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Aiolos Turin
TLDR: Anyone have tips for being a Gamemaster? I dont have any real experience being a Gamemaster, and the SR4 book doesnt help much at all.

Rest of me whining:
I've been a gamemaster for Legend of the Five Rings, Middle Earth, Earthdawn, and Shadowrun.
Most of this was in my Jr.High and early Highschool days. So mostly, all I did was have small fights.
In Legend o the Five Rings, it was so easy. Japanese style, a quiet world where people did not speak much, and one hell of a starting adventure provided in the Core Book. Still, after that amazing adventure (I love you L5R starter adventure!) all we ever did was fight off monsters, get ambushed by bandits, and fight in a war (all which were just lots of combat, and that's it.)
Earthdawn, I never got past character creation and getting out of the first town we started in. Our adventures consisted of "Bandits attack you!"

Here I am, 10 years later at age 23 and after many many years playing RPG's again. Shadowrun is the perfect world. I love modern fantasy, and the Sega game was one of the greatest games of all time. Ever since that game, I fell in love with the shadowrun world.
I wanted to start off small in shadowrun. Learn the basics, and slowly introduce one element of the game at a time. This made it easier for everyone to learn the rules. We started off with 1-2 of each stat and no skills as street children. This worked out great- for awhile. All we had planned was to get adopted by Stinky Pizzaman Luigi- who was a local pizza-rea owner. That was okay roleplaying, but then it ended. We ran around fighting gangers, and even had a vampire adventure. But there's just something lacking. It seems to just have went from "Bandits ambush you!" to "Gangers ambush you!" lol...

I play with my Nephew, and we are trying to give my best friend a third chance at running the shadows (He keeps on forcing me, the GM, to do everything for him. Make up his background story. Tell him where he came from. Why he is here. What his role is. Even what to say! This annoys me to no end and I ask myself "What is the difference between his character and me controlling an npc? Nothing. Time to kill off his character." not to mention half the time he will say he wants to play, and then will sit around with his computer playing PONG on ebaumsworld for 8 hours straight, ignoring us. I also have a huge problem- although I'm an extremely talkative and witty person, I am so very very drained right now. My imagination is not infinite, and it's just so hard to come up with conversation after conversation, and to come up with on-the-fly adventures- all for my own entertainment. GMing doesnt stress me- but it does become dull sometimes. The color, the roleplaying, the in-character quotes and movie-like plot are all but gone. Well... to be gone they'd have to be there, which they never really were.

My nephew and best friend are extremely quiet. They dont talk much. They are also both very passive people. They follow the leader in anything we do. Want to go somewhere? Sure tell us where. Want to play a game? Sure tell us what game. The bartender speaks up, "I havent seen you two round here, watcha buncha punks like you doin in a place like this? Wanna get ur face ripped off?" My best friend replies, "Uhhhhh.....MOIP MOIP MOIP!!!" and runs around in circles on the floor, three stooges style! Meanwhile... my nephew sits back, his arms crossed in silence behind the shadows (as he is a copy-personality of Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho, and rarely speaks unless it's very serious.)
We kindof pool-in as GM's to run the npc's. To an epic fail. Neither my nephew or my best friend ever do, and if they do- it tends to be retarded or entirely out of character and out of the gritty shadowrun world.

For instance, once my best friend's dwarf assaults the Pizzarea's customers, hitting them in the head with a lead pipe after just walking in- the Owner gets a sticky-glue (non-lethal) shotgun and blasts them all to the walls. Pissed off that random 14 year olds are attacking innocent customers, he starts yelling at them in a gritty, sour, pissed off voice. My best friend intervenes "I thought Stinky was happier and liked children." which led me to force a Redmond Barrens pizza shop owner to go from pissed off to "....but that was kinda FUNNY! hahahaha, you kids are all right!" This made absolutely NO sense. No one would ever act like that except bipolar nutjobs, which Stinky was not. Unfortunately, it's a huge struggle to satisfy this player. I had to give him bonus dice because he thought it was unfair that as a 14 year old dwarf with a rusty pipe, he was being beaten by a 40 year old ex-mafia veteran with a shotgun, just so he would stop complaining and not sink into a depression that he couldnt do anything about it. (Basically, I allowed him to disarm the shotgun the moment it hit him, which incapacitated him as happens, but give him the pleasure of actually doing something. We tried to incorporate him again, and his character had no name, no history, was a 200 year old ancient elf (hanging around 16 year olds) and he complained he couldnt stand up after taking 4S damage and cast a spell in the same round. I explained to him three times that a round is 3 seconds, and a simple action is 1.5 seconds. So he threatened me that he could PROVE it takes only a free action to get up off the ground prone, despite the fact I am half his weight and wiry and it takes me longer than 1.5 seconds (Simple action) to get up, let alone a free action. So its easier to just say "Sure, Stinky thinks you're hilarious." than to disagree and have him get upset about how the pizza owner is pissed off that he's assaulting his customers.

So although I really need and want EVERYONE to GM- my quiet nephew sits there waiting for me to tell the story, and my best friend's npcs run around in circles saying weird words like the three stooges, finding everything hilarious (but they arent always extremely high on Kamikaze or Deepweed, so it doesnt make sense in a gritty and serious world.)

So how should I handle this? Should I become GM solely and not ask or allow the other two to become NPC's? How do I do this without losing my mind? Being a GM I have to come up with an adventure, npc's, attitudes for the npc's, conversations for the npc's, and so much more- while handling all the other characters in our gang. To add on to this, we arent 400bp players, but closer to 300bp street gangers with nothing more advanced than an UZI or Shock Gloves. No vehicles, no matrix, no magic, but our characters are uneducated street fighters. Melee, pistols, uzi's. Too poor for vehicles, technology, or heavy firepower. We live in the Redmond Barrens- where gangs rule the neighborhoods, Corp presence is isolated, gangers, rapers, and ghouls run amuck, while government and police are non-existent. This severely limits the number of adventures. Even in combat, I'm having trouble adding in terrain and places to fight. My nephew confronts everyone he can face-to-face. The fights end up in the open street with little to nothing to duck behind, and fights ending extremely fast without any cover for the rain of ammo. This isn't bad, but is very mundane and simplified, and seems to just be about dice and not strategy. But even if I were to be the only GM, it doesnt help that my two players are very quiet and weird individuals in real life, let alone in game.

My imagination, adventure ideas- total BURNOUT! gamemaster experience? Little to none. No one to look up to or learn from either. I have no idea how ANYONE runs their games, Ive never had a GM. Ive taught myself everything, and I suck at GM. Help!
First off, find more players. It sounds like while you may have two players, they are more of the I want to be a passive part of the story part. You need at least 4 players to have a good shadow run (an opinion of mine, though I have had good sessions with less players). This is particularly true because of your players behavior.

For tips on being a GM, see what the players want out of it. It makes no sense to do an intrigue based story line when they just want to blow up stuff.

Know the rules, but keep the game moving. This means that if you aren't sure of a rule or they apply to a given situation, use your best judgement and move on. The GM screen is a nice reference for this.
For beginning runs just try thinking about a movie you liked that closely matches the theme you'd like to play. Then think about how you'd have had it unfold, what twists and turns and there you go! Its an adventure.

Oh and learn the basic rules...there will be questions and possibly tests.
Aiolos Turin
okay, thanks.

i'll ask them both what they want to get out of shadowrun, what type of stories, what type of adventures, etc. Hopefully I'll get a little more than "I dont really care, it's all good." lol...

Hopefully my older brother will move away from Iowa and come back home, he'd be a great addition to our rpg. I could also try to get my oldest brother and his wife involved, they might be willing to play.

It's a great idea to add more (ACTIVE) players. This also helps me lay down reality to the complaining player, as having other sane, realistic players support my decisions and explain why that person is ridiculous acting like a baby complaining, lol. People are more likely to suck it up and take it like a man in a bigger group. In a smaller one its easy to say "Well this suckz0r I quit!~!!!!111"

Thanks for the advice too. I was thinking of watching some gang vs gang movies to see what that's like.

Right now in the campaign, we're starting to make our own gang with a full cast of characters, and now refining our territory, equipment, and numbers. Once we become a real threat to the local gangs, we'll start competitions and eventually I plan to erupt it all in a massive gang war to end all gang wars, which (if everyone survives) will lead to the team splitting, the campaign ending, and time passing (thus flourishing into our 400bp characters, as this is kindof our "history" of our early teenage life and how we got started)
The Jake
Being a GM is often a thankless job.

Best advice I can offer is to take plenty of breaks (from GMing) and either have more than one GM or change systems/campaigns periodically to mix things up. If you are the only GM in your group, find additional groups to play with - even if it means playing online.


- J.
Wiggles Von Beerchuggin'
I have the opposite situation you do; nine players instead of two. As a first time GM, I've found that keeping tabs on everything your players are doing during downtime is difficult. My game uses to get around that - set up a campaign, add players, and let them talk to each other in between runs, and keep journals of their character's thoughts. This relegates most detail work like weapon acquisition, intricate backstory, and character improvement to our downtime during the week. That way, when the run starts there's little time wasted.

It also allows me to work their individual histories into the campaign easier. Our street sam just had a run-in with his nemesis, and is currently bed-ridden in a friendly organ legger's medical ward. The organ legger is a contact for our medic, who is a fallen man of God. He, in turn, may end up working with our melee combat troll, who uses bodies as inspiration for art (and sometimes for the art itself). Meanwhile, the eco-friendly pixie and free spirit are scoping out Aztec subsidiaries, possibly with the help of the corp-hating sasquatch. The sasquatch is looking for angel investors to start a front business, and has found one in the hallucinogen addicted sniper. The remaining two characters, a wolf spider shaman and an AI have radically different ideas on spending their time; the shaman is yearning for a visit from her totem, and the AI is attempting to become the leader of the group of "meats."

The only part of that happened during the run was the battle with the sam's nemesis. Everything else has been done either online, or possibly a mini-run done via texting. Weaving the stories together is hard, but intensely satisfying for me. We are three runs into the campaign, and they went from a complete cold group introduction (in which they were competing with each other on the run) to robbing a multi-corp safe deposit facility Ocean's 11 style. Without the character development and downtime stuff, I don't think it would have been possible.

As for being a first time GM, the street sam, AI, and spider shaman are all experienced GMs themselves. Their best advice to me? Lie to the players. Yeah, sometimes the dice and hard numbers say one thing, but in the grand scheme, the point is to have fun. For example, I rolled a full dodge for a helicopter avoiding acid being vomited at the rotors. It failed. I told the players the copter dodged successfully, because otherwise the fight with the nemesis inside would have been over barely after it began. Instead of the PCs handily destroying an enemy, they had a balls out HELL YEAH fight with him that nearly killed one and wounded several more. If I had followed the dice, it would have been boring.
Knowing your players, and knowing yourself. Sometimes a player will just be stubborn and not actually help your games along. Maybe your best friend might be cut out for RPGing and just doesn't really care. Maybe you should hang out with him and not RP with him. Sometimes a player will just wreck your sessions so keep your eye out and talk to the player and see if he/she will improve, and if not maybe it is just not meant to be.

More players help.

Setting a story, making things interesting (just about the hardest thing ever,) trying to draw the players into good RP, making NPCs 3D not just 2D stereotypes, forcing the characters into moral decisions, make sure your players won't just start playing pong or browsing the internet, sometimes switch it up and let a hopeful run a side mission or something interesting.

The most important part is try not to get bogged down. Getting bogged down in a system can really make things tough especially for the attention span of your players.
Yes, get new players. You can have bum players, but only if you have someone to help take the lead. Designing the plot and walking the PCs through the plot sucks. Remember to tie karma to how they advance the plot. Karma is your carrot. karma for backstories, karma for acting in character, karma for solving the plot. You don't do anything, you don't get any karma. That gets most players motivated to at least try.

Consider GMing online for a while. Things move slower, there are a ton of good players, and more good resources, allowing you to take your time and learn the ropes without a lot of stress.
That "Lie to the players" is a very good piece of advice, as long as you remember the golden rule of role playing.

Thou shall make the game fun for all involved

If something is required to happen to advance the plot, along with the players enjoyment of the game, then sure roll the dice but no matter what it will succed (or fail). Before you do it, ask yourself if this will make the game fun for the players. If so, then lie your lil arse off. If your not sure, well then let the dice decide.

Focus on NPC character rather then stats. Thinking about it, something like 60% of my written up NPCs don't have any stats (except maybe a compentance rating), with about 30% only have a few dice pools/stats of note. I only fully stat the key players (and then only if they will need stats). The big baddy, the best friend, etc. Instead I write something like the below for them (I use 3x5 cards, but whatever works for you)

First "Nick/street" Last Name, Sex, ethnic race (C: #) {note: ethnic race would be Hispanic Ork, etc}
Appearance: Height, weight, hair, eyes, tattoos, common cloths, trademark features, etc
Personality: Friendly, Outgoing, Pissy, Arsehat, etc
Likes/Dislikes: Elves +, Urban Brawl ++, Orks --, Trolls -, Redheads ++, Hiphop ---, etc
History: Born here, school there, family died in car wreak, bummed around for 2 years, Joined UCAS Army (did 2 tours), got out and went to work for Ares (Security), reassigned to Seattle, dating a elf (Kate, Irish redhead), etc.
Special: Anything special goes here. Fancy Eurocar WW3K, Chromed Pistol, Pimp Cane, likes other NPC, etc.
{Key Dice Pools/Stats/Skills if required}
Thats it. 7, possibly 8 little lines that if used will make the NPC very 3D. He wants to live damn it!

I also use my "Like'ya" index. It has a colum for each PC, plus one for them as a team. Each row has a major NPC (not always powerful, major as in important for the story) and group in the area. Ratings run from -6 to +6, as as in missions. Initial ratings for NPCs are a combination of a +d6 and -d6 roll (sometimes you just like or hate someone you meet), their Likes/Dislikes and how the PC was acting, along any social rolls. There are a bunch of little adder notes I use as well, such as Love, Lust, Hate, etc that can go up to 6.

So say Mr Johnson "A" think the team is hot shit for performing missions (high team rating), kinda like Face boy (low positive rating), hate Sammy Samsam but respect his deadliness (positive rating, low hate rating), think Mage girl is a hanus bitch but still want to bone the hell out of her (negative rating, lust rating), and not really care about the hacker (0 rating).

By combining these two and thinking of the NPCs as people instead of dice/targets/mooks, it brings the world to life better. That's why my characters have a corp'ers oldest daughter (college student at U of F) hanging with them during down time (kinda a group mascot, gun bunny taught her to shoot a pistol for self defense after they saved her from a kidnapping), the Adept has twins he is dealing with (one disliked him at first, now his girlfriend; the other has been in total LUST since first sight and scares him), and most of the groups fav fixer smiles and invites them to his parties, but gets an "Oh, hanus bitch is here" look on his face when the Matrix Specialist draws attention to herself.
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