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Originally Published: 17 February 2016

I've had this website for quite a while now and been seriously lack about publishing. I'm going to try and change that but also focus on a series of Shorts that give a quick oversight or look into one particular subject. So maybe a good place to start is the beginning.

When starting a game or the chapter of a game there is an a lot that a GM can do to strengthen and build up their game without being heavy handed. During this time Players are getting used to their characters, learning the setting and starting to see the story that you have laid out for them.

One simple tactic can be not to underestimated the value of presenting all the key NPCs of a narrative within the first few sections of the story/plot-arc. Setting out the various players; clearly identifying their (public) faces and agendas gives the narrative defined boundaries without being obvious.

 

In short, this gives players and GM several advantages that can help the game get off to a strong start:

If there is a mystery or hidden identity/masked figure, then the possible culprits are already in play. Letting players start to thinking things over and exploring possibilities. Similarly if there are questions raised during the game (who knows about herbs, who can fix my laser rifle etc) the characters already have an answer and don’t have to ask the GM a question, maintaining immersion and pulling everyone further into the world.

For the GM as the cast is clearly set out from the off they can quickly build up the depth of the world and also start to use this characters to build and define the narrative, particularly if they are also set as red-herrings to mislead the players into making initial assumptions. Who is the necromancer? We all witnessed Lord Blackmohr beating that peasant in the market square when we arrived in town! Clearly he has no reservations about violence and cruelty.

Finally as these are NPC they characters will interact and deal with throughout the story, they will share the same narrative and player’s should come to care about them (or loathe them). Even if the feelings are neutral their existence before their moment in the spotlight means that it is possible to avoid issues one might have by bringing in a major player late in the narrative.

In general it can help a strong setting to give the Players a brief tour of the people they will encounter and what roles they may have early in the story.

Good examples of this can be found in the classic-detective (country-house style) fiction where all the suspects and/or characters are introduced early on giving the reader to identify the possible suspects along with the Detective and follow the same steps, drawing them into the world.