Playing a "Golarion Cinematic Universe"


Advice

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A number of the games I'm in lately have been struggling, and it's gotten me worried that my dream of setting up a "Zousha's Golarion Cinematic Universe" headcanon kind of thing through playing in play-by-posts here in the Paizo boards, with elements and easter-eggs from one AP popping up in other ones, whether or not the APs are even connected directly, is going to fall apart unless I GM the APs myself, but that seems so overwhelming and if I GM, I can't have a PC, and I have so many good character ideas that I feel fit the narratives of the APs nearly perfectly...so I feel stuck, and I feel like time is running out as the First Edition of the game is coming to a close, there are over 20 APs now and I haven't even played through ONE!

Sure, many other players may have ideas similar to mine, but if I try to run Carrion Crown, no one else will come up with Lorant Endronil. If I try to run Wrath of the Righteous, no one else will come up with Arloric Dziergas-Highbough. Plus GMing is something that REALLY scares me, as the GMs I've played under have been great, doing ENORMOUS amounts of work to make the APs fun and interesting, and yet many of them have STILL gotten burned out by the end of the first book or the beginning of the second book.

So what should I do? Am I such a control freak that I don't trust other players to interpret and analyze the game's setting to the extent I have? Am I overthinking this, sounding too much like this?


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It's OK to run a GMPC as long as your party doesn't mind. You just have to remember that the GMPC is not the star of the show and give your players room to shine.


First edition is not going anywhere. Don't worry, you have plenty of time to enjoy the material, unless you are being forced to convert to the 2nd edition. I know for certain that my group isn't converting to 2nd edition for a good bit of time.

As for running games, I can only share the advice that works for me. Read each of the books. Try to remember the important bits. Then, after each book, start listing out the things that you do remember without resorting to looking at the book. Use THAT last to piece together something that YOU feel is coherent. You don't have to stick to every little detail, or try to remember everything. I play loose and fast with the adventure paths. I don't fudge numbers but I do fudge the encounters towards being more challenging to the players.

Use the players to tell and guide the story. Your job is just to get them involved with the story, and attached to it. After that, let the world react to them and see how the react in response to it. I always find that making up NPCs and their unique attitudes work best on the fly, and always feels more organic in the end. Be sure to keep notes on what you do create, in case it becomes important enough later on to expand on. A lot of people never realize that running a game is a lot like community college, or being an adult. You don't really know anything until you get a lot of experience and you are literally pulling things out of your own ... well, you get the idea.

As far as GMPCs go, just remember that it is an NPC. Treat the NPC like an NPC.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DeathlessOne wrote:
First edition is not going anywhere. Don't worry, you have plenty of time to enjoy the material, unless you are being forced to convert to the 2nd edition. I know for certain that my group isn't converting to 2nd edition for a good bit of time.

The time I'm worried about running out of is my life, actually. I just turned 30 last year, and several of the play-by-posts I'm in have gone for years, yet are still at risk of collapsing this year. And more Pathfinder material is only going to come out, so I feel like I'm constantly going to be playing catch-up, my Pathfinder experience is always going to be less than everyone else's here because I got started too late and thought PFS was safe to ignore and didn't advance the game's canon. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be dead before I finish ANY Adventure Path, even the Kingmaker PC game! :(

Quote:
As for running games, I can only share the advice that works for me. Read each of the books. Try to remember the important bits. Then, after each book, start listing out the things that you do remember without resorting to looking at the book. Use THAT last to piece together something that YOU feel is coherent. You don't have to stick to every little detail, or try to remember everything. I play loose and fast with the adventure paths. I don't fudge numbers but I do fudge the encounters towards being more challenging to the players.

That method just doesn't sit well with my inner literary critic. When approaching the APs, I've tried to examine them like a text in an English class, because I want the resulting story that comes out of it to not just be coherent, but well-crafted and flow like an actual text. What is the AP trying to say? What ideas does it want the players to think about? What PCs best fit the narrative of the AP and area of the canon it takes place in? I CARE about the quality of the story being told. That's what makes the game fun for me! And when I describe this way of looking at the game I'm almost inevitably told it's "just a game" and I'm "taking it too seriously."

Quote:
Use the players to tell and guide the story. Your job is just to get them involved with the story, and attached to it. After that, let the world react to them and see how the react in response to it. I always find that making up NPCs and their unique attitudes work best on the fly, and always feels more organic in the end. Be sure to keep notes on what you do create, in case it becomes important enough later on to expand on. A lot of people never realize that running a game is a lot like community college, or being an adult. You don't really know anything until you get a lot of experience and you are literally pulling things out of your own ... well, you get the idea.

I understand what you're saying, and that's part of the reason why GMing terrifies me so much. I understand that the players have their own wants and desires, and if I GM, I need to respect and accommodate that. Trying to make the players play the characters I think would be best in the narrative would be toxic GMing of the highest degree, so I feel like if I play a PC instead of GM, I don't run the risk of doing that as long as I don't hog the game's spotlight and cooperate with the other players. It's what I've been trying to do up until now, but it feels like it's not going anywhere, as NONE of the AP play-by-posts I've been in have gotten to the end despite years of work.

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As far as GMPCs go, just remember that it is an NPC. Treat the NPC like an NPC.

And that's why I feel conflicted. If I want to play a PC in a game, I need to ask people if they're charitable enough to GM for me, and I always feel crappy asking complete strangers to shoulder that burden for me, and as I've said, most of the games I've played in here have burnt out at some point or are at risk of doing so. But then if I want to take matters into my own hands and GM personally my PC ideas are basically left to rot, and they're almost always exclusively written with the APs in mind, trying to mesh with the ideas and narrative themes the AP is trying to explore.


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The time I'm worried about running out of is my life, actually. I just turned 30 last year, and several of the play-by-posts I'm in have gone for years, yet are still at risk of collapsing this year. And more Pathfinder material is only going to come out, so I feel like I'm constantly going to be playing catch-up, my Pathfinder experience is always going to be less than everyone else's here because I got started too late and thought PFS was safe to ignore and didn't advance the game's canon. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be dead before I finish ANY Adventure Path, even the Kingmaker PC game! :(

Ah, well if you are limited to play by post, you are playing in a realm that has vastly different expectations. I suggest really looking for a live group, even if it is over video feed or similar. I am 33 and have a dedicated group that plays twice a week (two shorter 4 hour sessions) and is pretty regular. We've been gaming for several years. It was one that I built from scratch, recruited people from a local hobby store, befriended them, convinced them to play the game and blew their minds with a campaign that I crafted entirely on the fly.

Quote:
That method just doesn't sit well with my inner literary critic. When approaching the APs, I've tried to examine them like a text in an English class, because I want the resulting story that comes out of it to not just be coherent, but well-crafted and flow like an actual text. What is the AP trying to say? What ideas does it want the players to think about? What PCs best fit the narrative of the AP and area of the canon it takes place in? I CARE about the quality of the story being told. That's what makes the game fun for me! And when I describe this way of looking at the game I'm almost inevitably told it's "just a game" and I'm "taking it too seriously."

I admire your goals but I have to be a tad more on the level with you. You are taking it too seriously. I won't tell you that its 'just a game' because its really not, it is a fairly complex form of entertainment. You don't get a coherent narrative and epic when plotting out the game and when the players work their way through it. You get a huge bag of chaos and mutated "what the hell!?" moments that only form the basis for the thing you want as certain chapters and the adventure itself move towards conclusion, when you can start drawing all the strings your players have given you, together.

At least, this is all in my experience. You (the DM) create the world and the players mold the story with their actions. The players are the movers and shakers in the story. By their very nature, they bring chaos into a semi-ordered environment and things are going to get broken.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DeathlessOne wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The time I'm worried about running out of is my life, actually. I just turned 30 last year, and several of the play-by-posts I'm in have gone for years, yet are still at risk of collapsing this year. And more Pathfinder material is only going to come out, so I feel like I'm constantly going to be playing catch-up, my Pathfinder experience is always going to be less than everyone else's here because I got started too late and thought PFS was safe to ignore and didn't advance the game's canon. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be dead before I finish ANY Adventure Path, even the Kingmaker PC game! :(
Ah, well if you are limited to play by post, you are playing in a realm that has vastly different expectations. I suggest really looking for a live group, even if it is over video feed or similar. I am 33 and have a dedicated group that plays twice a week (two shorter 4 hour sessions) and is pretty regular. We've been gaming for several years. It was one that I built from scratch, recruited people from a local hobby store, befriended them, convinced them to play the game and blew their minds with a campaign that I crafted entirely on the fly.

I mean no disrespect but how the HELL did you manage to get a group together that can coordinate their schedules enough to meet for four hours twice a week?! The only group I've ever managed to find IRL can only meet once a month! =O

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That method just doesn't sit well with my inner literary critic. When approaching the APs, I've tried to examine them like a text in an English class, because I want the resulting story that comes out of it to not just be coherent, but well-crafted and flow like an actual text. What is the AP trying to say? What ideas does it want the players to think about? What PCs best fit the narrative of the AP and area of the canon it takes place in? I CARE about the quality of the story being told. That's what makes the game fun for me! And when I describe this way of looking at the game I'm almost inevitably told it's "just a game" and I'm "taking it too seriously."

I admire your goals but I have to be a tad more on the level with you. You are taking it too seriously. I won't tell you that its 'just a game' because its really not, it is a fairly complex form of entertainment. You don't get a coherent narrative and epic when plotting out the game and when the players work their way through it. You get a huge bag of chaos and mutated "what the hell!?" moments that only form the basis for the thing you want as certain chapters and the adventure itself move towards conclusion, when you can start drawing all the strings your players have given you, together.

At least, this is all in my experience. You (the DM) create the world and the players mold the story with their actions. The players are the movers and shakers in the story. By their very nature, they bring chaos into a semi-ordered environment and things are going to get broken.

I agree, and that's why I've tried to make this work as a player, and while the games I was in were going I was incredibly happy. But then those games either started to slow down to the point where they'd basically die, or we'd lose a player or two and the GM would throw in the towel. I understand the nature of the game is for the PCs to make their own rails and take things whichever way they see fit. The GMs I've played under did such with their games. I can cross reference where in the AP books the GMs have diverged or we've diverged and the GM ran with it, and I absolutely DON'T think that's a bad thing. But when I see the stack of work they had to do to make that happen, I feel overwhelmed even by proxy, and I know that if you can't commit to that, you're not cut out to GM, and I don't know if I can commit to that or not, and that's just chewing away at my brain like a starving parasite.


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
I mean no disrespect but how the HELL did you manage to get a group together that can coordinate their schedules enough to meet for four hours twice a week?! The only group I've ever managed to find IRL can only meet once a month! =O

No disrespect taken. Perhaps it is just a unique focal point of the universe, or I got lucky. I Assume it comes down to the level of dedication the group has to the game, and each other. We are all friends outside of the game and it's gives us a good excuse to get together, even during the weeks that nothing interesting happens. We constantly get to invent new things together. I also suppose that two sets of our players are married (myself included, though that happened more recently in time).

There are certainly times when we missed games because real life loves to get involved, but we are all adults (I'd say mature too, but you should hear us sometimes). We all know how to manage our time, responsibilities, and schedules. It might also help that we have three people that are capable of running the game and we alternate/stagger games on a biweekly basis. Helps with the burn out.

Games ending prematurely are always bittersweet. We've had a few games simply fall apart but we've always moved onto another. We've had a few games reach that magic 20th level (and beyond) from starting at 1st (majority of those game are ones that I run). It's ok to let a dying game go as long as the group remains committed to each other.

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I agree, and that's why I've tried to make this work as a player, and while the games I was in were going I was incredibly happy. But then those games either started to slow down to the point where they'd basically die, or we'd lose a player or two and the GM would throw in the towel. I understand the nature of the game is for the PCs to make their own rails and take things whichever way they see fit. The GMs I've played under did such with their games. I can cross reference where in the AP books the GMs have diverged or we've diverged and the GM ran with it, and I absolutely DON'T think that's a bad thing. But when I see the stack of work they had to do to make that happen, I feel overwhelmed even by proxy, and I know that if you can't commit to that, you're not cut out to GM, and I don't know if I can commit to that or not, and that's just chewing away at my brain like a starving parasite

That is about the crux of it. Being a GM is quite a bit of work, especially in the beginning. I can tell you from experience that it does get better. Just like any trade skill or ability to operate heavy machinery, it becomes second nature. I learned quite a bit about my own capabilities by continually pushing them, and discovering I had quite a talent for juggling numbers on the fly (which I probably why I ended up in the engineering field, thank you D&D).

Another thing I've learned from life is that a LOT of things seem to require a scary level of commitment and it seems like a better idea to just avoid it. I can also tell you that that instinct pull back and retreat is absolute rubbish. You'll never find out if you are capable of doing something until you actually jump in and yoke yourself to that responsibility. My first campaign was absolute chaos behind that GM screen. I never let my players see it.

The only real advice I can give you is this: take the risk, jump in, and get wet. Don't look at failure and see disappointment. See it for what it is, a chance to learn and improve. You only fail when you give up. Also, lean on your friends if you can. Bounce ideas off of them. It's ok to toss the cards in the air and see where they fall. Great stories emerge from chaos,

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DeathlessOne wrote:
Games ending prematurely are always bittersweet. We've had a few games simply fall apart but we've always moved onto another. We've had a few games reach that magic 20th level (and beyond) from starting at 1st (majority of those game are ones that I run). It's ok to let a dying game go as long as the group remains committed to each other.

That's part of why I started asking about this: I feel kind of bitter that some of these games just can't stay together and finish what we began, and I feel REALLY envious when other people here on the boards talk about how they handled things in their completed APs. I wonder why the games I'm in can't be like that, even though rationally I know some of them died for reasons beyond anyone's control. And with play-by-post it's real hard for the group to stay committed to each other. There's been a ray of hope with at least two of them, one definitely has a new GM and another is recruiting for one, but others feel like they've just ground to a halt and no matter how many times I bump it, no one else answers, and that makes me more upset because I feel like it's my fault somehow for driving the other players and the GM away.

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That is about the crux of it. Being a GM is quite a bit of work, especially in the beginning. I can tell you from experience that it does get better. Just like any trade skill or ability to operate heavy machinery, it becomes second nature. I learned quite a bit about my own capabilities by continually pushing them, and discovering I had quite a talent for juggling numbers on the fly (which I probably why I ended up in the engineering field, thank you D&D).

Another thing I've learned from life is that a LOT of things seem to require a scary level of commitment and it seems like a better idea to just avoid it. I can also tell you that that instinct pull back and retreat is absolute rubbish. You'll never find out if you are capable of doing something until you actually jump in and yoke yourself to that responsibility. My first campaign was absolute chaos behind that GM screen. I never let my players see it.

The only real advice I can give you is this: take the risk, jump in, and get wet. Don't look at failure and see disappointment. See it for what it is, a chance to learn and improve. You only fail when you give up. Also, lean on your friends if you can. Bounce ideas off of them. It's ok to toss the cards in the air and see where they fall. Great stories emerge from chaos.

And if I do choose to GM, what should I do with the dozens of PC ideas I have for games that keep falling through? I just get so inspired by all these Pathfinder books and I want to play in ALL of the setting and I can't on either side of the screen!


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
That's part of why I started asking about this: I feel kind of bitter that some of these games just can't stay together and finish what we began, and I feel REALLY envious when other people here on the boards talk about how they handled things in their completed APs. I wonder why the games I'm in can't be like that, even though rationally I know some of them died for reasons beyond anyone's control. And with play-by-post it's real hard for the group to stay committed to each other. There's been a ray of hope with at least two of them, one definitely has a new GM and another is recruiting for one, but others feel like they've just ground to a halt and no matter how many times I bump it, no one else answers, and that makes me more upset because I feel like it's my fault somehow for driving the other players and the GM away.

I remember well the days I spent trying to "scratch" the itch with play-by-post games. Fairly similar to your ow experiences. It drove me to find a real game, first by leaving my name and number at a local gaming shop for GMs "looking for players" and then later to scouting out my own players. One of my players, and Co-GMs is actually from the original group I was recruited to.

I definitely understand your pain and disappointment with the failed games. I chose to see it as the universe telling me that it was time to move on.

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And if I do choose to GM, what should I do with the dozens of PC ideas I have for games that keep falling through? I just get so inspired by all these Pathfinder books and I want to play in ALL of the setting and I can't on either side of the screen!

Many characters we create and desire to play never see the light of day. I've created HUNDREDS that I will ever get a chance to play... as a player. As a GM, I get the privilege of playing more characters than my players. I get to design big bad evil guys (and gals) to use against the players. Use your unique characters in your games. They may never see the spot light but it is more of a chance than not. Players might be convinced to hire them to fill a gap in the party.

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