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  1. #1

    The GM without an imagination…

    I’ve been on Fantasy Grounds for 5 years now with the original intention of creating my own adventures and running them. After 5 years I’ve run a single game during FG-Conn one year. Five years of failed attempts in several systems is a pathetic record. Really sucks not having an imagination……

  2. #2
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    May 2015
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    Start small. Don't try to create an entire campaign from scratch. Use a book you like as inspiration, or even just to convert into an adventure (but don't convert the whole thing! Books are predefined stories, RPGs are not!!).

    Create a village; a map and half a dozen buildings and the key people in it. Create a 3 or 5 room dungeon.

    Start small. Create a single encounter.

    Or create an adversary and their group, but not lots of details, just the basics. What is the groups purpose? What is the leaders name? What are their goals and how "controlled" are they? Who are their major members (merchants, or street thugs, or drow, or half-orcs and firblogs, or...).

    There are a thousand ways to start creating, but whatever you do, start small!

    For lots of links t advice on all sorts of stuff, see this thread: https://www.fantasygrounds.com/forum...6014-GM-Advice

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  3. #3
    wndrngdru's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    US, Central (UTC -6 or -5)
    I don't know if you've ever played any of the Powered By The Apocalypse games. Even after GMing for 20+ years, I learned so much about campaign management and using minimal prep from both Apocalypse World and Dungeon World. GMing from intentions and principles, creating only the bit of the world your players are actually interacting with, and letting the story be created by the actions of the characters. Nothing is set, the story starts at home, you play to find out what happens.

    I will admit, it was a shift for me that was very uncomfortable to begin with but it gets easier with practice and I've found that players appreciate being asked for story input when I get stumped in the moment. The skills I learned can be applicable to any system and I often use them, even in the few times I have DM'd 5e the last several years.
    I'm so bassic

  4. #4
    If DM'ing doesn't come naturally, there's no reason to force it. You can enjoy games however you want to. I can't play or compose music to save my life, but it doesn't stop me enjoying the work of others. Not everyone who plays well can compose; it's fine to be a covers band and just run commercial adventures. It's fine just to enjoy playing, not DM'ing. So step one is to take the pressure off yourself.

    Step two if you've not already done it is to run some commercial modules and get the feeling for what sorts you like and what you don't. Try some different systems (as player or a DM) to get a feel for which ones suit your style. Do you want a lot of support from a rules-heavy crunchy system like Pathfinder? Something a little lighter but still pretty structured like D&D 5E? Or are freer, looser systems like Free League games or Powered By The Apocalypse more to your taste? Do you like the rules system to provide a world simulation (Pathfinder 2E) or a dramatic structure (Blades In The Dark)?

    Step three is to follow LordEntrails' advice and start small. Consider your adventure as a spiral and develop just the bits the players are going to see right away, then spiral outwards from there after you've played a session or two. Try to figure out your DM'ing prep style. Do you like to have everything detailed in advance? Or do you prefer to wing it with only a vague idea and see where the players go?

    If you like having everything detailed in advance, don't despair - this style is not so fashionable at the moment, but it is the core of the Old School gaming experience. Write a mega-dungeon which starts with ten rooms and a doorway that can't be unblocked until they've defeated the big bad guy in the final room. Dungeon crawls were good enough to get the whole hobby started and they are still great fun to play! Pick a theme (Undead... ) a reason for the dungeon to be there (it's ruined temple that's been defiled, and the temple servants have risen from the grave to punish the offenders) and a reason for the player characters to get involved (the ghosts and skeletons from the temple have been raiding the heroes' home village at night, killing people in punishment for the desecration... and any person in the way is a target, innocent or not). Add in a mystery (who did the defiling, where are they, why did they do it? Maybe grave robbers who run the tavern in town, which is secretly a thieves' guild outpost) and you've got the elements for a few nights' play right there. Now grab a map from somewhere or sketch your own, figure out a few beginning monsters and a few rooms that might belong in a temple and who might be haunting them, and you're done.

    If you prefer a looser prep style, I thoroughly recommend Sly Flourish's "Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master".

    That walks you through building a spiral-out campaign from scratch whilst making the most of limited DM prep time and planting seeds for stuff to grow from.

    Buy a couple of books with random tables in them to use as jumping off points - the 5E DMG is fine as a starting place.

    Good luck!

    The utterly vital STEP FOUR: RUN THE ADVENTURE. Give yourself a deadline, invite your friends to join in on a given date so you HAVE to run whatever you have, and you can't just sit there waiting for inspiration or polishing to perfection.

    Cheers, Hywel

  5. #5
    Ellspeth's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Where the north begins and pure water flows, eastern time zone USA
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    I have played in a number of games with you and for the life of me cannot remember if you were in my Suzerain Noir Knights campaign or not. It is pretty much the only campaign I have run, and like you I was NOT an experienced GM or even an experienced player ( I only started playing RPG's in 2014). Noir knights has a ready made plot point campaign I didn't attempt, I thought to just start out with a few home brew sessions because I had done the conversions for FG and was familiar with the setting. Like someone else here advised, I started with an idea for a couple of sessions/ had the players create character with me so I would have an idea of what the PC's were able to do and went with it. That one session grew into about 6 or 8 simply because of the players. Their speculations, ideas and paranoia gave me ideas where to take the next session and from that the next one and when they finished the first section I was comfortable enough to tell them they had a new assignment in New Orleans. My NPC's I created as I needed them, and some were pretty cool. I am a huge history buff, I loved New Orleans and eventually that grew to a campaign that got the players to the level of heroic in Savage Worlds ruleset. Most of my real work was the maps and history of that time period in NO, and the players own discussions as they tried to solve each step. Most of the best stuff came from the players themselves, and their paranoid imaginations.

  6. #6
    So good advice has already been given so mine isn’t anything new just “supporting feedback “. First try not to get flustered or frustrated. Seriously I used to get annoyed when I couldn’t think of anything to build a game around I’ve learned in general no creativity comes when I’m upset.

    Next after your clear your head of frustration just consume content you enjoy. You like fantasy PLAY in someone else’s game, watch a movie of the genre , read a decent fantasy novel.

    But the big key and oddly maybe the hardest part ..you can not force it. Only watch a movie, play the game or read the book if you WANT to (and you think you’ll enjoy it).

    Any thing forced when you create will show to the consumer / intended audience of your work/project. It just doesn’t work. Quality can’t be rushed.

    The books/games/movies is supposed to inspire ideas .

    Good luck and I hope these things help (and I’m referring to the tips from other posters as well)

  7. #7
    Remember that the BBEG and other NPCs are always doing something during game time. There are plenty of modules read them, pick something your interested and do it or not. Take it easy, it is ok to GM, it is also ok not to GM. Remember you alway may fall back on the "Theater of the Mind" option. There are literally so many ways to do it. Good Luck!

    These are the modules and extensions created and/or taken over by dellanx for PFRPG.

    I had a lot of help and advice from many here at FG.

    Thank You!

  8. #8
    Laerun's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    Reading, watching movies, and playing sometimes while perhaps observing other online streams might help a little bit with your imagination. Sometimes it takes some inspiration to be creative.
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  9. #9
    It sounds like that it is very difficult for you to start a game. While the advice of the others is certainly good, I may correctly assume that it is still overwhelming for you, right? I think what may help you, may to start drastically different than how other people start. Maybe some sort of easy formula may help you at the beginning, something you can follow at the beginning while not figuring out all the "vague stuff":

    1. Skip all the roleplay at the beginning, just do combat related stuff, like dungeon-crawling. I think especially the roleplay may be overwhelming for you, so just throw it away, you will not need it for now (I will come back later to this)
    2. Start with a 50x50ft. room (you can adjust size if you want).
    3. Define some aggressive creatures for that room (there might be a random table in the 5e modules, if you also have difficulties for deciding on that; the others may be able to help you where to find those random tables)
    4. Define treasure for that room (also here there might be random tables for it already)
    5. Rinse and repeat with steps 2 to 4 and connect these rooms linearly
    6. Start the campaign and let the players fight through each room consecutively
    7. After every fourth room give the players a level up

    What about roleplay? I think that might naturally come with your players. If they have fun, they may automatically start roleplaying a bit, and so you can slowly get your feet wet with that, too Over time you may naturally have new ideas and can then extend your games and make them a bit more complicated But the most important first step is to start, hence keep it very easy, and throw every aspect away which feels too overwhelming for you right now

    Do you also have problems with character creation and finding players? Or is that okay for you? (i.e., were you already a player once?)
    Last edited by Kelrugem; January 28th, 2023 at 02:28.

  10. #10
    Why not mine your players for imagination too. Draw up a rough map and have them name some of the locations on the map and what happens there. Maybe have them tell you about 1 important NPC for each location and the current political climate or trouble they are dealing with. The players can also design their backstory based on the locations they create.

    Design a simple encounter (social, combat or exploration) for one of the locations building on what they have contributed and drop them in. Build on the results. You will find that yours players will love this and the ideas will start flowing like a river.

    Try this. It's really fun!
    From the ashes, a fire shall be woken. A light from the shadow shall spring. Renewed shall be the blade that was broken. The crownless again shall be king

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