Advice for a Rookie GM

25 posts / 0 new
Last post
Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
Advice for a Rookie GM

Hi folks, due to some reasons, I've volunteered to master at my table and decided to try and introduce EP (my table tends to play vampire, a game I am not entirely happy with due to not liking urban fantasy, so I had to do something...) I have some time before the first session, due to, mostly, exams and other pests that seem to crop up and eat player time.
But I'd like to know some hints and tricks that could help me run a successful session. I am probably going to run the pregenerated one before starting doing anything complex, but if anyone has a module that might be more intro friendly, I'd be eager to know it.

Anyway, Thanks in advance.

Kaneida Kaneida's picture
same

I'm in a similar situation and also looking for any advice on getting players that aren't necessarily going to read through much of the EP material. How have people successfully gotten new players into the setting?

Leodiensian Leodiensian's picture
One of the hard parts of

One of the hard parts of getting into Eclipse Phase is the sheer amount of data involved to get up to speed on the setting. Don't be afraid to infodump a bit and the quickstart rules contain a setting timeline and a small glossary that help if you print them out to have around the table. The quickstart rules also have a decent starter scenario, Mind The WMD, that I've run and it went quite well.

Next, if you're going to run something then don't be afraid to be railroady a little bit at first. In the early parts of the campaign, and especially when the players are new to a setting and system, their characters will mostly be numbers on a sheet and not 'characters', so they probably won't take initiative very often. Give them pointers, fairly obvious solutions to problems etc and as they get more into the swing of things you can ease up on it and make things sandboxy. I'm not saying you tell them what to do so much as go "here's the problem and three possible solutions, plus whatever you think of".

Next, players won't understand just how much is available to them in terms of knowledge and data so it might be worth you playing their muses for a little to ping them on things that would be common knowledge, easy to find on the mesh or 'remind' them of setting information etc.

Finally, remember that Eclipse Phase is not only very high-concept but contains LOTS of high concepts, from resleeving and forking to reputation economics and Pandora gates, with tons of different implications and talking points you can use them for. So it's probably worth pacing people. For instance, it might be best to have early games in the Inner System where the culture and economics aren't too different from today, as opposed to the Belt and Outer System where stuff gets crazy. If they're more experienced with weird stuff, then maybe you don't have to baby them as much and it's really up to you as you're the one who knows the group best.

Good into sessions I've seen:

Mind The WMD comes with the Quick Start rules and has some pre-gen characters but only four so you might have to make some more. It's meant to feed into a full campaign and isn't too 'weird'.

Glory is a bit weirder, going from anarchist rep economies to exsurgent fuck-monsters and definitely leans more to the horror side of the game. I quite like it, though.

Ego Hunter starts off a bit weird as most PCs are forks of the same person, but otherwise has a fairly understandable and comprehensible "murder mystery"-style plot that shouldn't freak people out too much.

Kaneida Kaneida's picture
Thanks

All that sounds like great advice.

I'll read through the modules and see how I can make them work with how I run my games.

Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
Thanks!

Same goes for me

nerol-1 nerol-1's picture
2 more indeas

I played Mind the WMD, Bump in the Night, Ego Hunters and Conituity with 4 different groups of players, all new to Eclipse Phase.
Some of them played Cyberpunk 2020 with me, some others read some books EP references to but we can still consider them "new players" :-)
Leodiensian told you already about Mind the WMD and Ego Hunters.
I can add that Bump in the Night is a good and short investigative adventure, that involves resleeving, a lot of researches and diplomacy. The adventure is set in an aerostat city of Venus. I think it's a very good adventure to begin, just like Ego Hunters.
Continuity is more horror and "alien" style with a very cool begin in media res. I played it in one session only and the players had a lot of fun. It's not necessary to have many infos on the setting and there's more (smart) action than investigation. The playing characters scared so much they decided to close themselves in a room and ... well... I suggest to read the adventure :-D
I posted a report about Continuity and Bump on our blog but "unfortunately" it's only in Italian.
Ciao

il NeRo
www.sentinellefirewall.blogspot.it
The blog about the adventures of 4 Italian Sentinels

Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
PSI

One thing I was thinking, might be a flight of fancy, was to house rule a bit and get rid of psi. I am not fond of space magic for one and for another there would be less rules to read. To compensate I was thinking of flagging everybody with cyberbrains, not so far from truth, given that everybody has a cortical stack that can record or rewrite the brain.

Meaning anybody can be hacked, puppeted, or rewritten...

Wanted to know if anybody tried something like it.
Like I said might be a knee jerk reaction against psi in general, a flight of fancy or my inner Ghost in the Shell Fanboy speaking.

easl easl's picture
PSI

Psi in this setting is pretty low power;
1. The telepathy and other mind influence stuff is all touch-range. Telepathy takes long enough that the PC is only going to be using it against a helpless or cooperative person.
2. I'd say at least 60% of sleights are identical to a positive trait, enhancement, or implant (or specialization). There's a few unique abilities, but psi in EP is more of a "different path to the same end point." Some players like the idea of their pc having hardware in their brain to help them multitask; other players may prefer psychically being able to multitask, but the game effect is exactly the same.
3. Combat powers (for PCs) consist of one direct attack - with touch range - which is less effective than most guns, plus a couple of powers that will give opponents a -10 or so on their rolls - again, at touch range. Its not exactly fireball-slinging. (The fireball slinging only comes with greater infections that essentially make the person an alien-controlled NPC)
4. In addition, as you alluded to, it limits the user to biomorphs and doesn't work against synthmorphs.

I might worry if I saw a PC take Unconscious lead and try and combo it with Neurachem 2 (SP 4, yikes!). Other than that, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

thezombiekat thezombiekat's picture
PSI in EP is advanced alien

PSI in EP is advanced alien Clark tech, (as in technology sufficiently advanced to be indistinguishable from magic). And frankly EP has a reasonable amount of Clark tech. Pandora gates, titan general purpose self-replicating nano swarms are 2 examples, another 2 are fixors, dream shells both of which are so cheap a PC could theoretically start with some (not that you would).

Trans-humanity at best barley understands these items enough to use them, and we can’t be at all confidant we are using them right, or for their intended purpose, and absolutely no clue how they work. They were built by advanced civilisations with understandings of the fundamentals of physics far exceeding our own, but it is no more magic than a gun observed by a group of people whose best tools are chipped from stone.

Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
Clark Tech

I think it is a tad too much clark tech, I know that it goes with the setting, but it is used a tad too liberally for my liking, one clark tech is good, two is a maybe, three or more? that is too much!

Anyway a different question from what I've been reading combat can be a bit brutal, is there a good, playtested way of reducing the letalty? I mean a sniper rifle can core a battlesuit in two hit shots. maybe reducing AP ratings of weapons to half?

Patrick Northedgers Patrick Northedgers's picture
Eclipse Phase is adaptable

Chaos Blade wrote:
I think it is a tad too much clark tech, I know that it goes with the setting, but it is used a tad too liberally for my liking, one clark tech is good, two is a maybe, three or more? that is too much!

Eclipse Phase is somehow modular - if you want to avoid clarketech - do so, declare that gatecrashing expeditions find little if any funny stuff, or that it is unavailable except for MacGuffin purposes. Gates are rather ingrained in the setting, and so are TITAN nanomachines, so removing them is harder.

Chaos Blade wrote:
Anyway a different question from what I've been reading combat can be a bit brutal, is there a good, playtested way of reducing the letalty? I mean a sniper rifle can core a battlesuit in two hit shots. maybe reducing AP ratings of weapons to half?

The battle in Eclipse Phase is supposed to be brutal and lethal. This is offset by the fact that death is not the end, and if battle is won, one can resleeve remembering all of it until being shot down (cortical stacks do wonders). It is a system where Total Party Kill is somehow equal to party being captured in combat.
That being said, it is also relatively easy to armor up. I have not verified those numbers, but Transhuman book claims that you can get armor up to 32 on both energy and kinetic armor. This reduces damage by a great margin.
I suggest - if you wish to tamper with existing combat system, which is not a good idea - you increase armor quality (by half, maybe?) than reduce AP of weapons. After all, some targets will be lightly armored (generic security guardians in armor clothing, minor bots) and they should be easy to dispose of.

"Normal" does not exist anymore. I consider it a good symptom, though.

Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
Patrick Northedgers wrote:

Patrick Northedgers wrote:

Eclipse Phase is somehow modular - if you want to avoid clarketech - do so, declare that gatecrashing expeditions find little if any funny stuff, or that it is unavailable except for MacGuffin purposes. Gates are rather ingrained in the setting, and so are TITAN nanomachines, so removing them is harder.

Agreed, TITANS need to stay, but psi is just a side effect of a strain of an exurgent virus, it feels a little too much like radiation giving superpowers... not to my tastes and a bit SOD Breaking.

Patrick Northedgers wrote:

The battle in Eclipse Phase is supposed to be brutal and lethal. This is offset by the fact that death is not the end, and if battle is won, one can resleeve remembering all of it until being shot down (cortical stacks do wonders). It is a system where Total Party Kill is somehow equal to party being captured in combat.
That being said, it is also relatively easy to armor up. I have not verified those numbers, but Transhuman book claims that you can get armor up to 32 on both energy and kinetic armor. This reduces damage by a great margin.
I suggest - if you wish to tamper with existing combat system, which is not a good idea - you increase armor quality (by half, maybe?) than reduce AP of weapons. After all, some targets will be lightly armored (generic security guardians in armor clothing, minor bots) and they should be easy to dispose of.

Problem is that I am probably going to run a two player campaign, and wanted to do mind the WMD, that is optimized for four, was thinking on making it easier on them, combat wise, probably going to give them 1500 points at char creation too.

Maybe I misunderstood combat but id I have a battlesuit, top of the line protection I can get at most a 21/21 of defense, a sniper rifle fires once per round, and has an AP rating of 12, can erode the armor fully in two succesful hits, iirc.
The best armor cored that fast? it strikes me as, well, odd.
Like I said, maybe I am missing something or misunderstood things something fierce.
I mean there should be a test to see if the AP round hits the same location the other did, and enhances the breach, if it hits elsewhere and does less AP damage, or if it is somehow deflected by the superior armor, specially in the case of heavy armor (that is to say when the armor rating is several times the AP rating)

thezombiekat thezombiekat's picture
Chaos Blade wrote:Patrick

Chaos Blade wrote:
Patrick Northedgers wrote:

Eclipse Phase is somehow modular - if you want to avoid clarketech - do so, declare that gatecrashing expeditions find little if any funny stuff, or that it is unavailable except for MacGuffin purposes. Gates are rather ingrained in the setting, and so are TITAN nanomachines, so removing them is harder.

Agreed, TITANS need to stay, but psi is just a side effect of a strain of an exurgent virus, it feels a little too much like radiation giving superpowers... not to my tastes and a bit SOD Breaking.

Patrick Northedgers wrote:

The battle in Eclipse Phase is supposed to be brutal and lethal. This is offset by the fact that death is not the end, and if battle is won, one can resleeve remembering all of it until being shot down (cortical stacks do wonders). It is a system where Total Party Kill is somehow equal to party being captured in combat.
That being said, it is also relatively easy to armor up. I have not verified those numbers, but Transhuman book claims that you can get armor up to 32 on both energy and kinetic armor. This reduces damage by a great margin.
I suggest - if you wish to tamper with existing combat system, which is not a good idea - you increase armor quality (by half, maybe?) than reduce AP of weapons. After all, some targets will be lightly armored (generic security guardians in armor clothing, minor bots) and they should be easy to dispose of.

Problem is that I am probably going to run a two player campaign, and wanted to do mind the WMD, that is optimized for four, was thinking on making it easier on them, combat wise, probably going to give them 1500 points at char creation too.

Maybe I misunderstood combat but id I have a battlesuit, top of the line protection I can get at most a 21/21 of defense, a sniper rifle fires once per round, and has an AP rating of 12, can erode the armor fully in two succesful hits, iirc.
The best armor cored that fast? it strikes me as, well, odd.
Like I said, maybe I am missing something or misunderstood things something fierce.
I mean there should be a test to see if the AP round hits the same location the other did, and enhances the breach, if it hits elsewhere and does less AP damage, or if it is somehow deflected by the superior armor, specially in the case of heavy armor (that is to say when the armor rating is several times the AP rating)


I think a see the problem.

AP doesn’t reduce armour forever, just for this hit.

Lets sat the target has armour 15 and is attacked with a pistol doing 2d10+3 AP-5

First shot roles 12 damage. Armour of 15 reduced by 5 is 10, damage 12 reduced by 10 is 2
Second shot roles 18 damage. Armour of 15 reduced by 5 is 10, damage 18 reduced by 10 is 8

The armour doesn’t actually degrade over multiple hits.

Having written the above I look at the book and it is actually a little vague. But I am sticking with my interpretation. in part to prevent a light rail pistol from taking out a main battle tank or even a battleship just by ablating its armour at 3 points per shot (wouldn’t even take long).

nerol-1 nerol-1's picture
The zombiekat is right, AP

The zombiekat is right, AP reduces armor for that shot, not permanently.

in the beginning I thought combat was too deadly, so I reduced by half the AP of weapons. After a couple of adventures, me and my players decided to use the normal rules.
For 2 players, reduce the number of enemies, give to yourplayers better morph, use Multitasking augmentation to use some armed guardian angels in battles (an uplifted dolphin in my group uses 3 of them every round), give them smart ammos.
augmentations to ignore wounds make miracles

il NeRo
www.sentinellefirewall.blogspot.it
The blog about the adventures of 4 Italian Sentinels

Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
I see the light....

Thanks! this makes much, much more sense. non ablatable armor makes things a bit more reasonable and puts to rest my biggest issue about combat.

Hmmm as for the advice about reduced party, thanks as well Nerol-1, I think I have everything I need to run this thing now :)

thebluespectre thebluespectre's picture
No worries.

I made lots of mistakes too, in my first sessions. For a while I forgot that a weapon was rolling 2d10, and wrote down the damage as if it were percentile. And I'm still forgetting bonuses and penalties for Fray all the time! It's a matter of getting used to the system.

"Still and transfixed, the el/
ectric sheep are dreaming of your face..." -Talk Shows on Mute

bibliophile20 bibliophile20's picture
Rep is very powerful, and

Rep is very powerful, and players will never burn it if they can help it, so keep that in mind when you're doing your rep rewards at the end of a scenario. Multiple networks to get stuff from has a multiplicative effect, so be careful with what networks you have available ("Oh, my @-rep moderate favor is used? Okay, I'll use my x-rep moderate favor this time. Or maybe my r-rep, or e-rep moderate favor.").

Also, for help, I've been working on a series of EP cheat sheets for my group to use. You can find them here: https://sites.google.com/site/talariusgroup/stock-settings/eclipse-phase/mechanics/cheat-sheets Hope that helps a bit.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin

monarch71 monarch71's picture
Cheating

One little trick to starting a campaign with a game like Eclipse Phase is to cheat. If you don't want to make the learning curve too steep for the players, start the campaign in a way that would have them knowing next to nothing about the current setting as it stands.

For example, perhaps they are revived from backups made in the very earliest days of the technology. You could have them make characters with skills that would largely make sense for someone from our time, perhaps just a few years in the future, and ask them, "Okay, how did you die?"

Then, they wake up, in a virtual reality simulation, their minds having been recovered from backups made many years previously and recovered during an illegal expedition to Earth. They could have been picked up by whatever faction you like, and perhaps offered indentured service and an expense account to get new bodies, of their choice.

Again, you could their muses, whose major job would be to getting them educated about the new state of the world.

I tried it, it was a neat campaign beginning. In fact, the player characters were in for another odd surprise; their egos weren't the ones that the backups were labeled as, so the folks who woke them up and gave them a body allowance were a bit disappointed when they realized that they didn't have the dream team of genetics and cybernetics design geniuses that they thought they did... The whole "mistake" was part of a bit of manipulation by unknown parties to revive the PCs. So, why were they wanted? They never did find out.

Sort of a hard-science version of Buck Rogers.

GT

Chaos Blade Chaos Blade's picture
That sounds interesting

An interesting concept no doubt, and something to keep in mind for my next session,.... assuming my friends manage to survive mind the WMD and stay interested ;)

Mnemonaut Mnemonaut's picture
Currently I'm running Mind

Currently I'm running Mind the WMD scenario and it's really a great starting point for an new ES group like mine.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
ARISE, DEAD THREAD!

ARISE, DEAD THREAD!

*coughs* sorry. I'm trying to run Ego Hunter as a one shot "get a taste and see if they like it" scenario. I like the sandbox-y feel of the adventure, as well as the murder/mystery. Most of the players will be noobs to the setting, but that shouldn't be a problem when they get the Forks of Achjima.
I intend to give the experienced player Nkeka, so this character is in good hands, also i know the player loves to communicate in secret with me. What bothers me at the moment is... i have 5 players and don't want to NPC Roque and Park, since i have the fear of stealing the show from the players and a general dislike for NPCs that are always running with the group.
I thought about removing the B5, as it is a red herring anyway and consolidating the other Forks down to two forks, but have the feeling, that this leaves not enough forks. If all else fails, i'd rather cut Park as a "permanent addition to the group" and rather have him as a telepresence or something like this.

Thoughts?

Leodiensian Leodiensian's picture
Do they even need to be NPCs?

Do they even need to be NPCs? Honestly, Park and Roque are kind of extraneous to the situation and you can cut them out entirely without much problem, at least in my opinion. They don't really have any unique contribution to the mystery beyond being an easy way to get some support to the group, allowing them to avoid some of the negative consequences of being illegal forks. When I've played this, I was Nkeka and there was a Roque but the Achimas (Achimai?) have plenty of motivation and ideas on their own about how to do things. There's also a lot of data in the adventure ready for you to feed them through things like the NPC briefs.

It's definitely a good idea to give the experienced player Nkeka. That's exactly what happened in my group and it was really fun to be playing things on my own - such as trying to get by without Thai!

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
The adventure recommends it,

The adventure recommends it, that simply let the question appear in my head. But i'll check again.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
Well, seems like i can just

Well, seems like i can just scratch them, which is fine.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Chaos Blade wrote:One thing I

Chaos Blade wrote:
One thing I was thinking, might be a flight of fancy, was to house rule a bit and get rid of psi. I am not fond of space magic for one and for another there would be less rules to read. To compensate I was thinking of flagging everybody with cyberbrains, not so far from truth, given that everybody has a cortical stack that can record or rewrite the brain.

Cortical stacks do not work that way, for exactly that reason. They read only, they don't rewrite. They're also mesh-inaccessible, for hopefully obvious reasons. The only way to even read the data on a cortical stack is to pop it and slot it.

Skype and AIM names: Exactly the same as my forum name.

My EP Character Questionnaire
Thread for my Questionnaire
The Five Orange Pips