The Weary Game Master's Almanac

From Fortunate Blades

Rule Zero

Whenever you don't know what to do, just think: "What is the most entertaining thing that could happen right now?" and do that (as long as it doesn't really hurt a Player).

What to Do

Whenever the action has stopped, and the Players turn to you to find out what happens next, choose or randomly roll for one of the following:

  1. Ask someone to make a Roll
  2. Introduce a Complication / Reveal an Unwelcome Truth
  3. Offer an Opportunity with a Cost
  4. Put Someone on the Spot
  5. Have a Power or Place Do Something Important
  6. Move a Clock forward (or back!)
  7. Introduce a new Threat
  8. Cause Harm


How to start a Game

Explain the core mechanics:

  • The Roll
  • Spending Fortune
  • Making Saves
  • Backgrounds & Talents
  • Forces & Places
  • Magic & Items

Then:

  • Have everyone make Characters
  • Have everyone make the Party
  • Have everyone make the Map
  • Have everyone set the Tone

Generate three quests randomly from the Forces, Places, and Party generated from above.

If it’s meant to be a ‘one shot’, have all the Quests just be three or less encounters.

Players pick one quest.

Generate or pick the encounters as they go.

Somewhere along the Quest give an opportunity for Rest, so the Players can tell stories to recover Fortune and do Rest Actions. Usually this is after an Encounter has ended, but if you’d like to make things harder then give less chances to Rest.

Once the Quest is completed, ask the experience questions and distribute experience. Players can then Level Up their Characters.

Then mark some of the old Quests off as ‘no longer available’, generate some new Quests, and narrate and/or ask the Players what has changed in the World due to them completing the Quest they chose (and what happened because they didn’t do one of the other Quests).

Then the Party picks a new Quest, and the cycle repeats.

If the Party returns to a Place they haven’t been in a while, narrate and/or ask the Players what has changed in the world while they were away.

Generating Quests

Quests can be picked from this list, rolled randomly from this list, or just made up.

First pick or roll for what's happening:

  1. Loot something important
  2. Save a something or someone
  3. Kill a monster or monsters
  4. Discover an important secret
  5. Explore Farther, blaze a new trail, or find way back to safety
  6. Break a curse or end some magical effect
  7. Travel somewhere through a dangerous area
  8. Escape from a bad situation

Then pick or roll for a location:

  1. A Place the Characters have been before
  2. A new Place the Characters haven't been before
  3. Where the Characters happen to be now
  4. A Place where one of the Characters has a history
  5. A Place where the Characters aren't supposed to go
  6. A Place that was part of a past Quest

Then pick or roll for who they are doing it for:

  1. For themselves or entirely for their own benefit
  2. For an existing Force in the game
  3. Against an existing Force in the game
  4. For a new Force that will now be created

A Trivial Quest is just a single Encounter, a Standard Quest is 2-3 Encounters, a Serious Quest is 3-5 Encounters, and a Heroic Quest is 5 or more Encounters.

Generating Encounters

Encounters should have a rough focus on a specific Attribute that’s the ‘easiest and obvious’ way to solve its challenge. It could be overcome in another way, it just would be harder to do so.

Asking for a Player to make a Roll using that Attribute is a great way to start the encounter as well.

Encounter Types

Roll or Pick for each Encounter:

  1. Fight - Fight something
  2. Finesse - Overcome thru dexterity
  3. Wreak - Break something
  4. Sneak - Sneak past something
  5. Notice - Find something hidden or notice something
  6. Study - Research something
  7. Craft - Make something or figure out something
  8. Lore - Already know something
  9. Attune - Do or understand magic
  10. Endure - Endure something hard
  11. Convince - Talk someone into something
  12. Carouse - Make friends

Encounter Ideas

Fight

  1. Fight something that's between them and where they are trying to go
  2. Fight something that's chasing them from behind
  3. Fight something that surprises them with a sudden challenge
  4. Fight something that's surrounded them to gang up on them, thinking they have the advantage

Finesse

  1. Get past some sort of danger from a physical challenge to get to where they want to go
  2. Win some sort of physical contest or game to get a needed item
  3. Run, Climb, jump, etc. to get to where they are trying to go
  4. Escape from some immediate sudden physical danger

Wreak

  1. Break something that's between them and where they are trying to go
  2. Break something that they need to keep from someone else
  3. Break something to free something important
  4. Break something to stop something from happening

Sneak

  1. Sneak past something to get to where they want to go
  2. Sneak away from something that surprised them
  3. Steal something without anyone noticing
  4. Place an item without anyone noticing

Notice

  1. Notice how to safely get to where they are trying to go
  2. Notice something hidden that's keeping them from their goals
  3. Notice that someone or something is trying to fool them
  4. Notice some important detail that will help them with their current quest

Study

  1. Study to find a way to get to where they are trying to go
  2. Study something that's happening to find out what to do next
  3. Study something to avoid an immediate danger
  4. Study something to figure out how to stop something from happening

Craft

  1. Craft something to get past an immediate danger
  2. Craft something needed to help solve the quest
  3. Figure out how to change something
  4. Figure out how to fix something

Lore

  1. Know something to get to where they are trying to go
  2. Know something important about surviving the current danger
  3. Know a weakness to an opponent
  4. Know something that will impress someone important

Attune

Do or understand magic

Endure

Endure something hard

Convince

Talk someone into something

Carouse

Make friends