Everyone will get a turn to add themselves to each adventure. This helps ensure that you have a common history to pull from.
5. Roll Up Your Character
The process seemed to work rather well–in fact, the part that most people got the most hung-up on was coming up with character names. I also think it got all of the players to think about their characters as characters as opposed to completely focusing on min-maxing (though there was a bit of that as well). We’ll see if the party gels but at least now, before we even set foot in a dungeon, there is a common history with the characters and a reason for them know each other other than they all frequent the same drinking hole.
Last night marked the end of this “season” of my Serenity RPG campaign. I have decidedly mixed feelings about the campaign in general and the end of it.
One the one hand, the PCs accomplished their goals and the Big Bad is dead, never to haunt them again (at least, not personally). The players seemed to enjoy it and there was a sense of closure, but with enough of an open end to allow us to return to these characters for a “season two”. On the other hand, as a GM, I feel that I wasn’t as well prepared as I could have been and that maybe it wasn’t as much of the “slam-bang” adventure that it should have been. I can be overly critical of myself, but it is nevertheless the truth. I let myself get overwhelmed more than I should have.
As far as the overall campaign, I think it was, for the most part, a success. Folks really got into their characters and seemed to enjoy playing their them. We learned a good, new game system that I think everyone liked. We got to play in a universe we all know and love. Everyone seemed to enjoy it enough that they didn’t want it to end and they want to come back to it sometime. So mission accomplished there. As a GM, I made a lot of mistakes along the way but I think folks were willing enough to roll with them. I actually managed to have a modern/futuristic campaign (i.e. not medieval fantasy) that didn’t bog down in minutiae nor did it turn into a “Monty Haul” campaign either (which had been my two experiences with running “space” campaigns before now). So, overall, I think a highly successful campaign–despite my lack of GMing prowess.
But it needed to end. I’m ready to move on to another system for a while and let this one stew. Before this, I had a fantasy campaign last a decade in real time, which was awesome and very cool, but it risked burning me out as a GM. I started to feel a little trapped in that world and don’t want that to happen again. So, we stopped this one on a positive note, can come back to it when we’re all ready. I think it’s a good plan.