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So I'll start this with the prerequisite obligatory statement; I've been away for some time and am looking to bounce ideas and thoughts off of other GM sorts to help me build a better mousetrap. FYI I tend to be long-winded and explanatory, so either be ready for that or if this isn't for you... thanks for reading this far and goodbye. I run a 5th edition Hero game every Saturday up at a local game shop in Stafford TX called Golems Cate Gaming and Geekdom. It's currently a four hour game from 2 PM till 6. I started it at the request of another player GM who wanted to know more about Hero Games and how to play. He is an experienced player and GM from several other systems who was expanding his horizons and I was happy to help after the great game of Vampire he had run for me and some other friends. So my new realm is a world of politics, trade, and danger set in a noir cyberpunk setting in space. They started their characters as "heroic" with 75 points and an additional 75 disadvantages. I explained that if they chose to be human, they could boost themselves with cyber technology abilities and powers, which in my world was how humans tried to level the playing field when they encountered aliens who were more than we soft pink squishies could deal with on the regular. I've as a GM become quite fond of using OneNote to organize my game worlds and develop as the players explore. This helps me work on the fly in a creative table full of out of the box thinking players, some of whom enjoy the ROLE PLAY aspect of our games as much or maybe more than I. How I run my games. I develop a few interesting NPC's with problems they require help with, pick a cool setting to start the characters off in, and set up several strings of domino's that the players will run into. I have either created conflict when they pick a direction using the old writer's tools here; Character vs himself character vs environment character vs antagonist Sometimes several of these domino traps get enacted at once, and the players have to think fast to survive. I as a GM only have to come up with the NPC's, the settings, and sometimes write up a villain or seven for them to encounter along the way. Because of the sandbox way I build my OneNote, I can be ready pretty easily for almost any decision they as players make. Villain motivation is... PARAMOUNT Breaking the world build idea into parts, think of the nouns your players will come into contact with, attach a verb, and add adjectives for flavor & season to taste. People, place, or thing is doing describe with at least three of the five senses Ensure the descriptions use words and visuals related to the setting you chose to place them in. Watch players and dice roll's set behind the scene actions into play, and keep in mind the motivations of your villain(s) So there are the easy bits for me. I have the latest version of Hero-Designer and have been using it to help my newer players who were drug into this game, to flesh out their visions of who their characters are based on the world setting I put them in. Taking inspiration from Bladerunner, Altered Carbon, Babylon 5, Deep Space 9, and Titan A.E. I've built my base settings. I also have sprinkled in some anime movies such as Ghost in the Shell, Akira, and used a liberal application of Star Wars based on the characters my players have brought in. Their first mission was to help my NPC Rogen (wealthy businessman they were already working for) out of a tight legal issue he got tangled up in, wherein one of his freighters had picked up some gases from a gas giant in the Andromeda sector and accidentally kidnapped three members of an alien energy life form race when they did. All his assets were frozen and he was arrested. His butler and personal assistant Spencer was able to use some liquid resources to procure an old beat to crap and back freighter, find and liberate the three energy lifeforms from Andromeda gas giant, get them into containers and then Rogen met the players at the docking bay where they were returning from a "deep space run" for his company. The authorities locked down the ship in bay and were taking the cargo into evidence, Rogen explained is predicament to the players and said "If you could meet Spencer and return the life forms to the gas giant, then explain our mistake to the rulers there and get them to drop the charges, I will be able to pay you for this DSR & will let you keep the ship Spencer has that the authorities have no hold on. If you can't get this done quickly, however, I'll go to jail, Spencer will pull the rights to the ship, and you won't get paid for anything because I'll be broke..." So they've gotten it all partly done, they now have an envoy of the race who will return with them to the drift city Annex 09, where Rogen is being charged and held. They've met a few ambassadors, stolen and conned a few folks, been chased across three sectors of space by a militant group hunting one of their crew, and taken on a few folks along the way with complications of their own to deal with. The game is fun, fast-paced and growing quickly. I've built the space station called "The Sanctified Gardens" where ambassadors of the various empires, kingdoms, and governments come together like united nations in space, to try and diplomatically work out issues of war, trade, and legal incursions in an area called "The Globe." The player who has taken the title of ships captain is their face. He does most of the trade and negotiations. Another player is their techno spy. She acquires knowledge and information, hacks into security areas, updates software and tech where she can, and tries to stay out of trouble ... mostly. They have a bounty hunter, a mechanic, a soldier in armor, and a brick/gunslinger aboard as well, and I have a new player that may join soon who is trying to develop more of a detective-investigator sort. Their ship is an archaic tech with new computers and software jerry-rigged together. It has a few hyperdrive engines, but they were tough to get them all working together at first. Every now and then behind the screen, I roll on a random table of malfunctions that they have had to deal with as they go. Life support suits, a translator device to let them speak to the energy life forms, trying to slip past the militia group called "The Savage Angels" and other opportunities and inconveniences I've thrown in along the way. What behind the scenes antagonist can you guys think of that might have been pulling these strings? I have ways of linking that into my game pretty quickly too. Today's game will be the beginning of their return trip with the envoy and all the blowback from other things they did on the way out to the Andromeda gas giant.