Category Archives: Ask The Readers

Setting Yourself Up For Failure

Over the 20+ years of my gaming career I noticed something which has led to the premature demise of many campaigns. It usually starts with me getting the impression that my players are not fully invested in the game anymore. They show up, they play their characters, but the enthusiasm for the game seems to be gone. This should encourage me to get them more excited about the game again, BUT it more often than not led to frustration. So I became more sloppy in the preparation of the following sessions which of course leads to less interest from the players. It’s a vicious circle.

Back in the day, I thought getting more feedback from the players would solve this problem. If I knew better what they were interested in, I could make the game more exciting again. But unfortunately players often don’t know what they want, and they have a hard time communicating their wishes in a way that it’s helpful to the GM.

One of the bigger issues I had over the years was that there often was a disconnect between my understanding of the game’s setting and how the players perceived it. I thought I explained everything in detail, but more often than not, there were major misunderstandings. This of course can be pretty frustrating for players and the GM alike. This often happened in cases where I was very familiar with a setting while it was pretty new to the players.

Didn’t I communicate everything correctly?  Were my players not listening, or not reading the notes I prepared for them? Were they even really interested in the game in the first place? As you can imagine being on the verge of depression for a long time didn’t really help things. In the end I took an extended break in the hopes I could return to GMing which my mental batteries recharged and my players thirsting for new adventures.

Unfortunately I am now hesitant to start a new game because I fear I might be setting myself up for failure. I also fear that any new game might fall into the same trap so many games have fallen into. My excitement gets the better of me, while my players are less than enthusiastic and confused about what the game is actually about. The feeling of having let down my players is often so strong that I feel totally paralyzed. In combination with the regular option paralysis common to GMs with too many games in their library this is deadly to any game plans – and it frankly sucks.

So I am looking for some help from my dear readers. I am sure I am not the only one with this issue. How can I get out of this vicious cycle? How can I get my players excited again without setting myself up for failure at the same time. Any advice is highly appreciated!

Sunglar’s Year in Review!

Hello one and all, and welcome to my look back at 2017, and a look at what may be in store for 2018. I don’t pretend to do a retrospective for the blog itself, but just about my gaming experiences this year, hopefully our readers will find it interesting. Here we go…

This year, besides collaborating here in the blog and participating in Puerto Rico Role Players, I tried two new things I had not done before. Playtesting and starting a video channel. The playtesting  came about when the new Alternity game was announced. As a HUGE fan of the previous version of the game I enrolled to participate in the playtest right away. I rarely participated in playtests because I loathed to interrupt my regular game, so to get around this I decided to run the playtesting at a local FLGS that had jut opened in a new location. You can see a video of some of that playtest on this link. Continue reading Sunglar’s Year in Review!

Fate Accelerated And Fallout

Last weekend I wanted to give Fate another chance. Even though I have given up on Fate several times before, I wasn’t happy with that decision. In theory I love what Fate Core and Fate Accelerated represent. If I just could get into the right mindset, Fate could become one of my go-to games especially because of its endless flexibility.

My players were all fans of the Fallout series, so I decided to run a Fallout one-shot using the Fate Accelerated rules. This is something I’ve actually done before, but last time I replaced Fate Accelerated’s Approaches with Fallout’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes. This time I decided to use Fate Accelerated basically rules-as-written to make things easier for me. If you’re not 100% comfortable with a system you always should run it RAW instead of writing and using house rules.

I actually had a lot of fun preparing the game. I created an awesome Fallout-themed character sheet (you can download the PDF here) and made some notes on how to implement weapons, armor, chems, etc. from the video game series using Fate Accelerated rules. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much time as I hoped preparing, so I had to improvise a lot of the adventure.

One thing I noticed is that Approaches work well for active use but things become a bit more muddy, when you’re making passive tests. Often we had a hard time to decide which Action and Approach to use for detecting enemy presence, resisting radiation, or something similar. If you, my dear reader, have any advice, this would be very much appreciated. As I said before, I am still in the process of learning Fate.

Things actually worked great. We didn’t get to try all aspects of the Fate system, but that’s fine. At least noone disliked the system so far and everyone has said that they are open to playing another game using Fate in the future. One thing I noticed is that it’s very handy to have poker chips or something similar to represent Fate points. If you don’t have a physical representation of the FP lying in front of you, you tend to forget to use them, which is vital for Fate to work as it should. Next time I’ll make sure not to make the same blunder again.

But overall I was happy with how things turned out. I’ll definitely run a few more games using Fate Accelerated to get more familiar with it.