How To GM In Alvena

GMing is a privilege; an honor; and a chance to create something magical. Below are the rules and guidelines for running games for Heroes of Alvena.

Challenges, Experience, and Rewards

Encounters should be built using the rules found in the Gamemastering section of the Core Rules.
Encounters should range between Average Party Level-1 and Average Party Level+3. GMs who are using many small encounters during a session should lean more towards APL-1 encounters. If you plan to run a game with very few encounters, such as one or two big ones, or a large encounter with multiple waves, the encounter should lean towards APL +2 or +3. Generally, no encounter should include a single enemy greater than the average party level+2 in challenge rating. Here are some guidelines for preparing encounters.

  • Building Encounters: Combat encounters are more than just throwing a monster of a certain CR-range at the party and hoping for the best. They are meant to be highlights of an adventure. Fights should be dynamic, fun, and interesting. Very rarely should PCs encounter lone enemies who are significantly above-CR (more on why LINK PLACEHOLDER). Encounters are built using an XP budget based on the overall challenge rating of the encounter (a CR 1 is worth 400 XP, so it could support 4 100 XP kobolds, or 3 135 XP goblins, or 2 200 XP human fighters, etc). By using this simple yet effective experience budget system, you can simply add and remove creatures from your your encounter until you hit the right amount.
  • Larger and Smaller Parties: When building encounters for larger parties, treat the encounters entirely as you would normally, except increase your experience point budget by 25% for every party member above 4. The reverse is true as well, so reduce the experience budget by 25% for every party member fewer than 4. As the budget increases, you can simply add or remove enemies from the encounter until the encounter is at the difficulty that you desire. For example, a CR 2 encounter is worth 600 XP. If you wanted to make the encounter against kobolds worth 100 XP each, the default is 6 kobolds for the encounter. However, if you have 6 party members (+50% XP budget) you can add 3 more kobolds. If you had only 2 party members (-50%), then you would only include 3 kobolds in the encounter.
  • Adventure Design: Avoid adventures where party members are completely useless. Running a game where every enemy is immune to magic is very irritating if you are playing a caster, where every enemy is immune to weapons. This is triply so if it is for nonspecific reason or for "plot purposes" or anything that is primarily driven by GM fiat. Of course, this is in regards to the extreme. If you're uncertain if your adventure is acceptable, feel free to ask me about it, and I will look it over for you and give you the yes or no, and possibly advice or ideas.

Awarding Experience Points and Treasure

In an effort to normalize XP/rewards for HoA games, and to reduce workload on our GMs as well, we have recently added Roleplay Tokens. GMs award these as described on the RP Token page, as well as examples of how to award them.

This covers the basics. More will be added later; but if you follow these rules you will likely do well as an Alvena GM.

GM Tokens

GMs may earn a number of "XP Tokens" for GMing HoA games. GM Tokens are used to advance a Player Character (PC) that they play when not GMing. Since GMs do not typically participate in games that they are running as a player, a GM's PC characters may fall behind in both experience and treasure as the GM runs more and more games for the community. For this reason, XP Tokens have been added as method for keeping things as close to even as possible.

  • Gaining GM Tokens: Whenever a HoA sanctioned GM runs a game, he or she earns a GM Token. The minimum amount of time spent GMing, per token, is 4 hours. This means that a GM cannot run multiple "short games" to rapidly acquire GM tokens (such as a pair of 2 hour games); but GMing an 8 hour marathon game would result in 2 tokens; and so forth. A GM may collect and hold as many XP tokens as desired.
  • Spending GM Tokens: An XP token may be spent to grant one of your characters experience points and treasure equivalent to an encounter of equal challenge rating (as per the medium experience progression) as found on the Gamemastering page. Thus if a token is spent on a 1st level character, the character would gain experience and treasure equal for a CR 1 encounter (400 XP and 260 gp respectively). It takes roughly 5 sessions worth of XP tokens for a PC to gain a level entirely through XP tokens; as though the PC was part of a 4 player party and encountering 4 equal CR encounters per session.
  • Marking Experience Tokens: GM tokens should be noted on the character sheet of the PC that you have spent them on. You may mark them in your special abilities / feats section OR in your public notes on the sheet (if your feats section is otherwise too full to include them). This is to avoid confusion concerning PCs that are advancing based on tokens, and to assist in keeping track of tokens spent (both for administrator auditing and forgetful GMs), and to ensure that no one suspects cheating (if you added XP and treasure to your sheet and didn't note you spent a GM token, someone may believe you are just adding stuff to your sheet).
  • PCs as NPCs: Under the rare circumstance that a HoA sanctioned GM runs a game which involves one of his player characters as an NPC within the party (rare but sometimes used in complex story arches), the GM-PC does not receive experience or treasure for the session (beyond any items specifically given to the character by the party to use) and instead gains one token, which may be used as normal. GMs should not show favoritism to their PC while in such a session and should remain professional and unbiased. Failure to do so may lead to the revocation of GMing privilages and the game rendered void.
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