New GM Seeking Advice

Carnalpleasure
Carnalpleasure

Sometime in the next month or so I anticipate to start GMing for a group of friends. I've got very limited experience playing in simple, mostly homemade systems on the level of RISUS but will be running something from the Warhammer 40K catalog of games. I know a few basic things like give all the PCs screen time, don't try to "beat" the players, make sure they read the rules before we start, don't railroad too hard, don't date players, etc. I'd like to get advice on the physical side of things, as well as tips on how to engage players who have little or no experience with RPGs.
How should I make my maps? Are there special map whiteboards I can buy at gaming stores or do I have to use a lot of graph paper? Is it worth it to buy GW minis for character figurines or should I just use lego guys or pogs or something? Should I make my own GM screen or is it worth it to shell out for a real one? How far should I go in passing out blank or fake notes to cover up when I pass out real notes? How long should a good session last? How drunk is too drunk to play?

tl;dr I'm trying to get my friends into tabletop RPGs and have no experience running games in real life or with real systems.

CodeBuns
CodeBuns

Also, square tiles or hexagons?

RavySnake
RavySnake

No advice at all?

girlDog
girlDog

I'm pretty sure you don't need either for the 40k FFG lines. and if you do it will state so clearly in the rules section of the book.

Snarelure
Snarelure

The rules keep stating distances over and over again so I assume I need some sort of playing map to keep things straight, as well as handle cover and stuff.

Garbage Can Lid
Garbage Can Lid

For FFG? Fuck maps, the distances are so huge most of the time it won't matter and they're wildly inconsistent. Just describe room sizes and make the players tell you about the cover they're hiding behind or don't give them any.

Burnblaze
Burnblaze

Keep that in info in your head and sketch a picture if you really need to convey a complex scene to the players.

5mileys
5mileys

What about weapon ranges? There are rules for close range and long range.

w8t4u
w8t4u

Yeah, but close range is 1/2, and long range is ×2 right? That's easy to eyeball.
Autogun has a 50m range, so keep in mind how big the combat space is and you'll be fine. Is it an indoor gunfight using tables and doorways as cover? Unless there are some extremely short ranged weapons, most guns will be within short range.

VisualMaster
VisualMaster

How should I make my maps? Are there special map whiteboards I can buy at gaming stores?
There are boards or mats you can buy for about 20 bucks, great for one-off combat maps. They usually take wet or dry erase markers and come with square or hex grids. Square is good for indoors and blocky areas while hex works better for outdoor/natural areas with large distances. To take less drawing time you can use pre-made tiles or transparent overlays, which of course takes preprwok but makes the session flow with less interruption. Don't overuse maps, especially not detailed ones. Prepare them for high-stakes setpiece encounters that make good use of precise positioning. Unless you run a very outdoor-heavy game weapon ranges are barely relevant, normal, short and point blank come up the most as normal engagement range is around 100m max, anything further requires a very specific scenario.

Should I use graph paper.
Paper is good for maps that come up often and cover large areas. Cities, landscapes etc. It doesnt matter if it is hand-drawn or printed. Fancy looks help immersion but don't matrer for gameplay. Grids and perfect scale are optional, but it is nice have some way to esimate distances if relevant, even if it's just gm notes. Go with common sense here.

Illusionz
Illusionz

I just draw rough sketches on a whiteboard when it becomes important, and have paper maps on hand for larger scale questions. Ive been GMing for 20 years and its never failed me.

iluvmen
iluvmen

Is it worth it to buy GW minis for character figurines or should I just use lego guys or pogs or something?
Use anything really. Spare Dice, pieces of other games, lego, whatever you have. Just make sure that all pieces are distinguishable somehow. If you like good graphical distinction print out small tokens with a picture or word on them, stick them to a piece of cardboard and there you go.
What's important is that you can tell at a glance what it represents. "Green dice are normal Orks, numbered from one to four. The yellow dice are Orks as well and carry heavy weapons. The red one is their leader, a huge menacing beast of a xenos", is often enough to make the situation clear.

It's not worth buying minis with a group of total starters, but if the game turns out fun and stable you might talk with them about purchasing a box or two and splitting the cost, with everyone keeping a few minis in the end.

Should I make my own GM screen or is it worth it to shell out for a real one?
FFG screens come with an adventure, so grab one if that material seems usefull for inspiration or statblocks. Otherwise it's much cheaper to look up a pic of said GM screen, filter which parts of it you actually want and need and build your own one. Some information on them is just not needed all the time, like a full overview about weapon statblocks etc. Cut that space and use if for plot notes or npc statblocks on sticky notes or something like that.
Cardboard and printed out pictures do the job, but you can get as fancy as you like. There should be a ton of tutorials out there.

How far should I go in passing out blank or fake notes to cover up when I pass out real notes?
I've never actually used hidden notes, but if you do so you might wanna have a few for each player, even if they are just a distraction or another detail, they might help immersion and roleplay along. Unless your table is absolutely unable to not metagame, don't worry to much about who gets notes.

Methshot
Methshot

How long should a good session last?
Depends on how much time you have on hand.
If you play often (weekly), between three and six hours work fine, with a short break or two maybe.
With less it's hard to get significant progress done, more is very tiring to even the hardiest marathon player.

Speaking of marathons: if you plan on less regular games (less often than once every two weeks) consider asking the people to do it for most of a day. Meet up after lunch, play some, take an hour or two break while getting dinner, hang out or watch a movie, then get back to the game for another three hours or so. It's a good mix between RPG and hanging out.

How drunk is too drunk to play?
If people are unable to form coherent thoughts or sentences. As long as everyone is on the same page about it, alcohol is no hindrance. A beer or two makes people open up to the mood. Be aware of how people change when drunk though. Some might not be able stay serious when the game might benefit from it, as during a suspenseful scene. Same goes in reverse, some guys get to serious about it and don't want any jokes or emotion at all. Again, it's a thing that comes from group chemistry and experience. Don't sweat much about it.

Illusionz
Illusionz

Advice on running 40k games.
Don't play Deathwatch or Black Crusade with Space Marines. It doesn't work for newcomers.
Stick to a human only party. Dark Heresy and Only War, under circumstances also Black Crusade work to get to know the setting, because both your players and their characters know very little about the setting.
Focus on having an engaging story and good characters. Combat and Mechanics are secondary. I'll maybe get more for you later. Feel free to visit the 40RPG general thread here on Veeky Forums to ask more questions.

VisualMaster
VisualMaster

At least one of them is leaning towards Rogue Trader over Dark Heresy. If they decide to go with that the idea I have in mind is a short game where they deliver supplies to a colony, shoot up a pirate ship, then do some leg work to find the pirate base. Since none of them know jack about the setting I was going to have the real campaign take them into uncharted space in search of a planet full of treasure.

Harmless_Venom
Harmless_Venom

I'm worried about maps more for the players than for myself. I want there to be as little confusion as possible starting out. If they can see exactly where their PC is in relation to cover pieces and enemies and know exactly what distance is between them then I think that might help them a lot, rather than me saying "Yeah you're about 30 meters away from the cultist and there's a thick metal table nearby you can hide behind."

Fried_Sushi
Fried_Sushi

How should I make my maps? Are there special map whiteboards I can buy at gaming stores or do I have to use a lot of graph paper?

There are rolled up brown squared playing matts you can buy with wipeable surfaces. Check the pens your going to use before hand on a coner, leave for 3 hours or so then wipe off.
Pro-tip hand santizer can help but may wipe off the brown too

But as everyone else said everything in the head works really well.
I would keep some paper to hand to sketch stuff out if people are having a hard time keeping it all straight

Is it worth it to buy GW minis for character figurines or should I just use lego guys or pogs or something?
IF you got 'em use em. If you got 3d sceanary use that too. IF you want to buy it. But its not needed.

Should I make my own GM screen or is it worth it to shell out for a real one?
Proper Screens are nice, you can make your own. But I like having the real ones is a massive time saver. You need to take how long its going to take you to make it compared to how the real one is going to look and cost.

How far should I go in passing out blank or fake notes to cover up when I pass out real notes?

I never do this. Never handed out a fake note. I use to have real notes but lately I don't even do that. If you hand one note every 5 sessions or so I think your on the right track

How long should a good session last? How drunk is too drunk to play?
3-4 hours seems best for me. Longer and people start getting off topic, less and it gos too quick.
I don't like playing with people who are drinking and I don't drink while gmming.

Black Crusade
Is really good for PVP, but you need the right players for it. I wouldnt touch it for a few years for a new GM.

hairygrape
hairygrape

Is really good for PVP
All my potential players so far seemed to think that was what this is. They are too used to board games. I had to kick a guy because he only wanted to play a PC that would kill other PCs when they were helpless.

Supergrass
Supergrass

Avoid notes then. Keep everything out in the open. (some) Secrets breed PVP .

A good tip is session 0 build all your PC's together and they need to have intertwining backstories. I believe RT has this written into its system. But I like the "Steve how did Mark save your pc's life" "Mark, what was the worst trouble you and Alan got into"

idontknow
idontknow

I found a homemade Bonds thing while watching a Dark Heresy recording that looks like it will be useful. Since the first meeting will probably involve a lot of flipping back and forth through our resources while generating characters can I even expect to have time to run a short game? Worst case scenario I was thinking of putting them all in a firing range and have them shoot at target servitors and/or prisoners to at least give them a feel of dice rolling and combat.

Fried_Sushi
Fried_Sushi

Firing range
Good idea. Gives them a handle for the combat DC's on things that can't shoot back. You can also go to an explosion happens nearby and badguys come in once they understand how stuff works.

For fights I like to go throw 'waves' of how hard the fights are
Easy, Super Easy, middle, Hard, super easy, middle.

ect
Outnumbered soldiers, Mostly Harmless monsters, Equal number of soldiers , Death Robot, Weak fighters, Competent Beasts.
I wouldnt start the game until everyone is ready. The last guy will end up rushing and making a shit PC.

Inmate
Inmate

I like it. I've always had trouble knowing how many enemies is too many enemies so small waves getting harder each time would be great.

Soft_member
Soft_member

I like to err on the side of too few. Action economy is a big thing. The more actions one side takes the easier it is for them.
Players are stupid too, they will always make battles harder then they need to be.

They also feel really good when they crush the badguys without even taking any damage.
The DM stepping in to save the party makes everyone feel shitty.

Depending on the encounter having Badguys getting backup works well too.

VisualMaster
VisualMaster

Get access to the 40k rpg rulebooks
Ask players if they want to play as space marines
If yes, download those books, start at rank 1 and everything, run them through some basic deathwatch missions of "BROTHERS, WE MUST PURGE THE XENOS OF MANY DIFFERENT KINDS"
After that, expand into doing rollplay and such.
Tape measure and table is more than enough for doing battles, if it gets too big just play it by ear or scale everything down.

All you really need is paper, dice, maybe some minatures, maybe something to draw on or have terrain to make a battle site and a tape measure.

If you want basic GM tips, just google that. Start off simple. SPACE MARINES go KILL THINGS for a few sessions.

If they don't wanna do that, you can do the same thing with dark heresy or even black crusade. Avoid the others for now until you understand what you are doing.

CodeBuns
CodeBuns

See I disgree. Once you start rollplaying its hard to get into the roleplay mindset. Ever harder if the whole group is in the rollplay mindset.

IF you want to play war games where everyone plays a hero, this is how you should do it however.