So, we already did the create world and characters session. We hammered out Beliefs and Instincts. So the game proper starts tomorrow. I’m excited and scared simultaneously. BE is a complex beast, but that very complexity and the requirements of how the rules work have already led to some interesting planning on my part for what me FoNs are gonna do.
Asking then, dear fellow BE GMs, for advice for a first session. Avoid the deeper conflict mechanics, and stick to versus rolls? Jump right in with a DoW but avoid Firefight? Or what?
you have to embrace the deeper conflict mechanics to get the most out of BE. it can be overwhelming as a GM the first time. not only are you explaining the rules to your players, but you’re likely learning them yourself. be ready to make mistakes. remember that the infection mechanics require a conflict scene with certain maneuvers (FLAK being the major one for the early part of a phase) so don’t skip one if that’s what you’ve scripted and inform your players they need to pursue one if they’ve scripted flak. do i advise you to get into a full firefight in session one? it depends on how patient you and your players are. if you’re in infiltration or usurpation phase, a firefight might be out of place anyway. if you’re doing invasion, it’s almost absolutely necessary.
i’ve seen more vacant stares and frustrated players with first time firefights (and fights in BW) than i care to remember. that being said, you have this very powerful tool on your side - the player buy-in you’ve already locked down during world and character burning. the world is on fire, and your players want to flex their imaginations. get every player involved, and you’ll be okay. one or two players don’t have applicable firefight skills, or aren’t in the scene, your play might be in trouble.
it’s best to plan out some small building rolls with 2 of your GM FoNs. describe your scenes fast, and don’t bother feeling things out with interstitials. you have to set the scene pace and it has to be fast. start banging on the door of your situation and your players will follow your lead in response. drive towards a conflict scene, but still leaving open your 3rd FoN to engage in either a DoW or a Firefight towards the midpoint of the session. try to make that decision based on where the players are mentally. if the table is still high energy, a firefight might be good. if they’re low on energy, it might be nice to bring them all into a scene together and let them wail on one of your FoN in a DoW. nothing like a good argument to bring players back to the table. the biggest problem with firefights are those players who didn’t build their character’s with applicable skills. you have to be wary of isolating them too early in the phase. once you’re a few sessions in and they have their own conflicts to look forward too, those players are usually cool with sitting back and watching someone else blast away at some GMs characters. if you isolate them in session 1, 2 or 3, it’s hard to get them invested again.
good luck. be patient, but don’t take it slow. and please refamiliarize yourself with the firefight rules. i’ve run/played in 5 BE phases and every time i still have to freshen up. if you’ve never played BE, or never run it, i would even suggest you run a firefight against yourself using two of your GM characters most suited to firefights. it sounds silly, but if you take the time, you’ll thank yourself.
I’ve educated my players through Mouse Guard and BE: Fires Over Omac before. It helps.
However, for your first session, don’t step back. Use DoW and FF, although use them at a low scale.
For a FF, only 1 unit on each side. More or less same weapons and gear (so you won’t bother with longer ranges, vehicular advantage, etc…); as a GM, easy scripting (Advance, Observe, Direct Fire)
For a DoW, use characters with few oratory skills; keep the goals simple and not tremendously impressive (don’t go to the Steward court, use DoW for a small matter)
From a “story” point of view: as a GM, go big ! Don’t play in the shadows. Have your FoN hit the PC side at ramming speed. Don’t let them over-organize. Use your scenes for significant story bits. Make the story go forward. Otherwise, your players may feel a little shy about “what should we do ?” Show them the way. Bang !
Definitely check the characters to make sure that the group as a whole has useful skills for the Infection mechanics – and a smattering of FF and DoW skills. The games is about the Infection and conflicts more than anything else.
Encourage players to be in each other’s scenes. Frame your scenes to contain multiple characters.
And while you shouldn’t go 150% in the first scene, don’t dawdle. Muster your resources – create tech, bring in allies and start destroying the PCs allies/resources immediately. Nothing makes a player sit up and take notice like when the Lord Steward impounds his precious space ship in the first scene.
Already got my plans in place comrade, for sure. And yeah, during character generation I showed them the Infection sheet and told them “Make sure you’ve got a skill or two for this!”
@Everyone else - thanks for the advice. It looks like sorta what the book says; I’ll go balls to the wall and PUSH PUSH PUSH those Beliefs and Instincts. I’lkl probably report back here after tomorrow’s session.
We did the first real session of play, and man, it was INTENSE. To make a long story short, everyone enjoyed their characters a lot, and really dug how following your Beliefs net you Fate and Persona (interestingly, it was the first point voting after the first maneuver when this sank in - I asked for stuff that they did and deserved Artha for and they generally agreed not much; the second maneuver rocked much harder).
The DoW went over really well. We did two of them (one each maneuver). General die-rolling was also easy to grasp. And FoRKs have become their favorite thing (as in “Why can’t other games do this?”)
So, overall, very positive. We’ve got our next session in a few weeks, maneuvers 3 and 4. So we’ll see what happens. I should say that I’ve got the group on the ropes now in the Infiltration Phase, at 27 Dispo versus their 17 Dispo. Not saying things can change…but I hope not! It really thematically sets up a tough Usurpation Phase (where they will have, at the moment, a huge advantage is Dispo compared to the Vaylen).