Emrys Ternal (GM)

I should probably describe what kind of game I run.


I like to run a fiction game, in this case a hybrid of science fiction and science fantasy . Matt Colville discussed the difference between fiction and fantasy here . In short, a fantasy story primarily springs from the internal struggles of the main characters, where a fiction is a universe which the characters act upon it and the universe reacts. Extra Credits discussed the nature and history of science fiction in this playlist . What I mean by a hybrid is that I want to use the myriad fantastical elements available in the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset to ask questions that lead toward the players (and myself) exploring fundamental truths.

I used D&D 3.5e to create this setting because that’s the system I know best. I was drawn to D&D 3.5e because of how thoroughly-designed it is as a simulation of a fantasy world. I built a futuristic setting on top of it because I like futuristic settings, and I found the idea of a D&D 3000 years later with a different cosmology (while being compatible with all of that raw content) to be neat. You don’t need modern technological advancements with gunpowder and electrical engineering to get guns or cyberspace when you can skip those prerequisites using magic.

I run a game…

  • where PCs can and will likely die, but usually only if they do something stupid despite all warnings,
  • where encounters are by-default a little harder than normal,
  • where a character refusing to sleep takes its toll over time,
  • where funny stuff could technically happen, but funny stuff isn’t the point of the game and the rule of funny should be avoided (for example, if a player could chuck the final dungeon castle into the sun, I don’t let them even though it’d be hilarious),
  • where super-powered abilities are limited by in-universe justification,
  • where I’m okay with a little chit-chat but only when someone has to briefly leave the table for some reason,
  • where in order to prevent a “hive mind”, I might in some cases forbid players from discussing tactics once a battle starts, but highly encourage the players to come up with a plan before battle,
  • where “bad metagaming” is forbidden when it comes to in-game knowledge your character wouldn’t know,
  • where I might secretly relay information to a player that they should only relay to the other players by paraphrasing in-character,
  • where if the player does something mind-bogglingly stupid that would get them instantly killed I as the GM say “are you sure that you want to do that?”,
  • where players generally level up a little slower
  • where I rigorously keep track of exactly how much in-game time has passed for everything,
  • where villains express their timetables in days instead of weeks or months,
  • where a party might have 8 to 16 encounters in a given in-game 24 hour period,
  • where if I as GM get caught in a plothole or unavoidable logical error, I generally will admit it and ask to back up a bit and redo it, BUT
  • where if needed I can take the Counter Monkey approach of “Yeah, that is odd. Weird.” and then slyly make it work out because of a secret I make up on the fly,
  • where the Rules as Intended always outranks the Rules as Written (such as my Clarifications on Light and Darkness,
  • where Action Points are allowed because they add a great cinematic feel to an otherwise dry game,
  • where a player is not allowed to physically own any one thing more valuable than a certain amount of GP, based on their character level (including things like a wizard PC’s spellbook),
  • where players can only find a seller or buyer of an uncommon item if they roll for it,
  • where there are level-independent XP rewards for encounters (similar to Pathfinder’s approach),
  • where there is both room for roleplaying and lots of combat,
  • where NPCs have their own motivations, biases, and misunderstandings, and can and will sometimes lie to the PCs (“you don’t think he’s lying” doesn’t mean he’s telling the truth or that he even knows the truth)
  • where most NPCs don’t have complex backstories,

I most value players…

  • who are motivated, have their own ambitions, and want to achieve things in the world,
  • who take copious extensive notes (but only jot down things quickly during the game)
  • who are respectful to the game by not having their phone out at the table unless I tell them to get their phone out,
  • who have their own laptop to manage their character information (and don’t have irrelevant stuff open on it during the game),
  • who are very familiar with the rules that are relevant to their character,
  • who are somewhat familiar with the rules otherwise but defer to me as the final rules authority for my game,
  • who remember their character sheet, especially what languages they know
  • who remember what languages the other PCs share other than Common,
  • who watch the table to make sure they know what everyone’s doing,
  • who come up with clever ideas, roleplay their characters especially well, and, frankly, entertain the group,
  • who can believe in the no-win scenario and the value of retreating or surrendering,
  • who will rely on their Passive Checks and Saves, especially when there might be a no-win scenario,
  • who will trust that if it’s a no-win scenario, that I’m not trying to kill the PCs (or any particular PC),
  • who don’t play while angry, or while having a headache or migraine, or while otherwise cognitively or emotionally impaired.

Emrys Ternal (GM)

Hyperion Voyages Ternal Ternal