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Dare's Masterpost For New Players

daretobe Mar '17  /  edited Oct '17

= PART ONE : VIDEO LINKS & TRPG =

Alright listen up! I've been super helpful in the past, working with new GMs and teaching people about TRPG. I think this will help a lot of people, so I'll be spending hours on it. I will update it whenever I find new resources. First off, you all should read all of this : fabletop.com/help/introduction Introduction through Code of Conduct. Now, why should I spend so much time getting stuff to help strangers? Because I want people to have fun on FableTop. In the words of Matthew Colville... "Because I want you to be a river, to your people"

Speaking of Matthew Colville, Here's his really helpful stuff!
Running the Game : Matthew Colville = youtube.com/watch?v=e-YZvLUXcR8&list=PLlUk42GiU2gu...

Speaking of Matthews, Here's some more to watch!
Matthew Mercer GM Tips: youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7atuZxmT9570U87GhK_20N...
Matt, from afistfullofdice : youtube.com/user/aFistfulofDice/playlists

Here is some more Youtuber's that can help you.

Web DM : youtube.com/watch?v=zuJyRed_aiM&list=PLNnRdBIGJX6x...

ProJared's D&December : youtube.com/watch?v=pTVz5Hyw2E8&list=PLO7ChEvlE6ff...

Why No One Will Game With You: youtube.com/watch?v=WffBU8l_g8Y

Beyond Dungeons & Dragons: youtube.com/watch?v=ERc0-mp75oY
- I love this video, it shows a lot of what Fabletop's simplicity is trying to do. Its also good to show off other TRPG styles.

+ I think it's important to post this Video again.
The Sociology of D&D, Running the Game #8 : youtube.com/watch?v=EHUCi6ZbVxU

So why would you care what a bunch of Internet Matthew's think about D&D? Because while D&D is different to FableTop, its all under the way Tabletop is run. A large number of people here on fabletop, and new to it, have never played a TRPG. Its important to know at least a small amount about what TRPG is to host and play in it. But in the end, the best help is just to play. To listen, learn, and have fun with it.

Fabletop is a TRPG
Fabletop is a Tabletop Role Playing Game. New to it? That's fine. Tabletop covers a vast number of games and systems. Unlike a CRPG or RPG video game, its done with pen & paper, face to face. Or over the internet. The major draws is that, nothing is scripted, and you make your character. Nothing is coded or limited. Imagination takes control.
If you are looking around for more information about TRPG terms, or culture, I recommend 1d4chan.org . Its pretty much /tg/ from 4chan, without most of the cancer.

FableTop is a MUD
What do I mean by that? Frost says that this site got inspired by rules light games, like Fate & Lady Blackbird. (mmmm, Lady Blackbird is good...) But the layout and system itself feels like a really nice MUD-lite game. MUD stands for Multi User Dungeon. i.ytimg.com/vi/0s2ukNqLEE0/0.jpg & classes.dma.ucla.edu/Fall13/161/projects/gregory-c... It has a very similar layout, of the public space to see the environment, and then scrolling text, with dialogue & Stats. I don't know why it tickles me that this feels like a callback to an old system of gaming, but I enjoy it a lot.

= PART TWO : RULES & TRAITS =

FableTop Core rules
The Core rules for Fabletop can be found here : fabletop.com/help/basic-rules
The Core Traits are what are chosen when you make your characters. There are 6 Core Genres, that reflect the Setting of the game.
They are all generic, but follow basic rules of the setting and Cliche's.
+ Medieval Fantasy : Dungeons & Dragons, PenDragon, Etc.
+ Space Fantasy : Space Opera(s), Borderline Warhammer 40K.
+ Star Voyage : Humans In Space, Star Trek & Mass Effect
+ Cyber City : It is based on Shadowrun, not Cyberpunk.
+ Modern Crime : Any Gritty Crime Drama.
+ Super Powers : Generic Super Heroes in Metropolis doing super hero things.

Fabletop's Flexibility to work in any Genre
In my Opinion, one of the best things fabletop allows, (much like the mix & mach GURPS games) is the freedom to have any setting ever. No crunch gets in the way of what you do.
Setting Is the blood that is pumped through your game. Its how your world lives.

Freedom in Traits
Now, some people complain about the generic-ness of traits, and that Core traits "Limit" them. I'm here to argue a counter point. For example, the traits offered in Medieval Fantasy are, Mage, Warrior, Rogue. Now, take a look at this Triangle. imgur.com/1BeR6hi
Discounting the second core trait you can pick from, you have a large number of "classes" that are within the Sphere of the three most basic traits. The idea is that they are generic enough to allow you to play a vast number of character types with that trait. The Triangle is just an example of the general vs the specific.

++Character Generation++
This is a mini section that I thought of, when asking a GM what kind of game/characters he wants. In my history of fabletop, I've seen three very distinct ways GM's run character traits.

CUSTOM BASED GENERATION
Making up a name for a trait, giving it a value, and a description. Usually 2-3 'skills' are 'tagged' in the description.
Focus: Character led Advancement

CORE BASED GENERATION
Trait from the lists of options at the start of character generation.
Focus: FableTop Rule-Set

CLASS BASED GENERATION
Traits picked from forums, or other locations and pasted into your area for traits. May have "advanced" level traits, branching traits, and special other house rules that apply to traits and classes.
Focus: GM House Rule-Set & Advancement

On Custom Traits
Its perfectly fine to argue that Custom traits are Core to Fabletop, and you are right. The system's traits are meant to be added to and customized. Much like in Dogs in the Vineyard, custom traits & flaws assigned with a value are made at the start of character creation, and more are added or changed during play.
Custom traits are traits that are not "stock" or chosen at the start of character creation. Custom traits typically have 2-3 "tagged" features in them. A feature could be combat related, or socially related. I agree with Oman when he says... 'Traits are skill bonuses that add 1 or more dice, they do not give you passive powers'. Because he is right. That's how traits are meant to work.

Broken Rules
This is not me bashing on anyone. Its just me seeing what's commonly used, and that either breaks the game, or slows it down/makes it not enjoyable.
Dodge rules - In summary, a lot of tables use dodge rules. When something attacks, the victim gets to roll to counter the attack without spending power. Often times, traits and such are devoted to dodging. I find several things wrong with it, and will list them. (But at the end of the day, this is just tips. Run your table your way)
One, very rarely can anyone pick what trait to use for dodging. A lot of people said agility should be used for it, but often, Gm's employ the use of an alternative "block" rule so that players can use might to "block" the damage. (effectively the same as dodging)
Two, it make very little sense in a TRPG standpoint. (disregarding fabletop entirely) Because it barely passes as a "saving throw". It should not take the place of AC, and to a degree, AC should not really be placed into Fabletop since the system is not made for it. Its much simpler to have a simple resistance score, that subtracts from the damage taken. (much like the indie TRPG dungeon world, or other examples) So to say dodging to begin with in TRPG is common, is wrong.
Three, it leaves way too much up to chance/RNG, and never feels very satisfying when you finally get a decent roll to hit, and they can just keep not getting hit. It bogs down combat turns. It draws our combat much longer than it ever needs to be, and its usually no fun. That's about it...

Overkill skull/moon - In a nutshell, people don't understand the use of Moons & skulls, even though it very definitely states their intended usage in the How to Play. Moons are not Natural 20s, or Critical hits. A Skull does not mean you auto fail. Lets go through some examples of correct usage

Jenny is trying to pick a lock in a cyber city game. The Gm thinks that this would be a hard thing to do, with the security he has in the building. So thinks or flat out tells Jenny that she will need a Great Success (3 Stars).
Jenny Rolls her Agility (3 dice) and gets a single moon. (Which counts as 1 star)

Now, let me interject in my own example, that how moons and skulls come into play is also how the GM runs challenges to begin with. Two examples of good ways to run resolving dice are...
InSpectres : Where the success allows someone to take narrative control. The TRPG has its own style of success and failure, and when you fail but got close to success, you can add a positive twist to the outcome. (literally how moons and skulls work)
Another example is the Burning Wheel's rule of Let it Ride and Say yes or roll the dice. More on Burning wheel rule can be found here, its not a lot to read, I promise. Its right at the top. burningwheel.com/wiki/index.php?title=Introduction...

So Jenny fails, but a good twist (drawing from the examples) are she stays silent and hidden, not setting off the alarms. Then/or, she can attempt to retry the check.

POWER
This is a -big- topic I have a lot of... Ahem, anger, Over. So I will make a long post about it in the future when I am in the mindset and motivated.

Thoughts on Items
First and foremost, as a player, I am driven nuts by the "roll to see what loot you get" concept. As a GM, it should also bother you. Why? Because loot is a major resource for the Players. It makes their power level higher, it gives them more tools to solve problems. Its important to control that, in order to scale encounters to their level. Leaving it up to RNG makes some PCs more powerful than the others, makes it possible they turn your encounter into a cake walk, or literally can't progress to a degree from lack of resources. Its just something you want to keep track of yourself. And as a player, it feels cheap. If its there, its there, and I want to use it, if not, fine. But don't leave it up to chance, luck, or their ability to "loot" around and actually see the thing. As an example, at a table I rolled loot in a garage that we were trapped in as a monster tried to get into the room and kill us. We all tried to get something to protect ourselves. They could not find any good power tools, crowbars, etc in the garage. I rolled a moon and really high star count... and I literally found a car, with gas and keys. ...In the garage we were hiding in. Because I rolled high enough. (also note, this was a post apoc setting, so...) Yup. That's my take on rolling for loot. Please don't do it, it sucks.

Some Items are given a trait
A magic weapon may add to your rolls, or an armor gives you more heath. when it comes to enchanted gear, I don't mind it effecting traits. Its a very good way to integrate gear into power level. When you get a reward, your reward should mean something. Don't bog inventories up with trivial bobbles and nick-nacks, or to a degree, don't bog them down with counting out coins and monetary wealth.

Oman's Opinion
Trivial loot. Loot should be limited to 2 - 3 items per Campaign. In the time it takes to reach 100xp, a player should have gained 1 or 2 items tops. It's tempting to have constant loot drops like a video game, but it quickly breaks stuff

Dare's Dilemma
It comes down to how you want to run your game. Loot can boost and power up your players, and it actually does often times matter and effect the game. It should, matter and effect the game, otherwise why have it. I'll let you take that how you will.

= PART THREE : TERMS & TOOLS =

FableTop Terms & Usage
No, not Terms of Use. (Though, its good to read, here it is : fabletop.com/help/code-of-conduct )
No I literally mean terms, Phrases, Slang, stuff you will want to know. This list might stay short, or it might get very long, I'm not sure.

Soft Rp : Over time, I've seen soft Rp range from chatting after a session, showing up before a GM, showing up just to have some good development or conversations with a PC, and even showing up even when there will be no Gm simply because you want to play.
It has become very popular, thanks to many GMs, that people soft rp during downtime. In face to face tabletop, downtime is either boring or very helpful, but always not very common. But with the way Fabletop is set up, downtime activities, and "soft" roleplaying are much easier to do.

So what is it? Its simply roleplaying at a table during a time plot is not the focus. This can be with or without a GM, though be aware some GMs don't like people lurking or playing when they are not present. This can be with the GM, as he/she runs the local area, NPCs, etc. But most commonly, this is between a few PCs trying to grow their characters, interact during non combat/non plot moments, and to develop stronger bonds with each other.

I think soft rp is a very good thing. But there are some drawbacks. An abundance of soft rp in your game can cause... GMs to lose focus on their story. Party conflicts and disagreements (very hard to settle when a GM is not present) Romance (Non erp that develops characters and adds dramatic tension between players, I personally think its a very good thing if its done with taste and maturity)

Slot Each table has a GM slot and 6 Player slots. Simple as that.

OOC Means Out of Character. Text with grey color. Out of the context of the game. Meta thoughts, questions, and jokes are all OOC.

IC Means In Character. Text with Tan color. Actions and words your character does/says in the context of the game.

Check Not a saving throw. It is a roll your GM asks you to make. Examples are, the GM wants you to make a check to see if you spot the writing on the corner of the wall.

Saving Throw Not a Check. This is a roll to save yourself. Might, Agility, and Wisdom each are used for different saving throws, literally D&D 3.5 : dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Saving_Throw . This is to avoid or lessen the effect of a harmful effect on your character.

FableTop Mapping, and Tools
While the How to Play Section has tips on making your map, I have my own tips to offer as well.
Don't waste space Although it feels weird after just being told not to clutter the map, also don't waste the space given to you. On a boat/space ship? Don't use too much water/void, and allow your ship to have what little detail it can.
Scope of your map is important. How "zoomed" in or out your map is helps players understand distances and detail better. Often times, you can have an overlay scene, and then a detailed scene for each room.
Don't be afraid to shift scenes I find that often times Gm's want everyone in the same scene at all times. Feel free to split the PCs between scenes that are close by, or allow them to shift scenes when there is no combat. Just because the other PCs can't see where they are on the map does not mean they can't keep role playing, and contributing.
Work with the limitations Be an artist with your scenes, explore the canvas. Use the colors to contrast or blend into each other to make the scene the way you want it to be.
Sometimes scenes just suck Its just part of it. Some scenes will look nice, and have the exact feel you want. Maybe its the star ship you worked on, or the scenic field on which they are to die. But some scenes just don't always click. Boring scenes will get the job done, and don't worry about them ever being perfect. Because they rarely will be perfect.

Forums
Forums are a simple way for people to learn what they need to know about the game you are running. Yet, many players either do not have forums, which makes it hard to learn about who they are and what they host, how they host, and sometimes when. Or its quite the opposite, where they have over 5 forums stickied, or over 6 forums for a game. Often times, when they do have forums, they tend to be long and messy. Here are some tips on cleaning up your current forums, and making new ones easy to read.

Use HTML: Now, not all HTML works on fabletop forums, but frost is hopefully in the process of getting us a full list of what works, and what does not. When he does, it will go here. _____.
Until then, the two main thing I use is [b] and /b]. It bolds the text. (The white words I have everywhere in this forum.) Now, if you are familiar with HTML, then this is nothing new. Beyond that, the Use of four - with spaces between are used to make a page break. (also seen in this forum) Using these two things, with the helpful use of paragraph spacing, will make your forums easy to navigate.

Other tips include not having super long or complex forums. Its just not that big of a deal. Don't spoil every detail about the setting in forums, play it out in the game on the table. Show, don't tell.

Only tell the players what you think they need to know, and then call it good. If you have several forums for one game, think about trimming the current forums, and then copy pasting them into one single forum. Commenting on your own forum is helpful as well, if you want to add extra information not officially part of your forum, such as a log of events, or refreshers of the past sessions.

= PART FOUR : GM TIPS & Q&A =

So you want to be a good Gm huh kid? Well, there are a few things you will need to do before you post your game! (Or not, I can't stop you)

Get motivated And I mean, Honestly Motivated. Be excited, it will help in the long run. Watch genre movies that tie into your setting, watch battles play out, and plots unravel. Get ideas, source material, and a drive to host. Be your biggest fan, and be a fan of every single character on the table. Enthusiasm and desire to play are fantastic in getting others motivated as well, and it it shows on the table.

Be Willing to do your Homework This is more important than you think. Hosting and being a Gm takes a (usually) large amount of reading, work, and time. If you do not do your homework, your grade will suffer. So will your game, and your players enjoyment or involvement.

What homework is there? It could be anything from writing up your session plans or story arcs, checking source or setting material (Or writing more of your own) getting all your scenes planned out, setting up several possible encounters, re-reading your player's character sheets and finding ways to tie them in through plot hooks and goals/rewards. Writing more NPCs, or making NPCs you have more interesting and fleshed out.

Easy NPCs: In reality, you need two things to make any NPC an actual character. These two things are what their interaction on the players, and interaction with the world, pivot on. Those two things are... What they fear and what they want. Its that simple. Everyone has those two motivations, from peasant mothers, to thieves guild leaders. Makes sure your average NPCs have them as well!


What To Expect
Always expect that the Glade is dead. The glade is not going to be your friend often enough when it comes to finding games, and finding players.
Post your game ahead of time in order to actually get players that want to be in your game.

Wait. I literally mean wait. Wait for the right players. Wait for the time in your life/schedule that works for you. There is no sense in ever rushing, forcing, or losing sleep over your game, or fabletop in general.

Common Questions
Hey, no one showed up to my game! What gives! Heck, I don't know. A lot of possibilities. You had a strange timezone. You had a lack of info on your table/forum/front page notice. Maybe the type of game you run is not very popular? Maybe you had a bad session recently and word got around. My question to you, is what will you do about it? (Pst! You should just try again later, improve your info, even ask people in messages, etc to understand why, and then solve the problem!)

What can I do on my turn? This is a good question to ask your gm when entering a game. This most often comes up when someone wants to heal, and then attack. Classically, in almost every D&D game I have been a part of, taking a potion, stowing or drawing a weapon, and interacting with your inventory takes your move action. Your move action can be taken to move an amount of space equal to your movement speed. Pretty basic stuff. What your Gm wants to run on their table is the law, but usually on FT you have a turn, and an action you can take. Action, as in, do something descriptive. Action movie style of, you can run up and punch something, or pull out your gun from the hip and gun him down in front of the town hall. Where problems arise is where the question started to begin with. Healing. Even having a potion on hand, and even being able to do other "movement actions" on your turn, I still second the notion that (to protect balance in this game) healing takes a full turn. Simple as that.

General Tips from Dare
Know what kind of game you run! Your play style is how other players and GMs can understand you, and what you like best about the games. Knowing what kind of player you are, and knowing what kind of Gming style you run helps people know if they want to be in your game, what to expect from you/your game, and how best to play in your game.

Other Contributions
+ oman1666 :
Anything a new player could need to know is in the how to play
But if I had to write one thing it would be 'Traits are skill bonuses that add 1 or more dice, they do not give you passive powers. Use power points for that kind of special stunt or skill'


Wisdom & Magic are overpowered, and here is why. (A rant for another day)
supersam317 Apr '17
+1 Like
vasyrat Apr '17
+1 Like

Total: 2(so far)

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