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  • Advice for new GM

    Hello all. I have just recently got into RPGs from listening to the actual plays at RPPR, and reading through Dave Brookshaw's broken diamond and soul cage. I just purchased a copy of Mage the Awakening second edition and want to try and run a game for a friend (only one player interested so far). Any advice on how to set up a campaign, especially one for a single player would be a great help. Thanks.

  • #2
    On a phone, so it's a quick one but - with one player, look at what their Arcana cover carefully, then base the Mystery of your story on something that is nearly covered by them, so they have gaps in what they can get from Mage Sight.


    Dave Brookshaw

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    • #3
      Well I can give you this old nugget of wisdom that was givin to me when I frist started out.

      Have a plan, in fact have two plans. Then plan for nothing to go to plan.

      What I like to do when I plot out a campaign is to have a defined beginning ,middle and end. I also only plan out the frist couple of sessions and after that just steer the game towards the middle and end parts.

      Since you are just running for one person it's a good idea to build yourself a "tool box"of npc's both tied to the PC and the world that you can just pull out when the occasion arises.

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      • #4
        I can't possibly recommend The Angry GM enough. His writing style may be abrasive and his advice may be mostly focused on fantasy games and D&D in particular, but his articles on the fundamentals of GMing are pure gold.


        Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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        • #5
          Thanks! That looks like a great resource. One of the most recent posts was literally about how to design a campaign.

          Also thanks to Dave, Broken Diamond and Soul Cage are what made me choose mage as the game I'd try first.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Letalis View Post
            Thanks! That looks like a great resource. One of the most recent posts was literally about how to design a campaign.
            Indeed. Though, I would recommend starting with his early stuff, as he tends to build on concepts established in earlier articles. Of course, there's a huge backlog, so if I may recommend some of the hilights, check out "5 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Skill System", "Adjudicating Actions Like a Motherfucking Boss", "What the Actual Fuck is an Adventure Anyway?", "Every Adventure's a Dungeon", and "Scenes: the LEGO Bricks of Adventure" for some of the best.


            Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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            • #7
              Would those articles help for the Mystery building aspect? All I know of is the Alexandrian and their mystery building seems more focused elsewhere.

              I liked Dave's point of having things not fully covered by the Arcana available to the players, hoping he posts a full post when he gets to a computer.

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              • #8
                Simple, yet very effective advise - Start game with Sleeper PC. You will have basic character background, most traits and simpler plot of Awakening. Then, run Awakening Mystery to it's end. And then make Order initiation for PC, running it in game.

                On each of those step, both you and your player will soak a bit more rules and setting, giving you time to accustom to Mage system. It also give you a breather to not run typical Mage mess of 4 convulent plot lines, 3 Obsessions and then things that you want as ST to do.

                Mage is great sandbox game - only it means it's better to learn it a bit more than normal RPG system.


                My stuff for Realms of Pugmire, Scion 2E, CoD Contagion, Dark Eras, VtR 2E, WtF 2E, MtAw 2E, MtC 2E & BtP
                LGBT+ through Ages
                LGBT+ in CoD games

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nofather View Post
                  Would those articles help for the Mystery building aspect? All I know of is the Alexandrian and their mystery building seems more focused elsewhere.
                  The first two I mentioned are mainly focused on GMing fundamentals, but the later three are equally relavent to building mystery stories as they are to building dungeon delves. The thrust of the "every adventure's a dungeon" article is that dungeons are just places where the structure of the adventure is visible - you can think of each room as a scene and each hallway as a transition, and the inverse of that is when designing a mystery you can think of each scene as a room in a dungeon and each clue as a hallway. It's basically a how-to guide on the Storytelling Adventure System.


                  Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                    The first two I mentioned are mainly focused on GMing fundamentals, but the later three are equally relavent to building mystery stories as they are to building dungeon delves. The thrust of the "every adventure's a dungeon" article is that dungeons are just places where the structure of the adventure is visible - you can think of each room as a scene and each hallway as a transition, and the inverse of that is when designing a mystery you can think of each scene as a room in a dungeon and each clue as a hallway. It's basically a how-to guide on the Storytelling Adventure System.
                    I see, yeah, will have to check it out. A friend did a more directly connected thing, having pages of empty bubbled flow charts. He would use these to connect characters and ideas, but could also use them as dungeons, each bubble being a room.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nofather View Post

                      I see, yeah, will have to check it out. A friend did a more directly connected thing, having pages of empty bubbled flow charts. He would use these to connect characters and ideas, but could also use them as dungeons, each bubble being a room.
                      Yeah, that's exactly what the article is about.

                      I would also recommend his four-article series on adventure structure, "The Shape of Adventure", "Coloring Inside the Lines: Linear Adventure Design", "Breaking the Jell-O Mold: Open Adventure Design", and "From Tiny Acorns: Branching Adventure Design". But at a certain point I'm basically just saying "go read all of his articles in order", and with how long his articles can be, that's a lot to ask.


                      Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                        Yeah, that's exactly what the article is about.

                        I would also recommend his four-article series on adventure structure, "The Shape of Adventure", "Coloring Inside the Lines: Linear Adventure Design", "Breaking the Jell-O Mold: Open Adventure Design", and "From Tiny Acorns: Branching Adventure Design". But at a certain point I'm basically just saying "go read all of his articles in order", and with how long his articles can be, that's a lot to ask.
                        Shouldn't be a problem, I still have the entire Dungeoncraft archive on my Kindle.

                        I don't suppose there's any advice on 'tier' equivalents in there, is there? I'm trying to work in higher tiers this time around.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nofather View Post

                          Shouldn't be a problem, I still have the entire Dungeoncraft archive on my Kindle.

                          I don't suppose there's any advice on 'tier' equivalents in there, is there? I'm trying to work in higher tiers this time around.
                          Tiers like the CofD concept of local/regional/global/cosmic? I don't think so. He does have a series where he answers questions people send in to his email though, and sometimes those answers spawn entire other article series, so if you like his stuff it might be worth sending him an ask.


                          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                            Tiers like the CofD concept of local/regional/global/cosmic? I don't think so. He does have a series where he answers questions people send in to his email though, and sometimes those answers spawn entire other article series, so if you like his stuff it might be worth sending him an ask.
                            Didn't think so, progression in D&D is easy to do but a CofD game can stay first tier for years or start in third.

                            Still, can't hurt to ask. I'll read the articles first in case it's covered, he seems to have explained about 'save the world' narratives in another Ask post.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                              Simple, yet very effective advise - Start game with Sleeper PC. You will have basic character background, most traits and simpler plot of Awakening. Then, run Awakening Mystery to it's end. And then make Order initiation for PC, running it in game.

                              On each of those step, both you and your player will soak a bit more rules and setting, giving you time to accustom to Mage system. It also give you a breather to not run typical Mage mess of 4 convulent plot lines, 3 Obsessions and then things that you want as ST to do.

                              Mage is great sandbox game - only it means it's better to learn it a bit more than normal RPG system.
                              This is great advice as wyrdhamster says, it gives you both time to familiarize yourselves with the rules and setting slowly rather than all at once.

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