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Myself wrote:If you can find it the Dresden Files RPG has an excellent section on cooperative city building as a group. This gives the players some serious investment in the game, especially if you build the city as group first (before anything else). If you can't get a copy of the DFRPG rules (awesome rulebook to read, rules can be a bit odd at times though) the basic structure is this:
- As GM outline the basics of what you're looking for; is the game going to be dark and Iron Age, four colour Silver Age, based in a modern real world city, made up entirely, or whatever.
- As a group pick any important concepts for the city. Every player and the GM should pick one. This is best done as a straight forward one sentence description. They don't have to match each other but they should be evocative. Gotham for example is Full of Dark Deco Skyscrapers, its also Scary as Hell at Night, and More Corrupt that the Roman Empire. These inform the following steps and helps set the right mood.
- Every player gets a turn naming a sector or imporant location in the city. These can be businesses, whole districts, landmarks or anything else important in the city. If you use a real world city what the players select can be important for you as GM to let you know that they like. Examples include the docks, The Iceberg Lounge, City Hall, the subway, Gotham Police HQ, or anything else.
- Then as a group (again one per player including the GM) add an "aspect" which is really just a description similar to the way you did with the city. The Docks for example might Run by the Mob, Nothing Moves Without the Union, Damp and Stinks Like Dead Fish, and A Fire Storm Waiting to Happen.
- Once every location has its descriptions you create a Face for each location as group. This can take the most time since you're only dealing with a few characters, but every player should have input even if all they do is pick the character's hair colour. This is the character that represents that location. In Gotham you'd might have the back door bouncer as the Face for The Iceberg Lounge (it could be the Penguin, but sometimes its more fun to make a new character if using an established setting). The character should have some broad character traits outlined (similar to the evocative terms for your city and its locations), as well some general motivations.
- Once you've got all that done you move on to character creation. Do that however you feel best, but my one suggestion is that if a player wants to make a Face their personal character let them, you have instantly built in complications and it really indicates a high level of buy in from the player if that happens.
If you go with the method, my one final piece of advice is the let the players modify each other's descriptions, but not their intent. If somebody picked Dark and Scary for Gotham let another player make it more evocative with Scary as Hell at Night. Don't let Player A erase Player B's effort unless B is okay with it.
TheChemist wrote:As was said, you're never really ready. So much of your job comes from experience. With that said, I'll still give you a few tips.
Learn the rules as best as you can. Most players, especially newer ones, just want to play. If the session is constantly paused while you look up the rules, it slows down the action and kills the fun. No one expects you to know all the rules, but you should know them well enough to handle most of the early encounters and answer most of your player's early questions.
For running pre-made adventures like this, or even your own, memorize the adventure. If it's not listed in the book, figure out how each combatant fights. How do they work together? What are they trying to achieve in this fight? When will they run? For non-combat encounters, do your best to understand the motivations of characters. If you know who an NPC is and his goals, it makes it much easier to respond to unexpected action from the players (and, trust me, there will be a lot of unexpected actions from your players).
Beyond that, there isn't much you can prepare for. Just remember that fun is the most important part of any gaming session. If you're unsure about a rule, just go with what would be more fun and look it up later.
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