With a Scream . . . and a Pie in the Face!

Workshop 8

You will need to change the tone every once in a while so the game is not monotonous. Here are a variety of ways to change the tone, the type, or even go to a new system to break the consistent game you are playing. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just don’t be B-O-R-I-N-G!

Campaign Types / Tones
Comedy Comedy games need to have a flawed villain. Descriptions should be light, quick, and breezy. Dark Dark-toned games need a lot of description with a slow build-up of tension. Mystery A mystery can break up any campaign. For a mystery campaign, you need numerous red herrings, back tracking for clues, and a tension build-up. Hack ‘n’ Slash Hack ‘n’ slash campaigns are fast-paced with generous awards. The players can take out aggressions they have here. Puzzle Each element builds to the next one until the characters solve it. Romance One player character and one non-player character usually works best. Pick the player character who is least likely for it to happen to or a player who is a sucker for it. Once they know each other, you can remove the non-player character (kidnapping, wandering off, or getting a better offer) or have the non-player character ask for something to prove the player character’s love.

Universe Change You can change the universe on the players (with the same game system). Provide a method that they can use to return. You have to be careful when working in cross-genres. Make sure what they are carrying isn’t going to screw up the economy, landscape, or future of where they are going . . . or even when they return. You have to carefully select where you go and what the player characters take. If they have too much, they will have others who will want what they have.

Classics I
Take a classic / stereotypical background and warp it a little. Pick one idea and change one assumption or ground rule from it. For example, a thief bumps a player character. Instead of taking something, he plants something on the character. Or, in the case of a Romeo and Juliet scenario, halfway through, the kids don’t poison themselves. They don’t die. The families don’t bury the hatchet. So now what do the characters do?

Classics II
Twist the world’s background from what the player characters are used to. Tell the player characters the obvious changes. Let them find the subtle changes on their own. An example would be the orcs are the “good guys” and their human prisoner is the “bad guy” who has been oppressing them. If they free the human, they have done something “bad.” Another example could be that the dwarves now live in the forests and the elves in the mountains. Don’t make too many changes. One major change leads to many smaller changes. Make sure you plan this out and accommodate for every minor change that occurs due to the larger change you have made.

Game Master Workshop Series

Solo Adventure
Run one or two characters only. This will help flesh out the player characters. It also gives the Game Master and the player character(s) who participate some details that the other players don’t have. Parties play separately from individuals. Parties depend on one another. Individuals have no one to depend on.

Switching Genres
In switching, this may or may not involve changing between systems. Problems may arise with players who are tied up with the rules. Adventure is the game . . . rules aren’t the game. Do it quietly and be subtle. Let them work into the new game system gradually. Disadvantages ● People don’t want to learn a new game.

Change the way the races feel towards one another. A war involves major adjustment(s) to a new way of life. Advantages ● There’s a lot of interesting games out there. Pregenerated characters should be made for the first time you play the game. Give the player characters backgrounds. If you are going to do a one-shot game, tell the player characters what they think of each other. To start, it will work best if the sessions are short and punchy. And end on a cliffhanger.

Change the ruler and / or laws that govern the area your player characters live.

Another Campaign
Try switching games for a while. Have another campaign running in the same universe. Perhaps new characters in a new world where the old player characters are now non-player characters.

Switch Game Masters
Both (or more) Game Masters bring in new blood and new ideas. To work, it will need to be worked out by those participating. Also, the Game Master can sometimes play his non-player character as a player character. Watch out. Some players don’t adjust to this well.

This paper is a written record of the “Game Master Workshop Series” presented by Guy McLimore and Greg K. Poehlein, creators of Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game. This workshop was held at GenCon in 1993. There are eight pieces to this series. This account was made by Laura Rajsic-Lanier (lauralanier@comcast.net). She makes no claims to the material presented herein.

Game Master Workshop Series

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