Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Page 3 of 6 FirstFirst 123456 LastLast
Results 61 to 90 of 172
  1. - Top - End - #61
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Worst is making sure stat blocks are handy and you've reviewed all possible encounter stat blocks prior to a session. D&D isn't BECMI any more, where you can read them on the fly from the rules book. If you haven't at least skimmed them all and thought about them a little before a session, your encounters will fall flat, and probably need to print them out or make a summary sheet of your own.
    I eventually took the plunge and got into DnDBeyond. It helps with stuff like that immeasurably.

    Now they just need to create some actual DM tools...
    Sysdexlic Santa

  2. - Top - End - #62
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    I got to say some pro-preparation people keep talking like there is some special quality threshold that you can't cross without preparation, which I think is untrue and unfair to anyone who has run a good no/low preparation game.

    But there are many things you might need in a campaign and various ways to get them. For an example of something people almost always get ahead of time, resolution rules. As someone who does a lot of homebrewing yes, that is something I may or may not prepare myself ahead of time. Most often I don't and pick an existing system but on the other hand if you are a "rulings not rules" type you will be improvising part of it. And it to has its intermediate/hybrid approaches with toolbox systems and rules frameworks.

    I don't have a particular argument here just putting in an odd idea that might put some perspective on things. My position pretty much remains the same, you should try to make preparing for a session easy and fast for everybody.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I got to say some pro-preparation people keep talking like there is some special quality threshold that you can't cross without preparation, which I think is untrue and unfair to anyone who has run a good no/low preparation game.
    I should have blue texted my snark.

    I'm pro-adventure prep in post-BECMI D&D. But that's because the rules require it so much. Some more than others.

    A rules light system wouldn't.

    I'm anti-world prep. Because that's all just backdrop stuff, and has relatively low impact on table time. DMs enjoy it because it's fun. But there's a reason "start small" is the most common advice for campaigns. You only need to start large if your adventuring scope is large. E.g. setting up west marches.

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    I eventually took the plunge and got into DnDBeyond. It helps with stuff like that immeasurably.

    Now they just need to create some actual DM tools...
    my experience is Online tools are usually worse than flipping pages back and forth in a book for actual access during session.

    They're fantastic for snipping what you need into your own condensed document and printing a hard copy though.

  4. - Top - End - #64
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I should have blue texted my snark.

    I'm pro-adventure prep in post-BECMI D&D. But that's because the rules require it so much. Some more than others.

    A rules light system wouldn't.

    I'm anti-world prep. Because that's all just backdrop stuff, and has relatively low impact on table time. DMs enjoy it because it's fun. But there's a reason "start small" is the most common advice for campaigns. You only need to start large if your adventuring scope is large. E.g. setting up west marches.

    my experience is Online tools are usually worse than flipping pages back and forth in a book for actual access during session.

    They're fantastic for snipping what you need into your own condensed document and printing a hard copy though.
    I started small. One village and its surroundings.

    And my players immediately said "what's over that hill?" Pretty soon I had half a continent. And then a whole universe.

    And with a living world, where each group of PCs change the world for future groups and retire as NPCs, the amount of world state required is high. And I often have multiple groups going and their actions interacting. And my players find it important. And relevant.

    Styles differ. A "just the adventure site, everything else is a flat backdrop" game would bore both me and my players. I want to be able to answer any question they ask about the world or their place in it in a way that coheres with the rest of it. That takes world prep, and lots of it.

    As for stat blocks: I'm not so into complex, heavy-challenge combats. Simple monsters, each with a single trick. And if I screw up, well, NBD. It'll inevitably be in the players favor.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2021-01-09 at 11:54 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #65
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Sounds like what you're talking about is having to adventure prep a large section of the world, an open table campaign.

  6. - Top - End - #66
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Montana

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Regarding Ici:

    Generally like the notion; have a few qualms.

    "Knowledge and Perception Rolls are the worst offenders of not understanding the importance of Information. When I see them in use I just wonder what could be lost by just giving the players the information?"

    - the Agency of different characters producing different results, or even having different options available to them?

    <snipped out the rest>
    I wanted to focus on that statement, because it definitely rang true to me when I read it. I think the reason it did is that I am currently running a Pathfinder 1E game as a favor to a couple guys that usually are in the DM chair and wanted to be able to play in a game together. That statement definitely is in reply to the method behind how information is handled in that edition of Pathfinder, so I assume it also applies to D&D 3.5 and 3.0. Probably D&D 5E and Pathfinder 2E, but I have much less personal knowledge of those.

    Perception is all about what the characters can see and hear. This is broken up into separate skills in some games/editions, and other senses (smell at the least) may also be involved or can be accessed through a feat. Perception is an all or nothing skill usually. It is almost always a binary result. Either the character picked up on something going on in the area, or the character didn't. If the character did, then it is up to the player to decide if they share what has been noticed, and how that character responds. On the failure side of that mechanic, there is no agency other than to take whatever is coming. The character doesn't know about it anyway, other than the player possibly knowing that perception was rolled. If the perception was a success, then there is some agency in deciding what to do with the knowledge gained.

    From a "running the game" perspective, perception can be problematic. If there is information the characters/players should really have, should I require perception at all? If I am wanting to have different tiers of information available through perception, I need to be sure that the DC bar is set low enough that someone will get it even if the dice are being uncooperative. Of course, if the information isn't all that important to the adventure, then it won't matter if it is missed. But if it isn't important, why did you come up with it in the first place?

    When running a game, I find that sort of perception to be pretty limiting. I prefer to throw pretty much all information in front of the players as they investigate a scene. I tend to use perception for a character to notice something when I didn't do a good enough job describing the scene for a player to pick up on it. That, then turns perception from a "did something get noticed" skill into a "who noticed it first" sort of skill. At the very minimum, it can be a "how much did they notice" instead of a "did they notice at all" skill. If that doesn't give players more agency, then I am at least operating under the delusion that it does.

    Knowledge skills in Pathfinder are kind of baffling to me. The default idea is that every character is stupid. It doesn't matter your stats or your skill ranks, you know nothing about a subject unless you have rolled high enough to recall information. And sometimes that is tiered to where you get a small scrap of information for rolling a certain number and more scraps for every so much you exceed the target number by. Otherwise, you get nothing, and in the case of some, you actually are supposed to get lied to by the GM RAW. In other words, the characters are stupid, and are generally assumed by the rules to have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.

    I have found that I much prefer games that at least imply that your character is competent. I prefer game systems where on a failed roll, I may not give exactly what the player was after, but can tell them "your character would know...", and be able to remind them of something their characters should know. That also allows me to give them something concrete and possibly something that is speculation. And they would know which was which. No need for me to lie to my players, just here is something you know to be true and something you think may be true based on past study or experience and what you are seeing now. I also don't see how that gives less agency than other ways to give out info.


    I expect this plays into different playstyles and expectations. I don't particularly care if a character I play is "powerful" within the system I am playing, but I do expect them to be competent. Any system that makes my character seem incompetent at something they are trained to do rubs me the wrong way. Perception and Knowledge skills can certainly feel that way in Pathfinder 1E in my experience.

  7. - Top - End - #67
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    my experience is Online tools are usually worse than flipping pages back and forth in a book for actual access during session.
    Not for me. I'll open up each creature (PCs and NPCs/monsters) in its own tab in the browser, although as we all become more comfortable with it at our table I find I open the PC sheets less and just trust the players to find their own stuff. Spells are also typically tooltipped, so if I need to know the details on something I can usually just pull it right up. It's much faster than flipping through books, especially as I sometimes can't remember if something's in the PHB or DMG or wherever.

    Lest this come across as a sycophantic endorsement of DnDBeyond, it definitely has its share of drawbacks. A lot of items don't really "work" with their interface (for example, you can't list which spells are stored in a Ring of Spell Storing aside from just tagging it with a note). And the DM tools are skeletal. Supposedly they're working on all these things but development is pretty slow. And features aside, the biggest hurdle was paying for online versions of the rulebooks I already physically own. I understand that's not DnDB's problem (they're basically just a bookstore) but I do wish WotC put some effort into working that out somehow.
    Last edited by EggKookoo; 2021-01-09 at 01:56 PM.
    Sysdexlic Santa

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Italy
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I got to say some pro-preparation people keep talking like there is some special quality threshold that you can't cross without preparation, which I think is untrue and unfair to anyone who has run a good no/low preparation game.
    no, what i claim is different in a slight, but very important way. I claim that there are several things that make a good game, and that SOME of them can't be done without preparations.
    Some people will care deeply about those things. Some people won't give a damn. So, you can obviously run a no preparation game and have a very good time, provided the people in the game do not care about the preparation-intensive stuff.

    I cannot give a gaming example, but i can give a literary example by comparing writers.

    Brandon Sanderson is big on planning. He starts a saga with a good idea of the direction the plot will go. he will have multiple worldbuilding elements, many of which will not be particularly related to the plot, but will add to the general feel. magic is clearly defined, what it can and cannot do, and how that impact society. there will be a deep exploration of the various cultures and the way they interact, and the magic will influence the world in well-considered ways. Elements are introduced that will not be used until many books later. things are hinted, so that in retrospect, upon rereading, you can notice a small detail that you missed and realize how it had a big impact five books later.
    And that requires planning. You can't honestly tell me you can improvise that without any kind of preparation work and keep the same level of detail and consistency.

    On the other hand we have Terry Goodkind. He clearly improvises. His fantasy cultures are mostly generic medieval for anything that's not related to the plot. entire nations are suddenly introduced in a "oh, this had always been there all the time" fashion, then they get never mentioned again when they cease their function for the plot. magic does whatever the plot needs, with only the most loose of rules. He obviously makes up stuff on the moment when it is convenient to the plot.

    Still, Goodkind's books are plenty acclaimed. they get also lots of criticism, but most of it is for a bad case of author filibuster. Because there's plenty of readers who don't care about reading all the worldbuilding stuff, or catching the small details in a reread; most readers do not reread books. some readers even find all that obnoxious.
    But, if you do indeed like to read about the various fantasy cultures and how magic interacted with social mores, and to reread the books later and look for the small clues dropped here and there? Then you do need books written with preparation work.
    You can get good books without any of that stuff, but you can't get that stuff without preparation.

    Some of my finest dming moments were being able to reveal some of the stuff going on behind the scenes. "oh, remember when that dude hired you for this mission? he actually was manipulating you into clashing with the evil empire, he was already opposing the evil empire and wanted to recruit you to that cause too. And what better way than making the empire angry at you and then offering to pool resources?" "oh, remember that time you were inexplicably ambushed even though no enemy should have known your wereabouts? That dude was the mole; as you now know, he always was secretly the big bad, and while he had yet to uncover his nefarious plan at the time, he figured you'd be a potential danger to it, and it would favor him if you were to be dispatched by a third party."

    Or, to stay with the food metaphor: there are some very good foods that are also fast and easy to prepare. you can eat very well without ever putting much effort. on the other hand, some other dishes do require extensive preparation. if you do happen to like them, there's no way out
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  9. - Top - End - #69
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2019

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    I think it is pretty obvious that prepared things and improvised things have different properties. Quality is subjective, but if you happen to like something that requires preparation, the fact that there are also good things that can be achieved without it is largely irrelevant.

  10. - Top - End - #70
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    Because there's plenty of readers who don't care about reading all the worldbuilding stuff, or catching the small details in a reread; most readers do not reread books. some readers even find all that obnoxious.
    Like Robert Jordan's obsession with clothing styles.

  11. - Top - End - #71
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    The thing is I don't actually disagree with almost anything people have been saying. Bits here and there sure but the broad strokes make sense. But I feel they are kind of missing the point. Any I think I finally figured out why: This is a system design thread more than a GMing advice thread. {Checks thread tags.} Although in hind sight I see how there could of been confusion about that. The gming tag was because this is a GM facing part of system design and because it is also about other tools a GM could use to help them.

    I am aware there exist cases where you can't get rid of out of session work (post 1, paragraph 4, see the parenthesized note). But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in cases where it is possible or reducing the work even if we can't get it to zero. I want to make systems that are easy to play and that includes the GM.

  12. - Top - End - #72
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2019

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Honestly a lot of the stuff that makes DMing hard is system-agnostic. Very little of the complexity in building an engaging world, or writing an enjoyable adventure, or designing memorable characters is a result of the mechanics of the particular system you're using.

    One thing I will put forward that I think a lot of people under-estimate is the value of D&D's Monster Manuals (or something like them). There's a great deal of value in being able to open up a book, pick a monster, and have the PCs fight that monster. That's why, despite the level of mechanical complexity, I think D&D is often simpler to run in practice that systems that people claim are more flexible.

  13. - Top - End - #73
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I am aware there exist cases where you can't get rid of out of session work (post 1, paragraph 4, see the parenthesized note). But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in cases where it is possible or reducing the work even if we can't get it to zero. I want to make systems that are easy to play and that includes the GM.
    Whelp, like I said, a huge chunk of my prep time goes into dealing with complicated creature stats when playing D&D. And has since 2e. And it did in warhammer and palladium as well, except more so. That's a huge red flag for me that steers me away from trying say Exalted 2 or Warhammer Only War

    The other large part is either building the adventure encounters, or boning up on them from whatever content I'm using.

    If the game can procedurally create content on the fly, great. But my experience with that has been it's often a little lacking. Or rather, it's generally only useful in the short term. Otherwise it can quickly become repetitive.

  14. - Top - End - #74
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Whelp, like I said, A) a huge chunk of my prep time goes into dealing with complicated creature stats when playing D&D. And has since 2e. And it did in warhammer and palladium as well, except more so. That's a huge red flag for me that steers me away from trying say Exalted 2 or Warhammer Only War

    B) The other large part is either building the adventure encounters, or boning up on them from whatever content I'm using.

    C) If the game can procedurally create content on the fly, great. But my experience with that has been it's often a little lacking. Or rather, it's generally only useful in the short term. Otherwise it can quickly become repetitive.
    A&B) I find it interesting that we can play the same system and have very different experiences as far as what takes prep effort. I guess I don't focus so hard on combat. I just had a session with one combat--a group of 5 level 4s vs a CR 7 draegloth. They won, as expected, but one went down to 0 and only luck with the dice kept another from going down. The rest of the session was talking to people, investigating, and some humorous scenes with a "seer"/fortune-teller. Poor lady, she got a bunch of weirdos in her shop that day. Total time prepping for the combat? 2-3 minutes. I knew the draegloth was in town and where he was (shapeshifted into a human boy) from earlier prep, so when the party went there, got suspicious, and popped divine sense and triggered combat, I just pulled a pre-designed generic "alleyway/building" map up and dropped in the token.

    Then I've also had ones where two sessions were just crawling through an underwater (but partially dry by magic) lair and fighting a big nasty thing. All those monsters were homebrew. Still wasn't the majority of my prep time.

    I'd say I spent more time on knowing exactly what both the villain's plans were and who the characters are and how they fit into the world, so that when they decided to get their fortunes told (not part of the plan) I could drop in subtle hints about things without either giving it all away or being inconsistent. I spent an hour or so this week writing up a pair of in-universe things between sessions--one was a bit of a conversation from the cat who hides inside one character's shadow and talks to him (long story), the other a part from a sermon from an in-universe organization. Both are linked, but they reveal little bits about the backstories and relationships between a few of the characters. I spent several hours figuring out how another character, who comes from a separate continent, got there and how I want to have his backstory intersect with things. Then I spent a few more hours figuring out other parts of the deeper backstory and capabilities (in-universe, not mechanically) of the main villain and how it intersects with where the party is.

    C) Agreed. Procedural generation ends up either repetitive or nonsensical very fast. I find I have to do just as much or more curation using random tables as I do just making it up out of whole cloth.

    --------------

    As to your earlier comment, I don't have an open table, but I do (or did) often have multiple groups per week. Each closed, but each adventuring in the same world at the same (in-universe) time. Even right now when I only have the one (stupid pandemic), they're adventuring near where another group had an adventure last summer. In-universe, they're happening at the same time. So keeping all those timelines straight so I know what's happening where and what news people would be spreading (would Vaeltaa be still under the control of the Horse Clans? Would Auringon be open? Etc) requires mental upkeep. And if they'd have come overland, instead of buying access to the portal network for fast travel, they'd still be en-route and encounter the aftermath of the other group's efforts. And I've now got 12-14 (depending on how you count) groups that have gone through and left their mark; most of the characters are still active as NPCs (since old characters always retire and become NPCs after the campaign ends if they survive).

    It's a (pseudo)-sandbox[1], and I've somehow managed to always end up with players who, like me, get joy out of exploring. And take invisible walls as challenges. If I signal "don't go there", they're going to head straight there. This particular group has so far traveled (via portal, so pretty fast) nearly 600 miles. And they're likely to head back the other way or end up on another continent. I've got people from all over the place in this party. One of their stories links to another plane (and he's got amnesia so I'm drip-feeding his backstory in); one's from the southern continent, from an area completely unexplored by the people where they are (he's the first of his kind to be seen here ever), a third has no clue how or why he awoke as a living being (as a pseudo-warforged). One doesn't know where her powers come from, and the last isn't sure of his faith and is running from his wife, who suddenly is now the local lord of a town.

    [1] I build things as they approach those areas. I know vaguely what's around, but it only gets fleshed out in any detail as they get near there. If it makes sense to be level appropriate, it usually is, sort of. In a broad sort of sense. Helps that the world is generally lower-power; T3 is "legendary". I start them with a quest seed, but after that first excuse to get them out adventuring, it's up to them to pick goals. They usually run into some sort of "main quest", some antagonist that they chase or some situation they want to solve. It's not usually what I expected it to be. They keep me on my toes. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  15. - Top - End - #75
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Hard disagree. Prep time for encounters and adventuring sites is what's time consuming. Worldbuilding that isn't potentially part of adventures doesn't require any prep time. It can all be winged.

    You do have to keep good notes of what you just made up though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    It's not a lore book they're going back and rereading. Worldbuilding isn't going to get any detailed analysis unless it's part of the adventure, and then it's adventure building.

    Internal Consistency in adventure building may or may not be noticeable. World building probably won't unless they take extensive notes and write a story about it. Oh sorry, "campaign journal".
    IME, all it takes is one player remembering one established fact that you've just contradicted with "spontaneous world-building" to ruin a game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I got to say some pro-preparation people keep talking like there is some special quality threshold that you can't cross without preparation, which I think is untrue and unfair to anyone who has run a good no/low preparation game.
    No. They're are various types of quality. You can't cook a steak with a blender. A lot of people's "let's make things simpler" involves throwing out the oven, and making the kitchen too small for the GM to install one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kraynic View Post
    --snip--
    My ignorance of Pathfinder makes it difficult for me to reply meaningfully.

    If I set up a "doppelgangers are taking over the nation" scenario, it's fine if you have the ability to detect it immediately, and nip it in the bud. And it's fine if you don't catch it until they have a significant power base, and are more difficult to root out. And it's fine if you don't catch it until after they've completed their takeover, and you have to rip out the entrenched structure, root and stem. And it's fine if you don't catch them all, or don't catch them at all, or even catch them, but decide that you like it better with them in charge. Poor catch it early, let them keep their posts, but warm them that you'll be watching for more interference.

    I try to choose scenarios that can be fun, no matter *how* they play out, and give the players the agency to have things play out in accordance with the characters that they bring.

    So, for me, those various checks are intended to allow for the agency to tell the story of *these* characters - whatever that story may be. Does the party have a handwriting expert, who notices the moment that they receive letter from, or a public notice is posted by, an imposter? For the party contain someone as paranoid about doppelgangers as most oldschool players are about water? Then I think that should be reflected in game.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    no, what i claim is different in a slight, but very important way. I claim that there are several things that make a good game, and that SOME of them can't be done without preparations.
    Some people will care deeply about those things. Some people won't give a damn. So, you can obviously run a no preparation game and have a very good time, provided the people in the game do not care about the preparation-intensive stuff.
    That - and the rest of your post - is so much better than my "can't make a steak with a blender" response. Kudos!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    The thing is I don't actually disagree with almost anything people have been saying. Bits here and there sure but the broad strokes make sense. But I feel they are kind of missing the point. Any I think I finally figured out why: This is a system design thread more than a GMing advice thread. {Checks thread tags.} Although in hind sight I see how there could of been confusion about that. The gming tag was because this is a GM facing part of system design and because it is also about other tools a GM could use to help them.

    I am aware there exist cases where you can't get rid of out of session work (post 1, paragraph 4, see the parenthesized note). But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in cases where it is possible or reducing the work even if we can't get it to zero. I want to make systems that are easy to play and that includes the GM.
    Oh, my comments are *absolutely* about system design: don't build a kitchen that cannot house an oven. Understand the types of food that everyone wants to make / eat before you go attempting to design an "optimized" kitchen.

    The worst thing, IMO & IME, is when the rules actively get in the way.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-01-10 at 08:01 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #76
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    IME, all it takes is one player remembering one established fact that you've just contradicted with "spontaneous world-building" to ruin a game.
    IME, players are pretty good about letting small things slip, especially if I can patch it. Getting an NPCs hair color wrong the second time they talk to him doesn't bring the whole thing down like a house of cards. The big problem is if the players have based a decision on some bit of info at one point in the campaign and then later that bit of info turns out to be not real (as opposed to not true, which just means the PCs were mistaken). Even that can often be fixed but it might be some work.
    Sysdexlic Santa

  17. - Top - End - #77
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The worst thing, IMO & IME, is when the rules actively get in the way.
    What preparation easing tools are you expecting? I suppose that is a good think to keep in mind but A) its true of all rules and structures in a system and B) no system can be everything to everyone so its fine if it gets in the way of something the system isn't supposed to handle.

    Take the example of Blades in the Dark. It has a setting. Not a default setting but a particular setting. You play in Doskvol. Character creation (well gang creation) includes picking which district you live in and so on. Is it then a mistake that other rules assume you are playing as thieves in that city? No because that is what the system is about. And I could do that for dozens of rules across almost any system that has ever been made. I used Doskvol as an example because a prebuilt setting (baked into the system or not) is an example of a preparation saving tool. If done correctly of course.

    And there are other tools we could consider:
    • Random content/prompt generation (its hard to go into details with this).
    • Asymmetric PC/NPC creation rules (separate from the final stat line being different).
    • Simple encounter structures.
    There are probably more but that is all I can think of.

    Honestly I just want people to talk about something other than how this isn't going to work on everything. I knew that coming into the thread.

  18. - Top - End - #78
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    IME, players are pretty good about letting small things slip, especially if I can patch it. Getting an NPCs hair color wrong the second time they talk to him doesn't bring the whole thing down like a house of cards. The big problem is if the players have based a decision on some bit of info at one point in the campaign and then later that bit of info turns out to be not real (as opposed to not true, which just means the PCs were mistaken). Even that can often be fixed but it might be some work.
    No, "the second time" is not spontaneous world-building. "All hydras breathe fire" is spontaneous world-building. "But the Hydra we encountered 1.5 years ago (real life time) didn't breathe fire - and we butchered it, and didn't find the organs necessary to do so, either" is a contradiction.

    Worse is when several sessions go by - and plans are made (and possibly enacted) based on the new "facts" - before the contradiction is noticed.

    Worst is when things are *partially* retconned - OK, that Hydra *did* breathe fire, and *did* have those organs… but you *still* went to slay the T-Rex Dragon to get those organs to create the Flaming sword (even though you wouldn't have needed to do so).

    Apparently, I game primarily with players who (like myself) would kick Terry Goodkind to the curb if he tried to GM. Because these inconsistencies make for terrible stories.

  19. - Top - End - #79
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    No, "the second time" is not spontaneous world-building. "All hydras breathe fire" is spontaneous world-building. "But the Hydra we encountered 1.5 years ago (real life time) didn't breathe fire - and we butchered it, and didn't find the organs necessary to do so, either" is a contradiction.
    Not really seeing the difference in principle. In both cases, a thing was established that was later contradicted. Although strictly-speaking your example doesn't contain a contradiction so much as an exception.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Worse is when several sessions go by - and plans are made (and possibly enacted) based on the new "facts" - before the contradiction is noticed.

    Worst is when things are *partially* retconned - OK, that Hydra *did* breathe fire, and *did* have those organs… but you *still* went to slay the T-Rex Dragon to get those organs to create the Flaming sword (even though you wouldn't have needed to do so).
    Much simpler to handle that as "Apparently that earlier hydra didn't breathe fire, but this one does. Maybe it was a mutant. Maybe this one's the mutant? Maybe there are subspecies? Maybe it's a maturity thing?"

    I mean, seeing a male adult lion without a mane doesn't mean it's impossible or reality-shattering to see a different male lion, much later, with a mane. It just means you have two different lions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Apparently, I game primarily with players who (like myself) would kick Terry Goodkind to the curb if he tried to GM. Because these inconsistencies make for terrible stories.
    Human fallibility makes this kind of stuff inevitable in a TTRPG. We've played whole fights only to realize at the end we handled a rule wrong, which means someone likely should have died. Oh well, we forgot, let's move on. It doesn't mean the rule is gone. You try to avoid it, of course, but you can't prevent it completely.
    Sysdexlic Santa

  20. - Top - End - #80
    Halfling in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Montana

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    My ignorance of Pathfinder makes it difficult for me to reply meaningfully.
    Fair enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    If I set up a "doppelgangers are taking over the nation" scenario, it's fine if you have the ability to detect it immediately, and nip it in the bud. And it's fine if you don't catch it until they have a significant power base, and are more difficult to root out. And it's fine if you don't catch it until after they've completed their takeover, and you have to rip out the entrenched structure, root and stem. And it's fine if you don't catch them all, or don't catch them at all, or even catch them, but decide that you like it better with them in charge. Poor catch it early, let them keep their posts, but warm them that you'll be watching for more interference.

    I try to choose scenarios that can be fun, no matter *how* they play out, and give the players the agency to have things play out in accordance with the characters that they bring.

    So, for me, those various checks are intended to allow for the agency to tell the story of *these* characters - whatever that story may be. Does the party have a handwriting expert, who notices the moment that they receive letter from, or a public notice is posted by, an imposter? For the party contain someone as paranoid about doppelgangers as most oldschool players are about water? Then I think that should be reflected in game.
    Ok, but if the level of information the characters have doesn't matter, then the characters/players actually have no agency anyway, because the person running the game is going to make it flow a certain way regardless. It also seems like you are talking about an entirely different scale of information. To be honest, your entire reply doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.

    I am playing a character in your game. I have crossed the border into a new nation. What skill is it that is going to now make me aware that the entire nation has been taken over by dopplegangers? How would that even be reasonable? Does someone tell me that has happened and I have an infallible lie detector skill? If I encounter one, I might have some knowledge of dopplegangers to allow me to identify one, or some sort of skill to know that "something isn't right". I can see the handwriting expert example in getting started on learning there is at least forgery involved, but how would that at all translate into "the entire nation is taken over by dopplegangers" all at once?

    To be honest, your reply seems to be more about how someone running the game would give info in the adventure preamble than anything having to do with anything characters learn as the game progresses. "I would like to run a game centered around a nation that gets taken over by dopplegangers." So I'm not sure if it even has much of a point with relation to perception and knowledge skills.


    On the main topic of prep and game design goes, I think what would be useful is really going to depend on the main focus of the game. If combat is the main focus, then systems for enemy generation/alteration would be good. You would probably also want advice on environmental hazards or traps and maybe some advice on how to incorporate those into your combat scenarios. A game focused more on mystery solving would probably want to give tools for creating a web/series of clues that would help build/present a good playable mystery. Basically, I think that the tools required will stem from the type of games the system wants to provide framework for. The "wider" the game is, the more tools it could potentially provide to help someone run games using that system. On the other hand, the "wider" the system is, the less likely it is that 2 people using it to run games will be using it the same way and will want/need the same tools to generate content.

    I don't think this is something that has an easy answer. Any GM tools would need to be customized to the game system, will be determined by the focus of the game system, and will likely not be used by all GMs due to varied "taste" in content even within the scope of the game. That last bit leaves you open to spending more time on tools than they are worth, because you don't know how many of the people interested in the game will use the tools.

  21. - Top - End - #81
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Looking at system design ways of reducing prep, I can see several avenues. All with tradeoffs of course.

    Worldbuilding Prep-reduction
    1. Run in a single, fixed setting. This is the Blades in the Dark choice. Most of the world prep is done for you, taking that almost entirely off the GM's plate. However, now you're locked into a single restrictive setting and the game actively fights you if you try to do anything else.

    2. Procedural generation. This works, but my experience is that unless the scope is highly restricted (see #1), you either get absurdity or repetition very fast. I've never seen a set of random generation tables that didn't require as much curation as just building it from scratch. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but I've never seen one.

    3. Communal worldbuilding. Works for more narrative games, where the players are in the author stance as much as the character stance. Tradeoff is that a lot of people (myself included) don't like switching stances like that and it can feel very contrived. Requires a high-trust group of likeminded people. Also hard to do anything mysterious or exploration focused, since everyone knows what's everywhere. Best for personal-drama-focused games or ones at a much higher level of abstraction.

    Encounter Prep-Reduction
    4. Publish lots and lots of relatively generic stat blocks. Have the system allow easy reskinning (that's not a claw, that's a sword! does the same damage, but...). Tradeoff is bloat and expense.

    5. Reduce the mechanical intricacy of encounters. A more narrative system that treats combat, talking, etc. as just a simple set of opposed rolls requires lots less encounter prep. At the cost of cutting out the tactical level almost entirely.

    6. Have a very flat balance between characters. If you can assume that every party of power level X (whether that's XP, level, or what have you) has roughly the same capabilities as any other party of that level, it's much easier to build encounters and give guidance for building encounters. If, like in 3e D&D, a level 10 party could be all over the map, including off the map in any number of directions, building satisfying encounters requires a whole lot more manual intervention. Of course this irritates those who like to optimize for combat numbers, because having flat balance means your return on such optimization is poor.

    7. Throw out PC/NPC transparency. A contentious one, but if building an NPC is as easy as selecting the appropriate features out of a list, prep for custom NPCs is dramatically reduced compared to having to build them like a character, including lots of things that won't matter for that NPC. Of course if making a PC is simple and quick, the difference is small. But compare building a fully-functioning high-level character in 3e D&D to building the same character in AD&D 2e. Way fewer hoops to jump through.

    As with everything, there are tradeoffs to all of these. #1, for instance, is completely unacceptable to me. I need freedom to build my own world--that's where lots of my fun comes from. So a system designer has to balance where they put in supports for reduced prep and where they rely on GMs. Everyone's going to end up in a different place on this highly-multi-dimensional solution space. Let freedom reign IMO.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  22. - Top - End - #82
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Kraynic View Post
    Ok, but if the level of information the characters have doesn't matter, then the characters/players actually have no agency anyway, because the person running the game is going to make it flow a certain way regardless. It also seems like you are talking about an entirely different scale of information. To be honest, your entire reply doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.

    I am playing a character in your game. I have crossed the border into a new nation. What skill is it that is going to now make me aware that the entire nation has been taken over by dopplegangers?
    Haven't read your full reply, but the idea was that the hierarchy of *the nation your characters are in* slowly gets taken over by doppelgangers (or not) during the course of the campaign.

    Maybe the PCs notice when someone they know gets replaced, maybe they don't.

    The players have the full Agency to build characters who can interact with that scenario at any level, from "notice immediately" to "remain clueless throughout the the entire campaign". The campaign will (or could) play out very differently depending on what characters the players choose to bring.

    EDIT: which is to say, kinda the opposite of "the person running the game is going to make it flow a certain way regardless.".
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-01-10 at 04:20 PM.

  23. - Top - End - #83
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    IME, all it takes is one player remembering one established fact that you've just contradicted with "spontaneous world-building" to ruin a game.
    Why? It's all just backdrop. Stuff not germane to the adventure directly. Albeit stuff that can easily side track, distract, or entertain, and result in the PCs going off on a totally different adventure.

    If it's germane to a (possible) adventure, that's adventure planning, not world building.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    A&B) I find it interesting that we can play the same system and have very different experiences as far as what takes prep effort. I guess I don't focus so hard on combat. I just had a session with one combat--a group of 5 level 4s vs a CR 7 draegloth.
    Ya, ad-hoc for a solo or all-one-type enemy, without a complex battle field, is the easiest to do. For me, those are the random encounters though, so (at the minimum) I took prep time to put them on an encounter table.

    But it's important to remember non-combat =/= not an encounter. And non-combat encounters have their own prep-load, in order to make them an actual challenge.

    I'd say I spent more time on knowing exactly what both the villain's plans were and who the characters are and how they fit into the world, so that when they decided to get their fortunes told (not part of the plan) I could drop in subtle hints about things without either giving it all away or being inconsistent. I spent an hour or so this week writing up a pair of in-universe things between sessions--one was a bit of a conversation from the cat who hides inside one character's shadow and talks to him (long story), the other a part from a sermon from an in-universe organization. Both are linked, but they reveal little bits about the backstories and relationships between a few of the characters. I spent several hours figuring out how another character, who comes from a separate continent, got there and how I want to have his backstory intersect with things. Then I spent a few more hours figuring out other parts of the deeper backstory and capabilities (in-universe, not mechanically) of the main villain and how it intersects with where the party is.
    This all sounds like adventure planning, not world building. I mean, sure, it's possible to spend more time on adventure planning and ad-hoc the details vs ad-hoc the adventure details and careful plan a few key encounters. But neither is world building, really.

    On an unrelated note, my iPad really seems to want to change ad-hoc to ad-how. Wtf is an ad-how anyway? 😂

  24. - Top - End - #84
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Why? It's all just backdrop. Stuff not germane to the adventure directly. Albeit stuff that can easily side track, distract, or entertain, and result in the PCs going off on a totally different adventure.

    If it's germane to a (possible) adventure, that's adventure planning, not world building.

    Ya, ad-hoc for a solo or all-one-type enemy, without a complex battle field, is the easiest to do. For me, those are the random encounters though, so (at the minimum) I took prep time to put them on an encounter table.

    But it's important to remember non-combat =/= not an encounter. And non-combat encounters have their own prep-load, in order to make them an actual challenge.

    This all sounds like adventure planning, not world building. I mean, sure, it's possible to spend more time on adventure planning and ad-hoc the details vs ad-hoc the adventure details and careful plan a few key encounters. But neither is world building, really.

    On an unrelated note, my iPad really seems to want to change ad-hoc to ad-how 😂
    I saw no difference between adventure planning and world building. They're part and parcel of the same thing, unless the setting is a potemkin village with no depth. The world and the adventure cover the same ground and inform each other at the deepest levels. I can't build an adventure without knowing its context on the world. And the world is shaped, in part, by the adventures that take place in it.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  25. - Top - End - #85
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Tanarii's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I saw no difference between adventure planning and world building. They're part and parcel of the same thing, unless the setting is a potemkin village with no depth. The world and the adventure cover the same ground and inform each other at the deepest levels. I can't build an adventure without knowing its context on the world. And the world is shaped, in part, by the adventures that take place in it.
    Okay, well in that case I agree it's often useful planning.

    OTOH I can see a system where the PCs have little knowledge of the rest of the world having a large amount of procedural generation of new content as they explore removing overhead prep. That's the approach taken by Mutant Zero / Forbidden Lands. And base PtBA. And quite a few osr games. Dungeon crawls or hex crawls.

  26. - Top - End - #86
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Okay, well in that case I agree it's often useful planning.

    OTOH I can see a system where the PCs have little knowledge of the rest of the world having a large amount of procedural generation of new content as they explore removing overhead prep. That's the approach taken by Mutant Zero / Forbidden Lands. And base PtBA. And quite a few osr games. Dungeon crawls or hex crawls.
    Sure. As I said, trade-offs. Unacceptable ones for me, as that kind of no-context adventure leaves be cold, both as a player and especially as a GM. I need a world to feel excited about playing or leading games in. I've stopped playing at tables because I didn't like the world. I wouldn't even start at one like that, because it will never meet my desires.

    Setting, for me, is one of the most important things. Fitting the characters into the world and having the world react to the characters. And none of that is doable with random tables or generators.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  27. - Top - End - #87
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Telok's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    PRAK

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    2. Procedural generation. This works, but my experience is that unless the scope is highly restricted (see #1), you either get absurdity or repetition very fast. I've never seen a set of random generation tables that didn't require as much curation as just building it from scratch. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but I've never seen one
    Procedural generation is hard to do right. It's quite possible you've just seen bunches of bad ones. There needs to be a certain level of subject mastery and a good grasp of several forms of probability at the minimum. Then, as always, you're making trade-offs between accuracy, precision, ease of use, etc.

    Take random encounters. A 1d20 table is simple and easy. But using it in town, dungeon, and wilderness gets silly. Ok, several tables. Now we're getting tropical jungle monkeys in the arctic. Ok, sub tables. Now there are just as many dragons and giants as pesants and cows. Ok, move to a 3d6 table format. Now we're encountering the night watch during the day. Ok, sub-sub tables. Then... Well now we're no longer simple and easy.

    It's like that for any procedural generation. This is why serious procedural generation wasn't really a thing untill computers. So, are you going to pay subject matter experts, a statistician, and some programmers for 6 months just for a geologically and environmentally correct world map generator? No? Well then, 1d6: 1-mountain, 2-desert, 3-ocean, 4-forest, 5-plains, 6-swamp. Have a bad procedural generator.
    Niven's Laws, #5
    If you've nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn't get it then, let it not be your fault.

  28. - Top - End - #88
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I got to say some pro-preparation people keep talking like there is some special quality threshold that you can't cross without preparation, which I think is untrue and unfair to anyone who has run a good no/low preparation game.
    Don't confuse a statement I make about myself as being about anybody else. I'm pretty good at winging it when necessary, and in any game, it often is.

    But my best games aren't a disconnected set of encounters. There are lots of connections between events that are not necessarily obvious to the players.

    I ran a game in which the party went from level one to level six carrying a set of artifacts they needed to destroy, called the Staves of the Wanderers. The PCs started as servants of seven great heroes, each of which carried a very powerful staff. Over time, the PCs slowly figured out that the Wanderers weren't the seven heroes. Each staff carried the powers of one of the seven wandering stars -- the original planets (the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

    This required a lot of pre-planning, starting with placing the unmoving earth at the center of the universe, as in Ptolemaic astronomy. The weather patterns were involved, as were some of the encounters. This is the kind of deeply planned game I like to play, and that I like to run. I could not run it without lots of pre-planning.

    I can't run that kind of game without an incredible amount of pre-planning. Fortunately, I really enjoy building it up.

    This is not a statement about any other kind of game, or about any other GM


    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I don't have a particular argument here just putting in an odd idea that might put some perspective on things. My position pretty much remains the same, you should try to make preparing for a session easy and fast for everybody.
    Why should I make preparing for a session easy and fast for me, when I really enjoy world building and game planning? You appear to be saying that I should spend less time on what I enjoy. There is no reason for me to do so.

    Again, this is a statement about me and my games, and may not apply to other GMs and their games.

    And this is the core of my biggest disagreement with you. I won't tell you that there is anything wrong with preparing games your way. But you want to tell me that I should to change my way of preparing for a session.
    Last edited by Jay R; 2021-01-10 at 06:46 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #89
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Spoiler: List of various ideas.
    Show
    Worldbuilding Prep-reduction
    1. Run in a single, fixed setting. This is the Blades in the Dark choice. Most of the world prep is done for you, taking that almost entirely off the GM's plate. However, now you're locked into a single restrictive setting and the game actively fights you if you try to do anything else.

    2. Procedural generation. This works, but my experience is that unless the scope is highly restricted (see #1), you either get absurdity or repetition very fast. I've never seen a set of random generation tables that didn't require as much curation as just building it from scratch. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but I've never seen one.

    3. Communal worldbuilding. Works for more narrative games, where the players are in the author stance as much as the character stance. Tradeoff is that a lot of people (myself included) don't like switching stances like that and it can feel very contrived. Requires a high-trust group of likeminded people. Also hard to do anything mysterious or exploration focused, since everyone knows what's everywhere. Best for personal-drama-focused games or ones at a much higher level of abstraction.

    Encounter Prep-Reduction
    4. Publish lots and lots of relatively generic stat blocks. Have the system allow easy reskinning (that's not a claw, that's a sword! does the same damage, but...). Tradeoff is bloat and expense.

    5. Reduce the mechanical intricacy of encounters. A more narrative system that treats combat, talking, etc. as just a simple set of opposed rolls requires lots less encounter prep. At the cost of cutting out the tactical level almost entirely.

    6. Have a very flat balance between characters. If you can assume that every party of power level X (whether that's XP, level, or what have you) has roughly the same capabilities as any other party of that level, it's much easier to build encounters and give guidance for building encounters. If, like in 3e D&D, a level 10 party could be all over the map, including off the map in any number of directions, building satisfying encounters requires a whole lot more manual intervention. Of course this irritates those who like to optimize for combat numbers, because having flat balance means your return on such optimization is poor.

    7. Throw out PC/NPC transparency. A contentious one, but if building an NPC is as easy as selecting the appropriate features out of a list, prep for custom NPCs is dramatically reduced compared to having to build them like a character, including lots of things that won't matter for that NPC. Of course if making a PC is simple and quick, the difference is small. But compare building a fully-functioning high-level character in 3e D&D to building the same character in AD&D 2e. Way fewer hoops to jump through.
    1. Prebuilt Setting: Did you mean to say "restricted to one setting"? What makes a setting more or less restrictive? Are you sure that a prebuilt setting is inherently more restrictive than - since we are not talking about a prepared one - a not quite as prebuilt setting?

    2. Random Generation: I think it works best as prompts, ideas to get you going. Or you could use it with some of the blank areas in a prebuild setting. There are random tables to help you generate streets in Doskvol because it is a whole city and many-many details are left out.

    3. Community World-Building: Yes exactly. Although this is one I am going to point out you are really focusing on the cons. For instance I step between the role-playing and world-building modes so easily I have done it just because the GM realized they forgot to fill in a detail so I just do it. It also has some advantages, helps get things people want into the setting and gives people a sense of ownership.

    4. Generic Stats: I think these work better if your fighting mostly non-monster enemies. Different types of people will prefer different weapons but they don't have fundamentally different sizes and shapes. You can still have mechanical variation but it is less and they can approach combat different ways.

    5. Simple Encounters: To my end of my days I don't think I will understand why people suddenly want to switch to playing a half-baked war game half way through a role-playing game but I understand that they do and for those yes this is a loss. But

    6. Balanced System: I flat out assumed people were aiming for good system balance already so I don't see why not. Some people are here for challenge but some people just want to be able to pick what represents there characters and expression seems much more core to this genre.

    7. PC/NPC Divide: I think systems that have different rules for the two are really taking this to an extreme. The main thing you would need to change is the order. PCs are formed over time (NPCs are updated over it to) but a new NPC should be created over relevance, most relevant information to least.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Don't confuse a statement I make about myself as being about anybody else. I'm pretty good at winging it when necessary, and in any game, it often is.
    I had forgotten your statement when I posted that message so I wasn't talking about you certainly.

  30. - Top - End - #90
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: I Want to Play Too: A GM's Workload

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    1. Prebuilt Setting: Did you mean to say "restricted to one setting"? What makes a setting more or less restrictive? Are you sure that a prebuilt setting is inherently more restrictive than - since we are not talking about a prepared one - a not quite as prebuilt setting?

    2. Random Generation: I think it works best as prompts, ideas to get you going. Or you could use it with some of the blank areas in a prebuild setting. There are random tables to help you generate streets in Doskvol because it is a whole city and many-many details are left out.

    3. Community World-Building: Yes exactly. Although this is one I am going to point out you are really focusing on the cons. For instance I step between the role-playing and world-building modes so easily I have done it just because the GM realized they forgot to fill in a detail so I just do it. It also has some advantages, helps get things people want into the setting and gives people a sense of ownership.

    4. Generic Stats: I think these work better if your fighting mostly non-monster enemies. Different types of people will prefer different weapons but they don't have fundamentally different sizes and shapes. You can still have mechanical variation but it is less and they can approach combat different ways.

    5. Simple Encounters: To my end of my days I don't think I will understand why people suddenly want to switch to playing a half-baked war game half way through a role-playing game but I understand that they do and for those yes this is a loss. But

    6. Balanced System: I flat out assumed people were aiming for good system balance already so I don't see why not. Some people are here for challenge but some people just want to be able to pick what represents there characters and expression seems much more core to this genre.

    7. PC/NPC Divide: I think systems that have different rules for the two are really taking this to an extreme. The main thing you would need to change is the order. PCs are formed over time (NPCs are updated over it to) but a new NPC should be created over relevance, most relevant information to least.
    1. Sort of. What I meant was a system that is entirely built around a single, clearly-identified setting. And at that, a very narrow one. Blades in the Dark is literally one city (and maybe its surroundings). Anything outside is null. There's an invisible wall--if you want to set your game outside of Doskvol, the system not only doesn't help you but actively fights you. You get lots of prep-reduction from it, but at (to me) a gigantic cost. Of course this is a spectrum--even using a pre-written setting gains you something. But IMX, most pre-written settings that are wide enough to actually have diversity don't provide much of the information that you'd need to really cut down on prep. They have lots of high-level information but not enough of the kingdom or smaller level information. And what they have is so vague and useless (just due to page counts if nothing else) as to restrict (because you can't change any of the high-level invariants and still get benefit from a fixed setting) but not help (because you have to make up the internal stuff yourself).

    2. Yes, but again. Doing random generation right is hard, and the curation requires as much or more effort (again, IMX) than just making it up straight. Or is a nightmare to use (nested tables suck, badly). I basically only use random generation for things that don't matter (exact composition of a treasure hoard), and even then I'll curate some of the items.

    3. This is one that people either like or hate. I personally dislike it when done as a matter of system design (when the system expects everyone to sit down and come up with a setting). For one thing, it basically prevents setting reuse between groups, producing throw-away settings. Maybe if you're always playing with the same people for years on end it might be good. But I've had 12-14 different parties with very little player overlap have games set in my setting. That provides a lot of "communal worldbuilding" richness without the overhead of switching stances constantly. The players build the world by what they want and what characters they build. I don't oppose having players suggest worldbuilding elements (especially in backstory). But those are ornaments on an existing tree, filling out the blank spaces. And their biggest contributions happen during play, through their characters' actions. I've had characters kill demigods, who stayed dead. I've had characters found international organizations that shaped the course of history from then on. Heck, I had a party cause a cataclysm that reshaped the entire continent and required a 200 year timeskip to stabilize things, including killing off all the gods.

    4. Yes. It depends on the game's focus. I don't mind this one, personally. It's what I do generally, especially for fiends (as my setting treats them very differently under the hood). I find a stat block that looks about right and change the names. Saves oodles of prep time. Only rarely do I actually build one from scratch, and now it's only because I'm using online tools that require full stat blocks instead of just doing it in my head like I did when we were in-person.

    5. There's a balance to be struck. And much role-play happens during combat. I agree that treating it like a tactical miniatures game with playing-piece characters is annoying. So don't do that--that's separate from the mechanical layer. You can have role-play and tactical combat, as long as you treat your characters like actual people instead of optimized chess pieces.

    6. The importance isn't balance, per se. It's flat balance. Where the optimization floor and ceiling are basically the same. I don't mind this (actually preferring it a bit), but some people hate it. And it does impose worldbuilding complications if you want to express a wide variety of character types. Not insuperable ones, but pressures none the less.

    7. 3e requires you to actually build the stat block from the ground up, and everything relies on everything else. Combine that with a classic example of doing #6 badly, and you get a preparation nightmare. 5e, on the other hand, allows you to cherry pick abilities, and the math is flat enough that unless you are pushing the edge of combat difficulty, it doesn't really matter if you're off a bit. I prefer to treat stat blocks as a limited view into a character. They express only the things that matter for their role in the narrative. They're entirely game level. And I also prefer simpler stat blocks than even the basic 5e ones, especially for spellcasters. I'd much prefer 4e-style "2-3 separate powers" ones to a big list of spells and spell slots (or worse, power pools). Even if in-universe they're using the same powers as the PCs are, they're just written down differently to make the DM's life easier.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •