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Rules for effective gamemastering

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The Viking Hat Way 1. Bring snacks. 2. The dice are always right. 3. I master the game, the game does not master me. 4. Momentum over perfection. 5. The game must go on! You must bring snacks because gaming is social activity. In every culture and religion worldwide, sharing food is how people bond. You will observe that people who do not bring snacks tend not to contribute in other ways - especially if they never bring, but always take. As with snacks, so with everything else.  The dice are always right because nobody likes boxed text and being railroaded, and gaming like life is meaningless without the risk of failure and death. The dice enhance the creativity of player and gamemaster both.  I master the game, the game does not master me  because no collection of rules can ever anticipate everything that might happen at the game table, and the ideas and whims of players and gamemaster. In other words: " I am the GM, I wear the Viking Hat!"  Momentum over perfection  mea

CT: World Generation - Honi C844789-7 Ag S "The Coin"

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Honi C844789-7 Ag S "The Coin" With both sci-fi and fantasy games, we Hex On Up and generate a random setting. Because the dice are always right.  As with the fantasy setting, we go  deep rather than broad . You don't need a starmap of a 12,000-system Galactic Imperium - the players will never visit them all. At most  they will visit one world each game session, typically weekly. In a year that's at most 52 sessions, and given holidays and life happening, 40 is more likely - plus if a world's interesting the players might spend a few sessions there. Probably a dozen worlds will do before someone says, "Look, I just wanted to play Mechwarrior."  Here's the summary. select a starting world, and using  this random generator , create a system for it.  develop this world in detail, using Zozer's Universal World Profile  (UWP), and not forgetting its starport , if any. and its system create a subsector, using random generation. You may choose to do th

AD&D1e: Character generation

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  Among my house rules is, Character generation : roll 3d6 down the line, choose from fighter, magic-user, cleric or thief. Regardless of rolls, characters may be of any of fighter, magic-user, cleric or thief, but will suffer a 10% malus to XP if they lack a prerequisite attribute. You character may not commit suicide, but if they happen to die, you can roll another character.  Remember that we have an open game table , which means we constantly have newbies coming - which we want to encourage. Any game has some combination of choice  and chance . Chess is all choice, snakes & ladders is entirely chance, roleplaying games are a mixture of the two. The more choice  you have the slower the game, as each choice takes time to make, with its own pros and cons and considerations and so on and so forth. If there are a large number of choices during character generation, then it takes a whole session to make a character, and casual players won't give it a go. Newbie players will also

Conflict: Assistance

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In the most popular and well-written system using 2d6 for task resolution, Traveller , typically 8+ will achieve success. With no modifiers either way, that means a 15/36 = 42% chance of success. In Conflict , we have made it 10+, which is 6/36 = 17% chance of success. This is deliberate. We are not trying to reproduce Rambo, Jack Ryan, James Bond or Ethan Hunt, but the small unit actions of modern conflicts - teams  of people who plan . We have allowed more bonuses to the throw, to encourage teamwork and planning. Part of this is assistance .  Someone else's familiarities may improve the odds; throw 10+ for the first person, 12+ for the second, and 14+ for the third; there may sometimes be limited to less than 3 assistants, but 3 is always the maximum useful.  If the throw succeeds then the primary may add +1 to their throw, at the first failure they must go ahead and use their expertise as it is, so for example a shooter may get their +3 for Firearms expertise to hit a distant ta

CT: Books 1-3 - You fill in the blanks!

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Traveller gets around a bit as a system - editions up to the telephone book "toolkit" (aka "we designed it for gearheads who never play") - as well as d20, GURPS, Hero and so on and so forth. If Traveller were a date you would definitely use a prophylactic. But as with so many game systems, the authour got it more-or-less right the first time. And so we play Classic Traveller .  Classic Traveller , most especially Books 1-3, like AD&D1e , RuneQuest 1e and the like, is a good system because not despite the fact that it is incomplete. You fill in the blanks.  Fill in the blanks Many a pointless argument has been had because all communication was by brief text, and without the use of many carefully-chosen words, text lacks tone  - and without a clear tone to the next, people fill in the blanks with their own mood at the time. This happens in romance, too: without regular communication from someone they like, a person will fill in the blanks with their own desi

AD&D1e: open game table

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The first of the house rules is to have an  open game table . Any player can come or go at any time. The reason for this is accessibility: if you want people to try your business, product, service or game, you must make it as accessible as possible. Many gamers hold an ideal in their minds of the same group of 4-6 best friends gaming together in some grand epic campaign over 10 years. This is cool, but rarely actually happens. Most commonly a group gets together, and about a third of the time they spend their first session generating characters and the group never meets again, the rest of the time they play for 12-18 sessions before enough players get bored and drift off and the game is suspended indefinitely.  Better to accept that players will come and go, and plan for it by having a constant supply of new players - you need accessibility .  Accessibility  means a few things, Advertising : Before anyone can come, they have to know about your game. When I first started gaming in the

Conflict: Readiness

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This article on overcoming the friction of combat, along with the same authour's article on wounding, got me thinking on the ideas which now form Conflict. For those who have not experienced a life-threatening conflict or extreme trauma situation, here is an experiment on feeling adrenaline.  go for a hard  run, flat-out for two minutes - use the timer on your phone. Look before you cross the road, and look at the street signs.  when you feel you can no longer go on, set the timer for another two minutes, and go flat out again .  now stop, and get out your phone, and without looking up for any signs, use it to write down the name of the street you just passed. Try.  place thumb and forefinger against each-other, and rub them together by your ear. See if you can hear them. Try. slap yourself on the thigh. Can you feel it? Try.  Most likely, you cannot remember the name of the street you just passed, your fine motor skills have degraded significantly, and you're almost deaf.  Th

CT: "I died during character generation"

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In Classic  Traveller , famously your character can die during character generation. The character generation system has you throw for six attributes, then attempt a four year term or more of service in army, navy, and so on; in each term you gain skills. However, at the end of each term you must roll for survival, to see if something killed you during that term. Keep going for long enough and you gain quite a few skills - if you survive! It's not uncommon for a surviving character to have had 3-6 terms of service, and thus be 30-42 years old. Some lucky or merchant characters may even get into their 50s.  Which is to say that they have already had a life - what will be for many a full career.  One famous science fiction space explorer , for example, died in a reactor repair at 55 years of age after 35 years of service (it is said there were later stories, but this is unproven). And so the player who is creating a CT character is creating one who has  already had a full life  - and