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Notes For Games Masters


The following is a list of guidelines which I hope are helpful in writing plots and games.

I’ve tried to make the rules balanced across the board, with no one class/race having an overall advantage. If you use the tables to create your NPCs rather than just put together a load of combat stats, your games should be balanced (and if they’re not, you can blame me).

If you find that the game you are writing requires such deus ex-machina to allow the party to survive, stop writing it and start a new game. Keep the original plot idea, though, as one day there’ll be higher level characters who can play it.

For example, if you’re writing a game for a party of Rank 8 average and the plot calls for a Lich, stop writing it and start a new game aimed at Rank 8. Once again, keep the original plot idea as one day there’ll be Rank 30+ characters to play it, but don’t crock the Lich just so you can put one in the game.

How to Break the Rules

One of the jobs of the Monster Ref is to make sure the player characters are challenged, and sometimes this means bending the rules (this is especially annoying/disconcerting to rules lawyers).

Hero Abilities
Higher level NPCs can be awarded Hero Abilities, just like player characters. Very high level NPCs can have multiple and/or powerful Hero Abilities.
NPCs that belong to a particular group or faction should belong to a Guild. Care must be taken to ensure that the Guild is reasonably balanced, but at the very least NPCs can have equivalent Guild bonuses/restrictions as given by the PC Guilds.
Use rituals for unusual and/or powerful effects beyond the standard spells/miracles.
Magic Items
Legendary/Artefact items are a standard way for introducing unusual and/or powerful effects, though care must be taken to ensure that the item either does not fall into the hands of the players or to have a plan in place to handle this event.

Note that all the above are also available to player characters.


The goal of any game is to challenge the players and their characters, which basically means that a game should neither be too easy nor too hard. The challenge does not necessarily have to be aimed at the character’s combat abilities, though that’s the usual approach, but can also be aimed at challenging their roleplaying skills or their deductive skills. I generally avoid focusing on a single one of the above, as doing so will mean that some of the players will not enjoy the game.

A lot of the stresses and hassles of running a game can be reduced by preparation and planning. However, no scenario survives contact with the players.

As mentioned above, it’s worth thinking about healing encounters ahead of time so that they fit as seamlessly as possible into the game. This will help keep the game on track when the players, both PC and NPC, do something stupid (and believe me, at least one will do something stupid!).

Be prepared to modify encounters to take account of the players and characters abilities. The idea is to challenge the party, not kill them or give them a walkover (neither of which is much fun). Some players are not as good at combat as others, so you might need to make the monsters a bit weaker to compensate (or vice versa). So when statting a combat encounter, its a good idea to have a few monsters which are slightly understatted and overstatted by one or two Ranks.

Hmmm…. enough rambling for now. I hope the above, which I mostly learnt the hard way, is of some assistance.