Talmor
 member, 4 posts
Fri 8 Mar 2019
at 23:27
Been a long time, now I want to GM
I joined here a LONG time ago, and now I'm thinking of starting up a game of my own. But I honestly have no idea where to start. Is there anything along the lines of "so, you lost your mind and decided to try and run a PbP game?"

I mean, I'm looking for just about everything.

1) Tips on how to prep a game
2) Tips on recruitment
3) How to best use the features of this site
4) Tips on how to run the game that makes it interesting and engaging for not only the players, but the GM as well.
5) Technical advice
6) How to handle various issues that are likely to pop up.
7) All the various things that I didn't even know to ask.

Thanks everyone!
icosahedron152
 member, 933 posts
Sat 9 Mar 2019
at 02:35
Been a long time, now I want to GM
1. Prepping a game here is the same as tabletop - do a lot of it. The PbP format is slower that FtF, so itís easier to think on the fly, but your players can think on the fly, too, and maybe trip you up. Organize your thinking, and use Notices to inform your players (and remind yourself) about important matters. Remember that the Game Maps feature can be used for illustration images and screen grabs of information, as well as maps.

2. Recruitment depends on your genre. Run something like D&D, and recruitment is a process of finding time to read all the RTJs and weeding the wheat from the chaff. Run something like historical romance, and recruitment is about wording your ad to persuade someone, anyone, to send a RTJ.

3. The site has a lot of features. How best to use them for your game is probably something to ask specific questions about in the Proposals and Advice forum. It would be difficult to generalize. Something like ďWhatís the best way to do X?Ē will probably get you the answers you need. Make good use of the character sheet, the Cast List description, and the Scratchpad. Unused groups (Group X, perhaps) can be used to make copious GM-only notes. A hidden gem is that you can hide characters, so that they donít show up on the Cast List. That way, you can prep characters that the players donít even know exist.
You could also use the Game Search feature to see if anyone just happens to have created a game/discussion group for GM advice and self-help...

4. Ah, the Goldilocks Formula. Let us all know if you figure this one out. :)

5. Technical advice such as?

6. Issues in games generally fall into two categories: Stuff that could have been fixed with better planning (see #1 above), for which the solution is often - talk to your players and work something out - and interpersonal stuff, for which the solution is generally - donít be an apple, and donít let your players be an apple.

7. AOB covers a lot in GMing. One thing you might try, if youíre a real rookie GM, is to work as a co-GM with someone more experienced. That will let you learn the ropes and see behind the GM Screen, but will give you a shoulder to lean on as you go.

Hope that helps. :)
Raddek
 member, 10 posts
Sat 16 Mar 2019
at 21:30
Been a long time, now I want to GM
Concur with all that Icosahedron said.

1.  Do a lot of prep.  Then do more.  You have as much time as you want to before you open the game to players to set your stage, come up with your plot lines, create your characters, etc.  Once the characters start playing all of the time you spend on the admin is time taken away from the story.  Not that you won't have to do it, but the more you have set in place the easier things are going to be on you.  Using modules is probably the easiest way to start a game, though this doesn't really absolve you of having to do prep work, because you'll still have to build the area and put in personal touches, create and develop NPCs, etc.  I personally find one of the best things to do is to really flesh out my NPCs such that I can play them as if they were a PC if needed.  That helps you figure out how they would react if the PC's do something crazy.

2.  Recruiting is probably easiest on the Wanted: Players forum, though there are many "games" that are run as communities for specific systems and whatnot.  Those will allow you to target the players that you are specifically looking for.

4.  The experience I have in this area tells me this:  The players will never do exactly what you want them to, nor what you think they will do.  Don't try and force them.  This is part of the reason that 1. above is important.  You need to have enough background set up so that you can be flexible when the players unknowningly sidestep your whole adventure and get caught up on a shiny object.  I find that if you try and strong-arm the players, they quickly get disgruntled and uninterested in the game.

6.  Fistly, know that players are going to be slow at times and some are going to drop.  If you are anything like me, it's going to be a hit to the ego.  Don't let it get to you or put it back on the players.  If someone has been gone for weeks without explanation, don't feel bad about dropping them.  Recruit for more, and don't be surprised if it's hard to get a good fit after things have been kicked off.  Above all, don't let one person slow things down to a crawl/stop.  You'll find that before long everyone is quitting.  If you avoid all of this, you are doing well above average for a first time.

This message was last edited by the user at 21:31, Sat 16 Mar.

DarkLightHitomi
 member, 1484 posts
Sun 24 Mar 2019
at 01:25
Been a long time, now I want to GM
I actually disagree with doing lots of prep. Basically have a premise of what the bad guy is trying to do, what obstacles he faces in doing it, and why he has to bug the PCs about it. Do not have a planned plot.

Also, read lots of the Alexandrian, especially his series about prepping situations, not plots.

Thirdly, RPG is a broad term now-a-days as to be useless. Even just a single system can be used in a variety of ways that can be completely contradictory. Know what kind of experience you are going for, make it clear in your ads and game info, and do not try to hit something in the middle of different types of experiences. Save that for when you are better experienced at GMing. For example, if going for a more gamist style of defeating encounters, then play it like a video game of "dialogue cutscenes" going straight to encounters with narration on going back and forth, and keep such "cutscenes" to the story. On the other side of the map, for a more in-depth player choice focused game, give detailed descriptions, use plenty of red herrings so players never notice a Chekhov's Gun, and make the enemies and npcs act and react like real people instead of being stupid idiots that run in for the sake of dying.

Also, read Tuckers Kobolds for how to run encounters. The idea of all encounters being level appropriate is a dumb one that was never intended to be part of the game (seriously, the 3.x d20 rulebooks state as much), and it really limits your options to keep everything at an "appropriate level."
horus
 member, 662 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Mon 25 Mar 2019
at 04:39
Been a long time, now I want to GM
Everyone has given some great advice!  (That's one of the things I love about this place.)

Have you ever GMed across a game table?  If so, that experience will stand you in good stead, but, as some here have noted, the pace in play-by-post is generally slower than across a tabletop.

I'm a plodding amateur as a GM, but I've learned a good bit about the GM's tools here on RPoL, so if there is anything specific that you need to know tool-wise, then ask away.

From a GM's perspective, I like games that are well organized.  I hate spending time looking for stuff, so I try my best to organize the topics to suit how I think.

Something that really helped me when I first got started was being allowed to lurk in a game similar to one I wanted to run.  It gave me a real "bug's eye view" of how the game was put together, and allowed me to see the various interactions as the game progressed.  The GM was a really fine fellow and didn't mind me asking questions in PM about how he did such-and-such a scene, etc.

Some resources you will probably want to acquire as you go forward:  sooner or later you'll want to host documents like PDFs or spreadsheets or images.  I use Google Drive extensively for this, but it doesn't work well with images on RPoL for some reason.  Line up an account with a service like imgur, Dropbox, etc., for storing stuff you can't host here.

Visit Heaven - Gaming Resources when you go in search of RPoL-friendly character sheets and forms.  If you don't see what you need there, ask.  Some of us have some facility with forms made for RPoL and can help you get started.

Bookmark your Game Ads! (the ones in Wanted - Players)  This will make them easier to find down the road when you need to change them (e.g., if a game of yours becomes popular enough you are no longer needing new players...)  I generally copy the links to these in the scratchpad of the game.  (After you learn how, you can transform the copied link address into an actual link...)

Everything you need to know about BBCode or HTML you can find out in the Running a Game and RuBB Code sections of the Help.  Take it in small chunks.

Learn how to use Private Lines early on - these can add so much to a game in terms of what you want individual characters or small subgroups to know that others don't.  They are indispensable if your game has a lot of intrigue.