View Full Version : New to RP! Going to GM! Help a poor newb!

01-02-2015, 10:37 PM
Oh hello all, I got a copy of Deathwatch Core Rules for Christmas, pushing me off the fence I'd been on for some time and into the interesting realm of RP. The slight catch being that I've never participated in one before or even have run one, so this is a little much, but I'm extremely excited by the prospect.

My friend, who's played different flavours of D&D, has been giving me the gist of how it's supposed to work, and I think I have a grasp, but I'm looking for your advice to get me going.

One thing I do have going for me, is that I have an incredibly comprehensive grasp on the lore of the 41st Millenium. I've been immersed in it for more than a decade, so I have a rock solid background with which to pull from and a good understanding of how most stories in 40k end up happening.

I've done a little reading on the reddit forum, and they've given me some idea of how to act, but I could always use more tailored feedback, which I will gladly accept here.

One very important question I would like answered immediately is, how do I convey the setting to the players? Do I have to make a map of the immediate area for the players? Do I convey it through words? Perhaps an interpretive dance? (The plan is to play with about 3-4 people using Skype. So transferring files won't be too hard.)

I have a general idea for the first serious mission to test my players with when we get it going.
Typical desert Hive World in the midst of a full on apocalyptic invasion of Orks, classic Armageddon type scenario. Guardsmen, Space Marines, Titans, Gargants, the whole lot. The Kill Team is tasked with stopping the largest Gargant in the WAAAAAGGGHHH, and cutting off the head of the invasion. Normally, you would send in a Warlord to do this sort of thing, but two factors are pressing in this scenario. The Gargant is currently crossing over one of the largest Promethium fields on the planet, and the second is that the Ork Mekks in this WAAAGGHH have been consorting with the Weirdboyz to rig their Gargants and Stompa's to explode in the largest and most violent explosions when the pilots of the engines die. The Gargant is being commanded by a Weirdboy, who's psychic connection will trigger the reactor to explode apocalyptically if it can send the signal.
The Kill Team must infiltrate the Gargant and kill their way to the command room, when they arrive, they must pinpoint the exact location of the Weirdboy pilot and relay that to the Vindicare Assassin who'll use a turbo-penetrating null round to nullify the Weirdboy and his power. Thus stopping the Gargant in its tracks.

Plenty of challenge for the most elite Xenos hunters. But this could also be the perfect mission for the culmination of a campaign. So we'll see how it works out.

So give me your thoughts and impart your wisdom! I need your knowledge!

01-03-2015, 06:59 AM
how you convey the setting to the players is largely up to you - I've seen and played everything from purely descriptive to hand-drawn maps to using VASSAL to a ceiling-mounted projector giving us a huge map on the floor on which to move actual miniatures...
For your purposes VASSAL might be a good fit, although it does require quite a bit of preparation on your part. I've spent several hours preparing a decently large battlefield for my Kill-Team to fight through... expect at least that amount of time per session to go into preparing your maps. Also, because that takes quite a while, when Ol' Man Henderson strikes and completely derails your plot you might run into a problem because you can't have maps prepared for every eventuality. Being able to spontaneously change your whole plan for the mission is probably the most important thing to get used to as a GM - either that or coming up with good reasons why the things your players wanted to do are impossible.
Also, there's quite a margin on how closely you want to follow the rules. In my campaigns, Rule of Cool usually trumps all - when one of the guys has an epic or just plain funny idea, I try my darndest to make it happen. One rather harmless example was our Techmarine strapping a bunch of grenades to a reinforced bunker door he had been using as a shield held in his Servo Arm, then throwing that door at a bunch of Orks and the sniper blowing said contraption up. Stuff like that gives some memorable moments, but especially in your first sessions maybe you should try sticking a bit more closely to the actual rules. One exception I would make from that recommendation is character creation - the rules can sometimes be a real pain when one of the players has an epic idea for a character he really wants to play, but rolls the wrong stats for it or just plain can't make it work within the rule set. Another example: We've got a Tactical Marine as our team leader, and he's a Black Templar because the player likes the background. But, Tacs don't get a lot of perks for close combat, which would have been the Templar thing to do, and we already had an Assault Marine (Blood Angel). So our GM in that round just gave the Templar access to a limited selection from the assault marine table, for a slightly increased price I think, so that he could play his character the way he wants to. A good deal of leniency in making your character who you want him to be is often very helpful towards making the whole thing fun for everyone...
For me, the real feel of playing Pen&Paper RPGs is acutally using pen and paper though - lounging together comfortably, throwing popcorn at the guy who just said something incredibly stupid etcetera. Not always possible of course...

01-16-2015, 07:58 PM
I've DMed/GMed/STed a lot of games in various settings, and these would be my tips:

1. Let the players drive the action, but come up with a few side plots and tertiary characters than flit in and out of the main game. This will keep the world from feeling like it's totally revolving around the players.

2. Don't spill all of your beans. Some mystery goes a long way into creating player engagement. Perhaps the players need to first figure out a way to covertly spy on the ork horde to determine what is causing the gargants to explode. Their initial mission could simply be a more broad-ended thing; TacCom says "Deactivate the gargants' self destruct mechanism" and the players need to improvise from there. They might need to stealthily infiltrate an ork camp and plant some listening devices, or tag some orks with a specialty bolter round like Nat Geo pros in Africa.

3. Have a plan for every session, and never stick to it. Every time you sit down, someone will do some clever thing that you really, really didn't see coming. Usually, it doesn't totally derail your overarching plan for the session.

4. Let your players fail, and let them face the consequences. It's not fun when the sense of danger evaporates, and the final victory feels sweeter when there are some wounds to show for it.

5. Play music the entire time you're gaming. Something without vocals is a good idea, since they can distract from the action.

6. When setting the scene, maps are useful, but adjectives are better. Pick out a few good ones in advance and avoid bursting into an over enthusiastic monologue. Two to three sentences for each setting is great. The maps are usually more useful for discussing and picturing the details of tactical decisions: minis on a dry erase board work really well for this too.

7. Your dice rolls are your own. You don't need to tell the players "roll a spot check." Just roll it yourself and if they fail they won't even know that they should be looking for something. It's also okay to fudge a roll every now and then for dramatic effect, just don't do it often, or obviously.

Mr Mystery
01-24-2015, 06:13 AM
For me? The fewer the rolls the better.

If as a player I outline an audacious plan, and have covered all the possible angles, don't force all the rolls. For instance, if I'm super stealthy, and have managed to sneak up on a guard, weapon in hand - there is nothing going to save his life. Perhaps a stealth roll to see how quietly I can kill him, but his death should be a given.

02-11-2015, 02:44 PM
3. Have a plan for every session, and never stick to it. Every time you sit down, someone will do some clever thing that you really, really didn't see coming. Usually, it doesn't totally derail your overarching plan for the session.
4. Let your players fail, and let them face the consequences. It's not fun when the sense of danger evaporates, and the final victory feels sweeter when there are some wounds to show for it.

on that note, or rather kind of opposite to the 4th point, don't let failed rolls get in the way of progress as you had planned it. recently had a session where pretty much every spot, research, investigation etcetera roll crapped out on us, which led to us wandering senselessly around in some backwater forest for hours real time - which kinda pissed of everyone involved. In those cases, there is a time when a GM should just say "eff the rolls, you find something regardless, or maybe something finds you".