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Storytelling

    As first discussed previously in The Story of the Campaign, crafting the story will be your biggest job as the GM. Many times these stories can arise out of gameplay, but the majority of them begin with you. You are responsible for providing the story seed and present the events of the game as they unfold as a reaction to both the actions of the PC and the NPCs.


    Crafting a good story is not easy. But it can be made easier by encouraging the players to describe the action their characters take, not the mechanics involved. The description of the action is more important than what mechanic is being used (though knowing what mechanic is used makes for a faster resolution to the action.)


    There are a number of ideas that you can use at your table to help craft better stories that involve everyone but must start with you as the GM.


    • Learn what motivates your players. Are they explorers? Combatants? Do they love good puzzles? Interaction with the NPCs?


    • Learn what motivates the player's characters. What do the players want for their characters? What do they seek in the world?


    • Empower your players. Give them the power to make meaningful choices. Player characters do not need to be all powerful, but their decisions need to be important. Let the players fall in love with the story more than you.


    • Entice your players. Create the stories to involve the PCs as directly as possible. Give the players a reason to strive to be involved. Let the world affect them as much as it affects everyone else.


    • Avoid the untouchables. Avoid putting the PCs up against odds that they can do nothing about. Sure, you can drop in a high ranking monster or even put up such high Target Success that makes the players actions irrelevant. Challenge your players, but ensure that the challenge gives the players hope that they can overcome it.


    • Remember your co-authors. Remember to include the player's desires, their characters, and allow them to help you write the sub-context of the story.


    • Vary the encounters and stories. Vary your stories and the encounters. After a heavy combat encounter, drop in an intriguing mystery encounter. Break up the story or encounter, even in the middle of combat there is the opportunity for a mystery or even a moment of exploration for some players.


    • Don't over explain. This is Legends of Kralis, a science-fantasy where things are not always going to makes sense to the players or their character's. It's a weird world and the Omniverse is full of secrets.


    • The world matters. The players need to feel the effects of the world and that the world acknowledges the players. This can be found in many forms: news, bardic songs, tales, locals offering them things. Where it is possible to let the world spread the legend of the characters.


 Pacing and Flow

    Perhaps the most crucial aspect of creating story's is pacing and flow. Pacing is not how quickly actions get resolved. It is the rhythm of the story, the event, the encounter, the adventure and to a greater extent the overall campaign.


    The story's pace is the rate at which the story problems establish and relieve tension and how exciting and fun that is for the players. Pacing is not as simple as the faster the better, or else throwing non-stop life or death situations at the players would be the only way to conduct a great story. It is easy to describe pacing, but it is not easy to understand or implement.


    Pacing really has two streams in it: fast and slow. A fast paced scene draws you in, makes you lean into the scene, makes your heart beat faster. When there is a lot happening in a very short period of time, players get excited, anxious and our heart races. A fast paced scene is about excitement, tension, and strong emotion. Details matter less in this situation.


    A slow paced scene, does not necessarily mean it is any less exciting. Players get engaged in differently. They become more attentive, their brains engage more with the scene, there is a sense of tension, but it is not a fast paced one, more emotional. Slow paced scenes can do a lot of things. They are great for imparting information, raising emotional content, drilling into character information. Because players are paying more attention slow scenes are where they can get important, complicated stuff. However, this does not mean that slow scenes have to be loaded with emotion or information. They can have a single thing occurring, working on the emphasis of the event. They can build anticipation, anxiousness, and its own type of tension.


    As the GM your job is to guide the story and generate situations for players to overcome to build tension. To build tension you need to keep things moving, do not let the action get bogged down by the indecisiveness of players, rules arguments, or irrelevant topics. Do not let encounters drag on, if the PCs have fought a dozen of oku and only a handful are left, its perfectly okay to let those few left to run away, surrender or let the PCs easily dispatch them.


    One of the hardest and trickiest aspects of pacing is deciding what is important and what is not. You could decide to describe a scene with elaborate detail, but a simple, straightforward description is best unless there is a reason to have such detail. If there is no compelling reason for detail, advance through it quickly.


    The problem with pacing in an RPG is that its flow can get thrown out of whack. Between the pace of action and the players exists the layer of rules and mechanics that need to be dealt with. The game rules are important as they represent how the players interface with the world around them. While there is a battle going on, or chase scene occurring, or a sneaking attempt happening, and the tension and excitement are turned up, there is a layer of game mechanics that add to this excitement, uncertainty, and tension that empower the players to make decisions and feel like they have some control over the results.


    Flow is concerned about keeping the game moving forward, no matter what. Bad flow is an obstacle. Anything that breaks the flow gets in the way of good pacing. Unfortunately, flow is always broken in role playing. The flow stops we get bogged down in looking up rules, or rolling a die. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it allows for the players to have a say in the flow through the rules interface, they can change the tide of the flow or change the pacing of the story because they have engaged the rules. Your job as the GM is to minimize the breaking of the flow, which unfortunately occurs more often when players are not engaged. Flow ultimately is about running games. It is about keeping players engaged and keeping the action moving. It is about minimizing distractions while speeding up resolutions within an encounter or event.


    The main speed control you have over pacing and flow within the game is your narration. When you slow down your talking, and become wordy your narration slows the scene and you are signaling to the players to pay more attention to the details. When you are quick in your words you begin driving your players to get their guts engaged, getting them excited about the outcome and not worrying about the details.


Painting with Description

    Similar to location, location, location, for locating a great place to live description, description, description is at the core of great roleplaying sessions. When you paint the scene with precise and concise descriptions, you create a depth of, where the players can be caught up in the action of their imagination.


     Describing the scene creates immersion, and for immersion to work well, you must give great descriptions. Through description, you paint the world around the players. Instead of simply saying "a large room" consider saying "a cavernous room, its edges disappear into the darkness beyond your light source." But while you are descriptive, you must also be concise too long of a description and minds will wander.


    Encourage the players to describe what their characters are doing, be creative in what they do and how they do it whether this involves describing how they attack, or how they will slip into the shadows to give themselves the best chance to make a sneak attack. Or how they kill an opponent.


    While the description is important, do not get caught in the trap of too long or too many descriptions, some times the best way to serve pacing and flow is to state what occurred and keep things moving. In combat this might be to just state how many successes your attack obtained and how much damage you deal and move on.


Describing the World of Kralis

    The world of Kralis and the Omniverse in which it sits is a weird place where technology and magic blend together. Where void ships rift-jump through the wilds of the Void, where characters can jump on their levitation bikes or horses to out run the mecha or dragon that has just came over the hill.


    Where-ever possible, your description of the world around the characters, stress the unique, weird and bizarre. But do not be precise and exhaustive in your descriptive detail. Even if that is needed to describe the creature, the character, the device, the locale, or the phenomenon. Leave the players guessing with an impression rather than a detailed description. Give them a partially developed picture. Let it be weird and evocative.


    Be aware of how you describe things in a shorthand way as well. If you describe something the PCs see coming at them with the words "sort of" they will fill in the blanks with what they want to see. But instead, if you are descriptive in gray shades of specifics, you can put more of an evocative and weird image in their heads. It is better to be vague.


    When attempting to describe how a Void vehicle works try not to use jarring terms, be wary of the cliches of both science fiction and fantasy. To keep the weirdness factor up use more obscure words to describe something:


    • Say clockwork instead of robot or android


    • Say machine intelligence instead of artificial intelligence or computer intelligence.


    • Say energy pistol instead of blaster or laser gun


    • Use beam or ray instead of laser.


    • Avoid using radar or spaceship


    • Say world not planet


    • Say realm, dimension or universe instead of plane


    • Say slugthower, pistol or rifle not gun or revolver



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