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> Common mistakes that less-skilled GMs make, We`re not perfect either
Iota
post Dec 9 2008, 02:09 PM
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Ok folks,

I guess it is time to have a little reflection this time on mistakes a GM could make.

I experienced to crucial mistakes during GMing:

1. Cry for NPCs and enemies you created.
I always spend a lot of time creating the NPCs and enemies in my adventures. They have a background, a motivation, they are more than numbers. But the way my players prefer to play even the NPCs usually get killed. Sometimes I had really a hard time to let "my" characters get killed, but every afford to save them would up set my players. So the lesson I´ve learned: don`t cry. You know what your players are like, so don`t hate them for doing what they always do, just enjoy your cool NPCs and enemies and let them die.

2. If your group likes on particular style of playing (shooting a lot/ no shooting at all/riddles, etc.), give them what they like.
If you try to change them by giving them adventures which don`t fit their style, they will get frustrated and you will too. It`s a game, the only reason to play it is having fun and you`ll have the most fun if your players have fun.
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Wesley Street
post Dec 9 2008, 02:55 PM
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Mistakes I've made usually involve time wasted:

1. Spending an ungodly number of hours creating a professional-looking encounter map... that never gets used
2. Writing out the stats for every disposable NPC into some sort of form when looking at the module and using scratch paper for damage counters works just as well
3. Using dice instead of an online dice roller: http://www.otherrealm.net/sr/ (free plug for whoever did this)
4. Fleshing out PC's starting contacts to the nth degree instead of having just a general idea of who they are and what they know

and others:

5. Allowing non-gaming significant others to play as a favor to friends
6. Not getting enough sleep the night before
7. Spending too much time on flavor text and description
8. Paying too much nuyen for as adventure compensation and not issuing enough karmic rewards
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masterofm
post Dec 9 2008, 02:58 PM
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Why? Why did you do this? Why!? Didn't you see the pages and pages and pages of slog created on what a GM should or shouldn't be doing? This topic is just troll bait. Sorry if you want something productive out of it, but sadly enough it will slowly turn into something else.
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Wesley Street
post Dec 9 2008, 03:00 PM
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Trolls will attack any thread. I'm not going to duck out of interesting conversation because folk want to act like to be anonymous asshats.
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masterofm
post Dec 9 2008, 03:07 PM
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This topic has already been done though.... anyways the easiest thing is to make the game interesting.

The best results I had is when I threw in some flavor to every scene I painted. It didn't take much, but it provoked some good RP on the players side. Make things interesting I think is an easy way to make things fun. Throwing the occasional curve ball to the party never hurt either.
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Malachi
post Dec 9 2008, 03:12 PM
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Here's one:
Stonewalling reasonable player ideas simply because you hadn't prepared for it or that's not the way you "thought" the adventure would go.

This is especially frustrating if the players are in some sort of legwork/investigation type scene. The player's action seems reasonable and logical to them, even if it's off the mark a bit you (as GM) should be able to give some sort of clue/hint to steer them back on track.
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deek
post Dec 9 2008, 03:13 PM
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1) Thinking the players see the "easy solution" the the obstacle you put in front of them.

I've fallen into this trap a ton of times and the game usually comes to a halt because I feel like "my" solution is the only solution, whereas the group has actually come up with other solutions and sometimes better. In my years of experience, I have learned to check my ego at the door and let them be successful, even if it wasn't the way I had envisioned it.

2) Spending too much/too little time in prepartion

There is definitely a sweet spot here. I've never been one to spend hours upon hours statting NPCs up. I take tons of shortcuts, focus on just dice pools and maybe a handful of skills and equipment...so if they die, I haven't just flushed a ton of time down the drain. But on the flip side, not having anything statted and thinking I'll just work it on the fly...while I'm normally successful, encounters that I have done at least a little bit of forethought and planning on, runs so much smoother.

3) When running a pre-made, read it throughly one time, then a second and a third.

Pre-mades are the easiest adventures to fall into the trap of railroading your players. The solution I have successfully used it to read the hell out of it so you know it front to back and back to front. Make it your adventure and be ready for the players to find new and creative ways to interact with the pre-made. If you don't do this, you may put a stop to game time by not letting them pass an obstacle and 99% of the time, having really read and understood a pre-made, you'll be able to let the players achieve their success but still keep them on the path of the adventure you are running.
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Wesley Street
post Dec 9 2008, 03:15 PM
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To all: Consider using this thread as an opportunity for self-reflection. As a courtesy, I might suggest limiting criticism to errors that you've made as a GM and allowing others to learn from your mistakes rather than harping on other GMs you've played with. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/extinguish.gif)

Carry on! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Malachi
post Dec 9 2008, 03:22 PM
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QUOTE (deek @ Dec 9 2008, 11:13 AM) *
1) Thinking the players see the "easy solution" the the obstacle you put in front of them.

I've fallen into this trap a ton of times and the game usually comes to a halt because I feel like "my" solution is the only solution, whereas the group has actually come up with other solutions and sometimes better. In my years of experience, I have learned to check my ego at the door and let them be successful, even if it wasn't the way I had envisioned it.

Thumbs up deek, this is a really important one. It has taken me quite a while as a GM to really get comfortable with just designing an obstacle/challenge then letting the players find their own solution(s). I found it's actually more work than the old way of "design a problem and the only solution" but I think it results in more fun for the players.

If there are GM's out there that find this concept puzzling and/or want to see how I do things as a GM check out my "blog" about the development (and eventually the running) of my latest Shadowrun adventure: Three-Data Monty.
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Wesley Street
post Dec 9 2008, 03:23 PM
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QUOTE (deek @ Dec 9 2008, 10:13 AM) *
Thinking the players see the "easy solution" the the obstacle you put in front of them.

Amen. I think I've had to use one of my player's Common Sense positive trait a little too often lately.
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masterofm
post Dec 9 2008, 03:30 PM
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One of our GMs gave us the free knowledge trait - Shadowrunner knowledge r4 as a logic or intuition based knowledge skill. The reasoning behind that was you don't become a 400 bp runner w/o learning some life lessons (at least for the majority of runners.)

It allowed for some GM suggestions on how we should handle the situation. *players roll dice* GM: "So you are fairly certain that if you even attempted doing that you would all get creamed horribly considering what you are trying to take on."
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Fuchs
post Dec 9 2008, 03:51 PM
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QUOTE (masterofm @ Dec 9 2008, 04:30 PM) *
One of our GMs gave us the free knowledge trait - Shadowrunner knowledge r4 as a logic or intuition based knowledge skill. The reasoning behind that was you don't become a 400 bp runner w/o learning some life lessons (at least for the majority of runners.)

It allowed for some GM suggestions on how we should handle the situation. *players roll dice* GM: "So you are fairly certain that if you even attempted doing that you would all get creamed horribly considering what you are trying to take on."


Sounds like the "Common Sense" quality.
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Ryu
post Dec 9 2008, 04:02 PM
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QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Dec 9 2008, 04:15 PM) *
To all: Consider using this thread as an opportunity for self-reflection. As a courtesy, I might suggest limiting criticism to errors that you've made as a GM and allowing others to learn from your mistakes rather than harping on other GMs you've played with. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/extinguish.gif)

Carry on! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

I plead guilty on having too many factions in my games. If you want your players to figure out the inner workings of their environment, provide a clear focus on certain factions. Put a bit of out-of-character knowledge on the table, too. This one is related to deek´s "1) Thinking the players see the "easy solution" to the obstacle you put in front of them.". I shall strife to give them a fighting chance.
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BIG BAD BEESTE
post Dec 9 2008, 04:27 PM
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Oh yeah, ran there, datastole the T-shirt prototypes...

OK, the most important thing about making mistakes is that you should learn from them. To whit:

1: Be Fair in your decisions. If something works for one PC then it should work for another, or an NPC for that matter.

2: Always have a reason of hwy things happen. Never say "no" just because you can. Think about the situation logically and apply the knowledge based upon the perspective appropriate to PC, NPC or GM.

3: Guide your players, don't force them to go where you want them to. Manipulate them into going there and make them feel as if it had been their idea to do so all along.

4: You don't have to roll for every NPC action in a huge combat. Summarise and it'll save you hours of bored player expressions.

5: Detail your NPCs enough for their purpose. Basic stats for the generic cops or guards or gangers. More work required on individual NPC opponents or interesting characters. Flesh out the PC's contacts and identify with their personalities as these will be the most recurring ones you'll be using. Oh yeah, and always keep these for quick reference infuture games.

6: Avoid plonking a NPC God with the players. Playing second fiddle to the NPC who can shoot better than you, deck batter than your hacker, know more informtaion than the spirits and generally not really need you sucks. The players are suppossed to be the heros/stars of the show so give them the chance to shine.

7: Prepare yourself with the scenario but don't be afraid to ad lib when you get caught short. If you are familiar with the plot then you'll find that this comes a lot easier anyway, just remember to keep it logical and apply some common sense to avoid silly or unbelievable situations.

8: If the players come up with a decent plan, let them tray it. Likewise, if they persist in pursuing something stupid (after the hint "Are you sure you want to do that?" and outright look of incredulous disapproval when they reply "Yeah, why not?") don't be afraid to be efficient in showing them exactly "why not."

9: Keep personal grievances out of the game. If unable, walk away, take a break, time out, or remove the problem from your group environment.

and most importantly...

10: Talk to your players about their concerns and desires for the game. Listen to them and try to incorporate their ideas, but not necessarilly in the way that they think.
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Kev
post Dec 9 2008, 05:28 PM
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QUOTE (BIG BAD BEESTE @ Dec 9 2008, 11:27 AM) *
<cut> The players are suppossed to be the heros/stars of the show so give them the chance to shine.</cut>


I think this is important and sometimes gets lost on me when I GM. There are times when I lose sight of the fact that the players are supposed to be almost superhuman in a way - they're Shadowrunners after all! Sure, there are plenty of people WAY more powerful, smarter, and more equipped than they are, but Joe Security at the front desk isn't one of them.

But as a way of making it up to them, I love to give glorious descriptions of what the the players are doing when they DO succeed. Nothing makes a guy feel like a hero like a long, movie-esque description of just how awesome it was when they ran up that wall, grabbed the flagpole, and vaulted over to the other building's roof or whatever. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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Cain
post Dec 9 2008, 08:23 PM
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Letting your ego get in the way: This one covers a multitude of sins, but the biggest one is assuming that you know what's best, better than your players. Instead of fighting your players to deliver what you think is best, work with them to discover it together.

Railroading: We've all probably done this to a degree. We get such a fixed idea of where an adventure should go, we don't accept it when things go a different direction. So, we try, subtly and not-so-subtly, to get things "back on track". This leads to friction between the GM and players, as you try and force things to go one way, while they want to go another. See above for the solution: instead of fighting, work together.

GMPC's: Even if it's not a god NPC, having a personal character with the team is never a good idea. The game is supposed to be about the PC's, having your character save the day really takes the fun out of a game.

Those are just three that popped up off the top of my head. Give me a bit, I'm sure I can come up with more.
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deek
post Dec 9 2008, 08:57 PM
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I don't know what its called, but in my mind, its the opposite of railroading. I think I did this my last adventure in our last campaign and it really opened my eyes. Basically, I outlined a job and left it completely open to the players to plan out the way they would succeed. At every step of the way, I simply gave them more options, any of which would work. All I really wanted them to do was pick a way to do it, as a team, and execute it together...

Well, it turned out that no one liked anyone else's idea, even though each player came up with one that would work. I completely let the players drive their success and it ended up ending the campaign because everyone got burnt out with, for what I could determine, complete lack of guidance by me.

So, while extreme railroading is a pretty common mistake (especially for those of us not having run games for a long time), giving the players total freedom and not attempting to guide them to a common goal generates it fair share of problems, especially if the GM is prepared to bring them all back into the game.
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Shadow
post Dec 9 2008, 08:58 PM
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1. Not being confident enough in your game.

Your the GM, your in charge, don't let the players run all over you. There is a reason why Ship's only have one Captain, and they are second only to god. Committee's don't get anything done. So know what your game is about, know the rules or know where to find them, and keep the game focused on the story.


2. Letting players act like they are in charge.

Lot's of players like to boss the GM around, or try to. Either with rules or with "pseudo-facts" about science. It's your game, your story, don't railroad them, but don't let them do whatever the hell they want, this leads to anarchy. If all else fails remember that the goal is to tell a story together so that everyone has fun. Often times the anarchist pseudo-scientist are just one person.

3. Rules Discussion during the game.

Your the GM, your in charge, don't get bogged down in an argument with a rules lawyer in the game. It kills the mood and possibly ends the session. Instead make a decision right then and there, but caveat that you are willing to discuss it after the game and reach a better long term solution.

4. Be Fair.

When you make a rule keep it consistent from week to week. Try not to make so many house rules that you need a whole other book. If you do make a house ruling keep track of it so that when the situation arises again you can apply the same solution.


5. The Rules

The players are bound by the rules. They must roll certain dice for certain things, and they cannot fudge their dice or cheat. The GM is not so constrained. If your in the first round of the fire fight and you roll ten 6's on your first shot, ending the PC mages life, fudge the roll, change the ammo to chem rounds, or stun rounds. Do whatever you need to do behind the scenes to tell a fun, exciting dramatic story. Does that mean ignore the rules for your own purposes, yes and no. Use your discretion, you have to keep the atmosphere consistant so the PC's don't feel like the universe is meaningless. So use this rule sparingly, but don't be afraid to use it.


6. Every game is different

Know your players and what they like. If they just want to shoot things up every week then craft your stories so they get to do just that. Remember though, that sort of thing gets old even to people who like it, so keep it interesting. I have never had a group that had every single one of the players like the same kind of game. So change your stories around so that each player gets to be the hero in the kind of story he or she likes.
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HappyDaze
post Dec 9 2008, 09:32 PM
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QUOTE
The players are bound by the rules. They must roll certain dice for certain things, and they cannot fudge their dice or cheat. The GM is not so constrained.

This, IMO, is the worst advice ever. As a GM, I roll everything in the open and roll with the way the dice land - just like the players. Sometimes the PCs pull off things they never expected to be able to do and sometimes they become meaningless fatalities in an uncaring world - but I feel that it fits the SR world I want to play in better than fudging (which typically results in a more 'cinematic' game by some people's accounts). I won't run or play any other way. Dice rolls behind screens are poor play.
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ahammer
post Dec 10 2008, 12:42 AM
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QUOTE (HappyDaze @ Dec 9 2008, 02:32 PM) *
This, IMO, is the worst advice ever. As a GM, I roll everything in the open and roll with the way the dice land - just like the players. Sometimes the PCs pull off things they never expected to be able to do and sometimes they become meaningless fatalities in an uncaring world - but I feel that it fits the SR world I want to play in better than fudging (which typically results in a more 'cinematic' game by some people's accounts). I won't run or play any other way. Dice rolls behind screens are poor play.



this is how I play all rpgs. I like letting the player know they made the outcome happen and that the dice could have made them fail. if you kill the dragon becuse the gm fudged the dice it just no fun or said a diffrent way "without risk this is no reward".

only thing I keep from players is roles they would not know about ie spot ck and random rolls to no let them know when they are doing spot cks.
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Shadow
post Dec 10 2008, 01:36 AM
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I didn't say fudge the players dice so they win, I said fudge your own dice.

Let me give you an example.

Player group has spent 2 gaming sessions creating their story and working on their characters. They start the run and do everything right. Inevitably it hits the fan and things go south (cause the game ain't fun if everything goes right). Player A (who has spent hours and hours working on his back story) is the unlucky guy who gets a bad roll on his surprise test and is hit in a hail of gunfire. Sure you can kill him and laugh, lord it over the other PC's and say "See, don't FRAG with me," or you can think to yourself, he will learn a lesson from this, be a better player, and the whole game won't be ruined because his PC bit it in the first exchange.

Now if your one of the GM's who says "come what may" great, but that is NOT the advice given in the BBB, just so you know. And to be honest, unless your group really like utter realism (and rolling new characters every week) not the best way to GM.
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Malachi
post Dec 10 2008, 01:59 AM
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QUOTE (Shadow @ Dec 9 2008, 04:58 PM) *
1. Not being confident enough in your game.

Your the GM, your in charge, don't let the players run all over you. There is a reason why Ship's only have one Captain, and they are second only to god. Committee's don't get anything done. So know what your game is about, know the rules or know where to find them, and keep the game focused on the story.


2. Letting players act like they are in charge.

Lot's of players like to boss the GM around, or try to. Either with rules or with "pseudo-facts" about science. It's your game, your story, don't railroad them, but don't let them do whatever the hell they want, this leads to anarchy. If all else fails remember that the goal is to tell a story together so that everyone has fun. Often times the anarchist pseudo-scientist are just one person.

I await the coming of the "collaborative GM style" crowd...

Incidentally I have had characters of mine killed due to just "bad luck" on my part and I never enjoyed it.
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ahammer
post Dec 10 2008, 02:00 AM
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QUOTE (Shadow @ Dec 9 2008, 06:36 PM) *
I didn't say fudge the players dice so they win, I said fudge your own dice.

Let me give you an example.

Player group has spent 2 gaming sessions creating their story and working on their characters. They start the run and do everything right. Inevitably it hits the fan and things go south (cause the game ain't fun if everything goes right). Player A (who has spent hours and hours working on his back story) is the unlucky guy who gets a bad roll on his surprise test and is hit in a hail of gunfire. Sure you can kill him and laugh, lord it over the other PC's and say "See, don't FRAG with me," or you can think to yourself, he will learn a lesson from this, be a better player, and the whole game won't be ruined because his PC bit it in the first exchange.

Now if your one of the GM's who says "come what may" great, but that is NOT the advice given in the BBB, just so you know. And to be honest, unless your group really like utter realism (and rolling new characters every week) not the best way to GM.


btw I was talking about the gm dice also.

real cuz it seem to me that the BBB has rules to make it so if the dice hate you for a day you still get to keep you charater.
(burning edge - see page 64 sr4)

trust me will I till you if you know that the gm would kill you if the dice fall that way(not that as a gm I try to kill them that save for hackmaster. ) and when you get out of a run gone bad you feel like a bad ass. this to me counter acts the sucking when you die and we all know it does(this is said for the gm and player in this case so no lording it over anyone).
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evilgoattea
post Dec 10 2008, 02:07 AM
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QUOTE (Shadow @ Dec 10 2008, 02:36 AM) *
I didn't say fudge the players dice so they win, I said fudge your own dice.

Let me give you an example.

Player group has spent 2 gaming sessions creating their story and working on their characters. They start the run and do everything right. Inevitably it hits the fan and things go south (cause the game ain't fun if everything goes right). Player A (who has spent hours and hours working on his back story) is the unlucky guy who gets a bad roll on his surprise test and is hit in a hail of gunfire. Sure you can kill him and laugh, lord it over the other PC's and say "See, don't FRAG with me," or you can think to yourself, he will learn a lesson from this, be a better player, and the whole game won't be ruined because his PC bit it in the first exchange.

Now if your one of the GM's who says "come what may" great, but that is NOT the advice given in the BBB, just so you know. And to be honest, unless your group really like utter realism (and rolling new characters every week) not the best way to GM.


I see what you are saying but the RAW account for something like this happening...the player can burn a point of edge and survive. On the same token if you make a intricate prime runner villian that a player crits and rolls 100 successes against burn an edge and they live to return...somehow.
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Platinum Dragon
post Dec 10 2008, 02:10 AM
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Fudging dice is fine, just don't be obvious about it, and save it for special occasions.
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