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How do you prepare as an ST for your tabletop games?

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  • How do you prepare as an ST for your tabletop games?

    I'm going to be running a small group Heaven's Reach campaign. There party is a loyalist abyssal being tasked with harassing the Thorns system. There's also a Lunar mate who is mostly on board with her Abyssal's goals. The primary antagonist is a Malfeas/Adorjan Scourge who doesn't want Thorns to die but rather to serve as a staging within the populated galaxy.

    I'm not sure what all the important stuff to have prepared and on hand at the table, and I'm also looking for ways to save time during ie combat and stuff.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I have ADD so getting everything organized in advance can be really helpful for me. Thanks!

  • #2
    By stressing out the night before the game.

    Serious answer though:

    (1) Figure out the main events I want to happen in the session. I flesh out a few particular scenes and stat up some bad guy they may fight.
    (2) Figure out some filler scenes. Instead of rushing through the main events, I try to get some filler here and there. Maybe write a few lines about some cool restaurant and an interesting NPC they can run into there. Maybe add a random encounter. Just something I can add in for fun if needed or easily remove if not. It's generally a good idea to have lists of "loose events" like this that you can stuff in anywhere or improvize on the spot.
    (3) Figure out a way to tie in the PCs so no one is left out. I look over their Intimacies to see if I can tie something in. I try to write a scene or an encounter to favor a certain PC's skills or charms to give them a chance to shine if they take the bait.
    (4) Profit.

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    • #3
      Are you running online or in meatspace?

      Onyx Path Forum Moderator
      Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.


      • #4
        I'm running at a table this time around, I'm much more used to running online though


        • #5

          his is something I have been using for my last games, and have been working perfectly, although my games are mostly political intrigue and mistery (DBs are just the best Exalted, along with Sidereals, and they work perfectly for these kind of plots :P), and this system mostly works for adventures, not for a whole campaign. For that you need a bigger framework.

          And this is something I wrote when I was suppossed to still be working on my blog, about my GMing style :P

          What´s the scope of your campaign? Are you staying in a single planet/system, or are you playing in a roaming, galactic wanderers style? It looks like you will be focused around Space-Thorns. so, that´s cool it looks like it has a main location.

          Prepare some locations. I mean, right, do it. They don´t need to be overtly detailed, but they need to have some kind of hook. "King´s Hanging, Technomagical Space Station orbiting Thorns. Main site of development for anti-ghost weapons and research, leaded by the corrupt Kayik Edema" or "Neuchatel, agrarian world feeding Thorns with its herds of giant wooly cockroaches. Have had three major rebellions in the last century". Whatever. You are harassing Thorns, and that means you aren´t directly attacking the capital. You need lesser, but important places, to attack, and subvert, and slowly corrupt and win!

          Along with this prepare characters and groups. As with locations, don´t focus on the details, except maybe for one or two characters who you think will be vital (the Scourge, for example. Maybe the local Regent/Autocrat of Thorns). Those, need complete or semicomplete motivations and personalities, and probably some background. The other characters just need a bit of information, that will be developed as they become important in play. "No Nose Lien, arms dealer. Acts tough, but it´s only a facade covering her soft side. Is in it to get money to flee the system and get a new legitimate life for her and her family" or "Blood Upon A Shield, the Scourge´s aide and spy. At first, he believed in their vision and plans, but is slowly getting scared, and is starting to work against his Master´s plans. Is really scared of being discovered".

          Think some events, things that are happening right now. "The colony of Bloodcrown is having a rebellion provoked by the tyrannical taxes, led by a fanatical nativist cult", "Sigfried Stardust, famed sorcerer, have become crazy and disappeared. Some kind of music from the stars is suspected to have caused it", "Demonic and hellish presence and Essence have been growing in the city of Lobech, a large suburb of Thorns". Whatever. Things that will have consequences, things that will catch the players´ attention, that could get them good rewards (don´t have to be monetary or physical! The cult of Bloodcrown could easily be subverted and turned to the Abyssal´s plans!)

          Connect the things you have prepared. Stardust had been working inside King´s Hanging, and something there allowed him to hear the music from the stars. No Nose Lien is working with the Bloodcrown rebels, and had yet to discover that Blood Upon A Shield is influencing them. You want a multifaceted, connected, living world!

          Think about the consequences of what will happen if the players intervene, and what if they don´t. Maybe keep a timeline (if players don´t destroy King´s Hanging before seven months, it will accidentally call The Man Who Walks Among The Stars, and undying Behemoth who will start its path towards the system. If they let the colony of Bloodcrown be crushed under Thorn´s boot, the General Burda Tarantur will become incrredibly popular and start her coup-de-etat attempt against the Autocrat. Whatever fits your game).

          After this, let your players know things. They are not schmucks, they are hypercompetent, world-changing figures. Let them know what is happening, what some of the major NPCs know, what places are interesting. Ask them, after each game session, where they plan to go next Friday night, what are their plans. Use the base you have to develop the place that will be important for next game (ok, they will try to work with the Bloodcrown rebels, better prepare some NPCs for the cult and some strategic objectives for the rebellion). Evolve the story from their actions. Enjoy an awesome game.

          Exalted is a game in which players have a lot of power. DON´T Railroad them, don´t decide in the "correct ending" for the plot. It works in other games, but not for Exalted. So, build a living world, and let them wreck, change, improve or destroy it. Have a blast.

          The reason you ask them what they are going to do next session is that you don´t need to prepare what you don´t need or won´t use. STing is a taxing work, and you don´t always have the time to prepare everything. Even if you do, that´s the road to Burnout County, and spending hours lovingly detailing a planet they aren´t going to visit is, honestly, a huge waster of your time, and doesn´t improve the game at all (prep could have been spent working on something more relevant and useful to the game). So you only put the hard, detailed effort on things you know they are interested and going to interact with.


          • #6
            Been running a DB game since basically the mid point of the Kickstarter last year and the key thing I have ready session to session is QC stats (or full sheets if this is someone you care about a lot) for major NPCs and a firm grasp of how to handle these characters when the group inevitably decides to fuck off and do something weird.

            I am absolute trash at a sandbox and ask that people sort of meet me in the middle on the idea of a plot though.