New GM questions.

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Cerebrate64
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New GM questions.

Post Sat Oct 12, 2013 1:36 pm

I have never played a tabletop RPG before (been curious about D&D for awhile but not paying over a $100 for it) and I have some questions about the game.

1. How do I handle distances? Do I give specific numbers? (EX: The skeleton is 5 feet away) Or would tactical combat be better on a board?
2.How do you keep Hack and slash games interesting and not repetitive?

3. Can a character dodge or parry attacks? How would I do that?
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Jandolar
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:07 pm

1) Distances only really matter with ranged weapons and usually only come into play at extremes. (i.e. a character using a long bow wants to hit a fleeing horseman that is out at 200+ feet. In this instance a -2 to hit is applicable). Distances for ranged weapons are listed next to the weapon in the Charts & Tables booklet available here to download and is really handy for a new GM.

2) Very little of PnP D&D is hack and slash. There is a lot of description, intrigue, interaction between the PCs and NPCs and between the PCs themselves. You'll find the game is a lot more about fantasy social interaction and less about sword swinging.

3) I know in some of the new versions of D&D (3.0, 3.0 and 3.5 rules) there were/are optional skills like dodge, parry, etc. I haven't found them in the BFRPG sets and am thankful for it. When you take into account that AC is effected by character dex then you can kind of surmise that a missed attack by an NPC or monster could have been caused by the PC "dodging".

As a GM you can add in or take out any rules you like. If you want to add in an optional dodge skill you can. You could make it dex based, maybe add a % of points based on the dex modifier to it every level like the thief skills.

Dodge- Starting at 1st level a character with a dexterity score above (you can pick here) may add 5% points +/- dexterity modifier to a dodge skill. To use the skill a PC must roll a % equal too or below his/her skill %.

You can do the same thing with a parry skill but I'd make the parry skill use up an attack. That way you don't have a PC parrying attacks from multiple opponents and still swinging away when it's his/her turn.

Hope that helps.
Oypeen- 30/30 Hp AC 24
Rykken- 24/24 Hp AC 20
Hermia- 39/39 Hp AC 18/20
Giovanni-40/40 Hp AC 22
Ravoneth-35/35 Hp AC 18
Maephina-30/30 Hp AC 16/18
http://mapmatic.basicfantasy.org/index. ... &mapid=360
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SmootRK
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Sat Oct 12, 2013 4:31 pm

Cerebrate64 wrote:I have never played a tabletop RPG before (been curious about D&D for awhile but not paying over a $100 for it) and I have some questions about the game.

1. How do I handle distances? Do I give specific numbers? (EX: The skeleton is 5 feet away) Or would tactical combat be better on a board?
2.How do you keep Hack and slash games interesting and not repetitive?

3. Can a character dodge or parry attacks? How would I do that?
1. I don't really bother with distances (much like Jandolar mentions). I might say something like you close the distance to melee range, or if the foe is substantially quicker might say that "he moves away from you faster than you can make up the distance" etc. All very vague on purpose. Others like a more grid-like game, but I just prefer a more narrative and vague method where the GM simply guides a good action-packed description of events.

2. Good Descriptions. Instead of "roll to hit... 18! hit, roll damage", make a point to describe the situation. "Jandolar moves forward and swings his keen dagger at the bugbear (rolls 18). Jandolar successfully takes a swipe at the snarling humanoid, cutting a substantial gash across its midsection (4 damage)."

3. There is a mention of Defensive Movement on p.45 of the core rules. Solomoriah made the Combat Options Supplement where "defending" is one of those options:
Defending
The application of Armor Class assumes that the character tries to avoid each incoming attack, while still making attacks himself. However, there will be occasions when the character just wants to avoid being hit. The player must declare that the character is defending. This can be done regardless of Initiative, and is therefore a good choice when fighting unarmored and the Initiative is lost.

The defending character applies a bonus of +4 to AC. If the character is holding/using a specialized weapon, he or she may add the specialization "to hit" bonus to AC to reflect the additional parrying skill. Also, magic weapons usually confer the bonus to the AC of the defending character (as described under Two-Weapon Combat, above).
Also, I have a few other combat options listed in the combat section of my own house rules. You might find one or more of these helpful too:
Smoot House Rules Document.pdf
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JoeCarr28
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:04 am

Jandolar wrote:1) Distances only really matter with ranged weapons and usually only come into play at extremes.
Hmmm ... that's quite a sweeping generalisation. It's certainly one way to play the game. But, equally, it's perfectly possible to play the game with precise distances. In fact, with excellent and free tabletop software now readily available( e.g. Roll20, Maptool), it's never been easier and Basic Fantasy's rules hold up really well. If that skeleton's 30' away, and your movement rate is 20', that could be important right? (if, as a GM, you decide it is).

I'll shamelessly plug the "Combat with Floor Plans" supplement in the Showcase if your interested in a more tactical style of play.
Cerebrate64
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:40 am

Thanks for the replies, I realize those were dumb questions, but like I said I've never played tabletop rpgs before. Neither have my friends, and I don't want to handle anything in an unfair way.
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teluria
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Sun Oct 13, 2013 12:26 pm

I've been GMing for close to 30 years on and off, and I think Smoot gave you the best advice. Start by focusing on what you and your friends enjoy the most. Do you come into RPGs from World of Warcraft or another MMO? Or are you all boardgamers that thought RPGs would be fun to try for a change?

Play the game that's going to be the most fun!

The rules I play by are:
1) Is it fun and make the story better?
2) Is it fair? (Does it give an unfair advantage to one player or monster that will unbalance the game?)
3) If in doubt, see rule 1.

I see my main job as GM is to create an experience that will make my players look forward to the next session, because they had such a good time during this session and because they can't wait to see what happens next. The best compliment I've ever had from a player was them telling me "I wish we could play more often than once a week." Think of your favorite TV show. What made you keep coming back to see what happened next?

If you want to play more of a tactical game, learn the rules backward and forward, and figure you're going to do a lot more calculations and measuring etc than you will in doing a more story oriented game. Personally, if I was going to play that kind of game I'd just pull out HeroQuest, but your mileage may vary.
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Gold
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:15 am

Cerebrate64 wrote:Thanks for the replies, I realize those were dumb questions, but like I said I've never played tabletop rpgs before. Neither have my friends, and I don't want to handle anything in an unfair way.
That's a cool starting point. Remember and your players should remember, it's not the GM against the Players. It's everybody together making a collaborative adventure story.

You can play it with grids and precise positions, if you want. I don't recommend it. More fun is to play with a vague representation of the participants (like x's on a piece of paper, lacking precise scale), and do most of the positioning in your verbal descriptions and narratives.

If there is a question or uncertainty, players should ask questions and the GM should slow down and be descriptive. Example, Player: "Am I close enough to hit the skeleton?" GM: "You're just about 15 feet away, you would be able to run towards it and get in a hit this round. Do you want to try that?"

How do you know he was 15 feet away? It's in your imagination! Just remember that the GM has the imagination that controls the monsters and the setting. The players have the imagination to control their actions, and they also have their own mind's eye view of what the setting is looking like. They might envision something different than the GM. It comes back to what I said before. The players should ask questions, and describe what they think they are hearing-seeing from the GM. The GM should respond by describing, and let the players work with what you described, and realize that the players cannot or might not be "seeing" anything that you haven't said out loud, because players are not mind-readers.

So don't spring something on them that you didn't mention, like "Oh you step forward? There was a cliff there, but I didn't tell you about it, but it was there, so you fall off." If you messed up and forgot to tell them about the cliff, and they step forward, maybe you (the GM referee) should move the cliff back a little bit in your mind, and adjust the description "Suddenly you notice there is a cliff coming up ahead that you hadn't seen before this moment because you were distracted with the skeletons. Plus I forgot to tell you guys about that cliff before!"
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Solomoriah
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:47 am

I have a battlemat and a nearly complete set of Steve Jackson Games "Cardboard Heroes" figures (which are all more than 20 years old, including the mat) that I use for most combat situations. Some things don't work well with the battlemat, such as swarms of bats or insects, but overall I prefer it. Otherwise, even the most honest of players has an incentive to say, "oh, my character is on the other side of the room from the exploding chest" even though he or she couldn't have known in advance.
My personal site: www.gonnerman.org
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Jandolar
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:01 pm

JoeCarr28 wrote:
Jandolar wrote:1) Distances only really matter with ranged weapons and usually only come into play at extremes.
Hmmm ... that's quite a sweeping generalisation. It's certainly one way to play the game. But, equally, it's perfectly possible to play the game with precise distances. In fact, with excellent and free tabletop software now readily available( e.g. Roll20, Maptool),

"tabletop software"....... We might be talking about playing differing PnP RPG's here. I don't use software while DMing (GMing) a pen and paper game. We usually don't even use a lay out for character placement unless things get confusing. I honestly can't see the need for a software tool while gaming. It kind of takes away from the game if you have to stop and pull up info on your phone/laptop to let the PC's know what's going on doesn't it?
Oypeen- 30/30 Hp AC 24
Rykken- 24/24 Hp AC 20
Hermia- 39/39 Hp AC 18/20
Giovanni-40/40 Hp AC 22
Ravoneth-35/35 Hp AC 18
Maephina-30/30 Hp AC 16/18
http://mapmatic.basicfantasy.org/index. ... &mapid=360
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Hywaywolf
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Re: New GM questions.

Post Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:32 am

I think that some of us have so few opportunities to play actual face to face at a table that we always think "online game" when discussing gaming. I am assuming JoeCarr was thinking along those lines when he referenced software. I wish my default thinking always went to face to face gaming, but I too always think "online" when these questions come up.
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