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Yora
2015-02-09, 09:24 AM
I just saw this article (http://angrydm.com/2014/09/dear-wotc-why-do-you-suck-at-selling-games/) from the Angry DM. It's pretty long and goes into a lot of detail, but I think it makes a very good point.
Lots of RPGs, especially D&D, don't explain how you become a GM without seeing other people running games for a long time. I did learn running games only with a PHB and DMG for 3rd edition, but it really was a huge amount of work and took me a decade to actually become halfway decent. And most of the good advice I did indeed get from other GMs explaining things on the internet.

Are there any games you could give to a bunch of people who never played any RPGs before, which explain things well enough for one of them to GM without ever having played the game or having anyone to guide him?

I think Fate does a reasonably good job. Fate Core has a lot of sections which explain how you set up stories and interact with the player, and does not limit itself to running enemies during combat. But as a longtime GM, I am not sure if it would made a lot of sense to me before I already knew how these things tend to work.

neonchameleon
2015-02-09, 09:31 AM
I just saw this article (http://angrydm.com/2014/09/dear-wotc-why-do-you-suck-at-selling-games/) from the Angry DM. It's pretty long and goes into a lot of detail, but I think it makes a very good point.
Lots of RPGs, especially D&D, don't explain how you become a GM without seeing other people running games for a long time. I did learn running games only with a PHB and DMG for 3rd edition, but it really was a huge amount of work and took me a decade to actually become halfway decent. And most of the good advice I did indeed get from other GMs explaining things on the internet.

Are there any games you could give to a bunch of people who never played any RPGs before, which explain things well enough for one of them to GM without ever having played the game or having anyone to guide him?

I think Fate does a reasonably good job. Fate Core has a lot of sections which explain how you set up stories and interact with the player, and does not limit itself to running enemies during combat. But as a longtime GM, I am not sure if it would made a lot of sense to me before I already knew how these things tend to work.

Most Evil Hat games (Fate Core, FAE, Atomic Robo, Dresden Files, Do). Most *World games (especially Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts but not Dungeon World). Fiasco. Most MWP games (especially Leverage and Firefly - and Marvel Heroic is easier from a standing start).

VincentTakeda
2015-02-09, 11:05 AM
2E DM'S guide and palladium systems actually spend a good bit of time and space on 'what the gm's jobs are, what are the pitfalls to worry about'. Both of those systems are more story and less crunch focused, so they get a gm used to the idea of making the adventure the main focus of the game instead of 'party vs... tarrasque... FIGHT!'

2e of course was carefully rewritten as a culmination of decades of gaming experience... To address the natural progression of what you learn and figure out as you play... I find 2e to be one of the best 'how to reflect upon what you're up to as a gm' and I'm surprised at how the more recent rewrites seem to have edited that part out of their new editions... Kind of a shame.

As much flack as palladium gets, a lot of the superpowers in the heroes system aren't about giving the players 'crunchy mechanical boosts' but instead giving them 'fluffy tools that give them options in carrying out the story', and with balance thrown out the window the system spends a lot of time talking about the finer points of 'where do draw a line', 'common sense' and 'rule of fun'.

Despite its unapologetically embracing the megadamage munchkin factor, its using that as a tool to help people get past the munchkin phase... once you're a wild crazy mega hero... what's next. Instead of spending your characters career slowly building up from fighting bunnys in the woods and weak unarmed alleyway drunks... You start of with real legitimate power and I find it's a great tool for helping people get past the neverending quest for more powerpowerpower and start to focus more on 'what am I about, now that i'm powerful enough... what would I actually enjoy *doing* with all that power...

So ironically its a munchquinesque system that I find really helps players figure out the post montyhaul problem for themselves.

Where 3.x or pathfinder will do a pretty good job of giving you the tools to become a good referee for a wargame/combat sim, I agree that these editions fall a little short in the non-gamist part of the hobby. The 'nature of the journey' kinda takes a significant backseat to the crunch engine. Not to invoke stormwind, but the result from my personal experience has been a lot of 'character sheet engineers' and not a lot of 'characters' with much depth or personal motivations/desires.

danelsan
2015-02-09, 11:09 AM
Hmm...it is not that it gives robust "lessons" on how to GM (HG in this case), but the way Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is set up and how it fragments character arcs into playable scenes and quests ends up being a good teaching tool for gamemastering.

Knaight
2015-02-09, 11:41 AM
Are there any games you could give to a bunch of people who never played any RPGs before, which explain things well enough for one of them to GM without ever having played the game or having anyone to guide him?

Yeah. I pretty much did this with Fudge, though I wouldn't recommend it to new GMs. With that said, I could easily see Chronica Feudalis working really well here, and REIGN working decently. Basically, there are two key things.

Examples of play that don't completely suck.
Concrete GM advice.


The inclusion of one starter adventure in a book is also a plus.

gom jabbarwocky
2015-02-09, 12:28 PM
One of my little brothers is really interested in playing RPGs with his friends and I felt really stupid that there wasn't something I could give him or point his friends towards to get them started. But now I know it's not my fault. So, thanks, Yora, for drawing my attention to that article.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-10, 04:56 PM
I found the 4th Edition D&D DMG to offer a lot of good resources for learning how to GM. It talks about improv, saying "Yes, and..." and not letting failure result in a dead end. I'd heard those things in other places, but it was nice to see it there.

Frozen_Feet
2015-02-10, 05:42 PM
1st Ed AD&D DMG is essentially just a long rant by Gykax on how to do it right, so it gets a pass. Lamentations of the Flame Princess, at least the (out of print?) boxed sets, have good tutorials for new players and extensive referee advice. I'm fairly sure anyone could grok the game using those. (The gory pictures are just a bonus - nothing serves to capture the minds of 12-year-old boys as well. :smallamused:)

I'm a bit iffy on Noitahovi, a fairly recent Finnish game. It has very good sample of play and equally good sample adventure, but its teachings might not be able to be generalized to other games.

CODA iteration of Lord of the Rings RPG also has decent advice for the narrator, not so much for the actual players. Indeed, I'd say most games do a better job at teaching how to GM them, than they do actually explaining what RPGs are and how to play them.

Milo v3
2015-02-10, 07:31 PM
I really think is in an important problem personally since I didn't have someone to teach me how to play and I didn't have a DMG. I ended up having to read tonnes and tonnes of rules text, and just hoped for the best.

Even now I can have abit of trouble trying to figureout how to run a new game. In a short while I plan of running a game of Monsterhearts... but I'm not exactly sure what to do in general. Thankfully the game has lists you can quickly look at for ideas what to do next, so despite not being completely sure, I can still have a go and it'll probably end up working.

neonchameleon
2015-02-10, 08:33 PM
Even now I can have abit of trouble trying to figureout how to run a new game. In a short while I plan of running a game of Monsterhearts... but I'm not exactly sure what to do in general. Thankfully the game has lists you can quickly look at for ideas what to do next, so despite not being completely sure, I can still have a go and it'll probably end up working.

If in doubt, put the PCs into a game of dodgeball as one of their lessons. Watch the fur fly. A school play is also a great little cause for anarchy (make sure that the romantic leads in the play cut against any couples there are). Monsterhearts is one of those games where much of the time you can either sit back and let the PCs do everything or send up the worst bits of your school days.

dream
2015-02-11, 09:38 PM
I never realized playing & running TTRPGs was so difficult for some people. It's odd to me. I started playing in 8th grade and was running games by 9th. The tips from various DM/GM guides was pretty much all I needed, then you play. That simple, for me at least. Maybe it's just an imagination thing. Maybe not.

What is it specifically that you need to be taught to do? What do you think you lack? Some people suggest being a GM/DM is hard work but I never saw it like that at all. It's a game, which should be played for fun, right? In your opinion, what's so challenging about TTRPGs that you need more instruction than what's being offered by the people who designed the games?:smallsmile:

Yora
2015-02-12, 03:38 AM
Running around smacking things is easy. And probably everything we've been looking for in a game when we were 8th graders.
It's when you start thinking about halfway decent stories that things get very difficult.

Talyn
2015-02-12, 10:57 AM
I don't know about games that teach gaming, but for your 12-year-old cousin who wants to learn how to run a game, there is some recommended reading.

Just off the top of my head, PvP Online's Table Titans (http://www.tabletitans.com) and the first book of Joel Rosenburg's Guardians of the Flame (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardians_of_the_Flame) series come to mind.

The latter was on my father's shelf in his office when I was about 11 years old. I read it, loved it, and then asked my father about the game they were playing in the first two chapters. He explained what D&D was, let me sit in on a session with some friends of his from his work, and that Christmas I got the AD&D starter set. Good times.

Mark Hall
2015-02-12, 01:16 PM
Keep on the Borderlands provided a LOT of guidance for a novice DM, right in the text.

Milodiah
2015-02-12, 05:29 PM
I love Call of Cthulhu for this purpose, especially modern-era games. It strips the difficulty of trying to create an entire fantasy world, and instead you're working with 99% real-world modern-day stuff. Police, newspapers, cars, phones...all sorts of simple things that either don't exist in ye olde games, or are ridiculously replicated using convoluted magic. Plus the BRP system is very easy to pick up, it's all d100s except for damage rolls, etc. etc. You can even make up NPC stats on the fly based on who they are. No worrying about modifiers from age category and attribute bonuses, magic items, class bonuses, etc. A cop probably has 40% Law, 55% Handgun, 55% Club, 60% Shotgun, etc. etc. A professor probably has 70% Library Use, 65% History, etc.

SiuiS
2015-02-12, 07:14 PM
2e of course was carefully rewritten as a culmination of decades of gaming experience... To address the natural progression of what you learn and figure out as you play... I find 2e to be one of the best 'how to reflect upon what you're up to as a gm' and I'm surprised at how the more recent rewrites seem to have edited that part out of their new editions... Kind of a shame.

3e made a move toward removing the DM's mechanical adjudication burden. Their role became strictly design of intention, but the mechanical abundance choked that from a creative endeavor to a tedious one. It was an intentional step made with high hopes that was ultimately misguided.

VincentTakeda
2015-02-12, 10:40 PM
I love Call of Cthulhu for this purpose, especially modern-era games. It strips the difficulty of trying to create an entire fantasy world, and instead you're working with 99% real-world modern-day stuff. Police, newspapers, cars, phones...all sorts of simple things that either don't exist in ye olde games, or are ridiculously replicated using convoluted magic. Plus the BRP system is very easy to pick up, it's all d100s except for damage rolls, etc. etc. You can even make up NPC stats on the fly based on who they are. No worrying about modifiers from age category and attribute bonuses, magic items, class bonuses, etc. A cop probably has 40% Law, 55% Handgun, 55% Club, 60% Shotgun, etc. etc. A professor probably has 70% Library Use, 65% History, etc.

I have the same feelings about palladium's sdc systems (heroes unlimited and ninjas and superspies) for the same reason. Most of the technology you're familiar with... players are looking for a one man submarine and where to buy it and how much it would cost... look it up on google. Players are looking for a guns and ammo store... Google earth... In my current heroes/ninjas campaign my players just bought an rv off a guy on craigslist... You can see the real world add as we speak.

The party needed to get new clothes in west hollywood, and google comes up with 'the armani exchange'... so we find it, go there, then hit the website for the store... Now my buddy is considering buying stuff from the actual store in real life because exploring that option, he discovered the armani exchange is quite a bit less expensive than he thought it would be.

Improvisation leads to discovery leads to learning! Pretty fun.

Want to rob an atm? Lets look up how much cash an atm usually has in it... Tada... The answer is easy to find.

Seto
2015-02-13, 05:01 AM
Honestly, 3.5's DMG 2 helped me out a lot. It focuses on what different players might expect, how to run a game so that everyone has fun, etc.

dream
2015-02-13, 08:45 AM
Running around smacking things is easy. And probably everything we've been looking for in a game when we were 8th graders.
It's when you start thinking about halfway decent stories that things get very difficult.
You're assuming I didn't have great stories in high school. Never a good thing to assume for the sake of an argument. The players enjoyed the games so they must have been great, or at least enjoyable, which might be great to them in its own right.

And what is a great story anyway? What are its elements? How do we identify a great story objectively?


Keep on the Borderlands provided a LOT of guidance for a novice DM, right in the text.
This. Game designers normally provide instruction for playing and running their games. I know D&D has done this for decades now.

SiuiS
2015-02-13, 03:18 PM
And what is a great story anyway? What are its elements? How do we identify a great story objectively?

Worrying about the objective best story components misses the mark. All stories are subjective.

dream
2015-02-13, 07:16 PM
Worrying about the objective best story components misses the mark. All stories are subjective.
Exactly:smallsmile:

CarpeGuitarrem
2015-02-13, 10:32 PM
Fate Core is the literal first RPG that I read and believed I could dump it into the hands of a newbie with no instruction whatsoever.

SiuiS
2015-02-14, 04:31 PM
Thought that may have been your point dream, but I wasn't sure.


Fate Core is the literal first RPG that I read and believed I could dump it into the hands of a newbie with no instruction whatsoever.

Aye. D&D started with the idea of GM as some secret fraternity. That unfortua rely spread really, really far.

kyoryu
2015-02-14, 04:46 PM
Strangely, I think a total newbie would do a better job running Fate Core than someone with a lot of experience in more traditional games.

I know for me, at least, a good amount of "unlearning" had to take place.

aspekt
2015-02-16, 08:36 AM
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the 5e DMG.