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RPGs and more

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Playing The Same Game?

Have you ever been at one of those tables where not everyone is playing the same game? I mean, you all think you are playing the same RPG together but something feels off. One player wants to rescue people, and another player keeps stealing from fellow PCs. Some players want to kill bad things to level up, and other players want to be clever and talk their way out of harsh situations.

Today we are going over some of the basics of communication with your group: how to figure out the tone of your game, how to get the sort of adventures you want to play, and how to work effectively with your fellow PCs. These may all seem like obvious suggestions to a seasoned gamer, but that is also what tends to make them easily overlooked when we are all at the table.

I Like Your Tone

I love this picture:

starting-groups-and-ending-groups

Games can quickly devolve from serious questing to hilarious RP moments. And there is nothing wrong with that, so long as everyone wants to play a lighthearted pun-filled game. Some people are coming to your game as a break from real world drama and just want to have fun.

Different people often like a game or genre for different reasons. Some people read Dresden Files because it reminds them of Harry Potter, and some read it because it reminds them of Dick Tracy. Session 0 is a great place to talk out what sort of game you are expecting to play, especially if you are a GM. Do you want light fantasy or dark and gritty? Is good and evil black and white, or are you wanting complex characters?

When a group agrees on a tone for a game, take it very seriously. Do not stray from that tone too much without getting a group consensus. If a group cannot stick with the preset tone despite genuine efforts, talk with everyone about why. It might be a problem that you can fix, or it might not be a problem at all if everyone is happy with the way things are.

Dynamic Party Dynamics

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Reacting to Players

Improvisational GMing is becoming more and more of an accepted practice in our hobby, to the point where many gamers actually expect it. Today we want to cover a few of our favorite basic go-to moves for when a player does something unexpected. Hopefully these ideas will prove useful to you in your own games as GMs or at least get you thinking of more ways to handle your unexpected player actions.

Keep in mind that these improvisations are geared towards players that are invested in the story. Games benefit greatly from feeding off of player enthusiasm and energy. If a player is trying to derail your game or do something unexpected for meta-game reasons, that is just an unwanted distraction.

Unexpected Interest in an NPC

Sometimes an NPC becomes more interesting than they were originally intended. Maybe the PC grabs a random young boy to send a message for them. Maybe a hero gets smitten by a princess. Or maybe the innocent beggar does something that the players find suspicious and obsess over. It happens to GMs all the time: an unimportant NPC suddenly gets pulled into the spotlight by the players.

The tricky part of having an unimportant NPC become important lies in the conflict. If you’ve already planned out your adventure, then you have already assigned all the important NPCs to the important NPC roles your adventure needs. But if you dismiss an NPC that the players show interest in, they are likely to become less invested in your world and thus less curious about those NPCs you intended to be important.

I find that the easiest thing to do is make that NPC what the players expect, or at least as close as makes sense. If the PCs suspect a random NPC of being the main villain for example, have them working for the main villain so you don’t waste all the work invested in the actual villain NPC. On the other hand, if the party really likes a shop keeper you pulled out of a hat for a random shopping trip, have them continue to be a shop keeper the next time the party is in the area.

Avoiding the Intended Path

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For Story’s Sake

I recently played a game of Dead of Winter, which I often play with an RPG mindset. After making sure it was impossible for me to be exiled for a couple of rounds, I pulled my people out of the base, let several innocent bystanders die, and then started a vote to exile another player. Hopefully that all makes sense to you, whether you’ve played the game before or not.

It did not make sense to my fellow players. Sure we all won in the end (unnecessary Redemption for the Exiled player), but everyone seemed confused and a little frustrated by my actions. I tried to explain myself during and after from a logical, strategic, and even mechanical point of view. But it didn’t seem to be going through, and I felt like it was my fault that no one had enjoyed the hard-earned victory we all contributed to.

betrayed

*Editor’s note* The Editor totally wasn’t the player who was voted out for no good reason.

When I finally said “I thought it would all make for a better story,” the player I had caused exile to said, “Dude, you just should have said so.” Like that was all I needed to say.

Everyone Cares About the Story

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Using D&D Monsters In Fate Core

There are a lot of settings that need good monsters: medieval fantasy, modern horror, post-apocalyptic science fiction, space opera, and even super hero to name a few. Monsters are a huge part of our mythology, and as such they can be found in just about every game.

Fate Core does not have its own monster manual because it is a generic system that can be easily applied to any genre we want to play in. So where do we get our ideas for monsters? Well there are plenty in Fate-based games: Dresden Files, Atomic Robo, and so on. But you can also pull them from other sources. My personal favorite place lately has been the D&D monster manual.

d and d fate core

Why D&D?

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Making Things Scary

Horror is not my particular genre of choice. I enjoy my sleep, and I dislike anything that might give me nightmares and keep me awake. Moreover, my style of GMing is to empower the players to tell their characters’ stories and allow the possibility of success in everything that they try.

But just like every other type of story, there is a time and place to make things scary. Characters can have powerful moments when they are helpless. The world can seem more real when it is twisted. And you really do find out who you are and what you are willing to sacrifice when death stalks the character that you have put 3 years of love and development into.

So for those of you that want to have some scary moments in your campaign, or a scary campaign as a whole, here are our 3 tips to make your roleplaying game scary.

Start With Normalcy

normal family

“Oh, Timmy.”

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The Power That’s Inside (Pokémon Fate)

This is a simple Pokémon Fan Fate adventure designed for 2-4 players early in their adventures. The story works best for low-level characters that have not yet acquired a full set of 6 pokemon nor any individual pokémon having more than 2 stunts and 12 skill points. See our previous post for more details on how our Pokémon Fan Fate game works.

Who’s That Pokémon?

The PCs start at a morning breakfast in their own campsite out in pokémon wilderness. Roleplay a little bit with the players to see how they start their day. Then have everyone roll a Notice (2) check. Those that succeed will notice a nearby shrubbery twitch with something inside that teleports away in a flash. If no one succeeds, have them see the flash of teleportation as the pokémon steals a hat or backpack or other personal possession.

If someone succeeded with a 4+, they can see that the pokémon only teleported to another bush a short distance away and that it is relatively small (about the size of a Pikachu). Otherwise have everyone roll a Survival (3) check to track the pokémon. Once they find it, following its teleportation flashes as it flees from bush to bush is easy enough.

The fleeing pokémon is a Frail Psychic Abra (Shy Teleporter): Attack 0, Defend 1, Special 1, Speed 2, and Evade 3. Teleport – Requires a Psychic aspect. For this pokemon’s movement movement, you may ignore barriers to instantly move a number of zones equal to your special. If attempting to bring others, roll a Special check with the difficulty equal to the number of characters you teleport with.

This wild Abra uses Evade to dodge attacks and pokéballs while it is running since it is not engaged in combat. Identifying the Abra while it flees is a Lore VS Evade check, with the Abra receiving a +2 while it is hiding (Staying Out of Sight is the temporary aspect). When the group finally catches the Abra or gives up on it, start the next scene.

You Fell For It

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Do You Want to Be the Very Best?

Have you heard about the new app called Pokémon Go yet?

<insert slowpoke image>

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Seriously though, this game is grabbing hold of a LOT of people’s inner childhood and pulling it back into the light. It is having a profound impact on our local geek culture as well. People getting caught up in the app are also reaching out to other pokémon-related hobbies: electronic games, board games, cosplay, anime marathons, and toy collection! So why not snag some new RPGers?

slopoke

We previously talked about making a pokémon Fate Core world in Gotta Catch Them All. All the basics are there for you to make your own Pokémon Fan Fate game. But today we want to talk about how to reach out to fans of the app that might be new to the RPG.

How to Sell Your Game

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Welcome Pokémon Trainers

Pokémon Go has managed to do what no game has ever done before. It is getting people out into the world, visiting places of historical significance, and socializing with strangers in person (far away from the TV or computer). It is an amazing achievement for a game, and a wonderful opportunity that many people are taking advantage of! But sadly some people are also squandering this opportunity.

Kids and adults that have had no interest in museums, churches, or memorials are now begging to go to these places. They are meeting together and talking about them, organizing group outings, and even making plans to spend all day there. And yet some of these locations are either ignoring the people that come or flat out barring them from entering.

People Want In

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Classes Do Not Define Us

I ran a one-shot a while back with D&D 5th edition, and we had a last minute player ask if he could join in. There was only one pregenerated character left, so I told him that as long as he did not mind playing that character then he was welcome to join us. He looked at the character and said “I don’t really like to play barbarians. I like to roleplay conversations without slobbering over everyone and actually think before I hit things.”

A couple of other players supported this view by stating that they had not wanted the barbarian either for this reason. I asked to see the sheet. The character had a Charisma of 12 and an Intelligence of 11, so slightly above average for both. Not a mindless animal by stats standards. And the character had the artisan background, so they were very creative and easily plugged into high society. But everyone seemed to have this idea that all barbarians drool and kill anything that moves and cannot ever have a conversation with anyone.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to watch a barbarian rage and smash things. Especially when that barbarian is a gnome or goblin taking on a hill giant! And the purpose of a class is certainly to give you benefits towards a certain style of playing (or in this case, combat). But class is only one part of a character, and not even the most important part of a character’s personality in any game I have yet played.

What You Are Good At

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Solo Fate Adventure: The Fata Morgana (CYOA)

I’ve been doing a lot of work this week on a game over at storynexus.com, and my brain is locked in Choose Your Own Adventure mode. So instead of a helpful blog today, we just have a fun little science fantasy story game for you to read through. Like any CYOA game, don’t try to read it start to finish. Instead, start at the beginning and when you make a choice that tells you to skip to another paragraph, go directly to that paragraph to resume reading.

During the game, you may be told that you receive achievements or acquire helpful gear. If you are told to make note of such things, write them down or simply remember how your story is progressing. If you come across a choice that requires an item or story element that you do not remember receiving, do not choose that option. Otherwise the story will not make much sense.

You will need a fate die (or coin) to play, as some choices require a roll. + is a success, and – is a failure. If you roll a blank face, you succeed on an EASY challenge but fail on a HARD challenge. The game is more fun if you do not cheat and just decide to succeed at everything without rolling a die. Also during this game you can gain Fate Points, which you can spend to change a single failed roll to a success.

Twine Version

THE BEGINNING

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