D-ROC'S MASTER RULES LIST
VOLUME 3: THOUGHTS, SUGGESTIONS, AND ADVICE
1) SETTING THE
2) MAKING THE MOST OF THE GAME ITSELF
Chronicle your games
Cohesive Groups And PC Specific Groups
PC Specific Groups
Use Of Skills And Creative Role-playing
Letting The Days Go By
Graphic Novel Vrs.. Ongoing Series
Bringing In New Technology
3) JUST A BIT OF PARTING ADVICE
What To Do With The Dead Guys
1) SETTING THE MOOD
Music is an important prop in any rpg, either simply as background noise to help create atmosphere, or as a direct prop itself. As far as background music goes I vehemently advise that you stay away from anything with coherent lyrics, as they can provide way too much of a distraction to everyone. Nothing worse than trying to run a session and your group won't stop singing along to whatever is playing. (Unless you are running a rocker campaign, more on this in a minute.) Also background music should come at least fairly close to the atmosphere of the session. Experiment with music you don't normally listen to. Whatever you do, don't play music in the background that everyone hates for no other reason than you like it. This is a good way to lose your group. Background music should always enhance the game, never detract from it. As I said earlier, comprehendable lyrics are not suggested in your background music, stick to instrumental albums, or possibly foreign music as the unfamiliar lyrics tend to simply blend in with the rest of the music.
Some suggested background music albums include:
Any old school Jazz album..... these work great especially the works of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.
Beastie Boys - The In Sound From Way Out
Peter Gabriel - Passion (the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ) He also released an album of the music that inspired his score, if you can find it its definately worth having.
Stomp - Any album
Any Pink Floyd instrumental album
Armitage the 3rd
Ghost In The Shell
Grey: Digital Target
The Fifth Element
And these are just to name a few, I am sure you can come up with some of your own.
Also, I suggest that you check the foreign section of your music store. The albums in this section are pretty cheap, and by grabbing a couple you ensure yourself that most likely your group will never have heard it before. Also a strong mix of foreign music is perfect for a cyberpunk setting as it helps ingrain the idea of a multi cultured society.
MUSIC AS A PROP:
When the character enter a bar, go to a concert or are driving around, play a specific type of music to fit the situation. It is when using music in these situations that lyrics are admittable, even suggested sometimes. If your characters go to a concert, put in a cd of a band that you think would sound somewhat similar to the music being performed. If the characters all pile in to one guys car, let that guy choose what he wants to have playing as they are driving along. (This can lead to great fun, especially when the guy chooses music that all the other players hate.) If the characters end up in mexico, have some salsa playing, or any applicable latin music. Classical works well when they end up in a formal setting.
If you are running a rocker campaign, and want to add that extra bit, pick out one group to act as the music for the rocker group. Then dish out albums as the bands following and level of success increases. To simulate how well the band performs, or poor equipment, play with your equalizer to achieve the desired effect.
Props can be a tricky thing to deal with, my suggestion is to use them, but do so wisely, and only when it actually helps the game. Maps, business cards, ID's, blueprints........ these are easy to come up with, and make the best props. For the odd prop, use whatever comes to your imagination. I have heard of people going so far as to actually show up to games in costume, even going to the extent of creating cybernetics for themselves and what not. Personally its not something I would suggest, as in my opinion it kinda skates over that thin line between hard core role-playing, and demented wierdo.
For an added spice, inject a little live action every now and then. For me this best worked out when the team was captured, blindfolded, and tied to chairs to be interrogated. I turned off all the overhead lamps except a bright table lamp which I pointed directly at each of them in turn, and blindfolded them with a thin cloth (so they could tell when the light was pointed on them). Then I made them sit in the folding chairs, holding their hands behind their backs, and proceeded to interrogate them, walking back and forth, shining the light at each of them in random order. It worked fantastically, the players actually felt scared and apprehensive. And as things were building to head I held my hand like a gun and placed against the back of his head. The player physically jumped, working out in game terms that he had completely blown his cool and talked. Also, don't be afraid to make a player act out in slow motion what his character might be trying to do if it sounds implausible. This works better than just flat out saying no without giving a reason, of course sometimes it can backfire on you and actually be possible.
2) MAKING THE MOST OF THE GAME ITSELF
CHRONICLE YOUR GAMES
This is something many of us do already, so forgive me if I am preaching to the converted, but for those of you who don't do this listen up. Chronicling your games is the greatest tool for continuity you can have. The best way to do this is to have one of the players take notes on what happened during the game. Another way to do it is to record the game on tape, although this requires decent recording equipment and multiple microphones (or at least one really good boom mic) to do it right. Be warned, it is really easy to slack off on this, I myself have been guilty of it on more than one occasion.
COHESIVE GROUPS AND PC
Any one who has ever played or GM'd Cyberpunk knows that because of their Role or career, certain PC's don't always mesh well with others. For this reason I am going to point out the difference between generally Cohesive groups, and PC specific groups:
PC DISCREPANCIESCOHESIVE GROUPS
Their are certain roles and careers a character can have that will allow him to slip into pretty much any campaign, without changing the flow or direction of the game, or centering ll focus on one character, or a minority of characters. Solos, Fixers, Techies, Medtechs, Netrunners, and Nomads too a limited extent can all fit into pretty much any campaign with very little hassle. And groups made up of these classes also provide the most room and options for the campaign itself, as the game can change directions without major upheaval. Groups made up solely of these character classes are generally prefferred and are known as COHESIVE GROUPS. Medias, Rockers, Cops, Corps, and strictly played Nomads don't fit very well into these groups. Job and career requirements will keep those characters from being able to always participate as fully as the others. If you are merely playing one campaign then these characters can fit, but in extended game situations these character *classes* are best used as NPC's
PC SPECIFIC GROUPS
A PC specific group is one that caters to a certain character class, and has a definite long term, steady career. Either Medias, Rockers, Cops, Corps, and strictly played Nomads are the stars of these games, and the game itself centers around them. To play these characters effectively, they must be the focus of the game. To do this you must decide which character or characters are the *stars* of the game. For example:COPS - This is the PC specific group I have the most experience with. To be played most effectively all the characters should be police officers. For instance they could be part of a C-SWAT team, with solo's, netrunners, techs and medtechs on the team. Corporates, Rockers, and Nomads generally don't generally fit in well with this sort of group, although a media could be added quite easily if the team is high profile enough. (I have run a cop campaign as sort of a spin off series of the main campaign for about 7 years now, for a glimpse of check out my NCPD article, the members of the Dirty Angels are the main characters of this game.)When letting a player choose a character in a game, it is your job as GM to ensure that the character he chooses must be able to fit in with the group. Any character with a nine to five job is not going to be able to keep up with those who don't and vice versa. And remember, there is no rule stating that you can't continually change the focus of your game.
CORPS - This PC Specific group probably offers the most freedom, as it can include pretty much all the other roles, with the corporate(s) being the main focus of the game.
MEDIAS - Solo's, Corporates, Netrunners, Techies, Medtechs, and Fixers can all fit easily into a group based around a Media, while Cops and Rockers are difficult to meld with the group. Nomads might be a little easier, especially as a driver. Rockers are
NOMADS - By definition a nomad is a wanderer, and they generally prefer to stick with their families or clans. This can make it extremely difficult to include a Cop, Corporate, or Media character, while Rockers might find it a bit easier.
ROCKER - Like the Corporate group, the Rocker group readily meshes with almost all the other classes. With cops being the only real difficult class to place.
USE OF SKILLS AND
In many games there are instances where neither the GM nor the Player is exactly sure what a skill covers. At times like this my advice is to just go with whatever sounds most logical. I also prefer that players rely on imagination and roleplaying more than there dice rolls. As a final note on this subject, I advise that you urge your players to bas as descriptive as possible when using their skills. For instance, instead of simply saying "I am gonna shoot that guy and duck for cover!", push the players into thinking more along the lines of "I am going to pop two rounds into the center of that ugly gonks center of mass, then dive behind that car to my right and roll up into a sitting position." There wasn't a whole lot of difference in those two descriptions, but one was clearly more detailed. Detail helps everyone to visualize what is happening.
LETTING THE DAYS GO BY
GRAPHIC NOVEL OR
There are two ways of running a game, I like to refer to them as the Graphic Novel, or the Ongoing Series. The Graphic novel (or Movie) is the type of game that lasts just until the campaign is finished (usually about a month or two) then the characters are scrapped and new ones are rolled up for the next game. As I have stated elsewhere I despise this type of roleplaying, it doesn't allow for any real character development, nor does it involve any real continuity. An Ongoing Series game is just that, one that has no definite end, it just keeps going. This is the type of game I run, it allows for maximum continuity, and players who get bored of their characters can always retire them and bring in new ones. Spin off games are also possible, with two or more groups playing at the same time, having effects on each of the other games, and crossover events are common.
BRINGING IN NEW
When entering a new technology or concept in your game make sure you know what you are doing. Some technology can seriously unbalance your game, and other tech can be way too advanced for the current tech level of the game. Before you introduce any new technology or concepts try to think hard on how well it will be received by the players, and why they will have the reactions they do. And no matter what be very careful about what you let your players get their hands on.
3) JUST A BIT OF PARTING ADVICE
TO DO WITH THE DEAD GUYS
I have found that as a GM I tend to become almost (if not more) as attached to the characters than the players themselves. So when a character dies, retires, or a player leaves the group I simply take that character and put it into a special folder. The characters in this folder can be used later (with a change of name for the dead ones) as NPC's, or pre-gen characters for new players. This saves so much time and hassle you wouldn't believe it. This way instead of having to waste an hour or so creating a character for some schmuck that might not ever play again, you can simply let him choose from the folder.
I think somewhere along the line an unwritten rule was created stating that it was the GM's duty to buy the books. While I certainly believe this to be true (it helps that I am a collector at heart), I also have come to realize that these damn books are expensive. To help ease this financial burden I implemented a change jar. When everyone shows up to game I simply request that they empty the loose change from their pockets into the jar. It is important to state that this money will only be used to buy new material for the game, but it definately works. And since its only loose change no one ever seems to complain.
Created and written by Deric "D" Bernier, if you have comments, questions or complaints, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org