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28917667 No.28917667 [DELETED]  [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

What rules do you abide by as a GM?

These are the ones I always follow when I GM.

Rule #1: House rule all you want before the game. You must announce all changes to the players. During the game, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, deviate from the RPG's rules and the house rules you have announced. If you must adjust the rules, do it only at the end of the session or between sessions, and announce it as clearly as possible.

Rule #2: Describe the features of the environment. Describe what the NPCs look like. Describe what the speaking tone and gestures of the NPCs are as they speak. Let the players be able to visualize what is actually going on. (You have no idea how many GMs I encounter fail this one.)

Rule #3: This is a make-believe game, not real life. NPCs should be as quirky as possible, unless being "the normal one" is specifically their gimmick. Give them weird quirks, funny speaking habits, strange physical features, anything to make them memorable.

Rule #4: Play to the player characters' strengths, not their weaknesses. If you must play to their weaknesses, give them something to compensate for it. (FATE handles this via compels.) Sherlock Holmes is awesome because he gets to solve mysteries, not because he gets forced to fight in trenches.

Rule #5: Combat encounters should always be "boss fights," so to speak. Plot-important, with more things at stake than "do the PCs bite it or do the bad guys kick the bucket"? In fact, death should not be the price of defeat; failing to accomplish an important goal should be that price. Plot-irrelevant "random encounters" are the bane of a good story's existence.

Rule #6: Make your players feel like their characters are awesome, badass heroes. Always make it feel like it is up to them, and only them, to save the day. Make it feel like their successes are the kind of things that would have tumblr make those subtitled .gifs to showcase how awesome they are. Cheer for the characters, the stars of the show.

>> No.28917837

>Play to the player characters' strengths, not their weaknesses.


>> No.28918171

>Play to the player characters' strengths, not their weaknesses.
I thought the whole point of RPGs was to make the Paladin fall!

>> No.28918176

ITT: OP is That Guy

>> No.28918185

>Combat encounters should always be "boss fights," so to speak.
I sort of agree that combat encounters should be important, not random, but I also believe that you shouldn't avoid encounters that would happen just because they aren't plot relevant. If the players start trying pick on some guy who would fight back, I'd hope he'd fight back rather than just let them get away with it because "he's not an important plot fight".

>> No.28918202

#1 sucks, and I don't quite agree with the boss fight aspect of #5. You seem like a better-than-average GM with one major flaw: your unwillingness to improvise when the ruleset fails you.

8/10 would play with

>> No.28918236

I think it's more that he doesn't want to seem unfair and like he's moving the goalposts mid-game - a goal I can agree with. But if the players desperately want or need that houseruling, go for it IMO.

>> No.28918294

I agree with most of this, though Rule #4 is kind of off in my book. While playing to their strengths is important, making customized challenges for their characters adds in tension and drama. What is the modern image of Sherlock Holmes without his Moriarty?

>> No.28918458
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Another topic for another time.


There are two ways picking a fight with an NPC can go down:

A. The NPC and their entourage are too weak to provide a serious challenge. In this case, there is no need at all to run the battle. Just say the PCs successfully knock out or kill the NPC, and run them through the consequences of doing so.

B. The NPC and their entourage are powerful enough to pose a significant challenge to the party. In this case, it is a boss fight that can be anywhere from an "easy boss fight" to an "overpowering boss fight," but Rule #5 applies all the same. There are goals to be accomplished and major stakes on the line.


This is the motivation behind #1. I have seen far too many GMs deploy a sudden house rule in the middle of the game, and nine out of ten times, it was done in a ham-fisted fashion that was unfun and only served to hinder the PCs.

I strive to never become like those GMs, so I would prefer to be safe than sorry when it comes to mid-game house ruling.


Sherlock Holmes is still in his element when engaged in combat with Moriarty, given that the former counts one-on-one combat amongst his specialties. Sherlock Holmes's strengths are emphasized against Moriarty.

Now, imagine if one of the player characters in a campaign was a master elementalist of fire, lightning, and explosions. They can summon forth only those three things and nothing else, but while working with this triad, they can unleash tremendous devastation.

Let us say the GM introduces a major enemy who was completely and utterly immune to fire, lightning, and explosions. The elementalist character is reduced to twiddling their thumbs, which is most certainly unfun.

Now, the GM could introduce a method for the elementalist to contribute against that enemy and apply their full potency (e.g. a magical environmental feature that transforms fire into ice), but that would just be playing to their strengths anyway, no?

>> No.28918472

I believe I can see the good intentions behind your rules, and I can heartily agree with them in most cases. Depending on the particular flavour I'm going for, #6 will be invalidated or even inverted (when playing "disempowerment fantasies", like some horror games). I'd include an exception for #1 if it really doesn't work in a situation (such as when you have no rules for something in the system or rules just blatantly make no sense), in which case I'd try to come up with something quickly and err on the side of the players.

>> No.28918500

>This is a make-believe game, not real life. NPCs should be as quirky as possible, unless being "the normal one" is specifically their gimmick.
Maybe in some shitty-ass campaign made by a twelve year old or somebody that's trying to do tabletop anime, sure.

>> No.28918544

I agree for important NPCs and for a relative degree of quirky. They should DEFINITELY be memorable.

>> No.28918577
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It's one way to do things. A safe fall-back if your players' expectations and yours don't necessarily match. Sounds good.

It might be arrogant of me, but I believe that with some groups of players, you could do much better with less codification, but I have yet to meet that group.

That image... Casting the fishing rod into the waters of /tg/.jpg
>there is no "tasteful" way of making NPCs unique
>shonen characters are necessarily bad
While I'm very much a friend of the "shades of brown" approach to world- and character building, some people like Exalted-level over-the-top-ness. There's no wrong fun.

>> No.28918585

These are pretty sound. >>28918472 has it right for #6 though. That's one type of heroism.

>> No.28918621


I might be biased because I run very heroic games, regardless of the genre.

>> No.28918655

I got bored of that.

>> No.28918693

Ah, I misunderstood what you were going for with #4. That's definitely the way to do it. I thought you were suggesting only giving that player enemies with weaknesses to lightning, fire and explosions instead of puzzles/challenges centered around that.

>> No.28919542

This follows point #6, but:
As a GM, if you're using critical fumbles (and there's a few good reasons why you shouldn't), don't make the PCs look incompetent - instead, make the enemies look more competent.

Have the enemies use an overextension of the fighter to trip him; have the enemy rogue kick up a stone to smack the mage in the face right during the middle of his spell. Have the enemy AI overload the plasma conduits on the gun with a feedback loop or something.

Don't make your players chop off their own limbs or something that makes them look like bumbling fools.

As a corrolary: if you've got a levelling system, fumbles should show up less the more you level up.

>> No.28919655

"Blame failures on the environment/enemies being hardcore" is one of the suggestions in Fate Core.

>> No.28920010

It's a good suggestion.

>> No.28920423

Not every wizard is a minmaxed crazy prepared Batman.

You can very well have a blaster wizard and play to him by providing loads of mooks in your encounters.

>> No.28920739

One of my personal rules, given how often I'm flying by the seat of my pants;
>If you pull something out of your ass, make sure you write it down so it doesn't change each time you need to reference
Particularly relevant when dealing with enemy stats.

I noted that FATE Core has a lot of good suggestions for GMing, even if I don't like the system itself very much

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