Tag Archives: GM tools

Treasury of Games: How to decide what to play?

You may be a GM with too many game ideas to run, or part of a gaming group with multiple GMs vying for people’s limited free time. If you are lucky enough to have multiple games to choose from, it sucks to have to choose, but with a fair method everyone can game happy.  Have a pitch night with your gamers to decide what games will be played!

The Pitch: Each person who wants to GM will have up to 15 minutes to sell the game idea. Take your audience into account when doing this, and make sure to sell the game you’ll be running, not simply the system you’ll be using for it or yourself as a GM. The essential rule of the pitch, however, is that you must build up the game on its own merits; comparisons with what others plan to run, or appeals to particular players based on their tastes or habits or your relationship with them are not allowed in the Pitch. Those things may play a role in who votes for what in the end, but the idea of making a Pitch is to overcome those tendencies, not strengthen them.

The Sign-Up Sheet: On this sheet, there will be a paragraph or so describing the game, reminding people what they’re signing up for. It will list the GM’s name. It ought to list the expected running length of the game, as this will be a key selling point, indicating a strong story-arc plan on the GM’s part. Everybody except for the GM will sign in one of three spots:

“I would play this” – marked PLAY, these are up-votes, plain and simple. Voting for a game means you commit to show up for as long as it runs, if it is the game chosen by the majority.

“I’d give it a shot” – marked TRY, this is an abstention. By signing here, your vote will be counted only for tie-breaking purposes. This vote means that if this game is chosen, you will at least show up to try it for the first two or three sessions, because while the game doesn’t push your buttons specifically, you enjoy socializing with us on Tuesday nights, and the game doesn’t push you away too much for that.

“I would not play this” – marked BOW OUT, this is also an abstention. By signing here, your vote will be counted only for tie-breaking purposes as well! However, this vote commits to not showing up on Tuesday nights for the duration of the game in question if it is chosen. In other words, this game is so uninteresting or sounds actively un-fun that you would rather stay home and/or seek other entertainment than hang out with your friends here while playing it.

Tallying Votes: The game with the most names in the PLAY column will be chosen, no matter the names in the TRY and BOW OUT columns. If one game gets 3 PLAY votes, and the most another game gets is 2 PLAY votes, then the game with 3 PLAY will run even if it got 5 BOW OUT votes and one of the games with 2 PLAY votes got 6 TRY votes. In other words, players enthusiastic enough to commit to the game will be given more weight than those who would merely try, or those who do not wish to play.

Breaking Ties: In the case of tied PLAY votes for the most popular game, the game with the better TRY/BOW OUT ratio will be chosen. So if two games each received 4 PLAY votes, but one received 2 TRY and 2 BOW OUT, while the other received 4 TRY votes, then the latter game would be chosen.

The advantage to this method, similar to this “Approval Voting” method explained by CGP Grey, is that you end up with the most enthusiastic players in your game. Adding the option to drop out and do something else with the free time ensures you won’t have any grudging/whining players cluttering up your gaming table as well. And there’s no reason you can’t invite them to the next pitch night – your friendship with them will probably be all the better for not making them play a game they don’t like.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.

Treasury of Games: Eukelade Launch Station EH-5679

This military space station serves as a staging base for capital ships. Located at the edge of its owner’s recognized borders in space, the station orbits a protostar in a nebula, making it difficult to observe comings and goings from it. The nebula also offers a rich fuel source. Eukelade Nebula is an energy-rich environment where synthesizing antimatter is relatively cheap, because the station collects plenty of hydrogen to fuel its fusion plant (with which it generates antimatter, in the form of anti-hydrogen). The station is unarmed, but always servicing at least one capital warship, and therefore not unprotected even should an enemy locate and target it.

Eukelade is home to multiple launch stations orbiting multiple proto-stars within the nebula. EH-5679 is the furthest out of them. It is home to a crew of 5: a commander, two communication/sensors operators, and two fusion plant/antimatter fuel engineers. These officers serve 6-month shifts isolated on the station together, then are replaced with a fresh crew. Usually the same crew won’t be reassigned straight to another launch station after their rest period (a month’s leave followed by a month of training to keep skills up to date), but it does occasionally happen. In the case of EH-5679, the current crew requested to be reassigned to a launch station together after their last leave, having served a stint together twice previously. They have formed a bond and don’t mind being isolated together, and see this post as a good way to avoid front line duty. Since the fleet needs competent crews to man these combined listening post/refueling stations, this form of service is perfectly acceptable to the higher ranks who make the assignments.

Commander Atchison is a reserved woman. She prefers a minimum amount of human interaction in her day; she made command rank by her meticulous efficiency which allows her to achieve this despite making sure all her subordinates had all the information and instructions necessary to complete their tasks, and passing on all relevant information up the chain of command. She is also an expert in multiple technical fields, including all operations necessary at EH-5679. Her relationship with her crew seems distant, but she appreciates that they have learned not to bother her needlessly, and they appreciate that she efficiently takes care of them. The commander has deftly pulled strings in the past for her crew, and they trust her to be able to move heaven and earth with a flick of her fingers should they need it. She also covers for her crew’s fraternization – their romances are against regulations, but Atchison doesn’t mind as long as their duties aren’t affected.

Lieutenant Frazetta and Lieutenant Harvey are the comms/sensor operators. The men share a kiss whenever they change shifts, though they save any more intimate displays of affection for their leave time. Frazetta is 35, and a 15 year veteran of the service. Harvey is 22, having only met Frazetta when they were first assigned to a Eukelade station together under commander Atchison; it was Harvey’s first assignment out of the academy. Lt. Frazetta is excellent with comms operation, having the long experience with communications equipment to know a grab bag of tricks for improving signal quality and reducing information loss. Harvey, on the other hand, is better with analyzing sensors output. His schooling is more recent and up to date, and he’s talented at the kind of math required to figure out what sensor readings actually mean. Each one is competent at the other job as well, but only excellent in one part.

Lieutenants Yu and Enfield are a married couple. They were married before they joined the service, and acquired an exemption order to allow their marriage. Both are PhDs in fusion and antimatter engineering. They typically have boring jobs, because the equipment is automated and as long as it’s working properly, so they spend a lot of time refining their hobbies. Yu has taught herself tattoo application, mostly using her own body as a canvas. Her husband composes poetry.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.