GM Tips is our series to help Storytellers and Game Masters improve their craft and create memorable roleplaying experiences. The GM Quick Tips are single hacks discovered in the minds of storytellers everywhere.
Kids can be bloody competitive! While running a youth D&D program at the local FLGS, each of the GM’s noticed over the course of the year that each of the eight-or-so tables had become highly competitive of the other tables. They wanted to have PVP with their characters, slug it out to see who would win, and even start conducting raids on each other’s homes.
Needless to say, this would be a logistical nightmare to actually run.
Running multiple groups in the same setting and world is an absolute blast and the storyline possibilities become endless. What can you do to foster a friendly bit of player-vs-player without the players actually hating on each other? Tournaments! You’ll need some help to pull this off and it’s something you can do with all your gaming friends (not just kids in a store). A weekend barbecue party and massive D&D tournament is entirely possible—you just need help! Here’s what we’ve learned:
Co-Storytell in Style
Getting an extra storyteller per table can help with scheduling conflicts, side scenes, and general stress reduction. The problem will lie in how you co-ordinate and interpret player shenanigans. One storyteller may lean fast and loose with the rules aiming entirely for cool effects and explosions, while the other may be more muted, gritty, and by the book. To prevent players from turning the storytellers against each other (not even intentionally, just with their natural playstyles), it is important that you coordinate. Not just with how you interpret your rules, but also in your style!
The easiest way to find your sympatico with each other is to run a one-shot game set in the tournament prior to doing so. Build out your characters and do a gladiator match or the “Thousand Hells Hurdles”. When playing with each other, be as intentionally off-the-wall as you possibly can. You really want to push the boundaries of your character in order to feel how the other reacts. Once your character is (inevitably) horribly slaughtered in the tournament, recap each other’s styles. How do you describe things? Did the other GM ever mention smell or taste?
Once you’ve really enjoyed each other’s style—let the games begin! We find that tournaments are a better method of player-vs-player rather than actual blood feuds (even if the duels can get tense). Obstacle course races filled with traps are always fun, and another is “who can defeat the beholder fastest”. Of course, the possibilities are endless and one of the most dangerous events we ran was a hell-dive into the Thousand Hells that turned into its own mini-campaign when players (from entirely different games and levels) got lost due to a series of critical failures.
Have you run any tabletop PVP matches? Let us know how they went in the comments below!
MORE RPG GOODNESS
- Check out our PATHFINDER: Knights of Everflame Show!
- Friends, Foes, and Other Fine Folks adds depth and more characters to your D&D World.
- Kids (And Grown-Ups) Get To Be Dinosaur Princesses In This RPG
Featured Image by: Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast
Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age Series, Dread Adventures, and a storyteller with a focus on D&D For Kids, Wraith: The Oblivion, Eclipse Phase, and an overdose of LARPs. You can follow the game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or Facebook or reach out for writing at [email protected]