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  #1  
Unread 24th of January, 2013, 08:56
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A Newish GM who wants tips

I'm new to the site. I've run a few games with friends, but never end up knowing all the rules when I start playing. I'd like to eventually run a Neverwhere game. It's a fan-made game, and I can post the link to the pdf if anyone is interested. What are your tips on gming? How well should you know the rules of the game before running it? Do you have to master every aspect? Some of it seems a bit intimidating if that was the case? Or is it ok to get a good notion of it all, and expect the players to know some of their more specific rules?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Unread 24th of January, 2013, 10:08
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You don't have to have the rules memorized before running your own game, but you should make sure your players know where you stand before you start, and you should try to read up on them as much as possible. You don't have to be a master, you learn to be a better DM by practicing, just like you get better at everything else. The important thing is to dip your toes in and just start, but don't get in over your head. You don't need to do fancy maps or complicated games with everything run perfectly. Just make sure you have a policy in place for what to do if you make a rules mistake and that causes a conflict. A lot of DM's have a no retcon policy, one that I happen to agree with (it means if you make a mistake and nobody notices it immediately, you don't change it later, you just acknowledge the mistake and try not to do it again).

Most importantly, just have fun and do your best, the rest comes with practice.

Also, biggest noob DM mistake in the world: making your players too strong. Try not to give your players too much stuff.
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Unread 24th of January, 2013, 10:55
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Don't overextend yourself.

For example, if you were thinking about running a D&D game, you'd want to think about maps, combat maps, having a way to make and update them easily. Or, you'd want to have an idea about how you'd be running the game without maps; it's much harder to do this online than in person, because in person you can still sketch things out, use gestures, and make quick corrections or clarifications on what you mean, even if you're not using an explicit map with miniatures.
However, this might be difficult. I've tried to run several D&D games, and the process of making combat maps, and working through combat, was very time consuming. It made me slow down, burn out early on, and the games quickly died.
I don't mean this as "don't run a game with maps and combat," I mean "don't run a game with maps if updating and uploading them is a pain for you." Maybe you're much more comfortable with the tools involved, or have a quick and easy way of doing it. In that case, go ahead.
But, if it's taking, like, an hour to update your game, for whatever reason, it's not going to work out. Probably. Unless you really have that much free time, maybe.

That said, a big benefit of pbps is how leisurely it is. Like, say someone posts something using a rule you're not familiar with, something obscure. You don't have to respond immediately. You have, like, hours before they could reasonably expect a reply. Time to look it up, learn how it works, and then reply with that in mind. For an individual rule, you'd really only need to do that once or twice before you started remembering how it works. For a new situation, you have time to sit and think about how to handle it, when in a face to face game you'd want to be able to figure it out quickly, or be comfortable enough with the rules to handwave it.
I'd want to at least be familiar enough with a game that I only had to look up individual rules or abilities, so that figuring out "how does this work" didn't take that long. But, that shouldn't be that hard. Maybe read through the book a couple times, make sure you read the examples (hopefully they've included examples? or someone else's game you can find?), so you're familiar with how it works in a broad sense and have an idea where things are, or where you could look to find them.

The difference between this and "don't overextend yourself" is that you wouldn't be looking up new stuff constantly (or at least not the same things over and over). If every round of combat takes you an hour to finish, that's a problem, because that's not going to get better, and it's probably really frustrating if it's the same stumbling blocks every time. But, if looking up a rule and getting a sense of it takes an hour, well, you'll probably only have to do that once, maybe twice, for that one rule. Other rules will be different, different situations, and more interesting, so it won't become so tiresome.

Also, post as often as you can. Not as quickly as you can, and I don't mean more than once a day, but don't let days go by waiting on you (this is the main reason for "don't overextend yourself").
Also also, don't make it about showcasing your totally awesome NPCs who are the real stars. I always end up doing this and it always sucks. Not saying you'd do this, but just in case.
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  #4  
Unread 24th of January, 2013, 13:55
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Thank you, guys. This is really helpful. I like the idea of no retcon. I've been in a few ruined games when a player left after realizing something a few sessions later. I think the overextension makes sense too. It wouldn't be detailed, but is it possible to make a grid on some art program (gimp or something) and then just update from a save file? I just figure, that if we're already playing pbp, we already have a decent imagination. (We usually just use extra dice in the place of figures.).
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  #5  
Unread 24th of January, 2013, 14:11
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Yes. It is. That's what I do for my games. Check out my XCrawl game. I can explain better or give you one of the GIMP XCF files to get a feel for how I do it.

This post is a decent example. The earlier maps were more detailed, but I lost them when my old computer fried and shifted to an old-school TSR era blue map, which is what I've been using since then.

Last edited by Mercutio; 24th of January, 2013 at 14:14.
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  #6  
Unread 24th of January, 2013, 16:52
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Those are pretty cool. I took a look at one of each. I may take you up on that offer if and when I choose to run with maps. I have an idea for a pathfinder or d20 modern (Depending on what system ends up working best) and both of those will need the maps. Could I grab a few of your examples when I get closer to running that game?
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Unread 24th of January, 2013, 23:39
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Sure thing.

The other thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of maps out there at places like rpgmapshare and Cartographer's Guild. So if you don't want to make maps you can always search those places and find suitable lookalikes to use in your game.
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  #8  
Unread 25th of January, 2013, 04:10
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That's a good idea too! Thanks.
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