August 28th, 2005

coffee frog

There's no session like a first session!

For level of preparation, degree of anticipation, and for being the only time with gaming that I approach a state of nervousness. The Character Generation is done (except for the finishing touches). The dice are in the bag, the notes assembled, the rule books packed.

For the last five days practically every waking moment has been dedicated to getting the game ready, I've ate, walked, even breathed game. Foolishly, the first session, a tournament if sorts, is NPC-heavy ... there was a lot of back-drop to work on so that the players feel like they are not the only contestants.

And in the third paragraph (damn I need an editor), that brings me to my point:

How much prep do you do for a brand new game? Handouts? They can be a great tool, but a 25 page print-out can be awfully intimidating. How much time do you spend with the players beforehand? One-on-one CharGen takes up a lot of time, but pays off for me. Or do you do CharGen during the first session? I find this really limits the prep I can do .. and although I'm not really a "do lots of prep every week" GM anymore I certainly break that habit for the first session.


Ideas for gimmicky RP campaigns, part 2: Sim City

I was reading reviews for the different versions of the Sim City series when I got an idea - why not take advantage of those games in building campaigns? If you're running a modern-day campaign, now there's no need to dig up city maps for the place you want your PC's to live in - just start up a new Sim City game or load up a pre-made one, and you have an instant map of the city that's easy to scroll and study. And if the player characters happen to, say, blow up a city block, you can quickly visualize it by actually having the city block blow up in the game as well. Perhaps if they destroyed something crucial, you can let the computer game run a few weeks, see what effects it has on the city and then use that as a basis for the RPG repercussions... and of course, whenever time passes in the campaign you'll let the same amount of time to pass in the computer game so the city keeps living and evolving over time.

If you wanted to go that far and were willing to run a game with somewhat older graphics, the Streets of SimCity and SimCopter games were compatible with cities from Sim City 2000 - you could build a city and then further help the players visualize the surroundings by letting them actually drive around/fly around the place. Going SimCrazy, one could also build all the scyscrapers the players visit with SimTower, and simulate the ant colonies on their back yards with SimAnt... well, maybe not the last one, but I have a feeling the other gimmicks might be cool.
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