Blood & Ink: Smooth Start!October 11, 2009
Ran the first session of Blood & Ink, and it went really well. Which is good, because I’ve actually been bringing some thoughts I’ve had into game techniques for this, and they’re working well.
First off, a compelling situation, and pregen characters. I can sell the game based on a situation (after all, people want to play a game about a throne war, they don’t know why they should care about a game with multi-tiered reward systems to encourage narrative climaxes…).
The pregen characters let players skip on the whole character generation process and get right to play, it lets me make sure the characters fit well together in interesting and fun ways, and give the players clear goals to pursue.
Second, “Enticements not Homework” – 2 page quicksheets on the rules and culture are just enough that people can read it easily, and/or print it out to have on hand during play. Not 200 page setting books or a full rules read through. Not only is it often more work than what people want to put in, it also causes people to get lost and focus on the wrong things, whether setting or rules.
Third, demonstrating process. I would explain exactly the process of how an NPC would do an action (“He’s rolling his Soothing Platitudes, with a bonus die from Falsehood”) so the players could see how the mechanics work. Obviously, I won’t do this every time, or for everything, but it’s a good way to -start- the game and introduce concepts to everyone.
Fourth, keeping paper copies – mostly I did this because I was playing via Skype and didn’t want to have my computer screen cluttered with documents to navigate in the middle of play, but having copies of all the PCs made it easy for me to give concrete suggestions to players during the game (“Hey, you have X skill, why don’t you use that?”).
Fifth, the GM one-sheet. A list of the NPCs, maybe a couple of the stats I expect to see. A list of questions – “Will X side with Y or Z?”, “When will so and so find out about this?”, “How can X convince Y to do Z?” Etc. By keeping them questions, it makes it very adaptable to improvise with.