New GM, asking for advice

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TheSander
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New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:48 am

Hello there everyone, sometime in the near future I'm going to run my first DC Adventure campaing, since this is my first time ever running (or playing, I'm fresh convert) a M&M game, I wanted to ask all the more experienced GMs and players here what pitfalls and problems, if any, I should avoid, and generally ask for advice.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby Monolith » Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:13 pm

I'm sorry no one's answered this, but it's a very complex issue.

There first thing I'd tell you to do is take some sample characters and just do some test battles. Nothing involving the campaign, just so that everyone can learn the basics of how combat and power stunting work. You can download any of the Sentinels pdfs from this page: http://grfiles.game-host.org/ to do that. Just run a bunch of mock battles.

When you go to run your campaign you're going to see that everything in M&M is balanced to pl. 2 pl 10 characters are roughly equal, and the bigger the pl difference the more people you need to fight the foe. So 1 pl 10 against another pl 10 has roughly a 50/50 chance of going either way. A pl 11 versus a pl 10 has the pl 11 winning 2/3 of the time, and so on.

As a new GM you're going to want everyone playing to be the same pl, because it's just too hard to balance many different pls when you're not super familiar with the system. This means Superman and Batman aren't going to be on the same team because the pl disparity makes it impossible for anyone Batman will fight to not be destroyed by Superman, and anyone Superman would fight Batman can't really hurt. As an experienced GM you learn how to work around that, but as a newb to the system it will be murder.

So tell your players if they're going to play established characters that everyone needs to be roughly the same pl, and decide what pl you want the game to be. So if you're wanting a PL 14/15 game then Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern, might be a team. If you're wanting around a pl 12 game then Batman, Aquaman, Flash, might be a different team. If you're wanting a pl 10 game then look at Green Arrow, Black Canary, Booster Gold, and so on for a team.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:37 pm

Thanks for pointing out the Sentinel's pdf to me, those are going to be pretty useful as examples for me and my players. I think I'll either run them through pre-made DC the quickstarts or have them fight it out using the archetypes examples or the Sentinels.

Talking about examples, my DCA Hero's Handbook has just arrived, and I am gleefully reading through it (the advantages section had me confused for a bit, before I realized "ah, there are feats, ok then").
I was wondering if any other books are essential for running a game.

Also a question: I get that PL determine the points at character creation, but how balanced with each other are builds like say, the Paragon and the Gadgeteer? I ask this because I am afraid of my players going into this with D&D mentality and ignoring cool things in favor of just big numbers.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby Monolith » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:21 pm

PL isn't really about points. It's about combat balance. You give your players x amount of points but they must build the character balanced to pl: the categories basically described on page 25.

In a pl 10 game a character can't have more then a total of 20 in attack + damaging effect, or more then a total of 20 in dodge/parry defense + toughness, or more then a total of 20 in will + fort, or more then a skill rank of pl +10. So while it's not a perfect system it means that everyone of the same pl is close to the same combat effectiveness with the tradeoffs:

Gadgeteer has an 8 attack and does 12 damage with his blaster: totals to 20.
Construct has a 9 attack and does 11 str damage: totals to 20.
Martial artist has a 16 attack and does 4 str damage: totals to 20.

You can't really have "big numbers" because everyone needs to balance to the pl; so at pl10 everyone needs to balance to that 20. The things you need to watch out for are some of the advantages people will try to sneak in, like improved critical.

In the beginning I don't think you need any other books. If you have the base rules and some foes to fight you're good to go. So pick up a villain book or two, or steal some characters from the website, and just start making your campaign. Rules and foes are all you need. Once you get more into it then you might want to look at books like the Gamemaster's Guide to see some optional rules and additional information on villains.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:37 pm

Thanks you for helpful advice and information.
I think I'll do as you suggest and use the corebook for now. If I ever want more info of characters I think I'll buy the pdfs for my personal use.

Well, thanks again Monolith, I'm off to reading! 8)

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby BlueBullet » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:20 pm

I can tell you from my experience running a series as GM, which was the first for me as well, is that it's important to say Yes and No to your players, much like the game states. I'm not saying that you should be dictating how the game goes at every which way and turn, but if you let the players get away with murder (which almost happened in my game, btw), games can get out of control. On the flipside, if you become too controlling, it can ruin the experience for your players.

For example, one player in my game has a Teleport ability that he attempted to abuse in game, saying he teleported away whenever someone went to attack. The first couple of games, I let this happen because I was afraid of saying no. Eventually, it got to a point where there was no challenge for him or any other players; every conflict could be resolved in a round. So I started saying no to teleporting, explaining it was not a Reaction power. When he tried to make it into a Reaction, I again said no, but suggested more skills to help in battle instead, such as Deception. This made the conflicts more even for everyone involved, and people found their roles in battle not long after that.

Again, to stress, you're not looking to be totally authoritative and stopping your players from straying off the plan you've laid out, but you need to reach a good middle ground. You're looking to allow your players to essentially do as they please, but you'll need to step in every now and then when something potentially game-breaking could spoil the game.

One other thing I can suggest, from a GM's POV, is that you can meticulously plan out every line, every play and every plot point imaginable, but having your players stick to them is an entirely different thing. You may plan out a long, tense Stealth section, but then have the players go in all guns blazing, without you being prepared for it. So you'll need to keep all bases covered. Again, there's no need to plan out every possible situation and outcome from A to B, but having a guide or idea of what could happen will keep you on your toes, and make the potential situations more exciting.

Lastly, and the book suggests this as well, let your players explore their characters, allow them to develop. Gotham is pretty quiet during the day time. Your players may want to explore, learn new skills, etc. I made a mechanic in my game for this, which I called Daytime Mode, where the players could do as they please, and this allowed a lot of room for character development. Not only does this allow your players to build upon their characters, but it's also great for you as a GM; it can create new Complications and plot lines to follow for future games.

Overall, running a game can be rewarding, but it can be a trial at the same time. Hitting a good balance for you and the players is key. But most of all, have fun. It's the whole reason you're doing this, right? :)

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:48 pm

:D Indeed, the entire point of the thing is to have fun while telling a story.
And certainly, a game more oriented towards proper storytelling and character is just what I want.
It's certainly going to be interesting seeing how my players, by now long used to being the classic D&D "murderhobo", are going to play properly heroic characters.

And I have a question: what kind of playstyle di you go for your first sessions? Did you follow the book's suggestion and have the pc's be PL10? What atmosphere did you go for, lighthearted, serious, or a mix of the two?
I'm personally thinking of proposing a kind standard comic book origin story: a bunch of young heroes come together by change to fight the supervillain/alien invasion/whatever threatening the city, and the fight makes them friends and permanent teammates.
Last edited by TheSander on Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby BlueBullet » Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:06 pm

The initial 7 game run was PL 10, like the book suggested. The players made their own characters, as they wanted to try out the game system with fresh characters rather than pick an existing one. We started out in Gotham, solving a murder mystery before it became a conspiracy story, drawing on sources like Batman and Watchmen.

It started out quite serious, but became a mixture of that and being light-hearted. For example, one player, Morpheus, has the ability to mimic any character, super-powered or otherwise, similar to Peter Pitrelli from Heroes. So when it came to fighting Poison Ivy in Robinson Park, what started out as a strategic battle ended up turning into something out of Godzilla when Ivy and Morpheus both summon giant trees to fight one another. Oh, and let's not forget the Morphmobile...which would be dropped into battle by Metallica, a metal manipulator, to the sound of AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck'.

Obviously, these are few and far between, and it's all in the name of fun at the end of the day. But starting small is the way to go in my book. Start out with a city story, whether that be Gotham, Metropolis, or even one of your own making. Something small as a series of well-planned, well-time robberies by a gang of professional thieves, or a serial killer like Victor Zsasz going on a rampage. It can be one game, or a number making up a small series. It's better to come to grips with the game system with a smaller scale game, I find. It's difficult to keep track of what's going on and who's doing what when Darkseid is attacking the entire world en masse with an army of millions, if you see what I mean.

In terms of PL, the players gain enough PPs to level up during the series, but it's down to you if you want to level up the characters during the game too.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:13 am

I know part of the system is Open Content, but I have a question:
In preparation for the game I'm making M&M PDF character sheet in my native language (Italian) and probably will make a translation for the measurements tables (thank god there's metric measurements in the book) and perhaps some condition cards.
Would it be okay for me to share them here?

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby Monolith » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:55 am

BlueBullet wrote:For example, one player in my game has a Teleport ability that he attempted to abuse in game, saying he teleported away whenever someone went to attack. The first couple of games, I let this happen because I was afraid of saying no.

Just wanted to jump in here and say the above is not legal within the rules. Your character can only go on his count. If his count is 14 and he does his actions he can't do other actions on count 10 when someone is attacking him, or even on count 14 after he has already done his turn.

There are only 3 ways he can do something on count 10: either he delayed his 14 down to 10, or he used ready to set up something that will happen at a later count, or he used a hero point and the gm allowed him to get an instant counter: teleport ranks versus effect to try and avoid the effect.

A friendly gm, like myself, might allow him to use a hero point to get an extra effort move action on a later count, though technically you can only use extra effort action on your turn. That helps the player blow through some of it's hero points.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby Monolith » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:56 am

TheSander wrote:I know part of the system is Open Content, but I have a question:
In preparation for the game I'm making M&M PDF character sheet in my native language (Italian) and probably will make a translation for the measurements tables (thank god there's metric measurements in the book) and perhaps some condition cards.
Would it be okay for me to share them here?

Generally, unless you are trying to make money off of your designs, most players do not worry about the ogl. If you want to give away a character, or character sheets, there is generally no issue. The ogl police will not hunt you down. :)

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby Monolith » Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:25 am

I also wanted to add that the combined Emerald City Knights adventure is for sale in the M&M store. It's $10 and gives you several adventures, starting from getting the players together at pl 10 to taking them into the cosmic recesses at a higher pl. It's easily adaptable for most campaign worlds.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:26 am

Once again, thank you, you've been extremely helpful. I will check Emeral City once I feel I've got the rules down.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby Monolith » Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:45 am

TheSander wrote:Once again, thank you, you've been extremely helpful. I will check Emeral City once I feel I've got the rules down.

Well if you have rules' questions please shout out. There's a bit of learning curve involved with M&M and it can be a little difficult to make sense of it all by yourself at the beginning.

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Re: New GM, asking for advice

Postby TheSander » Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:41 pm

Well I do have already one doubt: isn't the Takedown advantage really overpowered? To me it reads that for just two power poins pc's can make minions basically irrelevant in a fight, because they can take them out by the dozens in a single round, literally if they are a speedster.


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