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Author Topic: First time ST for My Life With Master: Advice?  (Read 5398 times)
Spiral Jacobs
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Posts: 9


« on: October 19, 2005, 03:58:54 AM »

I ordered My Life With Master and might be running it this weekend.  I haven't been the ST at a game in a very long time, so I'm in need of some advice and confidence-building.  Do you have any tips on smoother play?  Should I have ANY ideas about how the Master should be, what his plans are, or should I be a blank slate, allowing the players to create the whole thing at the table, and then ad lib?  It feels scary to ad hoc a game like that, but if that's how it's done, I'll try it.  I feel like I should be armed with SOME idea anyway.

Thanks for any advice.

Spiral
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2005, 06:05:37 AM »

Hey,

I've never run MLWM, but I did play it in a Con scenario (which, in my experience, is the most legitimate place to pre-make PCs and NPCs and "plot"), and we created everything there at the table.  Making up the Master was one of the funnest parts.

What I'd do if I were going to run it is have a handful of ideas of things that you find evocative for Master traits, but throw them in as suggestions with equal weight to all the other players.  You might want to even email your players beforehand and give a brief description of MLWM, and ask them to begin brainstorming on their own for Master traits they'd like to see.
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Victor Gijsbers
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« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2005, 06:09:47 AM »

Check out Michael Miller's Manifesto on Mastery: http://www.chimera.info/daedalus/articles/spring2005/mlwm-manifesto.html

Here I explain about my prep for a con game of MLwM: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=15555.0
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2005, 06:15:59 AM »

Hi, Spiral. Welcome to the Forge!

I've condensed much of my Mastering advice into: A Manifesto on Mastery. So give that a read and feel free to ask any questions.

Also, check out the advice in Running a con game of MLWM or DitV or what? It's focused primarily on convention play, but should suit any time-limited scenario.

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Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2005, 08:29:04 AM »


Hi Spiral, Welcome!!
What is your real name?

I've tried my first session of MLwM yesterday, I will surely post something about it in Actual Play soon.
Don't worry, it is easy and smooth to drive. I used the advice on "A Manifesto on Mastery" with a high degree of success.

If you have not done it yet, you can also check the thread Topic: collecting data: Fear, Reason, etc. and length of game to have an idea about the relation between Fear and Reason values and the expected time of play.

Good luck, and enjoy it,
Arturo
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2005, 09:51:37 AM »

Read this answer carefully: you shouldn't have any ideas going to the table, you should be a blank slate, yes. More or less. But then at the table you should be a full participant in the process. But you want to participate in such a way as to create a master that you feel you can play well, one that will, following Mike Miller's advice, get you to really crush the players.

So, no, don't decide at all on anything up front, do so as part of the process of designing the master. What this should produce is master that you love to play, and the players love to hate. Once you have that, you're ready to go.

Without the master, any other planning is pointless, really.

Mike
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Spiral Jacobs
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Posts: 9


« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2005, 02:51:30 PM »

OK, I've read the Master's Manifesto and other related threads.  I'm really excited to play this.  I plan to have 3 Minions and maybe play 2-3 4 hour sessions, including chargen and Mastergen.  Any pertinent advice to steering the game towards this length of game play?

I also wonder what I can do to play the Master more effectively.  I simply am not capable of towering over or physically intimidating my players.  It's not my style, and frankly, it'd be vaguely ridiculous, since I'm a 5' tall woman and my 3 PCs are 6 foot+ tall men.  I'd rather use vocal style and verbal battery to make my point (and I think I'll be good at it, frighteningly enough).  Any tips for doing that in such a way that it won't veer into the comic but also won't be taken too much to heart by the PCs?

This game reminds me of DitV in the sense that the very idea of it makes me vastly uncomfortable at the same time it intrigues the hell out of me.  I think it's the power trip that I worry about... maybe it'll be too much fun?  Maybe the players will take the abuse personally?  I guess the scenario has to be clearly hammered out ahead of time, and the whole catharsis concept discussed.

Thoughts?  Advice?  Comments from actual game play?

Thanks!

Spiral aka Paula
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Spiral Jacobs
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Posts: 9


« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2005, 03:01:08 PM »

Another question occurs to me:  how important is Minion background?  I haven't really seen it mentioned in any of the game creation or play threads I've read, though it has always been a key part of chargen in other games I've played.  Can that bit be glossed over? 

Spiral
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Victor Gijsbers
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2005, 01:06:39 AM »

Hi Paula,

I also wonder what I can do to play the Master more effectively.  I simply am not capable of towering over or physically intimidating my players.  It's not my style, and frankly, it'd be vaguely ridiculous, since I'm a 5' tall woman and my 3 PCs are 6 foot+ tall men.  I'd rather use vocal style and verbal battery to make my point (and I think I'll be good at it, frighteningly enough).  Any tips for doing that in such a way that it won't veer into the comic but also won't be taken too much to heart by the PCs?

I think it is easiest if you, the GM, resemble the Master. Make sure that the Master is female, and maybe has the Brain aspect, and you'll be able to present her convincingly. Use all the dirty psychological tricks you can think of when dealing with the minions - using them obviously enough for the players to notice, of course. I like to have the Master take a different stance towards each of the minions; to one his is intolerant and quick to anger; to one, he is condescending and sneers a lot; to one, he acts as if he really loves the minion but doesn't understand why the minion constantly disappoints him. These are just examples, choose the psychological pressure that best fits the minions.

"What? You failed again?! You sorry little piece of shit, tell me, why, why do I spend my time trying to beat some sense in you? Why don't I just send you away to die alone and hungry in the woods?! Tell me, or I'll beat it out of you!"

"Of course you failed. I really didn't expect anything else, my dear. I wouldn't worry too much about how your incompetence ruins my plans and therefore the one chance of happiness for all the world - it may make your little head hurt, and its not your fault that mother Nature made you so stupid and so weak."

"You failed? Really, it hurts me more than you can imagine that you have once again betrayed my trust. I love you, I want you to succeed in life, I do everything I can to help you - but it is becoming hard for me to believe that you try to help me, with all these failures. I can't bear to think about the possibility that you want to betray me, but really, how can I still neglect that option?"


Quote
how important is Minion background?  I haven't really seen it mentioned in any of the game creation or play threads I've read, though it has always been a key part of chargen in other games I've played.  Can that bit be glossed over?

Not important. I generally ask people how they came to be with the Master; one or two sentences are enough, and if they have no idea, that is fine too. Sometimes the Connections also provide a bit of background ("my sister"). But that is all.
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2005, 06:11:38 AM »

I also wonder what I can do to play the Master more effectively.  I simply am not capable of towering over or physically intimidating my players.  It's not my style, and frankly, it'd be vaguely ridiculous, since I'm a 5' tall woman and my 3 PCs are 6 foot+ tall men.  I'd rather use vocal style and verbal battery to make my point (and I think I'll be good at it, frighteningly enough).  Any tips for doing that in such a way that it won't veer into the comic but also won't be taken too much to heart by the PCs?

Hi, Paula.

For one, listen to Victor. He knows of what he speaks.

Two, use every mean, self-esteem destroying thing you've ever heard, just as Victor suggests.

Three, remember that the Master Knows All. You don't need a plausible explanation for why she knows all, just that she does. The minions can keep no secrets from the Master. Sometimes she'll let them think that she's fooled, and when they're secure that their Connection is safely hidden away, have the Master order them to bring them to her!

As for physicality, I suggest standing while running the game. It gives you energy, plus you can still have your minions look up at you if they're seated.
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Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Spiral Jacobs
Member

Posts: 9


« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2005, 06:19:40 AM »

Mike, I don't know how to tell you this, but when I'm standing and they're sitting, we're the same height.  Not going to work.  I think I'll steer towards playing more of a Dr. Finkelstein (from Nightmare Before Christmas) type Master than a Count Dracula/Darkness from Legend type Master.  That way the abuse can be mostly verbal and psychological rather than physical intimidation.

Is it really necessary to play a female Master?  I think I could play an effete male Master just as well, and I hate to limit the player's ideas for what their Master is like based on gender.  I often play male characters to good effect in tabletop games, so I'm used to it.  Some amount of distance between the real me and Master is healthy, I think, and I'll have to "get into character" to play him/her anyway.

Maybe I'll post an account of how this goes in Actual Play, though I'm sure I'll be back with questions for y'all after I meet with the players tomorrow night to brainstorm ideas.

Spiral
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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2005, 06:21:54 AM »

Paula:

Ring the table with an outline of milk crates.
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2005, 06:24:47 AM »

Mike, I don't know how to tell you this, but when I'm standing and they're sitting, we're the same height.  Not going to work.  I think I'll steer towards playing more of a Dr. Finkelstein (from Nightmare Before Christmas) type Master than a Count Dracula/Darkness from Legend type Master.  That way the abuse can be mostly verbal and psychological rather than physical intimidation.

Oh, yeah! That's perfect! Put one chair aside especially for the Master. Only sit in it when you play the Master. After just a few scenes, just switching chairs will make th players tense up.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2005, 10:16:14 AM »

Like Rob said. Or put the players on the floor. Crosslegged. And then that chair that Mike talks about. Stand on it. If you must play at a table, at some point get up on the table (be careful of the cieling fan) and walk over to the player whose minion the master is lecturing, stand at the edge of the table, and proceed to berate looking straight down at the player.

You can be taller than them if you want to.

Mike
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Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2005, 05:16:54 PM »


Well, the trick of talking from above is nice, but I think you can also live without it.
I talk from my experience in other games, but my group learnt how to hate the nasty sneaky NPCs that seemed to appear always at their backs or between them by surprise. I was doing it physically some times.

I can imagine you can play with this. If you have enough room around the table, you can abandon your chair and begin to walk silently around them when the master is coming. This will force them to either, not to look at you, or painfully turn their collars around. Anyway, it should create an uncomfortable feeling, which is the purpose.

Arturo
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