Burn Everything Gaming

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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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Recipe for Making Memorable NPCs

Making a world is a hard job for a GM to do, but it is certainly worth it! …if your players get invested in the world you make, that is. Bringing your world to life takes a lot of careful thought an planning, not to mention in-game-session delivery. And too many times a GM tries to do something interesting that the players ignore.

The role of a game master is as much an art as it is a science. There are many things to consider when making your game world interesting and consistent enough to be engaging. Most game books include sections to give you advice on how to make your world feel real. Today we’re going to focus on making NPCs.

NPCs are one of the best tools in a GM’s belt for engaging a player. When a PC and an NPC have a conversation, you and the player are already engaged. They want to hear what you have to say and are trying to understand it so that they can respond. Information is much more easily absorbed through human interaction, and RPGs are social by nature in the first place.

Memorable NPCs are a lot of fun to make and play. Some are hated antagonists, some are helpful allies, and most are just a small part of the world they live in. Today we are going to share with you a simple recipe for making some engaging NPCs

Start With an Empty Container

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How to get away with PC murder

I do not enjoy killing player characters. I have a lot of NPCs get killed, as you probably know if you listen to the podcasts. Player Character deaths are a lot trickier to manage. They are easy to do, sure. But they are very hard to make meaningful and even harder to get the players to celebrate.

In my experience, the only way to kill a PC and not lose a player over it is to make sure no one thinks it is your fault the PC died. Get them to believe that the game just worked out that way, that the dice roll was bad, or that someone in the group made a bad choice that led to their death. Of course, as the GM you really are the one that set them up to die, but so long as they don’t know it you can get away with it.

Here are a few tricks I’ve used over the years to get away with PC Murder. They do not all work for every occasion, but hopefully you can find something that will work for your campaign or at least inspire you to think.

Heroic Sacrifice

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Bringing a World to life: 5 easy steps

So you have a little adventure you want to run for a group. They find a village and spend the night. That night, the dead come out of their graves and walk into the nearby swamp. The party follows the dead people to a necromancer’s tower. They deal with the necromancer, and everyone gets experience points.
So does that description have anyone on the edge of their seats desperate to run that sort of adventure? Of course not. It is very short and very bland. Sure it gets the information across, but it is not exciting. And really, an adventure like this should be exciting!
More and more RPGs are coming out that encourage the players to participate in the story and the creation of the world. I love this direction our hobby is taking! Of course, that actually makes a GMs job even harder when it comes to bringing everyone’s world to life.
So today I’d like to share some tips that others have shared with me over the years about bringing your world to life.

1: Building the Foundation

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