Normally, a piece of advice would tell you what to do, instead of what not to do. However, we tend to think that the ‘don’ts’ are much better advice, and they are much less restrictive. We want to advise you on just a few things to avoid from the infinite amount of possibilities, and still leave you with infinite possibilities!
Thus, we will focus our tips for being an awesome Games Master (GM) on things you shouldn’t do. Here are some:
Do not use confrontations to side with the PCs and confront Non-Player Characters (NPCs), because that creates a deus ex machina effect that kills the thrill of the game. If you fear for the story or for the Player Characters (PCs) because the NPCs are winning, you can use a ‘plot twist’ to save the day: a friendly NPC comes in to help, the NPCs try to take the PCs captive instead of killing them, or they offer a deal to the PCs to stop fighting (why do NPCs always fight until the end anyways, don’t they have families to come back to?), etc.
Do not confront players when they perform mundane tasks, but instead lure them into playing high cards at times when they really need to achieve something. That will make their subsequent confrontations with NPCs much more interesting and tense, leaving you with high cards to aid important NPCs or prevent the story from derailing too much from its course. Save your high cards for when it matters! The confrontations with the GM are there to add drama and interest to the story, they are not a substitute for every last skill check you would make in other games.
Do not make your NPCs mindless shooting machines unless the story requires them to be. It is much more interesting to have small teams of NPCs behave intelligently and tactically: have them flank the PCs, throw smoke grenades, pin down PCs, or use any other cool tactics you can come up with.
Do not allow the PCs to take their respective Gods for granted. Force them to put their beliefs to the test and see if they can handle it, and if they follow them to the direst of consequences. If they cannot, they may be deemed unworthy of the support of their God.
Who are the Gods of your players? That alone can help you create a story for them. Do they think very differently from each other? Have them be in situations in which they must reach a consensus. Give their characters opportunity to change and evolve, even if that means that they have to change Gods.
If they are followers of Kaliva, the most individualist God, make them see the terrible lives of good, hard-working people, who are impoverished and who have no chance of success. Will they help them?
If they are followers of Vexal, the individual free thinker, put them in situations in which they must join a community in order to save it. Will they sacrifice their individual freedom for the good of the community?
If they follow Hexia, the strict ruler that seeks the good of the community, see if they still think they represent the community’s best interests after committing a grand mistake. Will they listen to others now?
If they follow Ergon, the most democratic of the Gods, have them see what terrible things the masses can do to those minorities that think differently. Will they give up their beliefs to stop it?
Creating Interesting Campaigns
Like in many other RPGs, there are many things you can do in FAITH that can make campaigns much more interesting. Here are some of our recommendations:
Give secret agendas to your players to make them feel invested in the story before it even begins. Bring the drama of their backstories to the game. Let them use the details they gave to you while creating their stories, so the story you put together feels round and engaging.
Not every NPC needs to be a bad guy trying to shoot at the PCs or hack into their brains. Use friendly or neutral NPCs to drive the story forward: they are one of your most valuable assets. Without them interacting with the PCs, players tend to go about their own ways and set themselves away from the story. Informers, merchants, secret contacts, potential employers... all of them are interesting characters that will help you develop an engaging story when they interact with the PCs. They can provide them with information, convince them to change their minds, put them in compromising situations, or put their beliefs to the test.
There are many things that can influence a character: he can take damage by falling from a tall wall, he can suffer hypothermia or hunger - the possibilities are endless. We could try to tackle this issue with some spreadsheets with the most common effects of the most common issues, but this would never be comprehensive enough and it would have very little narrative value.
In FAITH, we leave things like this to the GM - she should decide what she thinks is best for the story: is it interesting that your players characters suffer one disadvantage to any action because they were not prepared to survive in a frozen planet? They all have Survival 0 and cannot find any food in the jungle. Maybe it is interesting to give them a disadvantage until they find food, or perhaps their unpreparedness can start to affect their health. Perhaps force them to suffer neural damage that they cannot remove until they eat - if they continue like this they will faint and die of starvation. Go with what is dramatically interesting, that pushes the story forward and engages the players. Adapt effects to the situation and your group’s gameplay.
And last, but not least, remember that playing RPGs is all about having fun with your friends, and that should be your goal at all times. Enjoy the game and do not make it all about who succeeded or failed if it does not need to be.