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I don't know anything about Paranoia so I don't know if my process would work in that sort of campaign. Essentially when I run a campaign I prefer it to be more task oriented. The last one I ran was for a system called Dogs in the Vineyard, and the players were essentially priests that traveled the country side stopping at villages and destroying demons/corruption that they found there. The nice thing about it was I could just make a town without worrying about story, and let the players interact with the town as they see fit.

I think a problem with a lot of newer GM's is they go for the "cut scenes". IOW, they have this vision of this really cool scene and they try to maneuver the players into. The problem is the scene is not nearly as cool for the players as it is in the mind of the GM. Also you find yourself twisting and turning trying to get the players to that scene, even if they are resisting. It leads to a less than optimal experience. That is why I prefer to just have the environment and the NPC's with their own minds, goals and desires. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be any cut scenes, but the cut scenes should come about organically as moments of inspiration brought on by the actions of the players, not planned out ahead of time.

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I'm into RPG, too.

Maybe posting some of my experience both as player and storyteller/dungeon master later.

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Ken -sounds like a very cool campaign to play in. Ours, Baywatch and all, was basically the same theme, but with time and dimensional travel. And nukes.

Ken has a very good point, that you can't lead players to where you want them to go constantly, it just isn't that fun, usually. An example of "cut-scene" from our campaign was the bit with Mephistopholes - it wasn't. But it set up a cut scene months later, between an npc and a player, and the final climax of that arc.

In between, we did nearly everything but what we were "supposed" to -but we still got to the climax, because the gm had points he wanted to hit, but let us wander into them, rather than following a map.

Baywatch characters got used, because he loved the show, sigh, and because it gave him a cast of easily distinct characters to build on. He stole from books, songs, movies...to get a theme or scene, or setting, and then adapted that to the story we were in.

As a gm, Tom is a firm believer in "the story is the thing". So, he'll cheat to keep it going, allowing loopholes or fudging results, sometimes, to prevent a disaster ruining it all for everyone.

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Could people who have GMed original campaigns talk a little about their planning process? I've been discussing my idea for a Paranoia campaign with Schneeble and we've got a lot of it fleshed out in broad strokes, and I'm well pleased with its ridiculousness, but I've never written a campaign before and I've got no idea where to begin at a nuts and bolts level.

I follow one of two principles:

1) Plan in-depth, with regular reference to the rulebooks and perhaps seeking advice online about the campaign and its components. Take advice from fellow GMs on if an adventure is too hard or not. Spend 3-5 hours planning for each evening of the campaign, taking account of all possible variables. Come up with in-depth backstories for all major and most minor NPCs.

2) Wing it.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. 2) is generally only possible if you've been DMing for a while in a system you are really happy and familiar with, though :)

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Not sure if we had any fans here of the independent RPG Riddle Of Steel, but the guys who made it just released a new game called Blade of the Iron Throne. It takes a lot from Riddle but adds some new things. It's available for free download but you have to register on the site to download it. Here is the URL:http://www.ironthronepublishing.com

I'm planning on running a Blade adventure at a local gaming convention in March so if anyone plays it before then let me know how it goes.

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I'm a big fan of the "wing-it" philosophy. In my view, an RPG is a cooperative effort, not one in which the GM labors to provide entertainment for the players. One of the best GMing experiences I ever had was with a group of very competent, active players who were eager not only to engage with the beginning I provided, but to make a story of their own. I spent a good deal of time just watching them interact, which was great fun!

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Oh, I missed Ini's request for advice from people who've run a bunch of games...

I like to wing it within an incredibly fleshed out setting. I typically will generate a list of NPCs and their powers, motivations, etc, going into more detail for the more important characters. I draw a distinction between "setting" characters -- characters who inhabit the setting across multiple campaigns -- and "campaign" characters, who may just be moving through the setting as part of the plot. Since I run primarily White Wolf Mage and Vampire, I've created a few campaign settings -- Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, basically the cities I know best. I've got a lot of intellectual capital built up in my three World of Darkness cities, and so I am pretty familiar with them and can roll with it pretty easily if the characters decide to do anything unexpected.

With my cities well fleshed out, I create a plot for each campaign. Usually the plot is born out of a mix of whatever interests me and elements that will tie in to the background of my PCs. So, for example, I had a Mage campaign set in Los Angeles. I wanted to run something involving the infamous corrupted Helekar House of the Euthanatos. Among my players' characters, we had a Euthanatos and an Akashic Brother. So I started weaving plot threads from the Helekar House stuff into the backgrounds of the characters. I absolutely try to build this in during character creation. I am all about steering my players in a particular direction if I think it'll serve the plot. "Oh yeah, it would really help me if you took the Twisted Upbringing flaw." Or "Hey, if you spend an extra dot on Mentor your mentor can be this really bad-ass archmage..." who may well be tied in to Helekar House.

There's a lot of overhead when I run a game, but because I've developed my settings, it doesn't take much now except coming up with a new plot that I want to hook into my chosen setting. And players have surprised me enough that I've given up trying to script a session. Sometimes they accomplish something in one session that I'd expected to take three. Or sometimes they spend so much time noodling around side stuff that I have to nudge them in a direction. But as long as I have a good handle on the ins and outs of my setting and campaign world, I can roll with whatever the players throw at me.

Man, I want to plot out another Mage game now.

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Does anyone remember a West End game from the 80's called The Price of Freedom? It was set in an America which had been occupied by the USSR and the PCs were guerrillas resisting the invasion. I still recall that one of the pre-generated characters was essentially a Bruce Springsteen analogue. This was a wet dream for us little Cold Warriors who loved Red Dawn, bought survivalist books and magazines, ate up Tom Clancy, etc. I ran a very open-ended campaign which turned into a mixed blessing - my guys had trouble adjusting to the sandbox nature of the campaign at first but eventually I found ways to guide them without railroading.

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Ini, man I don't know. I don't think there is a way to "plan out" a Paranoia campaign other than with broad strokes.

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I have the core books for about a dozen different RPG systems. Almost all are from my big RPG interest back in the early '80s, but last year I did buy the Pathfinder core book, and the core set for War Hammer role play 3rd Ed. I like to keep aware of modern RPG design.

I am a mature/serious player and would be interested in an online campaign if there is a method allowing tactical combat and a minimum of hassle. Ineterested in SF, horror or fantasy. Not so much cyberpunk or steam punk.

Edited by ShowOverBooks

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Werthead mentioning the second spiritual sequel to Torment got me to the Numenera website.

Monte Cooke raised $500,000 for this so it has already generated a lot of interest. Science-fantasy is a strange beast, not sure it is my cup of tea but as a collector of RPG campaigns the art heavy book will likely find its way to my shelf.

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@DanteGabriel and anyone else who played Mage the Ascension:

Did they ever explain what the Euthanos idea of Ascension was?

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this thread has filled me with lament.

why?

one of my absolute favorite settings of all time was dark sun.

over the years, via original buys, ebay and trades i owned every single original dark sun product. from the original box set, to the novels to the minis, i had it all. hell, my box set was signed by the artist brom.

in the midst of moving out of the former marital abode i was distraught, broken and listless. i cared so little about anything. i threw all of these things away. i did not even have the mind to give them to someone who would want them. i threw them away.

what a buffoon.

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in the midst of moving out of the former marital abode i was distraught, broken and listless. i cared so little about anything. i threw all of these things away. i did not even have the mind to give them to someone who would want them. i threw them away.

Ach!

Actually, my partner saved me from a similar fate. When I moved in with him, I was prepared to give away the load of 2nd Edition AD&D stuff I owned...and I owned a bunch. He's not a particular guy but that time he put his foot down, and today I am quite glad he did.

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@DanteGabriel and anyone else who played Mage the Ascension:

Did they ever explain what the Euthanos idea of Ascension was?

I doubt it was ever very unified -- "every Mage has a unique Paradigm" blah blah blah... But if the stereotypical Euthanatos paradigm was based on Hindu beliefs, then I suppose Ascending would be... Nirvana? I can go poking through my sourcebooks and see if it is addressed.

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We still do a weekly 3.5 D & D every week. One realm that we have jumped around in and done different characters and perspectives. Everything from Epic heros, a theives guild, settlers, we have gotten quite the fleshed out story after 4 years :)

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I doubt it was ever very unified -- "every Mage has a unique Paradigm" blah blah blah... But if the stereotypical Euthanatos paradigm was based on Hindu beliefs, then I suppose Ascending would be... Nirvana? I can go poking through my sourcebooks and see if it is addressed.

I remember asking on the mage mailing list and even discussing it online with the guy who claimed to have played Dudley on Royal Tenenbaums strangely enough.

I don't know if it was ever addressed. The Nirvana thing seems like the Akashic Bros Ascension IIRC.

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I love table top rpg's. Been doing them since I was 16( 19 now). Played with basically the same group every time. We did a Star Wars rpg where we switched who was GM each time. (it was just for fun, no real story.) Then we did Dragon Age for a long time with still no story. We recently just started a serious campaign with Dragon Age (my older bro is GM), and loving it. We are also doing a serious campaign where I'm the GM with AsoiaF table top rpg; and gotta say, it's hard GMing. Lol. We are also starting a Mutants and Masterminds game where my friend is GMing.

It just sucks trying to get everybody together. We all have different schedules. One person works a lot with night classes because his work is understaffed. My bro has a part time job where he works opposite times as me. I have school and part time, and a friend who works all evenings. So its hard trying to manage everybody and do 3 rpg's.

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