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Author Topic: Which Direction Do You Plan?  (Read 3847 times)

Posts: 1351

« on: June 28, 2001, 09:22:00 AM »

Here's another one of my, 'no correct answer, just gathering preferences and opinions' questions.  When you GM which direction do you plan?  By this I mean do you develop your relationship maps/backstory and then take the character's kickers and fit them in?  Or do you just go ahead and have the players make up some characters and use the kickers for inspiration to create a backstory?

I understand that the later will make the game more strongly tied to the PCs but the former has the advantage of not putting you on the spot.  Generally, I don't go to my group and say, 'Hey, I want to GM game X' until I've already got a sketch outline for the story I want to do in game X.  This is because I don't want to 'be in the mood for game X' and have everyone draw up characters and then have no actual scenario.

However, as I'm developing my mathematical/scientific setting for Sorcerer I'm discovering that I like the idea but have absolutely NO IDEAS for a story.  So I'm thinking of trying my hand at going the other way.  Having the players draw up some characters and then hope (cross fingers) that the kickers will inspire me.

I'm just curious as to which direction you plan and how you've made effective use of that decision.

joshua neff

Posts: 949

« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2001, 09:52:00 AM »


generally what i do is map out relationships, plan out some backstory, & then have the players make up characters. then, i rework & rewrite the backstory & write up new npcs (& often change any relationship maps) to fit the characters. then i improvise like hell, altering relationships between npcs, creating new npcs on the fly, & tossing in stuff that i have no idea what it means, figuring it out later.
usually, i have quite a bit of background, both written & in my head, so that i can throw in little historical tidbits at a moments notice. but often, i make those up, too.


"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

Posts: 550

« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2001, 10:02:00 AM »

I definitely build my background and relationship maps first, then retrofit to include the kickers.  I did it this weekend for Call of Cthulhu and it worked very well.  I'm not entirely satisfied with all of the kickers, but it definitely put everybody in action and is keeping them there.


Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Ian Freeman

Posts: 32

« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2001, 10:26:00 AM »

Neither. I GM "ass-backwards"

Before the session beings I come up with "cool-stuff". Basically this is stuff I can use to hook the players into the story and get their interest, with no real connections between the different things.

The most recent one was finding a young kid running along a road who had been struck blind and (upon interrogation) appeared to have no short term-memory. After picking him up they found that in from the knee down on his right leg there is no flesh whatsoever and that the bone is gleaming. They also spotted 12 fractured ribs. The kid died on the way to the hospital, where he was found to have suffered serious cranial and cardial damage (despite the fact that the PCs found a pulse!) and that he must have been dead for a while. Nobody believed that he spoke to te PCs.

Then, I work in the PCs kickers and stories into all the (hopefully) cool stuff I came up with. Once the session is over and the PCs are imbroiled in a huge conspiracy of death, doom, and really cool NPCs I figure the back-story based on the Players' intial reactions to everything that happened.

It's risky, and doesn't always work, but damn if it isn't a hell of a lot of fun for me (I LOVE gming on my feet with little or no preperation, and I like to think I'm pretty good at it) and the players.

Ian "yes, Engligh is my first language" Freeman
-Look! I'm starting to proofread my posts. Now you won't have to decipher my disjointed ramblings.

[ This Message was edited by: Ian Freeman on 2001-06-29 20:08 ]
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2001, 01:01:00 PM »

Hi all,

I tend most usually to use the backstory + map approach, then characters' Kickers or equivalents get added. This is linked to my mode of play in which we run a story in many sessions, then switch to a whole new game.

Every so often, I go the other way, especially if the setting is especially varied. By the time we get to the first run, the result is the same.

I don't know if you know this, but what you describe is called "intuitive continuity." It's described in print in the game UnderWorld, and the best practitioner I've ever met is Dav Harnish. Sounds like the two of you would have a lot to talk about for GMing techniques.

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