As GMs, you are asked to handle a lot of tasks to make the rest of the world come alive. While PCs have a lot on their shoulder to cover their characters, you have to fill in the blanks for the rest of the world, however large it is, while also shepherding the story and the mechanics of the game along.
- Running the story of the game.
- Keeping the rules straight
- Helping to mitigate barriers to those things
- Keeping the voice of the story
- Keeping your friends entertained
A lot of these recommendations are when you are still getting established in a system or setting because with practice and experience, it usually becomes easier. That said, there is nothing wrong with staying on the more detailed preparation side of the GM continuum.
Take Notes and have them organized – Use whatever method you prefer to take the notes, but you will rarely be able to store an entire campaign of details in your head. Jot down your ideas, your inspirations, and your plans as you go along so you have them recorded. Keep the notes organized, or collate the information on the notes afterwards, so you have a ready reference chart of different categories – locations, NPCs, plot threads, et cetera.
Have those notes available during the game – You will usually need to have a wide range of information available at your fingertips as a GM and while computers have made it much easier to keep up with it all, nothing quite replaces the physical notes right in front of you. Have that list of NPCs or even just names and occupations handy so you can just glance at it when the PCs ask who they meet. At the same time, keep taking notes during the game – if a PC makes an impression on an NPC, jot that down in those same notes! If they manage to become wanted men and women, make sure that location has it jotted down.
Take shortcuts – Those notes and NPCs can be nearly any NPC with a little improvisation! Keep index cards or electronic notes that are general enough to shape them into something different with minimal effort on the fly. Ballpark the stats for the faceless minions instead of using a full statblock. Find and use cheatsheets for the common areas and rules to have a wide range of references in one page.
Use your Players as a Resource – Make players who have specialist characters be the main rules repository for that specialty. In Shadowrun, that is often Decking or Rigging, in Champions, the Martial Art system, in OWOD, Tremere Thaumaturgy. These specialty areas will have a lot of similarity to other parts of the game but you can leave the deep specifics to those players
Horn of Zaldoria
The Horn of Zaldoria is an object that might be hard to call an actual horn. It is a tapering piece of something that has a dark gray color and the flattened end has concentric rings. The last owner of this particular item was a gentleman known as Scaviolus. Not much is known about him other then he felt that he was entitled to this object. What is the horn used for? Some think is a tool to creating immortality. Others feel like it can cut holes in the fabric of reality. Others still feel like it can trick people into thinking it is some kind of mystical doodad. Well what is it really? That is so hard to say since it seems to be both here and not here. Several groups have killed over this item and many people have died in the pursuit of this strange and very real Horn of Zaldoria.
Goudreaux’s Vintage is a case of wine, port to be precise, that has been quietly aging for decades. At the turn of the 20th Century, a vinter ahead of time Goudreaux, began to break from the traditions of his fellow countrymen to experiment with wines. It was only in the 1950s that cases of his wine were discovered, and that the world realized he had stumbled onto innovations far ahead of his time.
An early experiment of his holds sway over the oeniphiles of the world now – a 60 year aged tawny port. Goudreaux had the foresight to import and use American whiskey barrels to begin the port’s aging, before bottling it in his mid-20s with an instruction not to consider release until at least 60 years of bottle aging had occurred. Making this port in France rather than Portugal let him use different grapes and different methods, but the result looks to be from his notes an exceptional wine. He even kept back some making an early example of Late Bottled Vintage Port that has been described at the time as simply revelatory. The problem is that while the notes about his port survived none of the vintage port did. It simply could not be found with the remains of his estate.
Now, the case of port is being claimed halfway across the world, stored in a temperature controlled cave away from the rest of the world over the past 70 years. And this delicate, potentially priceless, cargo is what you must transport. The wine itself is nothing more than a Macguffin – it’s there to be sought and nothing more, but how do you handle this piece of history, this wine that speaks of a time before so many of the modern complications arose, and what complications of the modern day will stand in the PCs way?
Ozone noun \ ˈō-ˌzōn \
Definition of ozone
1 :a triatomic very reactive form of oxygen that is a bluish irritating gas of pungent odor, that is a major air pollutant in the lower atmosphere but a beneficial component of the upper atmosphere, and that is used for oxidizing, bleaching, disinfecting, and deodorizing
2 :pure and refreshing air
Origin and Etymology of ozone
German Ozon, from Greek ozōn, present participle of ozein to smell
First Known Use: 1841
Popularity: Bottom 50% of words
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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment
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