Page 412 - Brain Picking

8th Mar 2014, 6:00 AM
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Brain Picking
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 8th Mar 2014, 6:00 AM edit delete
Newbiespud
This arc's winding down, so it's time to announce what I'm sure you've all been dreading...

Guest comics, round 4!

48 Comments:

Mabbz 8th Mar 2014, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Question time! What is the most important piece of advice you would give to a GM?
ANW 8th Mar 2014, 6:32 AM edit delete reply
Coming from someone who never played D&D, know the world before you go to far.
The Angry Vegan 8th Mar 2014, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
Make sure that the players can follow the plot, or at the very least that they can convince themselves they follow.
Digo 8th Mar 2014, 7:06 AM edit delete reply
If you introduce a mystery for the PCs to solve, always have a minimum THREE ways for them to find a clue.
FanOfMostEverything 8th Mar 2014, 7:19 AM edit delete reply
Be prepared to think on your feet, but don't think you can improvise the entire session. You have to reach a middle ground of planning: enough to give structure, but not so much that you become helpless when (not if) your players go off the rails.
Digo 8th Mar 2014, 10:15 AM edit delete reply
Agreed. Once I gamed with a GM who boasted he could run a campaign using just a pencil and two napkins for his story notes.

To this day it's the only campaign that I've ever quit from.
Pierzstyx 10th Mar 2014, 8:23 PM edit delete reply
I find planning out everything actually allows be to be able to improvise better. It allows me to still keep teh story moving towards where it needs to go while allowing the characters to do it in their own way.
DDDragoni 8th Mar 2014, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
If you use a prophecy, make it very ambiguous so if your original idea is broken you can still have it come true without total railroading.
DracoS 8th Mar 2014, 8:01 AM edit delete reply
I mentioned this in a previous week...

If you feel bad about killing a PC, don't smile when you apologize.
Specter 8th Mar 2014, 9:33 AM edit delete reply
Bring in as many kinds of the Elements of Drama as one can, mostly because after a while, if you have too few elements used the whole time, then you become predictable.
Solitary Performance 8th Mar 2014, 10:42 AM edit delete reply
Advice, eh? I've got 2.
First, if you're gonna railroad a story plot, try to be subtle about it... if you've drafted a tower/ruins/dungeon for the party to find, and they don't go the direction you intended for them to find it, don't be afraid to add more NPCs who direct them there, or invoke things like near total sky cover to make direction finding harder, so they can wander to the adventure.
Second, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies; Cow From Moon (I've heard this was a shadowrun variant on rocks fall); Gazebo. All are common-ish TPKs. As a player and a bad DM, I advise no TPKs... unless that's the norm for the setting (Call of Cthulu, for instance).
DM's Choice 10th Mar 2014, 6:42 AM edit delete reply
A tip for subtle railroading: If the group won't come to the dungeon, let the dungeon come to the group ;)
So, if your players absolutely won't travel into the direction where you intended your dungeon to be, just let the dungeon happen to be in the direction in which they are traveling. (And this can easily be taken metaphorically!)
Luna 8th Mar 2014, 12:46 PM edit delete reply
"Don't make a DMPC. EVER !"

"Make sure you understand how to balance fights if you like them so much" a close second. Had a party in d&d 3.5 that almost wiped because the DM thought he just had to sum up all character's levels to have the proper encounter level. Xx
Malroth 8th Mar 2014, 5:09 PM edit delete reply
This is not the same as giving an all melee party a NPC healbot who acts as a follower and who lets other people have all the cool plans.
JackleTheKitsune 10th Mar 2014, 11:37 AM edit delete reply
As far as DMPCs go, normally avoid them, if you can't, make them someone usefull but untrustworthy. For example, my group needed a tank and with no other players around, they got a druid who could tank. However, his loud-profane mouth and sub-par intelligence combined with him not being able to speak as an animal quickly lead to them never asking him what to do thinking that he would take the best course of action.
Geiger 8th Mar 2014, 1:15 PM edit delete reply
In most cases, you shouldn't aggressively try to kill the PCs. Its less of a game or competition than a cooperative story.
DM's Choice 10th Mar 2014, 6:39 AM edit delete reply
BUT be never afraid to kill them. They are adventurers, and adventuring is a dangerous and challenging job. Don't let them be careless. Still, you don't need to kill them for every stupid action. Just punish them severely and allow them to learn ;)
Old guy 8th Mar 2014, 1:52 PM edit delete reply
Never get so bogged down in the details that you forget you're playing a game. Keeping things moving is always more important than obscure details that will never come up again.
Also, don't kill off your party.....unless they really have it coming. You can make them all think they're going to die, but don't actually do it (unless killing them is part of the plot, so that their ghosts do some kind of post-life adventure that leads to their resurrection, at which point go right ahead and kill them all, cuz that's part of the plan)
Blues 8th Mar 2014, 2:00 PM edit delete reply
Drink plenty of fluids when you GM. You will be doing a lot of talking, and even if you don't feel thirsty, your throat will get dry, and then you'll get a dehydration headache, and you'll hate all of your players.
Raxon 8th Mar 2014, 2:59 PM edit delete reply
Raxon
I have one, I think. Don't be afraid to thrust your players into an unfamiliar situation.

A unique campaign idea may not sound good, but it all depends on you you direct it.
Belze 8th Mar 2014, 3:29 PM edit delete reply
Your long thought out campaign is going to burn, be ready for it.

Don't wipe the players asses for them, earning a victory is a lot better then being handed a town in lvl2 and godhood lvl6 because GM thought that could be cool.
Nara 8th Mar 2014, 4:17 PM edit delete reply
Even in Systems like Call of Cthulhu, remember that GM does not mean Enemy of the Players. Your job is to make things fun.
FanOfMostEverything 9th Mar 2014, 2:57 PM edit delete reply
Really, don't put the party in a position of leadership before they're allowed to take Leadership as a feat, because someone's going to point out the discrepancy.
DM's Choice 10th Mar 2014, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
Still, now where you intend to go with your campaign. Don't start aimless. Otherwise, your campaign might end in nothingness after a few sessions
Rentok 8th Mar 2014, 5:02 PM edit delete reply
Rentok
The number one piece of advice I'd give a DM is; don't be afraid to kill your players.

Some explanation to this one might be required.

TPKs aren't good. Forcing your players into a no-win scenario, or killing them in a rocks-fall type of deal is bad. Manufacturing a situation where the party has to sacrifice someone in order to avoid a TPK, without an NPC they can allow to sacrifice him/herself on their behalf is likewise to be frowned upon.

If your players make a series of errors (or a single major error) it may result in a death, or a near death experience if they manage to save themselves.

What I mean when I say don't be afraid to kill your players, is that when designing encounters, dungeons, and whatnot, you should do your best to make them challenging. Have there be a real risk to your players- not a guaranteed fatality rate, but so that if they aren't careful they won't make it. Be fair, but don't coddle them. If you're afraid to kill off a player, maybe because of your well crafted story, or the player's attachment to the character, or for any reason, then sooner or later the player is going to realize this. Even if the player is a nice person and doesn't start exploiting your unwillingness to kill him for taking huge risks and pulling stunts that SHOULD be dangerous, it's still not a good idea. The lack of consequence will start to feel like you're giving him the wins. Like he hasn't really earned anything, and will start to devalue his accomplishments.

Don't be afraid to kill your players. Especially in a game/setting where resurrection is available.
terrycloth 8th Mar 2014, 7:58 PM edit delete reply
No matter how tempting it is or how stupid they are, or how much they piss you off, never, ever kill your players.

Killing their characters is fair game though.
guy 9th May 2014, 7:42 PM edit delete reply
Very hilarious.
No, really!
kriss1989 8th Mar 2014, 9:44 PM edit delete reply
kriss1989
Get a good nights sleep and a full meal before you begin a session. So many GMs crash and burn because they're running on little sleep, caffeine, and junk food. You need a rested and ready mind to deal with situations that show up in the game, be able to improvise, remember your notes, and keep the game flowing without as many needs for breaks.
darkwulf23 9th Mar 2014, 12:09 AM edit delete reply
darkwulf23
If you want your players to follow a specific plotline and you need to railroad them, then be subtle about it. If players killed the big bad too early, then continue the story with someone else behind the curtain. If the players are suppose to go to a tower in the north and instead they went south, well then the tower is now south. Done right it gives the players an illusion of control.
DeS_tructive 9th Mar 2014, 6:07 AM edit delete reply
My top tips for all GMs will always be:

1.)Relax.
2.) Make sure your group enjoys itself.

And for "serious" GMs, who want to be the best they can:
1.) Buy/Download/Steal "Robin's Laws Of Good Game Mastering" and "Listen Up, Your Primitive Screwheads"
2.) Read them once every one or two years.
Even after 26 years of running various games, these two manuals always remind me of things I forgot, or show me new takes on recent issues I might be having with a group. Every readthrough slightly improves some aspect of my storytelling style.
Hariman 9th Mar 2014, 9:09 AM edit delete reply
Check your ego and anger at the door.

IE: Don't get angry at the players and lash out at them. It's never a good thing.

Also, as part of the same point: Know that your players ARE NOT YOU, so they won't see a problem or puzzle the same way you do.
Vegetalss4 10th Mar 2014, 4:33 AM edit delete reply
Above all else know your players!

Every group have their own set of of preferences, what can be a dealbreaker for some can be the reason they come to the game for others.
Some people even enjoy such things as DMPC's a degree of railroading, fiat, fudging the dice/ignoring them outright, and all sorts of other things which would be considered horrible by someone else.
Midnight Blaze 10th Mar 2014, 11:35 AM edit delete reply
Never give the pyromaniac knife nut a dungeon boss that uses telekinesis to throw knives around.
Pierzstyx 10th Mar 2014, 8:21 PM edit delete reply
Always find a way to include everyone's skills and talents in at least one way. That way everyone feels important, useful, and has fun and you don't have just the one or two uber-gamers dominating things.
Freemage 11th Mar 2014, 7:35 AM edit delete reply
Rule 1: Communication, communication, communication. This is a social activity, and you're at the hub. It's on you to make certain that the lines of communication are open and clear, not only between you and the players, but also between the players.

Talk to them before the game about what sort of game it's going to be. Get them to make characters according to a group template (rather than just having five random people show up at a tavern and be picked out of the crowd). Make sure they have a good mesh; discourage 'lone wolf' and 'reluctant hero' types, especially if this is your first game--you don't need the extra work.

Once things get going, seek feedback. Encourage the players to approach you as either a group or individually about any issues they have, and make damn sure you set your ego aside when they come to you with a complaint or critique. Assume good-faith on the part of everyone involved (which means also believing people who say they liked it, PINKIE!).

Be honest about real-life issues, too. If you're sick, or having a super-stressful week due to work or family stuff, be upfront about it and tell the group you need a break. A player in a grumpy mood is a bit of a drag; a DM in a grumpy mood can kill a six-month campaign in a single night.
ANW 8th Mar 2014, 6:28 AM edit delete reply
Pinkie wants to know your thoughts as well.
Me:I agree with Applejack, I feel like that there was too much going on at the same time.
Next time, let them rest a little.
redwings1340 8th Mar 2014, 11:39 AM edit delete reply
redwings1340
Overall, she's a pretty awesome DM because everypony had fun. That's the most important thing in a session. It's a very unconventional style with a lot of chaos, but as long as the players are willing to go along with it, it actually became very fun to read along to, and presumably would be to participate in.

If anything, I'd say she may have been overboard with arbitrary events, and sped up the chaos a little too much, but that was also part of the charm of this session. Her biggest strength here is also her biggest weakness. I like it! :)
Tatsurou 8th Mar 2014, 1:01 PM edit delete reply
Tatsurou
For a single session campaign - one where it has to be resolved by the end of the session, no option for continuation - this was a good campaign. It was overall well done, and the little bit of PPPMPC done to the character of Pinkie Pie wasn't overdone, and it came from understandable motives. It wasn't Pinkie power gaming, or trying to make others look bad by comparison. It was just her wanting to give her character something special...and even if it gets worked into the campaign when she's not PPPM, it won't be game breaking or OP.

Now, had this been her first session in a multi session campaign, then it moved way too fast and had way too much packed in. If she were to PM her own campaign in the future, I'd highly recommend taking it slower.
kriss1989 8th Mar 2014, 9:48 PM edit delete reply
kriss1989
Since I tend to run a slower pace myself, I would have felt overwhelmed and lost if I was playing. But I wasn't, her players kept up, and they had fun. Not bad over all. A little more experience under her belt, a bit better understanding of pacing, and she'd be a GM I would love to have a "for fun" type campaign with.
Digo 8th Mar 2014, 7:07 AM edit delete reply
Did somepony say... Guest Comics? :D

tuxgeo 8th Mar 2014, 7:38 AM edit delete reply
tuxgeo
The Spoonerization of "Brain Picking" is "Pain Bricking," which makes about as little sense as its inverse, "Brick Paining."

And the inverse of "Brain Picking" is "Pick Braining," which is too gorey for a PG-13 comic. (Braining someone or something with a Pick?)

These scattered thoughts were brought to you by a severe lack of coffee on a Saturday morning.
FanOfMostEverything 8th Mar 2014, 7:48 AM edit delete reply
A character pick-brained a protean in one of my games. After he rolled damage, I even said, "Congratulations! You've struck brain!"
Specter 8th Mar 2014, 9:30 AM edit delete reply
Ehh, I've received enough "Brain Surgeon" awards that I don't feel like I performing any kind of brain based operation would become fatal or deadly.
JET73L 11th Sep 2015, 3:09 PM edit delete reply
> Mark of Pain
> Natural 20
> You have bricked the cyborg with pain.
Pain Bricking.
DoubleCross 8th Mar 2014, 7:43 AM edit delete reply
*beep beep beeeeep*

Fuzzy needs dental care and it's America so it's all bloody expensive! Remember there's a Donate button at the top! If you like a good-health Fuzzy and you are capable of offering a hand, please do so!

Signed, somebody whose parents have blocked her from providing any financial help and is now really pissed off about it!
Specter 8th Mar 2014, 9:35 AM edit delete reply
Well, that sucks. Sorry to hear that. (I can't even provide a penny, I'm almost as broke as Kenny from South Park.)
Walabio 8th Mar 2014, 10:42 AM edit delete reply
Thestralpony 29th Sep 2015, 1:35 PM edit delete reply
The original DM’s NPC Apple Bloom gets accused as being a device for the DM to force the players through the story and everyone has a problem. It wasn’t true but that’s not the point.
But then the “PM” in this part of the comic quite literally forces the players down the story path and everyone says it was fun.

I just don’t- I can’t even-… Never mind.