When I was starting to run RPG as GM back in the high-school, I was pretty much on my own to figure things out. All I’ve had was a few stories from an old buddy and a couple of friends eager to try playing. Now, we, the Game Masters, have a great comfort of having tons of blogs, vlogs, forums, and groups about GMing and running RPGs, as well as actual play podcasts and streams. Today I’d like to hint at a few people that I refer to most often when looking for a solution to a particular problem. They help me greatly when I want to be a better GM.
It's great having you here! I'm Andrzej and it's my place for sharing the hobby of tabletop RPG games, mainly from the GM perspective. If you are new to them and think about starting as a Game Master, you'll find plenty of my first-hand learning experience and hopefully some useful tips here. And if you're interested in some inspirations or session reports for your games, there's that too.
The company of aspiring ruin pillagers sets out under Grulf the Ailander. The challenging mountains of the Thynde Range are closing in above the horizon. Thus, the central part of most sandbox games begins — the exploration. I love how the Forbidden Lands mechanics really bring that out. And with just a few additions of my own, it quickly became the primary plot-driver.
The bodies lying on the ground, the groove around you, the long evening shades… – this whole situation suddenly seemed familiar to you. For a few heartbeats, you’re standing motionless, your thoughts whirling in an elusive feeling of danger. Something is… Caw! Caw! – the rook’s cry above reminds you of your dream. You turn to the way you’ve come, feeling icy sweat at the recollection of that scene. Soon, in just an instant, from around the creek’s turn, a hooded rider will burst out. In the falling silence, you subconsciously wait to hear the sound of hooves. I had learned the hard lesson on mingling physical dangers to the characters with puzzles and hints for the players. For the start of our next RPG session, I wrote one of my best notes ever. The above is the first excerpt.
When Mara, Hrod, and Bruni descended from the foothills of Thynde Range, they saw a welcoming sight of a more civilized region. In the distance, smoke from the chimneys rose, and crop fields and pastures appeared after a short while. They were nearing the Hollows – a pre-made module I was about to integrate into my sandbox RPG campaign. However, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t approach this creatively.
An eerie fog rises around as a little hamlet somewhere in the Noman-lands holds breath, preparing to defend against bandit raiders. From the mist, only one person emerges, speaking riddles. The tension is high, and everyone wonders what to make out of this. Or I supposed they would because the players seem not interested in the puzzles at all. What should GM do when the players ignore the plot hook?
Bruni – the dwarven lush and fencer, Mara – an itinerary tradeswoman, and Hrod – a golden-hearted goblin scoundrel – are on their way. From? Where to? I asked myself the same questions as we sat at the table for our first session. But in our sandbox game, it wasn’t me to answer them – I just had to make sense of what the random dice rolls would say. What was it?