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Tedology

Two Questions: Map Scale and Campaign Preparation

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Hello all,

Two questions for the more seasoned GMs out there. :)

1. What map scale to you customarily use? I know it's suggested that 1" (hex) can be two meters. I'm seriously thinking of just making it a 1:1 ratio for ease of calculating map movements, range modifiers, etc. I realize that's it's up to the GM discretion, of course, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

2. In preparing for your campaign, how do you do it? Do you create a Word/text document and just have it on a nearby screen? Being 52 years old, I love analog, so considering just printing out my session and putting it into a binder. Easier to reference back to previous sessions if I need to.

2b. Do you use bullet points in creating your campaign/session? I'm leaning towards this because we know that things always change within a game, so I figure it's easier to be more flexible this way. Of course, if there's any soliloquy that needs to be spoken, I could type it up word-for-word, etc.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated! :)

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1)  I use the older 1"=2m scale.  It's what I've used for decades, and I'm not inclined to change.  However, if you're learning from 6e, I'd really suggest using the 1:1 scale, as anything you may want to reference or look up in the rules as you go is going to be written with the assumption that 1:1 is the scale you are using.  I also tend to change scale up and down depending on what I'm trying to map and what I expect to be going on: if there's to be a "large area" and I expect lots of movement, sometimes I will set scale as the lowest common denominator amongst the players' various movement speeds so as to make the map more useful.  In "chase" type scenes, I will often set scale as the slowest character's half-move, and when moving everyone will deduct that amount from their movement-- again, these are just things I do to keep from running out of map every couple of Phases.  My groups have been doing it for years, and we're all used to it.  (it hasn't come up yet with the new youth group, and I'm down to one rather-irregular game with my "normal" groups; I hope to get something going with the other group late in the year, but we had a couple of deaths, so we haven't really been in a hurry to pick that back up).

 

 

2)  I have never written a document, ever.  No; I take that back.  I have tried twice, years ago, and was reminded, in the words of a better person than I am, that no campaign plan survives contact with the players.   :lol:   I keep notes-- it's not even organized enough to call it an outline.  I have a list of things I want to cover during this arc, and will often make some kind of notation that there are certain things I want to get done _this session_.  Then there are furious angry circles around the things I wanted to cover in the last session, and furiouser, heavy circles around things left from the session before that.

    If someone(s) are repeatedly missing an important clue, I scratch it from one location and put it in another.  Several times, if I have to.   As Chris Goodwin once said "clues want to be found."  Generally, I prefer "clues" that provide only "something extra," and not let an entire plot hinge on one or two things being discovered, but sometimes the players just won't let you do it any other way.  Since the clue _has_ to be found....    Well, be prepared to stash the same clue (or variants of it) in multiple places, because any player who isn't my wife won't stick around any location more than a few lines and maybe a skill check or two.  (My wife, on the other hand, will keep an entire party sequestered around a weird stain on the floor for the next four sessions.  ugh...)

 

I keep a running list of "atmosphere."  Seriously-- things I think of or notice as I go about not-gaming I keep a record of; I write a lot of it down if I have to.  Sort it out by location type (or sometimes actual in-game location), and randomly toss about bits of filler to remind the players that they are in a real world.  Note: if you're going to do this, start from the beginning and never stop.  Don't vary too much in how often or how deeply you do this, or your players will start keying on these things as some sort of clue.  Remind me to tell you about the janitor some day.   :lol:

 

If there is a sequence of events, I generally note it simply: sequence number, name or brief description of even (and NPCs potentially encountered, so I remember who I am at that moment), and "go to" notes depending on the outcome.  It's more straight-forward than it sounds, but it reminds you to mix things up every now and again. ;)   I also note in these event notes if a particular event is suitable to "make up" for something lost or missed from earlier.

 

All my stuff is hand-written, sloppy, and repeatedly scratched out and re-written as the players take the game in places you never considered.  You have to think on your feet a _lot_, and be extremely flexible-- part of why a full-on document never worked for me, I suppose.

 

Monolgues, speeches, soliloquies-- yeah; those are generally written down somewhere and referenced in events.

 

one thing I can't stress enough is to leave yourself one margin down _all_ your notes.  Use it as a time-stamp for things running in the background.  The villain's doomsday clock doesn't stop running because the heroes haven't learned about it  yet.  Meetings are going to take place; deals are going to be made, etc.  You _think_ you can keep all that in your head, but trust me:  you really can't.  The players won't let you!  :rofl:  As an added bonus, it gives you a feel for when you need to pick up the tempo or slow it down a bit.  And it's all right there, flowing as you move through your notes, every time you glance down.   Best idea I ever had, I think.  :)

 

 

3)  There is no 3.

 

I got on a roll.

 

 

4) have fun with it!  Most importantly, remember that no matter how you beg or plead, if your players change, it's going to be _slowly_.  It's far easier to make adaptations to your style than it is to demand them from the players.   ;)

 

 

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1: I tend towards whatever looks best on the map.  I'll generally default to 1":2m but I'll happily disregard that to get a better battlemap with neither too many nor too few hexes in it. 

 

2: I make characters with motives and events with causes.  Baron Burgle wants to rob the bank.  Mechanon wants to kill Baron Burgle.  At midnight, a freak thunderstorm will make lightning strike the bank, and if nothing diverts the bolt it will disable the bank security.  At midnight, Baron Burgle will just happen to be near the bank unless criminal opportunity strikes elsewhere.  At midnight, Mechanon will be sending scout drones to look for Baron Burgle, and have found him unless Baron Burgle is indoors. 

So unless the PCs do something crazy earlier in the session, Baron Burgle will be robbing the bank, the heroes will arrive to stop him, then suddenly Mechanon.  If the PCs do do something crazy earlier in the session, I know who's doing what and can quickly figure out what happens. 

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2) I'm also 52 years old, and I love spreadsheets and tables. I create and print a notes document that is about two pages long. There only dialogue/soliloquy stuff in it is when I have come up with something especially cool for a villain or NPC to say. 

 

Then I make a speed chart, showing all possible combatants and their dex's. I use the chart for every combat, and it lets me always know where we are and who's up next. It is easy to skip over characters who are on the chart but not in that specific battle. 

 

Last is combat reference chart, where all possible combatants are listed with their stats that are used in combat (OCV, DVC, PD, RPD, ED, etc.). This really simplifies the game creation process - easy to add one-dimensional villains/NPCs as needed, without having to draw up a character sheet for each one. 

 

So each game is run on about five pieces of paper, plus the laptop. 

 

Maps, villain and NPC pictures, etc. are all done in PowerPoint. Figurines* are played/moved on a blank table, with me just announcing how far away everything is when players need to know.

 

*Lego figurines, actually.    
.  

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 Scale depends on which edition you are using, For 6th edition use 1M per Hex, otherwise it's 2M per hex.

 

Never plan ahead in the campaign.  But, Know the world as intimately as you can.  Three years of world Building, through three campaigns, gave me a good idea of who was where, and how they reacted. In general though, other than the first session or two where I did have to prepare some background and packages and the like for the players,

 What would happen is that during the wind down half hour after the game, while everyone is packing up their books and binder, I would take a half hour to think and elaborate on the notes I took during the game.  a half hour before the next session I would make some notes as to who would do what, make some rolls, and remember where thye players were at the end of last session. So any "planning" was just an intro into the next session and then the players would be off, like frightened cats, all over the background. 

Here are some of my note from the last time i ran that campaign, back in 1993 or so:

https://imgur.com/a/YMeqPys

 

They are in chronological order. (until the final retcon that derailed and ultimately sank the campaign.)

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51 minutes ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

1: I tend towards whatever looks best on the map.  I'll generally default to 1":2m but I'll happily disregard that to get a better battlemap with neither too many nor too few hexes in it. 

 

2: I make characters with motives and events with causes.  Baron Burgle wants to rob the bank.  Mechanon wants to kill Baron Burgle.  At midnight, a freak thunderstorm will make lightning strike the bank, and if nothing diverts the bolt it will disable the bank security.  At midnight, Baron Burgle will just happen to be near the bank unless criminal opportunity strikes elsewhere.  At midnight, Mechanon will be sending scout drones to look for Baron Burgle, and have found him unless Baron Burgle is indoors. 

So unless the PCs do something crazy earlier in the session, Baron Burgle will be robbing the bank, the heroes will arrive to stop him, then suddenly Mechanon.  If the PCs do do something crazy earlier in the session, I know who's doing what and can quickly figure out what happens. 

 

 

Thanks for the tips, @Gnome BODY (important!)! I like the idea of just motives/events/causes. :)

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7 minutes ago, Scott Ruggels said:

 Scale depends on which edition you are using, For 6th edition use 1M per Hex, otherwise it's 2M per hex.

 

Never plan ahead in the campaign.  But, Know the world as intimately as you can.  Three years of world Building, through three campaigns, gave me a good idea of who was where, and how they reacted. In general though, other than the first session or two where I did have to prepare some background and packages and the like for the players,

 What would happen is that during the wind down half hour after the game, while everyone is packing up their books and binder, I would take a half hour to think and elaborate on the notes I took during the game.  a half hour before the next session I would make some notes as to who would do what, make some rolls, and remember where thye players were at the end of last session. So any "planning" was just an intro into the next session and then the players would be off, like frightened cats, all over the background. 

Here are some of my note from the last time i ran that campaign, back in 1993 or so:

https://imgur.com/a/YMeqPys

 

They are in chronological order. (until the final retcon that derailed and ultimately sank the campaign.)

 

Wow! Thanks very much for the inclusion of the actual notes, @Scott Ruggels! I'm very much impressed.

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16 minutes ago, Chaon said:

2) I'm also 52 years old, and I love spreadsheets and tables. I create and print a notes document that is about two pages long. There only dialogue/soliloquy stuff in it is when I have come up with something especially cool for a villain or NPC to say. 

 

Then I make a speed chart, showing all possible combatants and their dex's. I use the chart for every combat, and it lets me always know where we are and who's up next. It is easy to skip over characters who are on the chart but not in that specific battle. 

 

Last is combat reference chart, where all possible combatants are listed with their stats that are used in combat (OCV, DVC, PD, RPD, ED, etc.). This really simplifies the game creation process - easy to add one-dimensional villains/NPCs as needed, without having to draw up a character sheet for each one. 

 

So each game is run on about five pieces of paper, plus the laptop. 

 

Maps, villain and NPC pictures, etc. are all done in PowerPoint. Figurines* are played/moved on a blank table, with me just announcing how far away everything is when players need to know.

 

*Lego figurines, actually.    
.  

 

Thanks for your iput, @Chaon:)  When you say the maps are done in PowerPoint, do you have some type of hex grid already saved? Or do you draw/scan them into your computer?

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5 minutes ago, Tedology said:

 

Thanks for your iput, @Chaon:)  When you say the maps are done in PowerPoint, do you have some type of hex grid already saved? Or do you draw/scan them into your computer?

 

I set a scale in PowerPoint and draw them directly. They are not the most beautiful maps the world has ever seen. 

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I'm 61 and I've been gaming a long time.

 

I use 1 hex = 1 meter, since we're using the 6ED ruleset. Occasionally I use scaled down print-outs of buildings (restaurants, apartments, bases) so everyone has an idea of the layout, but the actual combat takes place at 1 hex = 1 yeard on a Battlemat.

 

I always write up my notes before a session. I create NPCs in Hero Designer and print them out. I have a binder with the NPC character sheets, and another binder with NPC "headshots" with their names and hero names/job titles as appropriate. I write up notes on what's going on in the campaign city, and what the bad guys are up to, and how the PCs might encounter them. In the most recent session, the PCs (who have made a name for themselves in the game) began encountering NPC journalists (some hostile, some friendly) in planned encounters initially; after that, it depends on how the PCs react.

 

My notes on the NPCs (Villains in particular) tend to cover the same things:

1. What does he want? (Wealth? Power? Revenge? What, specifically, does that mean to him?)

2. How does he plan to obtain it? Rob a bank? Hold the city for ransom? Murder someone?  [This is his plan. Unless he's a newbie, he knows it will go awry, probably sooner than later--but this is the plan.]

3. What resources are available to him? His own powers? Minions with guns? Minions with powers? Allies? Pawns?

4. How does he plan to handle resistance (from the authorities,  bystanders or victims, or the PC heroes)? Will he try to bribe people (mostly early on, before the overt crime happens)? Threaten them? Hostages? Murder? Distractions?

5. When things go off the rails, how quickly does he recognize it, and how quickly does he abort? [This often plays into his Psychological Complications. How clear-headed is he about it all?]

 

While the NPC has a plan, I don't need a detailed if/then flowchart. I don't assume the PCs will do anything in particular, and whatever they do, I can improvise the bad guy's reactions. Sometimes they ignore what's happening and the bad guy happily proceeds with his plan behind the scenes and they only find out later. Sometimes they do exactly the right thing and foil him without ever even knowing it. Mostly they stumble across a plot, investigate, and face increasing resistance until the big battle.

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4 minutes ago, sinanju said:

I'm 61 and I've been gaming a long time.

 

I use 1 hex = 1 meter, since we're using the 6ED ruleset. Occasionally I use scaled down print-outs of buildings (restaurants, apartments, bases) so everyone has an idea of the layout, but the actual combat takes place at 1 hex = 1 yeard on a Battlemat.

 

I always write up my notes before a session. I create NPCs in Hero Designer and print them out. I have a binder with the NPC character sheets, and another binder with NPC "headshots" with their names and hero names/job titles as appropriate. I write up notes on what's going on in the campaign city, and what the bad guys are up to, and how the PCs might encounter them. In the most recent session, the PCs (who have made a name for themselves in the game) began encountering NPC journalists (some hostile, some friendly) in planned encounters initially; after that, it depends on how the PCs react.

 

My notes on the NPCs (Villains in particular) tend to cover the same things:

1. What does he want? (Wealth? Power? Revenge? What, specifically, does that mean to him?)

2. How does he plan to obtain it? Rob a bank? Hold the city for ransom? Murder someone?  [This is his plan. Unless he's a newbie, he knows it will go awry, probably sooner than later--but this is the plan.]

3. What resources are available to him? His own powers? Minions with guns? Minions with powers? Allies? Pawns?

4. How does he plan to handle resistance (from the authorities,  bystanders or victims, or the PC heroes)? Will he try to bribe people (mostly early on, before the overt crime happens)? Threaten them? Hostages? Murder? Distractions?

5. When things go off the rails, how quickly does he recognize it, and how quickly does he abort? [This often plays into his Psychological Complications. How clear-headed is he about it all?]

 

While the NPC has a plan, I don't need a detailed if/then flowchart. I don't assume the PCs will do anything in particular, and whatever they do, I can improvise the bad guy's reactions. Sometimes they ignore what's happening and the bad guy happily proceeds with his plan behind the scenes and they only find out later. Sometimes they do exactly the right thing and foil him without ever even knowing it. Mostly they stumble across a plot, investigate, and face increasing resistance until the big battle.

 

Thanks so much, @sinanju! I especially appreciate the leading questions. Good stuff!

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For documents, I usually write a campaign sheet which has house rules and character design limits.  Especially when it involves a convention game.

 

For scale, I play 6e but I still use 1"=2m.  The reason is, I usually play Champs.  The 1"=1M doesn't scale well for supers combat when targets are flying back 10m or 5" in a 12d6 game.  On a regular battlemat, most of the players went off the mat in different directions due to movement and knockback.  For Heroic games where there is knockdown instead and more limited movement, 1"=1M scale should be fine.

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1) I have several Battlemats in different scale hexes - for Champions I use 38mm hexes (1 1/2”) because that’s the scale of Heroclix and they are the figures I use.

For Fantasy Hero I am using 28mm heroic scale figures mounted on 30mm bases so I use 30mm hexes. I always equate the hex, whatever it’s real-world size, to 2 metres.

 

2) I write handouts for players with campaign info on them. I usually post these as PDF files on an FB group or blog site, along with adventure synopses so that people can refresh their memories. I run three systems a month and play in a fourth so each game runs once a month - having a reminder for people is crucial as not everyone takes notes and even those that did can miss vital points. 

 

3) I tend to write my own adventures with bullet points. I find it’s easier to pick bits out than from a wall of text. 

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1) We use battlemaps on occasion so we use the 1 hex = 2". Our battlemap sessions have become quite the hit with the players. Seeing the warehouse they're in with all the crates around gives them tactical knowledge; the amusement park with it's buildings, the rocky area with a beach nearby, the underground viper base and on & on. With the battlemap (with water erasable markers) and the terrain out where everyone can see it gives a very different feel to the game. We don't really use 6th ed so we're at 1"=2 meters.

 

2) For years now, I've written out my Champions episodes:

a) First, the adventure title and the hero group/heroes. Next a quick GM summary of the episode plot. Next, the specific heroes, villains, agents, npcs, whatever to appear. After that, for fun, I write out things that have happened to the heroes in their secret id/private lives during the week that may, or may not, have a bearing on the game - leave the players guessing. I often put little hints of things to come in the episode in one of the heroes weekly events.

b) I write out the flow of the episode. Things that must happen, things that could happen, and things that are optional, making GM notes for unexpected Player changes. It's okay for Players to throw a monkey wrench in; I generally anticipate that. If the players come up with something totally unanticipated, I run with it and give them praise at the end. I'm glad to say I know my players and can usually write out a story with little to no problem.

c) the episode will highlight a supervillain/team goal, reveal things about a supervillain background history (which can give the villains some sympathy points) or a danger that will come about if the heroes don't defeat the goal. 

d) If the episode can go any number of ways where I know things could become totally chaotic, I write out brief summaries at those points, as well as what possibly to do as GM.

e) Print it out (double-sided).

f) Write out a quick stat sheet for the baddies: Stun/Body/End  Total PD/ED, Dex & Speed, CV,  and a quick + for any lvls.  This is for me a necessity if making the heroes actually fight some super-agents, instead of 'you hit, they're out'. I know some of you do things differently but this is how I do it and it works for me.

 

Writing out the episode really gives you time to think of story options that winging it simply cannot do as well. Perhaps the NPC the character knows stops to talk to them, giving the NPC more personality. The ice cream shop the character went to last episode went out of business; the little old lady who brings her car into the car repair shop and annoys the character's secret id, etc. Adding these little things adds the background flavor needed to differentiate it from last weeks.

 

 

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  1. I try to use 1 hex = 1m for my maps, unless it needs to cover a larger area, in which case I go 1 hex = 2m.  If it has to go even larger, I don't go with hexes but just wing characters' movement and current locations.  I tend to put too much detail into my maps -- stuff like making sure there's enough bathrooms, janitor's closets, stairwells, where fire extinguishers or security cameras are, etc. 
  2. I almost always write up the notes (often too extensive) for the current gaming night's adventure, but don't tend to write up long-term campaign plans (unless there are parts that the heroes are extremely unlikely to alter).  I've tried bullet points, but I end up throwing too much detail into them, so there's really not much point.  But that's just my CDO nature.
    • I also write up a news sheet (the Hero.Net Herald) that I give to the players at the start of each game session, with articles that (a) recap / resolve dangling threads from the prior week's adventure, (b) provide info on the current night's adventure, (c) foreshadow future adventures, and/or (d) are either filler, red herrings, or just amusing bits. 
    • I always have a speed sheet - I created a database in Microsoft Access where I enter character info, and it arranges everybody in descending DEX / SPD order, along with key info (CVs, defenses, movement, powers, CON, BODY, STUN, REC, etc.).  Agents are generally grouped as one meta-character to make running combat easier.  And if there are multiple combats possible, involving different groups of foes, I can easily create multiple speed sheets for a given week.
    • I try to always have a picture of major NPCs to show the players, and have taken to adding quirks to many of them.  It's amazing how much more fun an NPC becomes when the players learn that, say, he has absolutely no sense of humor, or is a conspiracy theorist, or keeps mis-pronouncing words.

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Maybe I’ve missed something that everyone is seeing in 6e. Where is the 1 hex=1 meter scale coming from? On 6e2 p.15 it suggests 1:1 or 1:2, or whatever else is appropriate, but doesn’t set 1:1 as default. In fact, characters are assumed to be 2m tall, so I assumed (perhaps wrongly?) that a hex was still 2m. The rules are careful to explain that measurements are in meters, but don’t set the default scale. Is there a particular passage I’m missing?

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56 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Maybe I’ve missed something that everyone is seeing in 6e. Where is the 1 hex=1 meter scale coming from? On 6e2 p.15 it suggests 1:1 or 1:2, or whatever else is appropriate, but doesn’t set 1:1 as default. In fact, characters are assumed to be 2m tall, so I assumed (perhaps wrongly?) that a hex was still 2m. The rules are careful to explain that measurements are in meters, but don’t set the default scale. Is there a particular passage I’m missing?

 

6E does away with the concept of hexes and inches and just uses meters for movement, distances, weapon range, area of effect etc.  Feel free to use whatever scale you wish for hex maps.

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8 hours ago, C-Note said:

 

6E does away with the concept of hexes and inches and just uses meters for movement, distances, weapon range, area of effect etc.  Feel free to use whatever scale you wish for hex maps.

Ah! I think I’ve just been reading “hexes” into everything out of habit. 

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8 hours ago, C-Note said:

 

6E does away with the concept of hexes and inches and just uses meters for movement, distances, weapon range, area of effect etc.  Feel free to use whatever scale you wish for hex maps.

Unless I missed something, 6e does away with inches, not hexes. Hexes are rooted in old boardgames and used hexes for whatever distances required. Agreed, use whatever scale you wish. Howabout 1"=1million miles? Wow, those range modifiers are going to be harsh.

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5 hours ago, Tech said:

Unless I missed something, 6e does away with inches, not hexes. Hexes are rooted in old boardgames and used hexes for whatever distances required. Agreed, use whatever scale you wish. Howabout 1"=1million miles? Wow, those range modifiers are going to be harsh.

 

From 6E1p20: No More Hexes: The HERO System no longer measures things in “hexes” (or “inches”). Instead, it just uses meters. This means changing the way Movement Powers and some other elements are noted on the character sheet (for example,  Flight 20” becomes Flight 40m) and also has some effect on certain costs and calculations (such as the Area Of Effect Advantage).

 

That leaves hexes/battlemats and scale up to the players/GM.  Hexes are still useful for combat and mapping, they're just no longer part of the official rules.

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Redo loft as of right now I use 1” = 1m for Heroic games and some small scale Supers. Here by small scale, the Supers don’t have tremendous movement powers so they all keep pretty much on Rosies’s map.  FWIW, i still use the term hexes (mainly cause I have a erasable hex map). Yes I know in the older editions Hex = 2m.

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