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Referee's Lounge Discussion of how to (and not to) Referee Traveller and Cepheus Engine games. No edition warring allowed.

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Old October 19th, 2018, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mike wightman View Post
My wife would hit me over the head with a frying pan if I suggested anything so sexist...
First, I do not ask her, she does this because she wants to, and wants to make sure that we eat relatively nutritious snacks, rather than just potato chips and other munchies. For our game session tomorrow, she is making up a vegetable tray with dip along with some sliced apples and dip (my son-in-law loves the dip that she makes for apples). Did I ask her, no? Did she call my daughter to make sure what everyone (daughter, son-in-law, son-in-law's father, me) would eat? Yes. I fail to see how that is sexist at all.

Second, as I am disabled, and gaming is one of the few outside activities that I can do, she sees it as an opportunity for me to get out and spend some time with friends.

Originally Posted by mike wightman View Post
Most of the groups I have refereed or played in over the years have been mixed sex, one group was all women apart from me, and I was the one doing the fetching and carrying.
In all of my gaming groups, we have had three females involved, and only one was not a daughter of one of the older gamers. My daughter does greatly enjoy gaming.
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Old October 19th, 2018, 04:13 PM
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For the first year or two, back in 1980 and 1981, my home players were mostly women with a few guys. Store players were mostly all guys, with an occasional girlfriend. Most girlfriends didn't want to game.

No one made snacks for the house or the stores. Some store players would bring food with them, most didn't.
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Old October 19th, 2018, 04:14 PM
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My apologies, it was not my intent to infer in any way you were being sexist - the humour smiley is meant to convey joke nature of the post.

A better term for me to use is probably menial - I will edit so that the post can not cause offence.
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Old October 24th, 2018, 01:57 PM
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Found this link with a little (stress little) bit of a guide:

As per my sig, I also bring the same level of stuff to games as a current D&D character is a noble with a scroll of pedigree. So of course, I create a scroll of pedigree after searching for some maps of Greyhawk (see attached PDF). And I did scour the internet for some images of what I thought the character should look like.

It is sometimes hard to get some players to be more active: my last Traveller game had 6 players, and I managed to get them all involved at least a bit. The ones that had the least amount of play I am working on figuring out ways to get that character more useful and into the game more.
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Old October 25th, 2018, 04:44 AM
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In my Call Of Cthulhu campaign the players formed a secret society on their own that would allow the not infrequent new characters to have a starting point as legacies. They set up the bylaws and SOP for investigations. I was able to then incorporate a larger history for them as well as their opponents by using what they developed as a history.

That all became part of the overall history of the campaign that extended into WWII and the 2001 campaigns. It was amazing the efforts they put into it. One player started to journal every session with cartoons, caricatures of characters and adventures, while another became the "librarian" and designated sorcerer. They decided to build a padded cell in the basement for him to use when reading new books and researching. When his character started to show some Innsmouth taint they just locked him n a subterranean water tank for future use as an oracle and seer.

The best part is they demanded one of them develop that sort of hidden background and he drew short straw. When players start doing that sort of deeper work in a campaign I know I've engaged them. But, they don't always have to and that group was pretty special.
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Old October 25th, 2018, 04:25 PM
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@sabredog now thats very interesting. My store players just wanted to hack and slash in ad&d. But some of the home players wanted to help the locals where ever they happened to be. Like assist in curing diseases. Help make the drinking water safer, etc.

When they finally got their castle, they had such a good reputation, they had to put up signs saying their 3 or 4 villages couldn't take any more people.
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Last edited by JimMarn; October 25th, 2018 at 04:25 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old June 23rd, 2019, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by kilemall View Post
As the title indicates, the question for this thread is what personal qualities and skills make for a good referee?
I don't know, I always just made it up as I went along...
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Old July 5th, 2019, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mike wightman View Post
It's not the referee that tells the story - it is the actions of the players through their characters that tells the story.

The referee's job is to set the scene, adjudicate the rules, and run the NPCs.

I have seen too many games fall apart over the years because the referee had this cool story to tell that the players would be part of - except the players kept doing stuff off script which spoils the referee's story.

A good ref has adapts to what the players do, he/she doesn't try to have a script that the players must follow.
Originally Posted by ShawnDriscoll View Post
Don't force a story onto the players. Just give your NPCs their own goals, and role-play them as if they're in a sandbox that you'll be adding the PCs into. Everything else is character-driven after that. As a Referee, you decide when and what types of task checks will be needed to roll for. The "stories" will reveal themselves at the end of each session.
Originally Posted by sabredog View Post
Very true!

I will write a story arc for a campaign that records everything with a timeline that doesn't include the PC's. That gives me a baseline to keep myself (and the players more or less) on track for the "big events" and activations of some of the major NPC's.

Then the players get involved in-game and the whole plot (which to me is the most fun part) goes up, down, every which way as the PC's interact with the NPC's and main plot how they want to. Sometimes they go off the rails for months at a time, but at least having it all mapped out for myself I can nudge them back if needs be, as well as have plenty of events generating rumors and news. I keep good notes as we go to keep track of the players' changes to the whole storyline, if any, and also keep notes on ideas the players come up with about what is going on that may not even be correct but will generate side events and more rumors and stuff.

in fact, sometimes the players come up with more interesting and fun ideas about what is going on (depending on the genre this can be suspects, events, cultist activities, bad guy goals and schemes...) than I had originally come up with myself. In those cases I either let them develop the leads to chase down that are true, or even if they are false. And if true - I just toss what I had originally and go with their ideas; rewriting the campaign as I go.

I've had that happen a lot sometimes and it resulted in a lot of off-the-cuff refereeing while I kept a close ear and eye on what the players were doing so I could keep the session going until a good time to. I have a deeply developed ATU so that isn't hard to do that in my Traveller games, but sometimes the actual consequences of their new actions and unexpected directions in the overall story don't show up for a long time in the campaign - so good notes are a must. And even if not useful at the time, this sort of unplanned input from the players can be inserted later as a side adventure for them.

But mainly, what I recommend a lot is at least having the whole story plotted out as if the players weren't going to be in - then let them develop how their actions affect the details and plot as they go along. The unexpected always brings glorious results and you'll be surprised how often it is more fun that way.
What they said. I'm too lazy to type it anew, and it would add nothing to the discussion...
Originally Posted by Whipsnade View Post
Sandboxes are great...

... if the players can use them.
Even cats manage to learn that "skill", to a degree and for a particular purpose.

Kids do even beter, actually playing at the sandbox!
My players are all adults, and I expect from them to be more capable than that!
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Old September 3rd, 2019, 03:17 PM
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Some of the comments have touched on the referee getting input from the players, but I think that needs more emphasis.
A really good referee needs to really listen to the players, find out what kind of game they are looking for.
I recommend having a discussion with the players some time well before the play date so that everyone involved knows what sort of game the referee intends: a combat heavy game, an exploration oriented game, or something else. Try to find some orientation for the scenario that everyone can agree on. Then the referee can find/create a scenario that fills that need. Of course if this is a regular group that the Referee is well acquainted with this may not be necessary. However, even in those cases the referee should always try to keep the players happy. Ideally the referee does not want to force the players into any particular mode of play, or dictate the course of the game, even if the referee has a particular story he wants to tell. Instead a good referee will strive to be a facilitator of fun for everyone.
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Old September 3rd, 2019, 09:49 PM
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When I ran games I tried to keep everyone involved. If someone looked like they were nodding off or otherwise were becoming disinterested, then suddenly their character would notice something. A smell, a sight, a sound, realizing some vital clue to get them back into the game.

I tended not to do a lot of research because I understood the outdoors via my adopted father taking us to rough it a lot, and other outdoor activities I used to do, as well as a strong interest in astronomy and the space program (lunar missions). Death Station was akin to being on the Discovery from 2001 a Space Odyssey, only with drugged out cannibalistic maniacs. The Chamax plague was essentially fighting aliens while on a dirt road trail and I had hiked plenty of those. One offs like rescuing hostages from the hotel penthouse suite didn't require much research because the game map was essentially the setting.

Just my thoughts.
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