Wonderings of a nascent PH

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Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  GreyVestibule on Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:00 am

So, I've been thinking of trying to put together a Pony Tales skype campaign, and as I start to try to work through things, I find some worries and concerns cropping up I'm hoping some folks might be able to help with. Apologies if this is not the right place to bring this up, I've also been trying to check other, older threads that are here to try to get  as much counsel as possible.

To show a little of my perspective, I've been a player in pen & paper style games (D&D 3.5, New World of Darkness, Exalted specifically), but I've never been a GM for one. I've written in play-by-post roleplays, mostly as a player, though I have occasionally been GM. When I have done that GMing, I tend to have a rough idea for a premise, but usually not a full outline with detailed thoughts for how a beginning, middle, and end go—I tend to fly by the seat of my pants.

I don't think I'll have an issue with railroading because of this (though I realize I should still be vigilant  about myself), but that means I end up having a worry of how to address building an overall campaign, or an individual session. I'm also really not used to giving people obstacles that can be handled in a quantifiable way. The Pony Tales guides thankfully had a handy chart for what DC checks were appropriate for certain levels of difficulty, but I still find myself freezing up at the thought of how to handle enemy combatants. In a similar vein, I find myself staring at how to handle doling out Harmony points. In either situation I find myself worrying about whether I'll over or underwhelm the players.

In addition, I was wondering if there is any sort of etiquette I should observe when using Skype for playing a game. I'm not really sure what might go wrong, but I suppose some concerns that come to mind include how to handle dropped calls or someone needing to be AFK in the middle of a moment in the session.

On a final note, I was wondering if anyone could recommend some ways to utilize sound in skype. I was wondering primarily about ways to possibly record sessions, and secondly if it is possible to have something like a “soundboard” on the computer to add in sound effects to a call, hopefully to help with bringing about some immersion, or to help with expressing a sound or ambiance that might be failed by words alone. If that seems like a bad idea though, feel free to say, as it occurs to me such a thing could also be annoying.
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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:29 am

I'd be happy to help. If you could narrow things to some more specific questions, that might make it a bit easier.

One thing I'd note, the Pony Tales system is pretty tough to GM effectively. You might prefer the new Wanderlust system. It's actually balanced, and runs a lot smoother. It doesn't have the same wild min/max potential of Pony Tales though.

Wanderlust tends to put the focus on making sure the actual adventures and gamplay in the sessions are fun, while Pony Tales tends to put more focus on making the intricate process of building characters fun - even if it leads to GM headaches or imbalanced characters. However, if you've dealt with 3.5 and similar, you might be used to that.

I'd prefer to play in Wanderlust, definitely would prefer to GM Wanderlust... But if I was just making cool character sheets, Pony Tales offers a real webwork of neat options.

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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  A1C Bronymous on Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:01 am

But, you've said yourself that Wanderlust isn't meant for Pony campaigns. Its much more simplified and streamlined, and loses out on some of the fun that certain complexities offer. And since neither of them play like 3.5 anyway, I don't think you can make a comparative statement about it. Plus, still no GM guide (or split guiding docs) for Wanderlust. But, to the questions outlined above.

I picked and ran a skype game that another person decided to give up on DMing, and ran that semi successfully, and I did it more or less the way you described- basic plot premise, a few ideas sprinkled in, and in the moment improv. It's true you won't have a problem railroading, but if you go like this, my number 1 piece of advice is KEEP NOTES. My main problem was coming up with something neat, and then forgetting a minor detail that the players remember that completely snub the challenge. DC checks are fairly easy because there is guidance, and because you can play around with them fairly easily. As for combatants, all I did was check out the Monster compendium, pick a template, and reskin it, maybe tweaking numbers here or there as the fight progresses. Harmony points... eh. Most DMs settle for handing out a predetermined number of points for completing a session, or just eschewing them entirely and just handing out levels when they feel its appropriate. I wouldn't worry about +/-whelming players, as the "First Time DM" tag generally gives you plenty of leeway with mistakes.

RE: Skype etiquette- generally you'll work out a schedule with players with a set time that they can all pretty commonly show up for- but expect absences frequently anyway. One missing character per session isn't a big deal, relegate them to background character, keep them out of trouble. Don't put yourself through the hassle of playing them as an NPC. Same can work for if someone suddenly goes missing- a lot of times conflicting schedules will put your game in tight constraints on either end, so if someone has to run and do something for a half an hour, might as well press on.
For dropped calls... not much to do about that. Recently they can be expected fairly commonly, but if everyone has at least passable internet it shouldn't be too difficult. If you want, make sure before the campaign starts that you have everyone have an idea of what to do with their character in case they drop during a fight or a tense moment.

Skype sounds I can't really help you with. I know other people have recorded games I've been in, so I'm sure a solid Google search will find you some free software to record the call. For playing sounds, you can play them over the mic, but whether or not they'll come in well and clear is up to Skype and everyone's speaker quality.

Overall, its something you won't get the hang of immediately, so you just need patience from both yourself and the players. Speaking of which, if you decide to run a game, I'd probably up to play it (if it fits my schedule that is). Anyway, hope some of this helps, and good luck.
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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:08 am

A1C Bronymous wrote:But, you've said yourself that Wanderlust isn't meant for Pony campaigns. Its much more simplified and streamlined, and loses out on some of the fun that certain complexities offer. And since neither of them play like 3.5 anyway, I don't think you can make a comparative statement about it. Plus, still no GM guide (or split guiding docs)  for Wanderlust. But, to the questions outlined above.

It wasn't specifically designed for pony campaigns. It was designed to support fantasy settings in general, and Equestria definitely fits that.

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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  ZamuelNow on Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:44 pm

I'm still of the mindset that though FiM has a lot of the trappings of fantasy, it's structured a bit more like superheroes with public identities since progression isn't as loot focused and there's a lot of quirks in how they react to things. The first MLP cartoon felt pretty blatantly fantasy structured though.



With the base question, what might help is to plan out your "real" campaign but for your first session do a one-off and request the players use prebuilt templates. It'll help you plan out the challenges you can throw at your players but you also have an idea of what they can do in return. It'll also take the pressure off for any issues with the real campaign.
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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:53 pm

ZamuelNow wrote:I'm still of the mindset that though FiM has a lot of the trappings of fantasy, it's structured a bit more like superheroes with public identities since progression isn't as loot focused and there's a lot of quirks in how they rea to things.  The first MLP cartoon felt pretty blatantly fantasy structured though.

That's a philosophical statement as to the core dramatic structure. The setting is still fantasy, and Wanderlust is made to suit such things. Indeed, the lack of loot-focus actually suits Wanderlust better than PT - as PT has a strong item focus.

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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  GreyVestibule on Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:14 pm

Thank you for your responses, I suppose I was voicing some general worries versus specific things, yeah. I'm grateful to hear the feedback all the same. On the matter of what system to use, I haven’t taken as deep a look at Wanderlust, but I'll give it a look. Can't hurt to expand my repertoire at least.

The taking notes I hadn't thought of, but that does sound like a good idea, especially if I'm making something up as I go. I would imagine it helping for maintaining consistency so that I don't say, accidentally describe the same character differently on different occasions. Or “change” around a room without intending to.

Re-skinning established enemies doesn't sound like a bad way to approach trying to get an enemy up ASAP. Though, I guess this does make me think of one specific question to ask—where should I go to try making a completely custom monster? I figure it won't hurt to use standardized stuff for a while, but I would also hope to eventually have something for players that stands out and is unique.

The rest of the advice you provided as well is certainly helpful, Bronymous. Having the levels potentially be rewarded when it feels “right” seems like it would help me for intuiting when it feels like the right moment to amp things up. I'll try to see what my google fu does for skype recording software.

And that sounds like a not-bad way to approach things Zamuel, thank you. That seems like it could work in terms of at least cutting my teeth on a system with some somewhat controlled variables.

Thank you again to everyone for your advice.
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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  ZamuelNow on Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:41 pm

GreyVestibule wrote:Re-skinning established enemies doesn't sound like a bad way to approach trying to get an enemy up ASAP. Though, I guess this does make me think of one specific question to ask—where should I go to try making a completely custom monster? I figure it won't hurt to use standardized stuff for a while, but I would also hope to eventually have something for players that stands out and is unique.

There aren't any direct documents for it so you'll need to experiment. However, there are places on the forum where you can request feedback on monsters you've created.  The one piece of advice I'll give is that while monsters should have varied attacks, their base damage shouldn't be random.  It'll help you plan for your damage output as opposed to having unpredictable swings.
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Re: Wonderings of a nascent PH

Post  Crystalite on Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:17 pm

Stairc -Dan Felder wrote:
A1C Bronymous wrote:But, you've said yourself that Wanderlust isn't meant for Pony campaigns. Its much more simplified and streamlined, and loses out on some of the fun that certain complexities offer. And since neither of them play like 3.5 anyway, I don't think you can make a comparative statement about it. Plus, still no GM guide (or split guiding docs)  for Wanderlust. But, to the questions outlined above.

It wasn't specifically designed for pony campaigns. It was designed to support fantasy settings in general, and Equestria definitely fits that.

As the guy running a Pony Play-by-Post (The first, as far as I know - correct me if wrong) I will say that Wanderlust is quite capable for Pony campaigns.

If you're used to Pony Tales, it takes a pretty significant change in the way you think about things, especially on the Player's side of the table; even at higher levels, your character probably won't be a living embodiment of power and destructive power like in Pony Tales. (I have built multiple PT characters who could probably level a small town if they tried hard enough.) From my story-favored perspective (Born from a root in free-form RP), this is a dream come true: Wanderlust's level 1 characters have a sense of "normalcy" (For lack of a better term for "I am capable of about as much as any other pony you point at at random") that I find more interesting to write for.
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