Thwacking Gnomes: My first time GMing

Posted on March 9, 2011

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Recently me and my brothers had talked about starting our own role-playing campaign, with myself as the GM. This was weeks ago, and only now did we start playing.

There were a few setbacks. The first was deciding on a system. My brother had only had experience with Dungeons & Dragons, but I decided against it because I’ve never even seen a D&D book, nor do I have the money to buy one. I then thought about GURPS, but soon disregarded it after realizing I actually don’t like GURPS, and again, no money for materials. Then it hit me: I need a simple, cost-free RPG you can play with almost no materials or preparation. Why, I needed Risus of course!

I decided each of my brothers would have their own solo adventure before their characters met up. Just tonight me and Ben started his story off. Creating his character took about as long as Risus players claim it would, which is about thirty seconds to a minute. He decided he wanted to be a Blacksmith(3) Werewolf(4) Fighter(3). A bit of time assigning dice and deciding on Tools of The Trade, and blam, Alex Wolfhammer was born.

A few weeks beforehand I had been planning out my master adventure and creating the campaign world. I had something up my sleeve, for sure, but the session was mostly pulled out of my ass when play demanded it.

I started out by telling him he was hammering away at a dagger when his favorite hammer, the one his father gave him, shattered into a bunch of pieces. He was aghast. I told him he knew of this place in town where he could get a quality new hammer cheap. He bit, and off to Sky City* he went.

While he was walking towards the shop, I told him he saw a beautiful elven woman singing and strumming a lute on the side of the street, with a basket in front of her for tips. All of the sudden, a giant orc comes up to her and says “HEHEHEH PRETTY LADY SING GOOD” and grabs her shoulder. Alex, the heroic gentleman that he was, sprung into action. He runs up, and taps the orc on the shoulder. “WHAT? WHO THIS JOKER?” he bellows, turning around. Then it was combat.

With the orc surprised, Alex punches him in the stones with his weighted gloves. “Hold up”, I say, and sketch up a quick character sheet for the orc. I literally wrote the whole thing in a few seconds, something like this:

ORC

Cliches:

Orc (2)

Tools of the trade:

Wooden club

That’s it. And then we were ready to roll. Alex rolled against his fighter cliche, the orc uses his orcish battle reflexes to try to dodge. Nope, sorry big guy. The orc nearly doubles over as the raw impact slams into his nards. After that, the battle went quickly. The orc falls over unconscious.

The elf woman is overjoyed with gratitude. “How could I ever repay you?”.

He asks her is she knows where he can get his shattered hammer put back together. She tells him she knows bardic magic, and that a simple Reassemble spell will put it right. I roll for her, big bam boom, it magically puts itself back together. A few minutes of chatting later, Alex is off to town to spend some of those 50 penters** he started with.

“By the way,” I say, “out of the corner of your eye you see this old dude, and he looks like he was watching this whole ordeal. As soon as you look at him, he turns and walks away.”

He buys a hammer (the weapony kind) and then decides he needs money. So I tell him there’s a tavern called the Hog’s Hoof Inn where townspeople post small jobs and quests.

He goes, and goes on two quests. The first, an elderly woman’s garden was infested with gnomes, and she was paying for someone to exterminate them. He bites, and she shows him her backyard, in which tiny bearded men wearing only leaf-garments (these are wild gnomes, not their civilized brethren) are wreaking havoc. They’re pulling out flowers, knocking over decorations, etc. He fights the first three, only gets one damage to his fighter cliche. The combat went wicked fast and easy, mechanically speaking. The fourth, he tries a different tactic. He asks if these wild gnomes can understand english. I tell him there’s a fair chance. He approaches the fourth gnome, who is a bit less rambunctious than before, and a little more, well, terrified. He tells the gnome, “You. You wanna end up like your buddies? Stay here. You wanna see your next birthday? Leave, now.” I had him roll against his fighter cliche to make an intimidation attempt (Target Number 5, because the gnome is already scared shitless). He makes it, and the gnome bolts.

The second quest was a straight up go-here-kill-this. I had no idea what he was gonna fight, so I put random syllables together and stuck the word fire in front of it. Off to fight the fire margur! I tell him that he remembers a bit about fire margurs, that they’re basically tiny dragons, flying snake-like in the air, and belching tiny fireballs. I had him roll a die to see if he could find it (he does). The combat goes rather quick, but the margur manages to get him down to one die. He finishes it off.

I tell him while he’s back in town, he sees the old guy again, once more peering over at him. He notices him in more detail before he goes off, having a forest-like grey beard and sparkling blue eyes, wearing a cloak.

It was then we decided to end it for now. Overall, we both had some fun, and a lot of laughs (especially when I was doing the wild gnome voices). Not only did could I really see Risus shine, but I got my first experience as Game Master. As first times go, I would do it all over again, and I can.

* The main city in my campaign world. It’s a small island city smack dab in the middle of all three continents, making it the center of world culture and trade, as well as the world’s largest sky-ship port.

** The unit of currency in my world. Named so because of it’s pentagram shape.

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Posted in: Session reports