in a Pen & Paper RPG Campaign
“The essence of a role-playing game is that it is a group,
Gary Gygax (1938 - 2008)
Providing the world
Knowing the adventure
Knowing and adjusting the rules
Setting the stage
Controlling the flow of information
Setting the pace
Providing the action
Propelling the world ever forward
Discouraging metagame thinking
1. a reason or reasons
for doing something.
2. desire to do something;
FUN Hard Fun
Challenge, Mastery, Strategy.
Meaning, Value, Therapy.
wants a collection of
powers optimized for
the acquisition of more
powers. The Brawler
wants plenty of chances
to prove his character
superiority over all who
would challenge him.
wants a regulate world
in which the quality of
his choices determines
his success of failure.The Stylist
wants to play a unique
and strongly stylized
bases his decisions on
his understanding of his
wants to take part in a
fun narrative that feels
like a book or a movie.
DIFFERENT SORTS OF ENCOUNTERS
ENCOUNTERS THAT MAKE USE OF PCs ABILITIES
LEADING THE PCs BY THE NOSE
PCs AS SPECTATORS
DEUS EX MACHINA
PREEMPTING THE PCs ABILITIES
WHAT CAN RUINS
PLAYER’S MOTIVATION ?
Give opportunities to shine without hazard interference.
Make sure each player gets to make his own decisions.
Make sure everyone gets his heyday.
Identify each player aspirations.
Lack of respect
Set table rules.
Be fair and trustworthy.
Love or birth
That’s beyond your expertise.
Dungeon Master Guide v.3.5 - Monte Cook
4 Keys 2 Fun - XEODesign
Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering - Robin Laws
Special thanks to my tabletop mates
Gary Gygax quote. Ernest Gary Gygax was an American writer and game designer best known for co-creating the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). G. Gygax is generally acknowledged as the father of role-playing games.
These are the game mastering basics. Metagaming : Any time the players base their characters’ actions on logic that depends on the fact that they’re playing a game; they’re using metagame thinking. This behavior should always be discouraged, because it detracts from real role-playing and lead to disbelief.
Mastering an adventure with strong motivation is really a matter of knowing what drives your players.
…above all, remember that they want to have FUN. Never forget that last one.
What is fun in games, exactly ? In this insane diagram, XEODesign identified 4 kinds of fun.
The gameplay and the roleplay ways. The Optimizer (Power Gamer) : wants a collection of powers optimized for the acquisition of more powers. The Brawler (Butt-Kicker) : wants plenty of chances to prove his character superiority over all who would challenge him. The Tactician : wants a regulate world in which the quality of his choices determines his success of failure. The Stylist : wants to play a unique and strongly stylized character. The Actor : bases his decisions on his understanding of his character's psychology. The Storyteller : wants to take part in a fun narrative that feels like a book or a movie. No serious fun : we don’t want to change the world, we just want to leave this world for a while.
As for kinds of fun, each of the players gravitates toward one over the others. As a game master, it’s your responsibility to know and understand each of your players well enough that you can be reasonably sure that they’ll all get along, work well together, and enjoy the sort of game you run. Don’t forget to evaluate yourself (Blue dots on central diagram). Share 12 points out among those 6 traits (0 to 4 ranks in each).
Figure the profile of the whole team out. Hopefully, there’s a strong « 3 to 5 levels » affinity in my team (red dots).
PC = Player’s Character. Motivation is what gets the PCs involved in whatever you have designed for them to do. If their characters aren’t motivated, the players won’t do what you want them to, and all your work will be wasted. Greed, fear, revenge, need, morality, anger, power and curiosity are all powerful motivators.
Character’s… Physiological : staying alive and operational. Safety : safeguarding the fellowship (fighting, healing, bolstering allies). Remember, it’s a cooperative game. Belongingness : having a quest/a goal, having a place in the world/in the group. Esteem : defeating villains, solving puzzles and mystery, gathering treasures and helpful items. Self-actualization : acquiring more information/more powers in order to progress in the campaign. There’s often a mix-up between the character needs and the player emotions.
Alignment is a D&D specificity. Ensure to propose goals that match the PCs morality. You can also use that to provoke dilemmas. Alignment is a powerful motivator and players must act in conformity with their characters morality but, sadly, each player has his own interpretation...
These sorts of questions and analyses allow you to judge monsters, encounters, and adventures and determine whether they are appropriate for your group.
An adventure that everyone enjoys likely includes the following features. Specifically designed with your group’s PCs in mind. Let the players feel that their characters have a real place in the world. Create a sense of perspective, the feeling that the campaign world is a real place that extends beyond the PCs. Adapt the encounters to the PCs but allows you to set up situations unrelated to the PCs specifically. They will have to adapt themselves to theses encounters.
Try to avoid the pitfalls described here.
While the game master is in charge, it’s really everybody’s game. The players are all here, coming back session after session, because they trust that the game master and the players help them have a fun and rewarding gaming experience.