Melissa’s Customized Session Cheat Sheet for Game Masters

In my experience, having a 1 page cheat sheet for each session has benefits that far outweigh the time that it takes to build it.  I recommend creating a unique sheet for each session, a new cheat sheet for that specific game.

Plot Hooks – You should create hooks for every session, not just the first adventure.  You want to get ‘buy in’ for each game so that your players and their characters really care about what is going on in.

Locations/Encounters/Scenes – Depending on the structure of the game system you’re using, having a bullet point list of the locations such as dungeon rooms, waypoints on the road or unique places can be a loose guide to keep your game on track.  If you’re running a more crunchy dungeon delve style of adventure, having a list of probable encounters is just as valuable.  As a storyteller, I find that having a list of possible scenes provides me with a loose framework for the story.  Bonus Points: Create a scene tailored to put each player in the spotlight. Continue reading “Melissa’s Customized Session Cheat Sheet for Game Masters”

x-wing crash

3 Warning Signs that Your Campaign is about to Crash and Burn

We’ve all stuck to a campaign that was well into its death throes. It can be hard to give up on a story that had a lot of work put into and characters that took time to create.  Sometimes shooting a dead horse is a mercy.

No One Shows Up – if your group meets together regularly and suddenly you have schedule conflicts, take a hard look at your game.  Is the reason it’s hard to fill the gaming table due to a lack of interest in the campaign?

Your Players Don’t Care – if the pre-session banter takes twice as long as usual,  your normally attentive players are more interested in their cell phones and almost anything starts a non-gaming related discussion, your players aren’t into your game.

You Don’t Care – It takes a lot of time and effort to run a campaign.  When all of that work feels exhilarating and you can’t wait to run your next session, you know your game is a hit.  If going through your session notes, creating story hooks and figuring out what to do with plot holes is unbearable drudgery, there’s no reason to continue.  If you’re not enjoying the campaign, your players aren’t either.  They can sense that you’ve given up on it.

This advice is easier said than done.  I’ve run my share of dud campaigns and it can be hard to throw in the towel.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re only 3 sessions in or 30 sessions in.  If no one is enjoying it, acknowledge it.  Discuss with your players what went wrong and move on.

Picard Face Palms

5 Things Every GM Wishes You Wouldn’t Do

My most recently played game was a Call of Cthulhu boxed adventure being run for a large group of eight players, most of whom I was meeting for the first time. We had a fantastic, patient and knowledgeable Game Master but the game was disappointing. There was one player whose behavior almost ruined the night.  It’s rare to have a single player enact so many terrible gaming habits in a single session but nonetheless that’s what happened.  Below are the bad behaviors of the offending player.  Take heed my gamer friends and avoid these.

Show Up Late – In my most recent game as a player I had a bad feeling when the game master had to call a player to check if they were coming.  She was coming, but late.  There’s nothing worse for the players and the GM than sitting around a table with nothing to do waiting on someone with poor time management skills.  Arrive on time.

Don’t Bring Your Character – I am as guilty as the next player on this taboo.  If you forget your character sheet often, give your game master a spare copy just in case.  The guilty player in this last game wasn’t only late, they still had to make up a character.  If you haven’t even rolled a character up yet, please show up to the game early.   Continue reading “5 Things Every GM Wishes You Wouldn’t Do”

Melissa, the evil GM

New Project – Writing A Module for Publication

It’s been far too long since I’ve FINISHED a major project.  I’ve done a few small things but it would do my soul some good to complete a project start to finish.  To that end I’ve decided to write a module for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons through the DM’s Guild.

While I’m tempted to work on my own game system and home-brew setting, creating an entire game from scratch is a severely long term project.  I need a decent-sized project that I know I can finish within a few months.  This rules out coming with an entire system from scratch.  It also rules out my video game projects that are always on the back burner.  So why am I going with a D&D module?

  1. The system is already there and is highly polished.  Most of my tabletop gaming hours under my belt have been spent with D&D 3.5, World/Chronicles of Darkness and Call of Cthulu.  Of those three, D&D has recently opened up a wonderful pipeline for authors to write modules and game products using their 5th edition rules.
  2. The setting already exists and there’s plenty of material to draw inspiration from.  I’ll be writing my module for The Forgotten Realms Setting.
  3. I’m re-reading The Dark Elf Trilogy for the third time.  I’ve always been in love with The Drow and have run many adventures with them used as the antagonists or with the players creating their own cunning Drow as the protagonists.  If you’re excited about a project, it will be less like work and more enjoyable.  I also believe I’ll be more likely to finish a project that I’m really stoked on.
Melissa, the evil GM

Morgan – Werewolf & Deadly Assassin

Obsidian Portal Character Sheet

Blood: The Fox
Bone: Lone Wolf
Auspice: Irraka
Tribe: Hunter in the Darkness

Attributes
Intelligence 2
Wits 3
Resolve 2
Strength 3
Dexterity 3
Stamina 2
Presence 2
Manipulation 2
Composure 2

Skills
Medicine 2
Occult (The Hosts) 2
Athletics 3
Brawl (Bite) 3
Larceny 1
Stealth (Surprise Attack) 4
Survival 1
Persuasion 2
Streetwise 2
Subterfuge 3 Continue reading “Morgan – Werewolf & Deadly Assassin”

Sergeant Riley Morgan – Spider Cop

My gaming group was very excited to get to playtest Beast: The Primordial for Onxy Path. Here’s the information about my character.

Character Sheet PDF

Sergeant Riley Morgan

  • How has life changed/remained the same since you became a Beast?
    • Riley’s career has greatly benefited from her improved confidence and sense of power. She has earned a place in the community policing program – a practice in which an officer builds relationships with the citizens of local neighborhoods and mobilizes the public to help fight crime.  This has actually helped Riley to feel more like she fits in and gives her a sense of purpose.

Continue reading “Sergeant Riley Morgan – Spider Cop”

The Contingent – Cases

Energy to Spare – The high school kids are raving about a new energy drink, Ümph. However the teachers and administrators have banned the drink from all school property in the district. They’re claiming Ümph makes some kids act out and cause trouble. Security will be tight at tonight’s homecoming game. Let’s hope nothing terrible happens.

Dark Science – Hidden beneath the prosperous downtown of Red Wing, sinister experiments have been conducted on unwilling test subjects. The resulting supernatural side-effects have spread quietly throughout the town. Who conducted this research and why? What exactly was done to the people trapped in these dank cells? Who covered-up the entire project? This game will focus on research, exploration and investigation.

Red Wire or Blue Wire? – Ümph the energy drink’s unintended side effects are considered well within corporate safety parameters. Three more trucks are scheduled to leave the bottling plant this week. Chester needs your help. The shipments must be stopped to protect innocent consumers. The test product is only being produced from one location. Destroy the facility and the secret recipe.

Another Letter from Dr. Josephus Belle

Using their vast library and considerable connections, our partners in The Royal Society of Enquiry have tracked down a cache of ancient relics. Roman pagans fleeing persecution from early Christians built a secret temple to house their treasures in Constantinople. Some exciting documents revealing the location of this valuable horde of artifacts have been translated by Chancellor Neville Welke himself. This mission is of the utmost importance to both The Miskatonic Society and The ROSE.

You will board a steamer to Paris, meet up with the ROSE expedition team and travel together on The Orient Express to Istanbul. There, under the streets of the most eclectic city in the world, you will find items of wealth, power and knowledge that have no equal on this earth!

-Dr. Josephus Belle

Spiders, Frogs and Alliance Ships. Oh My!

A Doctor’s Recollections:

  • Dropped off medical supplies for a contact in North Hampshire, the capitol and space port of a border planet, New Luxor (near Santo).
  • Noticed at the local pub, The Short Straw, that we were being watched. Alliance men in uniforms appear to have been on duty for a while. I love a man with just a little scruff.
  • Went to “Play Doctor” with a friend. He tells me that Lt. D’Lacie is a prick who has been giving everyone a hard time. For some reason Kobayashi Maru’s captain, Xie, keeps interrupting our role-playing. Is it role-playing if I am actually a doctor? I convince my friend to forget to lock my shuttle so that I can escape before the crew gets busted by The Alliance. Apparently they have gotten themselves into trouble. I need to stay off the local radar. Thanked my friend for his patronage.

  • The crew has apparently decided to attract the attention of The Alliance on purpose. I think they’re being played by two different internal factions of blue-bellies. How do they get themselves into these situations?
  • Despite the fact that I have made it clear to The Captain that all contraband needs to be moved to The Cure, none of the work has been done. Claude and I get to work. I keep thinking to myself, “Damn it, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a fork-lift operator!” Where is he?
  • Claude and I flee the planet in The Cure. He’s helping me with my English. It’s pretty boring up here. I write him a prescription for hashish. Then I realize that is not a good idea. The fucking spider keeps staring at our ship. Claude sees a damn bird. Man, he is high. Fortunately a space toad eats the spider. Then later I write Claude a prescription for whiskey and chocolate to be used immediately with his doctor. Shortly thereafter he passes out. I realize that we may be up here for a while, since the crew is bound and determined to get caught. I sedate the chimp to save on oxygen.
  • I do some gardening before I realize that I’m also using too much oxygen. Time to shoot up. Hopefully they don’t need me for anything for a while. I keep hearing bits of conversations. Seems like the girls are having fun. Not sure where the engineer has gotten off to.
  • Don’t remember much after that. Suddenly Heather is yelling at me to wake the monkey. I briefly wonder if that is a euphemism before I realize she is angry and in a panic. Stab Claude with an adrenaline syringe. Claude is having fun, but he confirms that The Alliance ship that I saw earlier is very real and very close by. We make it out of the system. I think there was an explosion?
  • All in all, a good visit. I got paid for my physician’s skills, we ended up with some alliance prisoner on board (that the crew is releasing for some reason), Claude and I bonded a bit and no one got shot this time.

Dr. Ángelita Prieto

The far outposts are no place for a lady, but doctors are needed everywhere. – Dr.Prieto

Vous êtes un homme riche. Vous avez les médicaments que mon équipe a besoin. Je suis une belle femme. Nous sommes loin dans l’espace. Je suis sûr que nous pouvons arriver à une sorte d’arrangement? – Dr.Prieto

The medical transport ship, The Cure is where our good doctor thrives. Her shuttle is usually docked in a modified CL-54, The Kobayashi Maru. The crew of the ship, depend on Dr. Prieto for medical care.  Her personal quarters and operating theater are aboard the short range shuttle. Each instrument is meticulously sterilized and organized in preparation for any potential emergency. In the black, even minor health concerns can quickly escalate into urgent matters without the expertise of a highly trained medical professional.