GM and Playing Style

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Aycaramba
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GM and Playing Style

Postby Aycaramba » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:27 pm

Hello

I was wondering if I could ask the good folks of the forum about their experiences of GMing and playing styles for Traveller games? In a session, how much time is spent in action scenes versus non action scenes? Do GM''s on this forum have players who have diverse preferences in the game, so for instance some that prefer action: combat, skill rolls versus non action role playing and how do they keep their players happy?

How much time does an average session last and how much time prepping goes into each session?

Sorry for the shopping list of questions and many thanks😄
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:09 pm

If I'm showing new players how to role-play, I'll use an adventure I created just for that purpose. Takes about 45 minutes to go through. Double, if the players want to continue on to the advanced portion.

For players that already can role-play, I allow the players to do whatever kind of action/drama their Travellers would make sense doing in a situation. As long as it's role-played. That's the important part. There is no out-of-character discussion during our game, which lasts about 3 to 4 hours. OOC is saved until after the session ends.
Last edited by ShawnDriscoll on Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
paltrysum
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby paltrysum » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:54 pm

It probably depends on your players and their interests. It is a roleplaying game, so some level of actually playing a character is involved, but different players have different comfort levels with it. I do my best to let each player operate within his/her own comfort zone, but I encourage as much deep role playing as I can get out of them. I've found that the best sessions we've had are when they are "in the groove" and delivering as many lines of dialogue as possible and interacting with each other. Some of my players take like a fish to water and some of them are a little more reluctant to fully dive in.

In addition, most of them like some level of "roll playing," in which they're rolling dice to achieve certain ends whether that be combat, solving technical problems, or interacting with aliens, colonists, pirates, military personnel, starport officials, politicians, or whatever. You just have to be careful not to let the die rolling dominate the session. It takes away from the real emphasis which should be collaborative storytelling. As the referee, you provide the narrative framework and the players bring color to that environment with their actions, dialogue, and choices.

All in all, I would say that action scenes end up being about 20% of an average session. I try to keep the non-action scenes just as interesting by making sure that they involve important and often emotional interactions with the various NPCs.

My sessions tend to last about 5 hours, sometimes extending to 6. Personally, I'm exhausted after that much time! Refereeing is not for the faint of heart. I do my level best to give each and every NPC a unique personality and I roleplay them to the best of my ability, even going so far as to create accents (which are doubtless knockoffs of various Terran accents, I'm sure!) and temperaments. My hope is always that the more my players see me improvising these characters' personalities and dialogue, the more comfortable they'll get with roleplaying their characters.
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
Aycaramba
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby Aycaramba » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:04 am

Thank you guys for your perspectives and sharing your experiences 👍
Linwood
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby Linwood » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:21 pm

On the subject of keeping your players happy - if you’re starting a campaign have a discussion with your players about what they’d like, especially if you don’t know some of them very well. If you’re running a pre-made campaign like Drinax look for opportunities to bring those themes in.

Pay attention to the types of characters your players create and look for ways to give each an opportunity to shine.

Use “random” encounters to add variety and provide depth and color to the setting. Don’t let them get repetitive or very predictable because that gets boring - a little predictability is OK, a lot is bad. I like to work up a short set of such encounters in advance for those reasons then pick from the list as the encounter checks come up. This is also handy for building subplots.

Think about what pushes and pulls your players. The Traveller setting grants the players a lot more freedom of movement than most once they have a starship, and it’s not uncommon for players to set up in one direction to pursue the best trading opportunity than the other where your awesome, carefully prepared adventure stands ready. Keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:59 pm

Linwood wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:21 pm
if you’re starting a campaign have a discussion with your players about what they’d like, especially if you don’t know some of them very well.
Never start a campaign with players you don't know. That's what one-shots are for. To find out what kind of players are at your table, and who will be a good fit for your campaign game.
Linwood wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:21 pm
Pay attention to the types of characters your players create and look for ways to give each an opportunity to shine.
If the players are role-playing, their characters will be shining in the spotlight all the time. No need to spoon feed anyone at the table.
Linwood wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:21 pm
Use “random” encounters to add variety and provide depth and color to the setting. Don’t let them get repetitive or very predictable because that gets boring - a little predictability is OK, a lot is bad. I like to work up a short set of such encounters in advance for those reasons then pick from the list as the encounter checks come up. This is also handy for building subplots.
Don't do random at the table. If you're the type of GM that wants random, figure out such encounters to use before starting a game session. Because players get bored, sitting around, while a GM looks through charts for an encounter to use next.
Linwood wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:21 pm
Think about what pushes and pulls your players.
Players that are in character will take care of that for you.
Linwood wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:21 pm
it’s not uncommon for players to set up in one direction to pursue the best trading opportunity than the other where your awesome, carefully prepared adventure stands ready. Keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
Before starting any game, it's best for the table to decide if sessions will be sandboxed or railroaded.
Varulv
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby Varulv » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:36 pm

Hi Aycaramba,

We are a group of old friends who used to play Traveller and other RPG:s back in the days and a few years ago we rediscovered the hobby. In some sessions we have a lot of out-of-character (or out-of-game) discussions, some sessions less so. This is not serious business to us, we just get together to have some fun.

That said, our sessions typically last 6 hours (Saturday nights) or 3 hours (Sunday nights). As a GM I try to get at least one action scene every session. This can basically be any situation where the players pulse goes up – combat with our without lethal force, a stealthy intrusion into a building with risk of consequences if they are discovered etc.

Before I start a new campaign, I always discuss with my players what type of characters they would like to play, what motivates them and what type of campaign (in broad terms) they prefer. I would for example never start the Pirates of Drinax Campaign (which I recon will take one or two years to get through) unless the players are fully aware of what they should expect.
Epicenter
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Re: GM and Playing Style

Postby Epicenter » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:00 pm

Aycaramba wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:27 pm
In a session, how much time is spent in action scenes versus non action scenes?
It depends on the game system I'm running. Games that are more combat oriented (like dungeon-crawl Dungeons and Dragons) players might spend most of their playtime in combat - it's basically a brief commute from fight to fight.

A game like Traveller, there's generally less conflict because the system is not very well designed to handle frequent combat (unlike a lot of Traveller fans, I find this to be a shortcoming of the system, not a strength -- players love their combat or else they'd be playing FATE or something). I usually aim for about a combat scene every two sessions (a session being 4 hours for me, see below).
Aycaramba wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:27 pm
Do GM''s on this forum have players who have diverse preferences in the game, so for instance some that prefer action: combat, skill rolls versus non action role playing and how do they keep their players happy?
I generally find that groups sort of self-edit out people who are too different. Players who like lots of combat will drift off from groups that don't, basically. Players who have a particular niche thing as the only thing they want, or something they absolutely cannot tolerate will pretty much remove themselves.
Aycaramba wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:27 pm
How much time does an average session last and how much time prepping goes into each session?
I usually aim for 4 hours a week. Ideally myself and a lot of players would prefer something longer, but I find beyond this a lot of players reach a kind of saturation (attention span limits) or scheduling conflicts occur. I do enforce a "a very strict no f**king with your cellphone during the game", "bring your food with you", "what the GM rules about a rule is final while we're playing - if you're not satisfied with the ruling you can argue with me about it afterwards for future calls on the subject" rule so we can actually play the entire session without lengthy interruptions.

I've adopted an "episodic" approach to games. While it seems many Traveller players love totally free-form games, my group (and I) tend to prefer something more structured -- likely because of the more constrained and limited play-time, our group isn't very much into the meandering stuff where the party sort of does whatever its whims strike them. In "episodic" play, each session has some sort of goal and a few obstacles (smaller conflicts). The goal of each session is the plot of that session. Over the course of the session the players will gain more information, which will give them the ability to be better-informed about what they want to do next. At the end of the session, the players decide on what they want to do next, and I can set up the next game.

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