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Role Playing Tips - By Johnn Four


1. Seize Control With Questions To help a villain gain the advantage in any parley have them ask the questions. He who asks the questions controls the conversation and what comes from it.

If possible, the villain should try to begin conversations with a question, which should lead to another question and so on.

If the villain is asked a question, he/she/it has two choices: a) Answer the question and then quickly ask a question before the other party has a chance to ask another question of their own;

b) Answer the question with a question.

The skills you will need to develop as a game master, through practice, is to have your villains control conversations and ask questions in a manner which doesn't tip the players off or shut down the discussion by being too aggressive. Sometimes you may have to give a little to keep things going in the villain's favour.

2. He Who Speaks First Loses This is a trick a real estate agent taught me long ago and it can definitely help your villains. In a conversation, when your villain wants something and you think the time is right, then just go ahead, be direct and have the NPC ask the question...and then Be Silent!

He who speaks first loses. Go ahead, try this out next session and you'll see what I mean.

This is not a guaranteed trick. The PCs could always say no (if they do, just stay silent and watch what happens...). But no matter what, he who speaks first will not get what they want at that time.

3. Be On The PCs' Side Do you ever wonder how a sail boat can sail into the wind and still move forwards? I'm no sailor, but I do know that by turning your sails at a certain angle, combined with the angle of your hull and rudder, you can make good progress even with the wind in your face.

Your villain can do this too in order to further his own ends. Even when the PCs are trying to fight evil. Just have the villain employ the PCs in ways that further the characters' goals but also end up helping the villain.

Examples: * Return a portion of loot recovered from places the villain knows of and which are not offensive to the PCs (i.e. tombs, abandoned ships, ruins, greedy rich folk). Villains can always use more money.

* Helping the PCs fight other evil bad guys who also happen to be enemies of our villain. Two birds with one stone!

* Hitting a bee's nest with a stick. The villain hires the PCs to attack a group of creatures, pirates or bad guys who will then retaliate against the nearest settlement, city or group of peaceful people.

(Thanks for the tip, Jason D.!)

4. Give PCs Choices, Not Ultimatums If your villain gives the PCs an ultimatum, "do it or else", he is making the PCs choose between yes or no. That's not good. The villain should present choices where any choice the PCs make somehow helps the villain's cause.

Do this by asking open-ended questions. Questions which can't be answered with "yes" or "no". "Will you hand me the wand or fight my pet tarrasque? "What can I do to help you decide to investigate that tomb?" "The path is easy, would you prefer to go it alone or can I send Lurch along to guide you?"

5. F.O.R.M. Villains should take the time to learn what's important to their adversaries so that they can gain some advantage.

Use F.O.R.M. as an easy-to-remember guide: Family Occupation Relationships Money

The villain should send agents to chat with the PCs and those who know the PCs in order to gather this kind of valuable information. Once the villain knows what's valuable to the characters he can go after it and use it against them.

* "Where are you from?" leads the villain to relatives of the PCs.

* "What do you do for a living? Where do you work?" leads the villain to the PCs' employer(s) an co-workers.

* "Married? Kids? Women troubles? Know anybody in these parts?" leads the villains to all kinds of potential victims.

* "Looks like it's time for new armour eh? Did you see that ship they've got for sale down at the pier? Heard taxes are going up again..." can help the villain learn if the PCs are poor and money-hungry.

5. Smoke'em If You Got'em Evil villains should never be afraid to use their followers and regard them as expendable. There's always more people or creatures who can be bought or dominated into servitude.

So, go ahead, send that poor scout ahead to learn where the PCs are hiding. Have those slaves dig till they die in the gold mines. Use that army to start a war and draw the forces of good away from the secret entrance. Make that bureaucrat steal those documents and risk his career.

You and I would never do those things, but don't let that stop your villain from doing them.

Have more fun at every game!

Johnn Four

* Coat of Arms 1.2a
* Promisance
* World of Phaos 0.9.2
Is Magic Armor Lighter Than Standard Armor of the Same Type?
Yes indeed
No, never!
In 1E yes, in 2E no
Only for encumbrance
Of course it is
Not in my world
* And-Mag.com

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