Since all ASHs on the first phase of the SH Course are required to have an SH mentor, we wanted to jot down some good guidelines for the SHs acting as mentors to help them with the job.
Keep in mind as you're mentoring that we're not just there to run the numbers for the ASH (although that's why we're required) - the goal is to help the ASH understand how to run a good session. That means advising on everything from narratives to managing groups of players and good session design, when you can. In the end, running the numbers may seem like the smallest part of the help you provide to the ASH you're mentoring.
Principles to Focus On
Since ASHs in Phase One (which are all the ones you'll be mentoring) aren't required to have any knowledge of the system yet, talking to them about how you're running the numbers may not be as helpful as focusing on some of the other elements they've already be trained on.
When the opportunity comes up, try to focus on talking with your mentee about the following:
- Being clear in narratives, especially during combat
- Keeping the session focused on the players and their characters' decisions
- Keeping the flow of the session going - breaking into rounds, posting mid-round with larger or slower groups, etc
- Essentially, anything under Narrative Guidelines or Running Sessions
You are more than welcome to talk with the ASH about system specifics if they're curious, but we recommend against spending too much time explaining the system, if they haven't already read ahead in the SH Course. It may slow the session down, although answering questions for them afterward is totally fine.
With twice as many people involved, it can be tricky at times to keep up with who's responsible for what.
In technical terms, as the mentor SH, you are responsible for:
- Determining exact NPC mights*
- Setting exact difficulty numbers*
- Determining success, failure and PP generated for actions in the session
- Awarding XP and silver after the session
- Filtering and summarizing ASH Feedback given after the session (if any)
The ASH you are mentoring is responsible for:
- Determining the rough power of NPCs in the session (things like "elite bandit," "skilled assassin," "average joe")
- Determining the rough difficulty of each challenge within the session (things like "easy," "average," "difficult," "almost impossible")
- Writing up the narratives and results
- Determining what rewards and how much of what type XP to award to the players
- Posting the session report after the session
As you may have already guessed, communicating with the ASH during the session will likely require having a second window open in some way, shape or form to talk about the session without the players seeing the details.
If you and the ASH are willing to chat over IMs (AIM, ICQ, etc), many find that easiest, and most such programs have logs which can make it easy to track which difficulties or NPC numbers you set. Alternatives include the Messages system here on the site (you'll get an email with each new PM, so it can be a little spammy) or using an out-of-the-way RP room (like the Discussion Room or the Testing Grounds, if they're currently unoccupied). Again, all of those are logged in case you need to check back later and recover what numbers were talked about.
It can also be a good idea, if you and the ASH have time, to do a quick "wrap up" after the session ends (or after you post the report, depending on how late things run) to talk about their overall handling of the situation and any last improvements you might suggest.
Remember, when you're giving feedback, don't just focus on the areas where the ASH needs to improve. If they did something well, make sure they know it - it'll encourage them to keep doing it well in future sessions :) Don't shy away from pointing out things that might need improvement, just make sure you aren't ignoring the things they did right while you're at it.
You may also receive emails after the session marked "ASH Feedback." Filter these, passing only positive or constructive feedback on to the ASH. Players lashing out or complaining without clear suggestions for remedying issues they spotted in the session do not need a voice with a Phase One ASH, and forwarding that feedback along could chase otherwise good ASHs away before they get their confidence about them.
System would seriously like to thank all our SHs who help out mentoring ASHs! With just two co-heads, there's no way the department could do all this ourselves and keep up with a growing site, and it's hugely appreciated to have everyone pitching in.
Thank you for all your help!
SH Course : Go to SH Course Main Page