New GM Advices


Good, I know there will be hundreds of such topics, but I am new to pathfinder and I want to be a GM of a group that has never played rol.

I have the starter box, rules and bestiary and Rotrl and Crimson throne, I had thought to run Rotrl but after seeing hundreds of posts ... I have seen that there is a lot of variety of opinions about it ...

I have read a lot about rules and about Rotrl but I don't feel prepared, my doubt is I take a chance and I jump to Rotrl or better go slower?

Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you very much for your answers and advice.

A few small pieces of advice:

-look up The Angry GM's blog and start reading.

-for your first game, I would (a) pick a short premade adventure path, (b) make the characters yourself and (c) let everyone know it's your first time at this and don't be too hard on itself.

-here's how you run a game-

1. Set the scene.
2. Ask "what do you do?"
3. Adjudicate the action.
4. Repeat for a few hours.

-that's really it. Everything else is details and refinement.

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I presume when you already have it, you'll run the Beginner Box first, which should teach the basics to both you and the players. My tips are mostly for the following campaign.

● Use Combat Manager (discussion thread here). I'm using that program and I honestly don't know how I would be able to GM without it. A library of not only monsters (with templates addable), including all the ones from your APs, but also feats, spells, and rules. I've made characters for my PCs so I can roll stuff like perception without my players noticing. I also use the initiative roller, because while "roll initiative" at the start of combat can be cool, it a) wastes a lot of time, b) distrupts the flow of the game and c) prevents the GM from using initiative for situations that may or may not result in actual fighting (because when they have rolled initiative, the players will presume a combat is absolutely going to happen).

● Use some method to track initiative for the players. I'm using little folded pieces of cardboard with the PCs names (and numbers for monsters that the party knows about) on both sides that I put on the top of my laptop and move around so that the one farthest to my right (the players' left) is the the current character and the players can see who's next and so on.

Don't rolls ability scores or hit dice! Both might feel like important RPG staples, but in reality, they're in reality it's asking for trouble. A melee character that has less HP than the party Wizard is fun for absolutely no one. I'm using "average rounded up" for HD, and point buy for ability scores. I'd also suggest not using too low a point buy (nothing below 20), because a) it increases the inherent disparity, and b) usually leads to less rounded out characters. Higher point buy does not actually mean more powerful characters, because players react to the point buy.

● Always expect the unexpected, and learn to roll with it. Using an AP there are some limits, and it's relaly more an art than a science, but expect the players to always do something else than what you've thought they'd do. When in doubt, invent some NPC or use some quickly selected monsters (Combat Manager helps here) when the PCs really want to invest that run down house that the AP description doesn't expect to be visited. Don't feel bad when you need to call for a short time out when the players catch you flat footed because they did something weird.

● Read ahead, and familiarize yourself with both the plot, and with the monsters the party will face, especially their special abilities (a monster/NPC uses soem ability that fascinates? Read up on it!). Expect NPCs to be interrogated (friend and foe).

● Make the PCs create cheat sheets for their characters, where they have all the important statistics, including attack rolls and damage rolls udner different sircumstances. Here are some examples. Calculating the currently valid attack roll(s) every round is probably the biggest time waste during combat. Likewise, have the players use Spell Cards and the likes for spells, active abilities (bardic performances, hexes, etc.), and printouts for complex on-the-fly choices like Summoned Monsters.

● Check everything your players selects (to see if it's actually legal, and to prevent imbalances, i.e. characters that are too weak or too strong in comparison to the other PCs). Try to familiarize yourself with every ability your PCs have. Asking for the spell/ability card in question can't hurt, you'd be surprised how ofter people overlook something semi-hidden in the description.

● Remember that very few creatures fight to the death. If a combat is too lethal, but the monster/NPC side has also suffered losses, having them retreat/cut their losses or use diplomacy even if they'd likely won the fight is a good and realistic alternative to fudging dice.

● Be honest and forthcoming with descriptions - the players only know what you tell them. Focus on information that is or may be actually important.

● Be willing to always listen to your players, but enforce rulings and decisions when necessary.

● When a rule issue could really go both ways, flip a coin!

Incredible, thank you very much for these answers ...

I will analyze them calmly and apply everything I can, it is much more than I expected and even what I thought I needed ...

Really thank you very much, luckily I have months of preparation and I have a lot of physical material and rules and with these tips I feel much calmer.

Everything Derklord said.
I think the initiative idea is the only thing I don't do that he listed.

Run the adventures in the Beginners Box and possibly run Crypt of the Everflame* to learn the system and so that you get experience before running a longer adventure.

Rise of the Runelords is easier to run than Curse of the Crimson Throne.

You can run RotRL and CotCT straight from the books, exactly as written, and you'll be fine. The forum is full of advice and changes people made but none of it is required, simply things that they added to make the game more enjoyable for them. (But enjoyment is all a matter of opinion.)

*Crypt of the Everflame is a short module that has the group go and explore a dungeon. If you really like the story and want more practice before running a full Adventure Path (AP), the story continues across two other modules (Masks of the Living God and City of Golden Death). They're one story that bring the characters from level 1 to level 6 or 7.

Thank you very much, in principle I would like to make the starter box and run Rotrl, is this module absolutely necessary? Actually what we like is the idea of spending years with our characters and not dancing, that's why the question, but if it's going to be a suicide to run Rotrl, better start with the modules.

The angry GM blog is absolutely incredible, I am reading all your articles and they are helping me a lot to focus on it.

Really thanks to all you are giving me many weapons.

Derklord has given some great advice.

The only thing I disagree on is his last point, when a rule issue could go both ways, be pro-player and revisit after or between sessions if necessary. Adding to this is the rule of cool. If a player suggests something that is inventive, creative etc and you are not sure how to adjudicate it then allow it and consider the ruling after the session. Conversely, there is the rule of cheese. If it feels cheesy but is apparently legal then ban it after it is used once. I typically find they occur when the turn based nature of the game is used in ways that break verisimilitude. One example I can think of that was mentioned a few years ago was the wizard turning around on the spot to draw AoO before casting their spell.

In all occasions where you are making ruling that you will revisit after the session, be clear that you will do so, so the playters' expectations are managed.

Participate in the PC building process!

Ensure that they understand action economy is paramount!

Taking the trait "Accelerated Drinker" to improve the ability to drink potions more easily, this one combined with a plethora of other traits and equipment is pretty legit.

This helps both martial and spellcasting classes, and not only influences survivability, but also helps interactions with other classes that may be offering support.

Understanding the little things like action economy end up being paramount as the party starts to rely on each other's abilities... depending upon their strengths, and compensating for their weaknesses...

This Combat Manager thing sounds useful, but it's a far cry from necessary; there are zero electrical devices at my table (the few online games I've run involved devices to allow us to communicate with each other and view a map, but that wax all).
But then, 99 out of 100 characters, monsters, items, spells, etc. in my games are things I design myself, so such an application would be undoubtably be more useful to someone who used preexisting material.

As for initiative, I think the Angry GM has the best system, hands down, no question, 100%. It allows you to determine order in under 30 seconds, includes tracking hit points and is extremely efficient in terms of the real estate it takes up on the table.

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