Anyone ever try this as a GM ? (question about room setup)


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


First let me just put this out there, Im brand new to Pathfinder and aside from screwing around with the old "red box" set by TSR back in the day, i have no formal experience playing the game. But am self teaching myself at the moment.

On to my question, i was reading about how GM's can do things like add music, coins, etc to the game to enhance play. so one of the first things that pops into my head (as a total newb to this game) is this:

(I understand this isnt the most practical idea, but just wondering if there is any reason why this wouldnt work, AND it might really mess things up for those who want to actually roleplay their characters. im just thinking outside the box, to me at least)

*** Could you put the GM in his own room (like a small closet with plenty of space for all materials. hook up some speakers around the room and play them in 5 or 7 channel stereo for the eerie music. use a mic and run the GM's voice over another set of speakers (so no interruption on music). maybe connect some multi colored lights that would focus in on each area, and give the GM a board with color coordinated buttons to shine on a single player to get his attention, or for some other purpose in the game, maybe even a strobe focused on a player? maybe dum, dunno.

essentially i just had an image in my head that the GMs voice could seem a bit more "godly" over speakers and a small system that was dialed in to sound good. players wouldnt even see the GM, maybe be in another room behind some mirror glass so he can see everything, but they cant see him.

would any of this even work? anyone ever try this? do any of the experienced players think this could somehow help the expereice if you wernt playing the game to "roleplay" so to speak? just storytell?

any input would be appreciated, just trying to think of other ways to make the experience better, but being a newb, i have no idea how this would actually affect the gameplay.

thanks in advance.

*Edit to change title of post*


Could be fun, but it also sounds like a ton of work.


Maybe see if there is a good voice changer around? change the GM's voice a bit?

i have a feeling im thinking crazily...

Lantern Lodge

Alternately, in this tech-savvy world, if everyone has a laptop, tablet, etc, you could have a messenger up for the individual players, while playing at the table, but prepping the materials-- assuming you want something to display-- may take a bit.

Ooh.. voice changer... if it can sound right, then yes... *appends that to the laptops suggestion* Especially with Skype..


Mogart wrote:
Could be fun, but it also sounds like a ton of work.

I used to install home theaters and whole home systems for a high end audio/video dealer that went out of business. so setting it all up woudnt be an issue. I actually like doing it.

im just wondering if it would mess up gameplay or anything.


I think there are some game room videos on YouTube with speaker rigs and voice changer. I think they had texting consoles at all the player stations and GM station. At least in the one i remember.


If i was going to put a screen up in the players room, maybe i can just use what i have now? im running an apple TV with a slideshow of D&D & Pathfinder art (just wanted to see if it would look cool) and i also am thinking i could make play lists of music for when people are in dungeons, towns, traveling over land, etc. so just by hearing the music, they would pretty much know where they were. dungeons sound eerie, towns happy and jovial and travel maybe could be some wind or just outdoor sound effects. they have all kinds of options.

Liberty's Edge

Wow. I have never thought of that before. It could be really cool.

I could see a spooky vibe being given off with a game like this. For roleplay, most players prefer to go eye to eye with the GM, but maybe you could recruit a player or two to play the NPC's? I have used outside players for bad guys and it was cool, but your idea is very unique.

Let me know how it goes!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Remote GMing happens now with virtual table tops, and your idea is not a stretch from that. But, it does have a few downsides that you'll want to consider...

How would you whisper to just one player?
You lose the ability to gesture, i.e. "it's this long" or "he swings like this", etc.
You would have to preplan all handouts, sketches, and props.
You would have to replace visual cues, leaning forward conspiratorially, looking surprised or terrified, etc. with auditory cues.

In short, it might not be worth all the work. But if you end up giving it a try, post back here and let us know how it went.

The Exchange

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while it sounds like an immersive kind of venture to try out, I play and DM as much for social interractions with my friends as anything else. As such, this situation would almost completely destroy the reason I play.

However, to back you up somewhat, one of my players used to co DM with me. He ran his campaign on alternate game nights. When we got to the level 15+ range, we ran games using Maptools. I would hook my laptop up to show maptools in the players view, he would sit in his study to run the GM version. While it made extremely effective and time saveing for such high level games, it actually sucked much of the fun of actually interracting with each other.

Cheers


Basically im just dreaming big. I was thinking a dedicated room for the players, pick up the Geek Chic Sultan table (players only) and put the GM in his own little (but very comfortable) room with some one way glass. He can see everyone, but nobody can see him.

put lights in the ceiling that focus on each player position. each position will have a color set of lights, maybe strobe or something else that can highlight a disease, players turn, maybe they are dying or low on HP, whatever. GM has switch board in his room to control everything, layout is simple for him, a birds eye view of the table with buttons located at each player position like they are laid out in the room.

S&~&, you can even hook up a small fog machine now that i think about it.

speakers in all corners of room playing from a playlist in the GMs room.

GM on mic with voice changer, subwoofer to add some boomieness to his voice, but nothing over bearing.

getting the music, and the mic to play well together and sound good will take some time.

any other ideas for a serious mans pathfinder room ?


Unless you have total trust in your players, seeing their dice rolls is pretty important.

Also, there's a lot to be said for communicating NPC actions and reactions with body language.

Finally, I find that having visual aid like maps and miniatures really enhances play.

For those reasons I'd advise against setting up in a different room.

However, your ideas are *very* interesting and make me think of all kinds of interesting ideas.

Consider the following-

Rig a surround sound system around your gaming table and connect the tuner to a laptop. There's a number of sound editing programs that can change speech just using a regular microphone, so you could preset a number of voice alteration protocals, save the settings as the names of your important NPCs or monsters, and then be able to change your voice by clicking a button and talking into a mic.

Sound effects can also be used to impressive effect. Imagine clicking a button that makes a loud crash as the PC are walking down a hall. The whole table jumps, you have them roll saves and announce that they set off a deadfall trap.

Creative use of surround sound for things like the PCs hearing voices behind them (audio program protocols set to only pipe sound through the speakers at the back of the room), footsteps walking past them (footsteps sound effects edited to travel around the system), and other fun sound effect tricks could turn your game into a very theatrical experience.

Thanks for the idea, by the way. I'm going to try something like this in my next game.


surfbored wrote:

Remote GMing happens now with virtual table tops, and your idea is not a stretch from that. But, it does have a few downsides that you'll want to consider...

How would you whisper to just one player?
You lose the ability to gesture, i.e. "it's this long" or "he swings like this", etc.
You would have to preplan all handouts, sketches, and props.
You would have to replace visual cues, leaning forward conspiratorially, looking surprised or terrified, etc. with auditory cues.

In short, it might not be worth all the work. But if you end up giving it a try, post back here and let us know how it went.

Thanks Surf, this is what i was looking for, how would this translate into reality.

good info for me, thanks again


Doomed Hero wrote:

Unless you have total trust in your players, seeing their dice rolls is pretty important.

Also, there's a lot to be said for communicating NPC actions and reactions with body language.

Finally, I find that having visual aid like maps and miniatures really enhances play.

For those reasons I'd advise against setting up in a different room.

However, your ideas are *very* interesting and make me think of all kinds of interesting ideas.

Consider the following-

Rig a surround sound system around your gaming table and connect the tuner to a laptop. There's a number of sound editing programs that can change speech just using a regular microphone, so you could preset a number of voice alteration protocals, save the settings as the names of your important NPCs or monsters, and then be able to change your voice by clicking a button and talking into a mic.

Sound effects can also be used to impressive effect. Imagine clicking a button that makes a loud crash as the PC are walking down a hall. The whole table jumps, you have them roll saves and announce that they set off a deadfall trap.

Creative use of surround sound for things like the PCs hearing voices behind them (audio program protocols set to only pipe sound through the speakers at the back of the room), footsteps walking past them (footsteps sound effects edited to travel around the system), and other fun sound effect tricks could turn your game into a very theatrical experience.

Thanks for the idea, by the way. I'm going to try something like this in my next game.

Id still want the maps and figures, the more visual aids the better. even if you could afford to use all campaign coins for currency in the game. Now that im typing this, im thinking a lot of bling to the game but not so much that it ruins the overall feel.

In my head im going off of some of the rooms ive seen in some of the huge houses ive worked in. very very nice, dedicated and very clean, organized. I was thinking of a room like this for pathfinder and other board games. (a dream, trust me, im not rich at all) but it is a natural thing for me to push things as far as they can go. I guess what i should be asking is, if you had say... 30k to put into a serious room for the game, what would you do ? ;-)


One of those awesome Table computers like they've been using in this season of leverage as my game table. Individual tablets for each player for character sheets, and private messages. Multi-panel LCD monitor GM screen + tablet to gm from. Hire a GW Golden Demon nut to paint all my minis, and do conversions to make the PC minis match the character.

If you were to add 0 or two it could get really fun... maybe arrange a "Red Phone" to Seatle for a 24 hour dev hotline for those really annoying rule adjudications. ;) Oh and maybe some chairs rigged to give painful but harmless shocks... mostly for that one player who can't help but start a side conversation any time I try to describe a scene. 8D

Oh, and did anyone else have "Ignore the man behind the curtain" pop into their head during the OP?

Liberty's Edge

Lorden wrote:
if you had say... 30k to put into a serious room for the game, what would you do?

Hand geek chic 20k for my new coffee table... At PaxEast the had a... I think 3x5 touch screen coffee table with contact sensitive bases for minis that was set up to do a fog of war lighting effect depending on the light sources each PC was carrying, and came with all the various CAD programs needed for over the top dungeon design... My rpg buddy and I offered our other friend in trade... on the spot... We miss him.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

One of the greatest tools for telling a story is body language and non-verbal cues, so this idea would remove that option completely. I'm pretty horrible at it, but I like having the ability to convey an NPCs demeanor without speaking.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Lorden wrote:

Could you put the GM in his own room (like a small closet with plenty of space for all materials. hook up some speakers around the room and play them in 5 or 7 channel stereo for the eerie music. use a mic and run the GM's voice over another set of speakers (so no interruption on music). maybe connect some multi colored lights that would focus in on each area, and give the GM a board with color coordinated buttons to shine on a single player to get his attention, or for some other purpose in the game, maybe even a strobe focused on a player? maybe dum, dunno.

essentially i just had an image in my head that the GMs voice could seem a bit more "godly" over speakers and a small system that was dialed in to sound good. players wouldnt even see the GM, maybe be in another room behind some mirror glass so he can see everything, but they cant see him.

If the GM is off sitting in another room, then I might as well be sitting at home in front of my computer treating the game like a play-by-post or Internet game. :(

A big part of what I love about local/face2face games is the social interaction that you just can't get over the internet. Sequestering people (particularly the GM) away like that removes one of the main draws of a F2F game for me.

Also, not that the premise might not be cool and all, but that seems like effort better spent on making the campaign and setting itself shine. If you don't have the basics of a strong game and good storytelling down, then no amount of window dressing will help. It would be like adding chrome to a clunker.

Personally, while I would be impressed by the hard work that went into such a setup, I'd probably find it corny. In practical usage, I see the players getting distracted without you there to make eye contact with them, or resenting that they feel like they have Big Brother watching them.

My group has always maintained that the 'D&D Party' isn't the fighter, the cleric, the rogue, and the wizard, it's the actual gathering of all the people playing the game. D&D/Pathfinder is essentially the entertainment for an evening's get-together.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Lorden wrote:
Id still want the maps and figures, the more visual aids the better. even if you could afford to use all campaign coins for currency in the game. Now that im typing this, im thinking a lot of bling to the game but not so much that it ruins the overall feel.

Actually, there's a quote that I like that illustrates what I'm about to say...

Alistair Cooke wrote:
When television came roaring in after the war (World War II) they did a little school survey asking children which they preferred and why - television or radio. And there was this 7-year-old boy who said he preferred radio "because the pictures were better."

Because people are inherently visual creatures, if we SEE something then that tends to supersede our other senses. Part of what is powerful about oral storytelling is that it leaves the generation of the visuals to a graphics processor that is FAR more powerful than anything ILM or Pixar have: our imagination.

When you start trying to provide a visual for every last thing in the game, you begin reducing it to a board game and start killing the imagery.

Also, and this is coming from someone who LOVES to make use of tech to make their life easier, pencils, papers, pewter minis, and dry erase markers don't crash. They don't hang without a strong 3/4G signal, you don't have to concentrate on how to use them. While a tablet or laptop can be ideal for queuing initiative, advancing/generating the stats of a monster, or looking up a rule, most everything else can be managed more intuitively on paper.

One important thing to consider is that the moment your tech starts to malfunction (and it will, even if it's iTunes or Windows suddenly deciding it's a good time to patch itself), you immediately have to get pulled out of your creative mindset and into troubleshooting mode. Now I don't know about you, but as someone who has worked in IT his entire career, the longer I have to troubleshoot, the faster my wellspring of creativity dries up.

EDIT:
FWIW, I do have an Sennheiser stage mic run into an audio effects processor, but I do not use it in my games. While it may sound cool to make myself sound like a god or Darth Vader, it's more effective when I can just improvise a good voice on-the-spot without telegraphing what's happening by picking up a mic and selecting the effect to use.

Lorden wrote:
if you had say... 30k to put into a serious room for the game, what would you do?

If I had 30K to spend on a room, I'd put it into ensuring it was comfortable, and richly appointed with nicely-framed, thematic artwork, cherry furniture and built-in bookcases, burgundy leather upholstery, a brick or stone fireplace, diffuse lighting, and a nice collection of miniatures. In terms of tech, I'd want the coffee table to have a sealed surface beneath which the battle map could be rendered by either LCD or a reverse projection system.

Remember, nice furniture and a well-designed room will far outlast any technology you could buy — technology which will become less expensive and more feature-rich as time goes on.


Laithoron wrote:
Lorden wrote:
Id still want the maps and figures, the more visual aids the better. even if you could afford to use all campaign coins for currency in the game. Now that im typing this, im thinking a lot of bling to the game but not so much that it ruins the overall feel.

Actually, there's a quote that I like that illustrates what I'm about to say...

Alistair Cooke wrote:
When television came roaring in after the war (World War II) they did a little school survey asking children which they preferred and why - television or radio. And there was this 7-year-old boy who said he preferred radio "because the pictures were better."

Because people are inherently visual creatures, if we SEE something then that tends to supersede our other senses. Part of what is powerful about oral storytelling is that it leaves the generation of the visuals to a graphics processor that is FAR more powerful than anything ILM or Pixar have: our imagination.

When you start trying to provide a visual for every last thing in the game, you begin reducing it to a board game and start killing the imagery.

Also, and this is coming from someone who LOVES to make use of tech to make their life easier, pencils, papers, pewter minis, and dry erase markers don't crash. They don't hang without a strong 3/4G signal, you don't have to concentrate on how to use them. While a tablet or laptop can be ideal for queuing initiative, advancing/generating the stats of a monster, or looking up a rule, most everything else can be managed more intuitively on paper.

One important thing to consider is that the moment your tech starts to malfunction (and it will, even if it's iTunes or Windows suddenly deciding it's a good time to patch itself), you immediately have to get pulled out of your creative mindset and into troubleshooting mode. Now I don't know about you, but as someone who has worked in IT his entire career, the longer I have to troubleshoot, the faster my wellspring of creativity dries up.

EDIT:
...

Good info for me, and trust me, after spending a while in the tech industry, i agree, it does introduce the possibility for failure and troubleshooting. This would certainly be a downfall.

I guess i was just wondering how you could introduce a few things that would enhance play a bit, i was laughing last night because i was thinking most people had an image of a game show in their heads with lights, buzzers and a fake clapping/laughing machine. :-)

I would like to eventually make a good room which is comfortable. right now i can just get a good size coffee table (geek chic hoplite?) and just use my surround sound to play the music, pick up a comfy sofa, and just figure it out from there.

but id love to hear what other people would like to do to make things a little more enveloping.

thanks for the replies !

Scarab Sages

My own experience with trying to jazz up the gaming table with technology has been a mixed bag:

1 - Fancy Atmospheric Lighting

Way back in time I once tried to run a game where the party got transported to a sci-fi machine world. When the portal happened, I dragged everyone into the next room, which I had prepared with dim, blue lighting, black-lights, lots of digital readouts and other things. I even had a robot voice changer set up for myself. You'd think it would help immerse the players in the moment, but I went too far: it turned out to be very distracting and instead took the players out of the game.

A much more simple truck that worked once was spur of the moment. The party was entering a dark cave, and on a whim I reached behind me as I said "you enter the dark cave..." and flicked off the lights (the switch was right behind me). It was a neat trick and very effective with that group of people. However, I tried the same trick with another group later on and it didn't do anything for them.

2 - Sound effects

I've had better luck with this. Having the occasional wave file ready to play on my computer, the appropriate background music, or whatnot has done well. Less is more. The most effective use of this was when I needed to keep reminding myself that it was raining heavily in the area where the PCs were (weather is very difficult to role play for some reason) so I made a CD of rainstorm sounds and put that on quietly in the background. Whenever I wanted to emphasize the rain, I just turned up the volume for a bit.

3 - Props

Again, less is more. A handout once in a while is good: cryptic information on a page ripped from an old tome, that kind of thing. Funny hats can be good on occasion, but easily become a distraction or a bother if overused. Coins and treasure items are a bother to keep track of. For fantasy adventures, I've found that the best prop is a well-drawn treasure map (not necessarily an accurate one). It gives something for the players to examine and argue over and gives them gives them a ready made set of encounter locations to explore.

4 - Virtual Table at the real table

Generally I've found this to be unnecessary. The whole point of tabletop gaming is the real, face to face interaction, and putting a screen between you and the players seems like it undermines that experience. I've never used a projection rig, so that might be different. Heck, I don't even use a GM screen. :) Putting the GM in a completely separate room is a big mistake, I think. The players will have trouble giving you their full attention.

As for what I'd put in my dream Game Room? Clean space, a nice Geek Chic gaming table (The sultan, naturally), a snack bar, wifi, and some atmospheric artwork and lighting. Oh - and ample convenient storage and display space for Minis.


Wolfsnap wrote:


2 - Sound effects

I've had better luck with this. Having the occasional wave file ready to play on my computer, the appropriate background music, or whatnot has done well. Less is more. The most effective use of this was when I needed to keep reminding myself that it was raining heavily in the area where the PCs were (weather is very difficult to role play for some reason) so I made a CD of rainstorm sounds and put that on quietly in the background. Whenever I wanted to emphasize the rain, I just turned up the volume for a bit.

Yea, im thinking ill just make a few playlists in my itunes, like you mentioned. sound effects of just rain, or a thunderstorm, some wind blowing in the trees. all without music of course. so like you mentioned, they will know by the sounds they hear where they are in the world.

maybe a list for towns, one for dungeons, etc. nothing loud or distracting. just a nice even flow of appropriate sound. just one click away from my laptop piped into the surround sound.

ive never put any of it into practice, but from a newbs perspective, would seem to be a cool benefit.


When I started reading this I was thinking that the GM behind a screen deal would be the basis for a really terrible horror movie. A bunch of geeks get kidnapped and are forced to play in a game of Pathfinder. When your character dies, SO DO YOU!

Anywho, I think this kind of setup you are talking would be cool to see, but as many people have said I don't think I'd dig it personally. I love being able to see the looks on people's faces when I come up with something unexpected, especially the GM.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A GM of one of my games used audio for a certain magical item and is whispering haunted us when ever it was open to the air. It was creepy and was kept in a sack.

Why not record the intro of your venture captain etc.. you could always use sounds to set the mood, waves crashing if on a beach, the sounds of a boat creaking etc... (in fact you've given me some ideas).


lastblacknight wrote:

A GM of one of my games used audio for a certain magical item and is whispering haunted us when ever it was open to the air. It was creepy and was kept in a sack.

Why not record the intro of your venture captain etc.. you could always use sounds to set the mood, waves crashing if on a beach, the sounds of a boat creaking etc... (in fact you've given me some ideas).

Ive been putting together a playlist in my itunes for background sounds, so if your in the forest and its raining, you hear the rain, no music, just sound. and ill put this on a loop so it keeps going and going until i change it. one with waves like you said, one at a lake, a stream, river, a boat with water crashing off of it (although i havent found one i really like yet, would like to get a little bit of subtle creeking in it from the wood. or if i can find the sounds aboard a row ship, with a guy calling out commands would be cool) but you would have to have an adventure with those in it, and tailor the playlist to the adventure. a lot of setup maybe, but im into that kind of thing. not really work to me if it pays off.

im sure people have to already be doing this kind of thing, but to me its new :-)

itunes has all kinds of sound effects albums which sound good, good quality. but you have to weed them out from the bad recordings. time consuming.

all in all like i think i mentioned above, im just going to wind up with a few close friends (who also used to be into it way back in the day) and grab a geek chic hoplite coffee table, maybe a GM valet, comfy sofa (need to figure out seating arrangement) and use my surround system to play the environmental sounds.

keep the lights off, a few candles to focus the attention to the grid and myself. Im in a good situation because i am going to be moving into my own place and will need to buy furniture for it, this is why im gauging my options for a good solid setup that i can use for this game.

Wanted to see to what extremes someone could go to creating the ultimate pathfinder RPG room. never was i thinking some slapped together room i did on a whim. i was talking like, professionally done LED lighting int he ceiling (made to look like stars, some flickering and some special lighting, like for instance, if someone casts a spell, i could have pre written words in a graffiti style written large and covering the entire room. of course you cant see it without a blacklight, so in the dark room with a few candles, i could trigger a switch on a board (with all the rest of the switches) and make the blackights light up the room exposing flashes of those huge words written in other languages. again, i was wondering, if done on a "professional" level with serious quality control, and made to work properly so it wasnt hokie, if it would be cool to do. enhance the game in a way that it kept players drawn into the game. enhance their "experience" of it all.

i agree with some of whats posted and look forward to hearing all thoughts (especially because all of you guys have the experience that i dont)

hiding the GM wasnt so much because i was looking to "hide" him, but because i was looking to put him in a room with all materials, maps, etc etc and plenty of table space all to himself. make his area very comfortable with whatever he could need or want there to run the game. also would need an area to keep some kind of switch board to control the effects. like a fog machine, maybe run that at the appropriate time. maybe its a retarded thing to do, i dont know. im just searching for options :-)

imagine a series of lights above each player, the GM could light up that player in red to signify he is almost dead, green could mean poisoned or sickend. other colors could mean other things. a focused strobe on each player could mean some kind of insanity. i dont know.

flame on, its no big deal, i like to get it all out there, wipe away the bad ideas and work with the good ones. so if you think something is a bad idea, or stupid, speak up :-)

thanks to everyone who is posting, and like i said, im just entertaining ideas, trying to think outside the box.


For everyone talking about sound effects, I recommend freesound.org. Lots of very cool things there.


I used to work at a university that had a Television/Sound Stage.

~ I used to have the gaming tables set up in the middle of the Studio, with several lights shining down on it. If you were sitting at the table, the rest of the room was inky black, very creepy.

~ I played music/sound effects on an old reel to reel tape deck that I had edited music and effects on different tracks so wind/thunder came out of one set of speakers. Music out of 4 other speakers and other creepy stuff out of several other floor monitors to give a different perspective from the ceiling mounted monitors.

~ While I sat at the table, if I needed that 'Booming Dragon' voice, I had a lavalier mic and a small mixing board at the table so I could send it to the Overhead Monitors for the boomers and down on the Floor Monitors for man sized or ground effects.

~ Now, the music and stuff was usually the same, it took a lot of work to edit the soundtracks every week for game night so that was a drag. For the 'Special' night, I put some extra effort into the mix. Examples:

- Seafaring Adventure I had lots of wave crashing effects, storm noises and creaking rigging and sails slapping. Awesome!

- Mass battle, I had lots of horse pounding, general crowd sounds and sound from an SCA War with around 1k nutters whacking each other and yelling. Also, awesome.

- Haunted Mansion...yeah, you can figure that one out.

Lots of work, sometimes not worth it if the game night is a slow mover with lots of RPing and paperwork but all in all, a great time!

Not sure how much money or time you'd have to put into this in your own home. Could be relatively cheap or mind blowingly expensive depending on your tastes!

I wish you the best of luck with what ever you do and please let us know!

Have Fun Out There!!

~ W ~

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