Jonbertsch
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue 18 Jun 2019, 03:34

What to share with players

Tue 18 Jun 2019, 05:54

I'm still green when it comes to running tabletop RPGs so forgive my inexperience...  In my limited experience, with DnD mostly, I notice that with any published story campaigns any time something is meant to be disclosed or read aloud to the PCs, the text will indicate as such. A specific issue I am having with the Alien RPG starter is that there is a text block(pg. 105) that reads: 

"FOR MOTHER’S EYES ONLY This entire chapter is solely for the GM, to be read before the game begins. Players should NOT read the scenario text beforehand to avoid spoiling the mystery of what is in store for them." 

Duh. Makes sense to me so far, but later on there is another block(pg. 107) that reads:

"WHAT’S THE STORY, MOTHER? You are space truckers on the starfreighter USCSS Montero, running “the Gauntlet”— the trade route between Anchorpoint Station and the Frontier.........." 

This looks to me to be something that should be read aloud to the PCs as a general primer for the campaign, and the "WHAT'S THE STORY, MOTHER?" to me comes across as a signal to read/disclose something to the PCs.  Again I'm pretty green with this stuff and it is ultimately up to me as GM to get the story rolling.  So far it looks amazing, love the universe, love the artwork, LOVE the Critical Injuries table... 
 
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DoomZday
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Joined: Wed 29 May 2019, 11:04

Re: What to share with players

Tue 18 Jun 2019, 11:09

Exactly what he said ^^. As a GM beginner myself I am also struggling with what to ingest and what do digest! :) In fact, I started reading out something to the players and had to abruptly stop as it was not meant to be read to them, and we decided to pack it in and play something else. We do a lot of Traveller also.

I like the look of these rules, and Aliens is my favorite "thing" and I have a HUGE collection of miniatures that I intend to use for both types of this game (as well as more combat based miniature games), but it is very difficult to make out what is information for the GM and what is to be read out as information for the Players. In most RPG games this is clear, often different colours/backgrounds or with very clear headings, etc, but in Aliens:RPG I think it is something that really could do with looking at, and hopefully get some official feedback also.
 
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CynicalMo
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Re: What to share with players

Tue 18 Jun 2019, 14:51

It can be tough. I feel like there's a little more "heavy lifting" required by the GM here than other games. Mostly because the flavor text is written at the GM and needs to be transposed, if you will, to the players. It's also a little more open ended for the players as well. You are correct in assuming that "What's the Story Mother?" is to be read verbatim to the players. 
It's vital that once they get to the Chronus you've read over the room descriptions so you can give the players the basic idea of what they're looking at. Some of the room descriptions have hidden items or triggers for events that you don't want to just read out loud. The same goes for the events. Most of it can be revealed to the players but you need to put it in your own words. 
I have my first runthrough coming in a couple weeks and I am also nervous about how it's going to go. I plan on making a lot of notes for myself and reading the scenario multiple times and hopefully I'll be prepared enough for whatever the players throw at me.
 
hibishop
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue 11 Jun 2019, 00:19

Re: What to share with players

Tue 18 Jun 2019, 19:38

It can be tough. I feel like there's a little more "heavy lifting" required by the GM here than other games. Mostly because the flavor text is written at the GM and needs to be transposed, if you will, to the players. It's also a little more open ended for the players as well. You are correct in assuming that "What's the Story Mother?" is to be read verbatim to the players.
It's vital that once they get to the Chronus you've read over the room descriptions so you can give the players the basic idea of what they're looking at. Some of the room descriptions have hidden items or triggers for events that you don't want to just read out loud. The same goes for the events. Most of it can be revealed to the players but you need to put it in your own words.
I have my first runthrough coming in a couple weeks and I am also nervous about how it's going to go. I plan on making a lot of notes for myself and reading the scenario multiple times and hopefully I'll be prepared enough for whatever the players throw at me.
I agree with the "Heavy Lifting" required by the GM.  A tip from an experienced GM:  I end up rewriting most all RPG scenarios into Word and printing out a custom GM Guide.  It's mostly copy and paste, but this way I'm able to color/highlight the text (and make notes) to make it easier for me to keep it all straight.  It's a bit more work for the GM, but it also forces the GM to thoroughly read through the scenario, and make informed choices, potentially separating the wheat from the chaff; e.g., Mandatory vs. optional events.
 
Jonbertsch
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue 18 Jun 2019, 03:34

Re: What to share with players

Wed 19 Jun 2019, 04:11

In rereading the campaign there is in fact a section that says to read the "WHAT'S THE STORY, MOTHER?" on page 104, in the CHARACTERS block... An odd spot since the text to be read aloud is on page 106. I might have to go with hibishop's advice and rewrite the campaign myself, which would take some time, but a solid strategy to get a handle on things. Thanks for the tip!
 
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DoomZday
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Re: What to share with players

Wed 19 Jun 2019, 10:18

Same here, I am going to copy and paste all the text, and either highlight it, or have the stuff that is GM only in a different colour, or on a certain side of the page, etc. I just wish, like other game systems, it was already done for us :)
 
decanox
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue 04 Jun 2019, 10:14

Re: What to share with players

Wed 19 Jun 2019, 18:13

I don't consider myself a novice GM and I see some (minor) issues with Chariots of the Gods too.

After playing one session (I don't finished yet) the main problem I see It's that you have to check some event in the Act, then you return to the map, then you go to the description of the different decks and so on while you have to check the rules (tables mainly). So, finally, it could be a little annoying turning pages back and forth and so on.

Maybe it's my first session with Alien (the next one can be easier) and I think there is no a perfect solution for that, but perhaps some events could be included in the map in some way or in the decks' description.

In other occasions I would be more specific about the trigger of some events.

Anyway, I think that the author/s of Chariot of the Gods want that the GM could implement the events freely... In some GMs it works fine (GMs who want the storytelling without ties) but in my case it's the opposite... I have no much time, so I would want the scenario tells me every detail: when, where, how, etc so I don't have to do an extra work on it and I can play only reading the scenario.

For example:

SPOILERS

Act I: The Headless man (could be placed in the map and in the description not as an event).
Act I: Egg Sacks Afoot: I know that in some places it's described where are egg sacks (for example, air scrubbers shaft) but I would be more specific with this event showing inside which room are the egg sacks or I would remove the event.
Act I: Mother Awakes: When does Cronus Mother exactly awake?
Act I: I've Got Movement: Where is Ava exactly?
 
Konungr
Posts: 77
Joined: Mon 10 Jun 2019, 09:39

Re: What to share with players

Wed 19 Jun 2019, 20:56

I recommend any new gms to look up the lazy dms guidebook and the return of the lazy dm.

Its all about minimalist preparation. It will save you a ton of time and make running games vastly easier.

The biggest issue with dnds scenarios is that they are written linearly as though the game is a story on rails and the players will all follow the script. Lesson 1) they wont. All those pregenerated text blocks designed for you to read to the players are built on an assumption that the players will get there in a certain way, meet those people in a certain way, and have an initial interaction based on what the players are "supposed" to do.

I find all those text blocks to be deceptively a hinderance. They look useful until you realize that by following them you have placed yourself on the rails and in their box and now you are under prepared for when the players do the unexpected. Lesson 2) no plan survives contact with the players. No matter what you think they might do they will come up with something else. You need to stay adaptable. Which also means dont plan for eventualities that may never happen. Every minute you spend planning for each potential scenario is time wasted when they dont do that scenario.

Instead, plan what you know they need to move the story along. I.e. i know the players need x clue. So i make that clue. I don't put it anywhere. Like... I know its in a room like this or whatever. So do i map the town and every building or do i just make whatever room the player decide to go into the room i want them to be in? The map looks cool but is a ton of work for a lot of rooms they will never see. The other makes it look like the players chose correctly when as the dm i know they never actually had a choice.
 
decanox
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue 04 Jun 2019, 10:14

Re: What to share with players

Wed 19 Jun 2019, 23:10

Good point made by Konungr.

Anyway, I was pointing minor issues. For me, it was annoying to check the descriptions of the different rooms in the different decks while I had to check the events and the tables (the GM screen can solve this problem). Nothing too embarrassing, and it was really fun but I have to admit, it was a problem.

As I have said before, I would try to add some of the fixed events to the deck descriptions (or vice versa since there are deck descriptions that could be considered as events) so you don't have to turn pages constantly.

Anyway I agree with Konungr... BUT although they are rare to find, there are adventures or campaigns which are not linear and they are perfectly explained so the GM can react to any action taken by the PCs. I remember the Shadowrun Second Edition adventures "Dark Angel" or "Queen Euphoria", which had a tree format and the book explained the GM all the possibilities or "Masks of Nyarlathotep" (and its companion). Unfortunately, they are a rare kind because the common is linear adventures (and I am tired of them, they are like boring episodes of boring TV series). But I'm writing in this message too much because that's not related with this thread.   
 
Konungr
Posts: 77
Joined: Mon 10 Jun 2019, 09:39

Re: What to share with players

Thu 20 Jun 2019, 05:46

Okay, I am now at home and have access to my PDF.

I will give you some advice on some preparation and running of Chariot of the Gods and maybe it will help you in the future running anything.

Go out and buy a pack of 3x5 note cards. In the USA I can grab a pack of 300 for about $5.00. The most useful thing you will ever get as a DM (besides a good DM screen I suppose). I also have a little plastic flip lid box to put them in and bought little sorting cards with letters/numbers on them. When I make monsters for a game (more on this soon) I sort them into the file by name so that I can grab them out later and keep the stats consistent. I use #1 as my current game cards so that anything I know I am using right now I can pull easily at the beginning of each session. Grab some markers of various colors too.

First step, put all the information you need for any NPCs/Monsters onto their own note card. If a bunch of NPCs don't need to have different stats then don't give them there own card. For example, if I was running a DnD game I would make a single note card for "Goblin". Generally speaking I will put stats down the left side of it (in this case str agi wits and emp) Make a note of any skills they have in a column next to that. List any equipment/weapons they have and put the base damage and the total they roll next to the weapon for quick reference. If you need notes about how specific ones might behave or special rules you might be unsure of put that stuff on the back. If this was DnD I would also make a generic note card for each class. If the players run into somebody and I quickly need some stats for a fight or social interaction or something I just grab the card for the most appropriate class and I am good to go. The players don't know that they have been speaking to the same "Merchant" note card dozens of times by dozens of different names and they never will.

Step 2, turn a note card 90* so it's tall. List NPC names with a small note about personality or job or whatever for your own reference. Note the players characters names too. When at the table and playing only talk to the players by their characters names. It helps them get into the game. I generally have a couple cards like this with a list of random names. When the players decide to find a shop or a inn or a mercenary or whatever NPC I didn't plan for I will pick a name off the list and write a note next to them about who they are now and move on. It helps the world feel real that you didn't have to stop to obviously make up something. Also, the players think you actually did a bunch of work and planned all this stuff out. They will think you are some master genius calculating a million moving pieces at any given time. The fools.

Step 3, make a note card for each of those locations in Chariot of the Gods. Write the name, draw a little map for your own reference. Note anything important that should come up in the story. If you must, write out the room descriptions on the back of the card. Now bust out those markers. Put a colored mark in the top right or left corner of the card for each deck/room (However you want to break it down. The colors are just for quick identification and your own ease of use.).

Next, grab another batch of cards and write out notes for all those events that are supposed to take place. Put a colored mark in the same corner for what room/deck it is associated with and a second colored mark to indicate which act it is supposed to happen in (act 1 act 2 act 3).

Now, behind your DM screen you can have 1 big blank sheet of paper turned landscape orientation in the middle. I use this to note damage and initiative and anything else going on in the session I want to keep track of. To one side you can have a stack of events with act 1 on top of act 2 on top of act 3. stick your list of characters to one side for easy reading and your pile of rooms in easy reach stacked slightly off so that you can see the names/colors. You might want to hold all the act 1 events in one hand since you may be reaching for them a bunch and you can easily pull up any rooms you need from your room stack.

You are ready to go!


The thing with these adventures is they are written in long form story telling. They are telling YOU the DM a story and that is a LOT of information to read through with unnecessary detail and language when you are just looking for what happens next. Instead, short form notes on note cards makes the next steps for you infinitely more digestible and much more accessible when in the thick of it running the game.

Hope that helps.
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