Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let Them Be Awesome

This is a post to my "What Other GMs Do Wrong" series, but it is prefaced with a caveat. A preveat!

Perhaps not a preveat. I don't thing that's a real word.

I recently played in a game where one of my friends and fellow players (who is usually the GM in this particular group) made a note of this in our post-game discussion. He was not the GM. I was not the GM. Therefore, just the fact that I am posting this in this fashion, as part of this series, may imply that the fellow who did GM did something wrong.

Such is not the case.

The game was pretty darn good (that's Adam talk for excellent), but the subject and 'technique' I am about to describe here could have enhanced it. For some GMs, who have trouble pulling off the big bad, boss fight at the end of a scenario, doing this early in the adventure can make the players feel they've accomplished something, even if the finale goes South for whatever reason. If you are good at presenting the climactic confrontation, what I will discuss here can make it even more satisfying, especially for your less in-your-face combat types.

So this isn't a reflection of that guy and his game. I want you all to know that, and I want him to know that if he read this. This is a reflection of the fact that our usual GM's observation was spot on, and many GMs fail to take it into account.

That said, let's get on with the show...

***
 
In the past seven years, I have probably participated in this hobby as a player as much as I have in the thirty years prior (maybe more so, or getting close). Moreover, I have largely enjoyed being a player, which is a very different experience to that of the previous three decades.
 
It hasn't all been great, but it's been better than it was in the ol' days. I love GMing, but I'll be the first to admit that one of the reasons I became so focused on it over playing was a lot of crappy experiences as a player in the late 70s and early 80s.

This particular subject harkens back to those days, but sadly I still see it occur today. Before I really get into it however, I need to put up a little bit of a warning:

The following post contains advice and recommendations for running a RPG of a heroic literature, or cinematic, nature. It is probably not useful if you intend to run a survivalist style RPG where the PCs need be fearful of opening doors, walking, and breathing. If you are concerned about 'realism' and 'gamism', this article may frighten or even horrify you.

The management at Barking Alien takes no responsibility for the effects of this post on members of the OSR. If you have the OSR condition, consult your preferred rulebook, or see an OSR GM before continuing. I'm sure, if you are concerned in any way, you can skip this one entirely. It's OK, really. I'm sure if you switch the channel you will find something more to your liking. Someone, somewhere on the 'net is probably discussing Initiative again or talking about a new way to do Saving Throws. Look, here, Tower of Zenopus is doing a post on Alignment!* Enjoy.

Still some people left? Good. We can continue.

What Other GMs Do Wrong: Allowing the PCs To Be Awesome

So let's talk about letting the Player Characters be awesome. What does that mean? In a nutshell, it means allowing for scenes where the PCs get to look like total badasses...to the players.

Confused? It's simple.

This is about letting each PC have its moment in the sun, and in that moment, having the player think it was a cool idea to play that particular character.

The focus here is in making the players feel that the characters they created are useful, with something important to contribute to the party. That these people (the PCs) are competent, potentially heroic individuals.

The PCs do not exist to get trampled by you, the GM, mowed down like helpless blades of grass, and quickly forgotten. They may face challenges they can not beat, but there are ones they can. These lesser obstacles, once vanquished, give them the inspiration, drive and motivation to take on bigger tasks, and harder challenges.

When I say 'be awesome', what I mean is, allow them their moment to be great at the thing they built their character to be great at.

Most Gamemasters can't ^#*@ing let the PCs be Awesome!

This 'being awesome' can take many forms, and most of them are depressingly easy to make work. I say 'depressingly' because if I had a nickel for every time I heard, or saw, a GM not allow for awesomeness, I'd be able to afford that return trip to Gen Con I've been wanting to make.

One of the most basic ways to promote the concept of PC awesomeness is to have something for them to do in an adventure. If the adventure is a pre-fab, 'store bought' jam, it can be difficult to make sure it has something in it for everyone. I highly recommend the first adventure for any campaign of anything be home made. Seriously, I can't advocate this enough. It's fine to use modules, or pre-made adventures, later in the campaign but start everyone off with something you yourself created.

Why? Because you can build it to your specifications and the specific needs, interests, and talents of your players, and their PCs.

Let's check out some practical advice aimed directly at the concept I'm discussing.

Here's the penultimate example of a perceived lack of awesome: The Bard.



Illustration from the
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
Player's Handbook.
 
One of the best D&D images I've seen in years.
 
 
#1 Not Awesome in Your Head, Awesome in Theirs
 
The Bard sucks right? I mean, who in his right mind enters a dungeon filled with goblins, traps, and untold menaces armed only with a lyre?
 
A PC, that's who.
 
No one chooses to play any type of character because they don't want to be awesome. This means, if someone in your group chooses to be a Bard, they intend to play an awesome Bard. It is also safe to assume they believe the Bard is an awesome class.
 
So, if for some reason the Bard PC never does anything awesome in an entire adventure, is it because the player sucked, or because there was no way for a Bard to be awesome in your (the GM's) game because you think Bard's suck?
 
If someone plays a Bard in one of my campaigns, there will be a scenario in which singing, performing, or having knowledge of an old song will make a huge difference.
 
If someone plays a Demolitions Expert, you can be certain there will be something that needs to be blown up. If someone chooses to be the Communications Officer in a Star Trek game, they will get the chance to do something beneficial that only the Communications Officer is proficient at. If someone plays Batman, there will be a mystery. If no one does, there may not be. Instead there will be a situation perfect for that character, the one who is there, to handle.
 
#2. Not everything needs to be epic.
 
This goes back to the comment made by my friend and fellow GM who essentially inspired me to make this post.
 
Recently we played in an excellent adventure (a one-shot 'two-parter') in which the PCs were military officers, scientists, and special agents fighting against the supernatural during World War II. Imagine Nick Fury and his Howling Commando's, or Sgt. Rock and Easy Company meets B.P.R.D..
 
During the scenario, the PCs (largely regular soldiers who had experienced some brush with the paranormal) had to track down a stolen Russian artifact of considerable cultural importance to the Russian people. Looking to make nice with our potential new friends, the Allied Forces sent several teams out to try to find and retrieve the object.
 
In the course of the adventure we (the PCs) ended up fighting some shape-shifting German soldiers, a group of haunted, Teutonic Knight armors, and uber-powerful German Warlock type guy. Pretty crazy, scary stuff.
 
Do you know what we didn't get to do? Beat up some plain old Nazis.
 
What's significant about that? Well...these other guys I mentioned were hard to beat. Really hard in some cases. It was fun, but a little frustrating that everyone we faced was way tough, way powerful and it took two or three of us (or more) to face one opponent in order to bring them down.
 
If there had been one or two scenes of us (the PCs) versus some regular soldiers, we could have fought and defeated them individually. Each of us would have had his turn in the spotlight to seem badass. This would have made us feel like serious, war movie, tough guys. It seems a minor thing, but we really could have used it. Two of the PCs were built to be really capable, tough-as-nails, absolutely normal men. Neither of them could do much against the supernatural opponents without the help of at least one or two other people.
 
In Superhero games, I usually have a first adventure sequence where the PCs face off against goons, or henchmen working for the supervillain. Their sole purpose is to get trounced by the heroes so the Superheroes can feel super. Seeing the PCs take on normal Humans gives the player an ego boost, and a new perspective on how much power the PCs truly wield.
 
***
 
Relative to my other entries, this is a short one. I feel strongly that an awareness of how to represent 'PC Awesomeness' will greatly benefit your games, but a lack of it isn't a deal breaker. It isn't the end of the world, and a good GM can still create a fun and exciting scenario without focusing on it too much. However, if you don't allow for it at all, yes, it will be noticeable and turn the cool meter on your game down a few notches.
 
It doesn't irk me the way Railroading does. Spitfire and damnation I hate railroading. I hate that ^#*@ with a passion.
 
Next time on What Other GMs Do Wrong...Railroading. Dammit.
 
AD
Barking Alien
 
*Just teasing Blacksteel. Tower of Zenopus is an awesome site. Check it out everybody!






Friday, September 12, 2014

Splits-ville

I have some more things I wanted to talk about in regards to the concept of Splitting the Party (Did I mention I've got a lot to say about this subject? 'Cause ya'know, I've got A LOT to say about this subject).  Before I do however...

***

September 11th is always such a sad and somber day. I am really grateful (not a word I like or use lightly) to have the very next day always represent such happiness over the last 7 years or so.

September 12th is my best friend's birthday. And here she is...




My dog, Delilah! Obviously half-Vargr* and half-Cheronian* (She's black on her left side. Don't you see? All her litter are black on the left side!), is the most amazing child, friend, pet, and companion anyone could ever have. She is 7 years young today, and she's been with me since she was 4 months old. This is her, "Dad, this is so embarrasing" face.

Happy Birthday Dee! 

***
 
Now then, a number of people mentioned one key element about making a split party work, or not, and I'd like to address that topic, and, hopefully, turn it on its ear.
 
Many people noted communication as being perhaps the most important thing a split party needs to function well.
 
The always vigilant Lord Blacksteel says:
 
I don't totally disagree with you but sci-fi/modern games tend to be quite different, not the least of which is the ability to stay in constant communication with one another, which the typical D&D party lacks. There's also the ability to teleport to someone's aid (possible with both Trek and Supers) or to simply fly at ridiculous speed to wherever something is happening. Fantasy characters may have some ability to do this but it's not usually as easy as it is in other settings.
 
The Keeper of the Tower of Zenopus speaks true! Chris C adds:
 
...I see what you meant in your comment over at my post regarding system and type of game now. It's true that if you have PCs that can communicate with each other when split, and/or who can get to each other very rapidly, then splitting is not at all the end of the world. Like you say, it's far more of an issue in games that are combat-heavy and/or where large numbers of baddies can come out of the woodwork and suddenly hit you when you least expect it.

It seems to me that PC communication is the key.
 
There is great wisdom here. From the modern era to the distant future, where easy access to rapid communication (and to a lesser extent travel) is available to the PCs, splitting the party makes a lot more sense than it does in say, medieval fantasy.
 
It's easy to conclude that while viable in Champions, Leverage, Marvel Heroic** or InSpectres, it might not be a good idea in Dungeons & Dragons, Ars Magica, or even Gamma World (which is often depicted as having an overall medieval level of technical advancement aside from rare artifact of advanced design).
 
Well...
 
 
Watch out, it's another long one.
 
 
Let's flip our thinking for just a moment.
 
Up until now, the idea was that splitting the party can benefit the party by enabling them to cover more ground while investigating, fight to cover physically less capable members while said members search for some clue/means of escape/important item, or to generally reflect the genre (wherein characters in novels, films, comics and other media split up. They just do).
 
We also covered (albeit briefly) the idea that being versatile enough to pull it off as a GM makes said GM look good (GM Mojo), and gives the impression that their world is open and the PCs aren't stuck following rails to their inevitable destination.
 
But what if...what if it were necessary, but not really a good idea? What if it happens accidentally? What if you're players, being players, decide to split up the group for whatever reason seemed brilliant at the time, but in actuality, wasn't.
 
Many GMs would simply not allow it. Many would 'teach them a lesson', and invoke grudge monsters to show them what happens when you defy the might GM! >Flash - Thunder - Muhuwahaha!<
 
Maybe that's the way it's done in Wisconsin, but this is New York. Lemme show you how we do things downtown...
 
(Yeah, that made absolutely no sense. Anyway...)
 
Sometimes the PCs just want to separate and/or you want to let them. I'd to think you (the GMs out there) just don't have that gut reaction/reflex that sees it as automatically bad, or unworkable. Honestly, if this 'series' of posts accomplishes anything I really hope it's that.
 
OK, so how do you make this fun, manageable, and down right scary. Yep, scary. See, we're going to do it D&D style, with no easy communication or travel abilities. Put away your Comlinks, and turn off your Telepathy. We're splitting the party old school.
 
(OK, I just spent five minutes trying to use online, random dungeon generators to generate a dungeon map for use in my example scenario. Great Googley Moogley! ALL SO BORING. Seriously. How do you guys and gals use this stuff. So square, plain, and monotonous. *Shiver* Alright. Different approach. I never really use dungeons anyway...)
 
Let's say our party consists of Coopermoon, a Dwarven Thief, Gestral, a Human Ranger, Promelia, a Human Cleric, Ronaland the Green, a Human Druid, and Windgriffon, an Elven Warrior/Wizard.
 
The party has been asked by the lord of a popular port city to investigate the ruins of a small keep North East of the port. Sailors and townsfolk alike have seen strange lights in the vicinity and odd figures lurking around on the nearby beaches at night for ages. Recently, a number of ships were attacked by pirates who headed off in the direction of the keep, but soon vanished into the morning mist. Just a few days prior to the party's arrival, a small group of fishermen disappeared.
 
When the party arrives in the area, having travelled North East up the coast by land, they see an old shipwreck, a number of abandoned crates overgrown with moss, and odd set of stone stairs to their left (further East). The ruins of the keep are due North of them.
 
 
 
 
Windgriffon is the default party leader, and wants to make tracks directly for the keep. Gestral the Ranger says it makes more sense to scout out their immediate surroundings first since they're there, and he doesn't want someone who's here following behind the group without them knowing. Ronaland is eager to investigate the moss, as he's heard this region has numerous medicinal herbs that might come in handy. Promelia is intrigued by that as well. She is also curious about the steps as they look like they could belong to some kind of ancient temple, though none was mentioned by the local lord or any of the townspeople. Coopermoon can't stop staring at the cargo. Though covered in moss, the crate look otherwise intact. The ship is fairly large and in surprisingly good shape. What was it carrying? Where was it headed?
 
Now at this point in the average groups' game session, the players would argue over what to do first. If they have a great leader, or the group is just very in sync with each other, a direction will be decided upon in no time. If the situation is more typical, you could be there a bit, wasting time while people disagree about where to go.
 
Windgriffon hates wasting time, so here's his thinking. Coopermoon will check out the crates, with Windgriffon himself covering him. Ronaland will be there as well, though his focus is the moss on the crates and not the containers themselves. Gestral and Promelia, the two being an item anyway, will go up the stone stairs and take a look around. Gestral, the Ranger of the group, will therefore get to high ground, enabling him to see the rest of the party and anyone approaching from overhead.
 
Let's say something comes out of the shipwreck, or the water and attacks Windgriffon and his group. Oh no! Gestral and Promelia are too far away to help or hear them. Well...maybe if they made a loud noise, or signaled. It was not uncommon in my campaigns to use Dancing Lights or Pyrotechnics as a signal flare. An arrow, which has had it's tip wrapped in gauze, dyed a bright color, and soaked in oil, can be lit and shot for the same effect.
 
Gestral can certainly fire his arrow from the higher elevation down at enemies while Promelia makes her way back down the stairs. Gestral could also periodically check on the rest of the group somehow (using an animal companion or some such thing).
 
But what if he doesn't, or can't. Well, then he can't. It's a challenge. That's the point. Splitting the party isn't supposed to make it easy for the party to survive. It's actually quite the opposite. It's a tactical risk, designed to cover more group while leaving you open to assault.
 
GMs, don't be afraid to attack the PCs, or feel bad doing, just because they decided to split their numbers.
 
The idea here is the Ronaland might find healing herbs, around the same time Coopermoon and Windgriffon discover some of the crates held food and other supplies, while some held...people. Illegal slave trading was conducted by whomever operated the now long wrecked vessel in whose shadow they now stand.
 
At the same time, Promelia finds a secret entrance to an underground catacomb (OK, it's a dungeon), and Gestral spots shadowy figures in moss and leaf covered camouflage. No one gets the drop on Gestral Ronnamoor!
 
Bare in mind it could go any number of ways. I am curious to hear if anyone would have distributed the characters differently. The key is, there is a lot to do here, but none of it is the reason they came, the ruins. Maybe there are clues to what's in the ruins in one or more of these first areas. Perhaps they'll find clues or keys to unlock a door, a treasure or deactivate a trap. Perhaps they'll see some actions with those shadowy figures.
 
The thing is, lack of communication has no immediate effect on this group, it's members, and what they are doing. As in many D&D RPG groups, each PC is sort of doing their own thing as part of the team.
 
By exploring in small groups, the PCs, and the GM, are exploring possibilities. It's not guaranteed to turn out OK, but with practice it can be guaranteed to turn out interesting, and shake up the way you handle encounters.
 
 
More to come,
 
AD
Barking Alien
 
 
*Yes. I am terribly geeky when I want to be.
 



Uncharacteristic Ideas

A lot of good talk on the blog roll lately. Good to see.

I find myself in one of my moods where my thoughts turn towards games I haven't played in a very long time, or ideas I haven't had the chance to explore more fully. I'll dispense with mentioning Star Trek, as that's a given, and I will probably be getting the opportunity to run a one-shot of it for my bi-weekly group sometime in October.

I also want to get back into Superheroes in some capacity soon. A fill-in for the regular GM of the bi-weekly game or an online, Google + session would be just the thing to satisfy that itch.

What I am talking about here is a little different. It's a desire by Barking Alien to run some distinctly un-Barking Alien-like games.

Such as...

Alternative Supers

What I mean by this is not your typical cape and cowl, four-color/modern fare (though that is where my love truly lies), but rather something a bit more like Aberrant, the TV series HEROES, or the Wild Card novels.

Since DC Comics has been a real let down since the nu52 began, I've been getting back into Anime and Manga more and more (in addition to reading more Marvel). The Japanese creators have been doing a ton of work in a very American comics vein, although tweaked by Japanese culture and sensibilities.

Among the series I've found inspiring for this idea include (for one reason or another) Darker Than Black, Tiger and Bunny, Tokyo ESP, and s-CRY-ed, among others.

As I mentioned in a previous, recent post, the company Ver. Blue Amusement has licensed and translated a Japanese RPG exemplifying this subgenre called Double Cross. I am seriously looking into giving this a go.


Military and Espionage

While discussing elements of the various military and intelligence factions in our current Traveller game with my good buddy Dave, we somehow sidetracked to reminisce about various spy and commando type games like Top Secret, James Bond 007, Recon/Advanced Recon, Aftermath, The Morrow Project, and the greatest-game-that-never-was, MISSION.

This is so not my cup of tea normally, but I like the idea of a Tom Clancy, Bourne Identity thriller, possibly mixed with Sci-Fi or supernatural elements.

On a separate but related note...could the military or espionage activity be fighting off a zombie apocalypse or alien invasion? Could we mix a little The End of The World in here with this? Who knows, and why not!


Medieval Fantasy

Yeah, that pesky genre is more tenacious than a bed bug, and just as welcome I assure you.

The recent release of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons has caused a plethora of posts across the blog-o-sphere, all of which cause me to have European, medieval, fantasy ideas on the brain, and absolutely no interest in using D&D 5E to explore them.

It doesn't help that Noisms recently mentioned Ryuutama, a game I've been dying to try, and the recent Japan Game Convention showcased Grancrest, a new Japanese TRPG fantasy game that I have heard good things about (but few details sadly).



The two smaller books are core rulebooks 1 and 2 respectively.
The larger book underneath is a 'Super Campaign Book',
which details additional material on the world/setting.
 
 
 
As it stands I really have no time for another campaign. This is just my creative side shooting its proverbial mouth off, so to speak. We'll just have to wait and see what wins out, time, interest, or my inability to keep my mind quiet.
 
AD
Barking Alien
 
 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembrance and Hope

On this, the 13th anniversary of 9/11, we remember the fallen.

I hope we also look forward to the future when we are past such anger, hatred and ill will toward our fellow Human beings.




AD
Barking Alien


Splitting The Adam

Hey Gamemasters, can I talk to you for a sec?

Don't worry, there aren't any players around. It's cool, it's cool.

Can we talk frankly? Chill. It's totally off the record here.

Awesome.

It's about the whole 'Split the Party' thing I brought up recently.

Let's face it, the issue with splitting the party isn't the party's problem. It's ours. Yours, and mine.

We don't like when they do it. It's a pain in the butt. It slows things down, it's hard to keep track of what's going on, and everyone is hearing what's happening in the different locations even if their characters aren't next to each other.

It just isn't worth it, right?

Well...what if it was a bit easier to pull off? What if it wasn't such a hassle for you? Would you be more inclined to do it then?

OK, OK. Fair enough. Why should you do it? Sure it gives the quieter, less experienced players a chance to have their moment of glory, sure it let's different characters stand out in different situations that require their PCs specific set of skills, but really, that's for the players. What's in it for us?

It increases our Mojo. You heard me.

Are you seriously telling me you don't know what GM Mojo is? OK, it's like this; GM Mojo is what makes players want to comes back and be in one of your campaigns again and again. It's what makes them tell people stories about the games they were in that you refereed. Ever have someone you didn't know want in on one of your games because a mutual friend told them how awesome you are as a GM? GM Mojo.

Seriously gang, pull off the 'Split The Party' thing, and they'll think you walk on water.* They'll be bringing the chips, dip and soda to you!

Now, here's the plan...

TIPS ON HOW TO HANDLE
SPLITTING THE PARTY
 
 
Buddy System

If the size of your PC group is really small, say 3 people altogether, splitting the party doesn't really make much sense. If you have 4 or more however, it becomes much more feasible and useful.

Why? Simple. The Buddy System.

When splitting the party, I usually try to give the players a general sense of how rough things are going to get, and make sure they have a clear idea of what they are going to do (more about that below). This way, though they may split up, they are unlikely to send one person down a long, dark hallway alone to their inevitable death. Rather, they will (hopefully), take the total number of PCs, and divide it by the number of tasks. If the number of any of these elements are uneven (don't divide perfectly), then it becomes a question of whether to beef up one group and/or thin out another. Either this, or they will assign various party members the tasks they are most adept at. The members will then form small 'groups' (like in school when we were all divided up for group projects).

Example:

Fantasy Party: Two Warriors, a Ranger, a Rogue, a Wizard, a Cleric, and a Warlock (or other specialized Magical character).

Scenario: In order to escape the dungeon with their booty, the PCs must pass through a cursed doorway. Solving a riddle/puzzle will negate the curse. Meanwhile, a horde of undead monsters are rushing the hallway that leads to the exit. Finally, clues point to a secret room off to the side of the hallway that might hold the one item they were sent into the dungeon to find, but never did.

Saying, "Crap guys, there are A LOT of undead coming. A ton", or "As the undead pile in...there aren't really as many as you thought. They do look tough though", gives the players an idea of who to put where and how many. Also, nonchalantly asking, "Who's good at puzzles? Stephanie, you're pretty darn good at them if I recall", is a way to hint that maybe Steph should be in whichever group is focus on cancelling the curse on the door.**

In the end, the party goes with the following breakdown:

Group 1, consisting of one Warrior, the Cleric and the Warlock, will face off against the monsters at the North end of the hallway leading to the exit. The Warrior can fight, the Warlock has some cool damaging spells, and the Cleric can fight, turn undead and heal.

Group 2, consisting of the Rogue and the Ranger, will investigate the secret room at the South End of the hallway.

Group 3 meanwhile, consisting of the Wizard and the other Warrior, will try to solve the door puzzle, as the Wizard is knowledge, and the Warrior's player (the aforementioned Stephanie) is good with puzzles and riddles.

Separate Into Groups
 
If you know who is going to be going where, and with whom, forming the groups mentioned above is easy. If these 'team ups' occur on a regular basis, take note of them as GM. When I was a player in Champions, using my character Starguard, I would tend to team up with my friend Pete's character Arctic Fox/White Wolf***, and was never to far from my friend David's character Omni. So...

When it came time to play, I made sure to sit next to Pete and/or David. This simple act, the GM would later tell me, helped him immensely. It made it easy to look over at the end of the table and see the same people sitting there are were there in the same scene in the game.

After that, I used to request that my players sit closer to, or across from, the other players whose PC's they would be interacting with the most. What a head clearer and a time saver! Seriously, give it a try.

Cliffhangers and Council Meetings

Each time you finish talking to a particular part of the party, you should leave them with either a 'Cliffhanger' or 'Council Meeting' before moving on to the next group.

A Cliffhanger is exactly what it sounds like. Have the enemy just about to attack. Have the trap go off, and as one or more of the PCs plunge into a pit below, cut to the next group. Leave them with a moment they are dying to get back to (sometimes literally), while simultaneously giving them a few moments to figure out what to do next.

A Council Meeting is the social interaction or tactical planning equivalent. Leave the players with their PCs having discovered some major piece of information, a huge clue, a secret, something they are going to want to discuss among themselves. The players won't notice the lag time it takes to get back to them if they are neck deep in conversation with each other about the game. Let them plan, scheme, argue, or whatever, as long as they are still entertained and you can focus your attention on the next group.

Round Robin

Keep it moving. Armed with the above tactics, and an awareness that letting any one group grab the spotlight too long means frustration for the rest, keep the ball rolling. Time yourself if you have to with an egg-timer, or a miniature hour glass (the minute ones). Maintain your pass and you maintain the interest level of your players, as well as giving the whole game a sense of timing and urgency.

***

These are the key elements that assist me when it comes up in my games. As I've noted before, I've been doing it for a long time and practice and experience make a big difference as well. I am also mildly obsessed with 'timing' as I mentioned on this blog a long while back. I watch a lot of old talk shows (specifically Johnny Carson, but also Steve Allen, Ed Sullivan and the Jimmy Dean show), and comedies where comedic timing and direction are key (the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Monty Python). I think analyzing these for their timing, pace, etc. really help give you a sense of control over the flow of your game.


AD
Barking Alien


*You don't do it for the kudos, I know that. Neither do I. We GM because we love it. It's a calling, a creative outlet, and something that deep down we know we HAVE to do. That said, it's nice to be appreciated.

That and yeah, we do it for the kudos too.


** When helping in this way, be sure not too give away to much, and certainly be subtler than the example I illustrate here. It can be tricky. You don't want to railroad, or force them to take a particular action, but you want to guide them in a way that gives them the fighting chance to use their wits with regard to their situation.


***Don't want to get off top, but damn, I loved this character. Arctic Fox was the Wolverine of a parallel Earth, who remained a member of the Alpha Flight-like Canadian superhero team, The Northern Lights. He became trapped on our Champions Earth following the Dark Trinity Incident. Once there, he tried to fit in, but didn't know anyone, and the world and it's history were completely different. He himself did not exist on this new Earth.

Taking a leave of absence from the superhero team, Arctic Fox travelled to the Canada of this world in hopes of finding himself and his place in the order of things. There he went on several personal adventures, often assisting a half-Caucasian/half-Inuit rancher and his daughter. Arctic Fox fell in love with the daughter, and vice-versa, and the old rancher revealed himself to be a retired Golden Age superhero, The White Wolf. Accepting Arctic Fox like family, he gave him one of his old costumes and told him he'd always have a home at the ranch, but this world needed him. He returned to the team in a modified version of the costume, now referring to himself as White Wolf (II).