Arnold's GMing advice (from Canon Puncture/Jadeclaw)

edited April 2012 in Play Advice
In Stuff to Watch, Matthijs asked if someone could give Arnold's GM tips in writing. I made some short notes while listening, so I'll share what I have. The notes are not complete and may be twisting what Arnold was really saying because I filtered it through my own experience etc. I hope someone can add/correct or maybe Arnold can pitch in himself.

In short:

-give them a survey asking "what have you been doing?", use what they write and remember

-use Fiasco relationships (quite literally) between NPCs - they're great because they're messy
-map out those relationships if PCs are staying in one place for longer
-Fiasco-style NPC Needs to complicate matters
-map stuff to at least two other things, if you can't why is it there?
-something about TSoY and scene keys I didn't really catch this
-have cards (or a list) with cool element that you want to introduce, then spring them at an opportune moment - don't plan, don't commit to outcomes, only elements (frex, you want them to see a monster - you don't care what the monster is doing, how they deal with it, if they deal with it, whatever, just pop in the monster)
-three major factions per town, each with its own agenda

-proto-NPCs, especially for games with tons of skills and crunch
-in task resolution-based games, the moment you don't understand intent, ask; why are they doing what they're doing
-make sure players are comfortable with questions (play for some time, let them ease in), least they turtle up
-Wick's "don't describe what he's wearing, tell me how he's dressed" maxim, don't say "he's wearing rich saffron robes with dozens of blah blah..." say "he's dressed like a scholar"
-"after dark", post game summaries of things the players may have missed, hooks for future sessions...describe what they have seen or heard, not what they did

-ask them to write down three things they care about on index cards, don't even specify what - characters, goals, objects, doesn't matter, just ask what they want


  • Thanks for writing this out!

    For the TSoY key scenes... I might have rambled a bit.
    What I meant:
    It's better to map out some scenes like "The players discover the Duke of Yin's army" or "Fen Chong gets separated from the group and discovers a secret treasury"

    "The players are captured by the Duke of Yin's army" or "Fen Chong totally finds some treasure and steals it without the other characters knowing it"

    That way you aren't pre-scripting what the players do. You are just setting up some things that you want to see happen.

    These examples don't have a sequence. Either one can happen first or last, and can be used whenever you need to spice up the story or drive things. When the players want the helm, give it to them. And when you want to drive, grab a Key Scene and frame it.

    Does that make more sense? It's kind of what you said in the next bullet point.

    Thanks to anyone who listened, and thanks in advance to anyone who can offer feedback. I'd love to hear what I could be doing to improve the game I'm running or the podcast.
  • When I saw this thread I thought it had to do with a rather more famous Arnold.
  • Posted By: timonkeyWhen I saw this thread I thought it had to do with a rather more famous Arnold.
    Say "What you talkin' about, Willis?" or roll dice?

    Say "Ja" or roll dice?
  • Named after him, believe it or not. My dad was a big fan.
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