DC RPG: The Hero Points Podcast, Episode 8 – GameMaster Advice

Siskoid takes the reigns of the show to dole out GameMaster advice, house rules and campaign inspiration for superhero-themed roleplaying in this bonus episode of Hero Points. Whatever game you're using, we hope you'll find something of interest here.

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19 responses to “DC RPG: The Hero Points Podcast, Episode 8 – GameMaster Advice

  1. Great show!
    I have been gaming with the same crew since high school, moving from D&D to the DC RPG back to D&D. We have had the same characters for about 10 years, gaming about 4 times a year.

    A couple of things you said resonated with what my DM has done.

    1) When we started up, we decided every character needed a backstory. Everyone had to write a 1-2 page ‘origin’ so that you had a sense of who everyone was as they were put together as a team without knowing each other. My character grew up as a were-rat, was cured, and is filled with some self-loathing for what he was then. Became a lycanthroe hunter. Strives to be a hero but is flawed, occasionally slipping into rage. But was a well known warrior.

    2) The DM sprinkled in side plots about each character in the campaign based on their history. So the main plot (uniting lost, powerful artifacts) was sometimes derailed by a character driven mini-arc. Everyone got the chance to shine. Mine was a tribe of were-rats seeking me out for revenge.

    3) At one point, the main plot was done, the artifacts indeed united. We all loved our characters enough to ask for a sequel keeping them together rather than rolling up new characters. To make things fun, rather than start a whole new arc, he had each character have a 3-4 hour solo adventure. Everyone was there to see what the other character was going through. At the end of the solo mission, the DM elevated everyone one level but gave them a level in a Prestige Character Class for their success. So my fighter got a level in Street Fighter, something I never would have picked on my own.

    4) Fallout from those side missions became subplots for the sequel which we are in now.

    5) While not giving us bonuses, we did name the group and gave our characters titles and nicknames. Having been successful in the first mission, our group had some clout and recognition in this world. So people know The Terror Tellers. And they know Mordent, ‘the Razor Wielder’ based on the magic sword I use.

    Anyways, as always fun episode.

    1. In one of my favorite campaigns (Savage Worlds: Evernight), the group chose to become known as The Order of the Shovel, based on the shovel-slamming action very early on when they helped a town out with its rat infestation. You can’t plan for that kind of stuff.

  2. Interesting episode. Shows like this make me want to game, but finding a group of people around here who would be into it is impossible. Love the idea of working in the big crossover events and setting campaigns in Elseworlds!


    1. I feel this pain as well: haven’t actually had a regular gaming group in years now, and I miss it. The likelihood of getting into a new one is slimmer than Flatman of the Great Lakes Avengers.

  3. Great episode with lots of interesting ideas.

    My one and only attempt at being a Game Master occurred when I was around 12 years old. I tried to GM a MERP (Middle-earth Role Playing) adventure with my brothers, who were around 9 and 5 years old. The session ended tragically when my 9 year old brother stormed off in tears after his character was gored to death by a wild boar. In retrospect, I probably should have fudged that last critical roll.

    While I’ve never had the good fortune to find a tabletop role-playing group, my now considerably older brother’s and I do meet up online once a week to play an MMORPG together. So, I take some solace in the fact that I didn’t sour them completely on role-playing games.

    Still, completing an entire tabletop role-playing game adventure is on my bucket list.

      1. Those tables were unforgiving, but the descriptions of damage in the critical tables were entertaining.

        MERP was the first RPG I ever bought. Shortly thereafter, I did buy West End’s Star Wars RPG and TSR’s Marvel RPG, either of which would have been an easier game to start with. Unfortunately, I was young, foolish, and really into Tolkien at the time.

        1. My first was Fantasy Wargaming, a frequently obtuse game available from the Science Fiction Book Club. I sort of used its character sheet, then homebrewed my way through, oh, must’ve been a year or two with the Monster Manual and Deities & Demigods as my only real RPG books. Then converted to the little-known Arcanum (the ancestor of Talislanta) until I finished high school. After that, while I did run some proper AD&D, I was all about other games like DC Heroes, Dream Park, GURPS, Paranoia, and others.

          1. We used the critical and fumble tables from MERP (and Rolemaster) in our AD&D games. They were used inconsistently, for sure, as we’d have ended up with a lot of mutilated PCs otherwise. 🙂

          2. Keeping mechanics from one game as I head into another is something I often do. General Knowledge rolls from Savage Worlds. Initiative system and Yes but, yes and approach from Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. Subplots from DC Heroes. Etc.

  4. I absolutely love that idea about adding mechanical bonuses for “Descriptors” and “”Nicknames!” It’s the kind of thing that adds to a game in many ways, but doesn’t slow it down at all. Now, if only I had a group to try it out on…

  5. I agree, the “Descriptors” and “Nicknames” idea has some merit. I may have to work that in. Though it may take some tweaking since most of my gaming group insists on playing in the HERO system.

    I’m lucky enough that I have a group that meets almost weekly (and unlucky enough to have no life to preempt playing an RPG almost weekly). Most of our adventures are supers, with a healthy amount of sci-fi thrown in.

    An idea for future episodes – how do you throw your players a curve when you’ve known them for decades and you (and they) know how each other think?

    And less than two months from the last Hero Points episode? Careful – we might start expecting regularity. 😉

    1. I like both your ideas. The first I’d have to think about. The second would make a fine episode.

      HERO is too crunchy for my tastes (though I’ve been known to use characters from Champions splatbooks), but it shouldn’t be too hard to add extra modifiers to the formulas.

      As for regularity, I will remind everyone that we released 3 episodes last year, and they all came out in the first five months of the year. Then we made you wait 11 months for the next ep. But if we try to pull something off every 5-Tuesday month, that should give you 3-4 episodes a year, right? Something like that. At least one of them with both me and Shagg, I’d imagine. But Hero Points is fickle!

  6. Another thought for a future episode – how to get more younger people into pencil & paper rpg’s? This hobby is being supplanted by computer/video games. While those are great fun, they don’t really serve the same function as being together in a shared storyline unique to your group. And with an computer game you never get the experience of GM’g, which is a different skill from being a skilled role-player.l

  7. Fantastic episode, Siskoid! Loved all your GM nuggets of wisdom.

    In my own superhero campaigns, I had a set of “Interview Questions” for each character. It was a two page document that asked questions about their lives. It really forced the player to think about who their character was (before and after they got powers). I always warned them upfront, whatever answers they gave I would be using as ideas for subplots. And the players loved it! So much of their backstory would end up becoming crucial character moments.

    Again, fantastic episode, Siskoid!

  8. Loved the episode – always happy to hear another instalment of Hero Points.

    I agree that having supers campaigns in past continuity can work really well. Both my Marvel FASERIP campaigns were set n the 80s.

    As well as having write ups for most of the characters who were active, there’s the benefit that there’s barely any cellphones or internet, meaning the heroes have to hit the streets if they want to find out anything.

    For future episodes, could we maybe have something on WEG’s DC game, so all three have been covered?

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