Titan Mage GM Guide

Table of Contents

Being A Game Master

Every game needs a game master (GM). The game master is the arbiter of rules, the source of the game's content, and is someone that every player should be grateful for. More so than the players, the GM gets gets to flex their creativity and have the greatest involvement in the flow and feel of the game. If your game is missing a GM, then don't be afraid to try it out!

About This Document

If you are unfamiliar with the game as a whole, reading through the Player's handbook is important for being a GM. It is recommended to start there, then come back.

Unlike the Player's Handbook, which is filled with hard rules, this document is meant to be more a process flow. If the Player's Handbook was a fish dinner, then this is the guide to fishing.

Preparing a Session

Preparing for a game is done at different levels. The three levels are encounter building, adventure building, and world building. Not all of these levels need to be worked on between every game session, so it is important to understand how to give priority to these.

The preparation that every session does need is encounters. These are the bread and butter of session preparation.

Above encounter building is adventure building. Adventures can last a single session or stretch out many sessions, so additional adventures should be prepared as you expect the current adventure to wrap up.

World building is the preparation that happens above adventure preparation. It can be some of the most creative work you get to do as a GM. Some early world building can last many adventures, so it is only needed at the beginning of the game or during big changes in the story, however, it can be fun to tend to whenever the urge strikes.

Encounter Building

Encounter building is the meat and potatoes of GM preparation. Encounters are the problems that you are going to stick in front of your players for them to figure out. The majority of game time will be spent handling the encounters, so they will actually have the biggest impact on your game.

Creating balanced encounters is a form of art. Different players will handle encounters differently and the dice can always throw a wrench into their plans. Creating challenging but rewarding encounters is a skill that can truly only come with experience with your particular players.

A cool thing to note about encounters is that it up to the players to solve them, not you. You do not always have to know how the players are going to overcome your predicaments as long as you believe that they can. Maintaining an open mind about how to solve your encounters is an important part of being a GM. Be ready to accept the solutions they propose to you, through the filter of unceartainty resolution of course!

Before you begin planning out your encounters, you should have a theme in mind from your adventure building. Keep that theme in mind when choosing which encounters to include.

Selecting Baddies

Titan Mage is an RPG about fighting monsters. Combat is a core and expected part of the game, so making sure that adventures are filled with foul fiends is a must.

Use the Foe Reference page to select some enemies for your players. Foes are categorized by the relative level your players are at: apprentice, journeyman, master, and grandmaster. It is not recommended to put higher level foes against lower level players.

Beyond the difficulty level of individual monsters, there are two other ways to balance enemies. You can add multiple monsters to the encounter. This has a multiplicative effect on the difficulty of the encounter. Be careful not to make an encounter with too many characters that bring down a player character in little time by focusing attacks. The second way to balance is in the number of encounters. Characters have a specific amount of healing that can be done before they are forced to retreat back to the safety of town. If they get worn down too much, even easy encounters can be dangerous.

As a GM, it is your job to keep a pulse on the overall health of the party. Tweaking encounter enemy numbers and the number of combat encounters should be done in order to maintain difficulty without killing the entire party.

Difficult encounters can result in player deaths. Games where players are dying constantly are not fun for the players, so it's important to manage this occurrence. Do the best job you can saving the most difficult encounters for dramatic parts in the story, so that deaths can be meaningful for the players and the other members of the party. It's possible for the death of the entire party to be their fault, but there is almost always a way that GMs can massage the difficulty of an adventure without breaking the rules of the game.

Confounding Puzzles

Puzzles are a type of encounter that forces the players to think together and slows the pace of the game.

When designing puzzles that are required for adventure progression, it is important to prepare clues to feed your players when they get stuck. You can put these behind ability checks to disguise them.

Puzzles that are not required for adventure progression can be used to deliver extra rare loot or make other parts of the adventure easier. These do not need clues, but should have hints that show that the puzzle exists.

Some types of puzzles that you may with to come up with:

  • Riddle: Classic spoken puzzles
  • Object: Interactions with physical objects
  • Social: Having to gain somebodies trust
  • Cipher: Understanding hidden information
  • Rube Golberg: Puzzles with multiple steps that each chain together
  • Memory: Requiring players to remember information that was given a while ago
  • Time: Can only be solved at a specific time of day/season/etc.
  • Layout: Rooms that shift changing the path to get somewhere

Dangerous Traps

Traps are a source of danger other than combat encounters. Traps can be a source of damage, but there are many insidious ways for traps to work:

  • Damage: Straightforward traps that deal damage
  • Effect: Traps that inflict negative conditions
  • Enclosures: Locking players into a specific room or area
  • Party Splitter: Traps that keep players away from each other
  • Sound: Alerts enemies in the area
  • Timer: Areas that get progressively more dangerous over time

It is up to you how the trap is triggered. Whether it is automatic or whether an enemy has to set it off. It is also up to you if the traps can be disabled or not.

Dolling out Treasure

Players love treasure, and they will love you for giving them cool treasure. It's a psychology thing.

There are three main types of treasures:

  • Shells: Raw currency
  • Valuables: Items that can be traded for raw currency
  • Artifacts: Equipment that is marked epic or legendary

Shells are a straightforward treasure. Players need it to buy equipment, live in town, and level up.

Valuables are essentially another way to give out shells, but they have a few advantages. First, valuables can be kept by foes who normally wouldn't carry shells. They can be crafted to fit the theme of the other adventure encounters. Finally they can serve to add realism to the world when the players inevitably to trade them for shells. Some merchants might buy certain values at a higher price or have plot hooks for the player concerning specific valuables.

Artifacts are the last kind of treasure. Artifacts are a way separate from character level to increase the ability of the party. Within the Player's resource tables are items marked as epic or legendary. These are the artifacts. Artifacts can not be typically bought or sold, so instead they should be given out as adventure rewards or as hidden treasure.

When deciding how many shells or valuables to put into an adventure, use the character level table from the Player's Handbook to decide. It's up to you to set a pace for how often the player's can level up, but in giving out enough treasure for one level per adventure is a good pace.

It's recommended to give out artifacts roughly based on the player character ranks from the character level table. Apprentice players should acquire a couple minor epic artifacts. Consumables or equipment are good candidates. Journeyman should begin to get a couple of the rarer combat focused artifacts or ones with strong effects. Still only epic level though. A master should receive a legendary artifact and continue to receive epic artifacts. Once a player reaches grandmaster level, artifacts are the only way to continue increasing their power, so if you wish to keep the campaign going you are allowed to be more liberal.

Mapping a Dungeon

At this point in your adventure prep, you should have some assortment of baddies, puzzles, traps, and treasure. It is at this point that you should design the map.

Some adventure may take place out in the open, and in that case, there's not much of a map to plan, but if your player's are delving into a dungeon, cave, building, ship or other enclosed space, it's good to create some interconnected rooms to fill with all of your encounters. Doing the mapping after the other encounter preparation will help tell you how big of an area to map out.

There are many ways to lay out a map. The simplest is just a linear set of rooms with one encounter after another. That is a fine way to do it. At it's biggest, a map can have multiple entrances, large paths of dead ends, and enough rooms to last multiple adventures. Most maps will fall somewhere in the middle. The best way do design a map of course is to follow your heart, and figure out through experimentation what types of maps are good for you and your players.

Adventure Building

Adventures are the containers for your encounters. They set the theme, the pace, and the difficulty. A good juicy adventure preparation will convince the players and their characters that experiencing dangers will be worth it.

Crafting an Adventure

Adventures come in many shapes and sizes. Your first adventure should be small. Perhaps to help deliver a parcel through a dangerous road. As characters level up, the risks and bounties of adventures can grow. Because players are only able to fully recover while in a town, it's important for adventures to be scoped to the players level and items.

If needed adventures can be nested, so that players complete objectives that lead toward a larger goal.

Making a new adventure out of the blue is always an option, but forming an adventure from information that you've already given to the players by intentionally splipping in some future information or using a town happening can help keep up the continuity of your world.

Here are ideas for some adventure goals that you may want to use:

  • Hired Sword: Hiring to clear out some local monsters
  • Retrieval: Delving to bring back an item or people of importance
  • Delivery: Sending an object or people safely between areas
  • Mystery: Uncovering secret information or a hidden object
  • Negotiation: Being a mediator for two large parties
  • Escape: Getting out of a dire situation
  • Happenstance: Curious characters may be interested in unexpected events or structures for the sake of exploring


Hooks are the scenes where you try and convince the players that you adventure needs to happen. Hooks can be as subtle as mentioning a mysterios stranger at a bar or as straightforward as telling your players that they have become lost in a dense fog. The goal of the hook is to convince the players, so here are some reasons that players may be interested:

  • Rewards: Money, valuables, and rare items
  • Morals: Helping the less fortunate or opressed
  • Relationships: If an NPC that the players know or a family member of the characters requests help
  • Exploration: Seeing some cool new area or environment
  • Furthering Goals: If the results of this adventure help the players complete a larger goal or adventure
  • Good Players: A good player is aware that they that you have done the work to set up an adventure and will have an eye out for your clues
  • Mandatory Fun: As a last resort, you can use the power of GM handwoven narration to begin an adventure, best used as a last resort

When you are not sure what kind of hook to make, take a look at your players' motivations for inspiration.


When adventuring invitably takes the party further away on the map, it's time to do some travel resolution. It's up to the players to let you know what path they are going to take and what speed they are going to travel at. Based on their speed, this is how many hexes can be covered in a day of traveling:

  • Fast: (3mph) 4 hexes per 8 hour travel time
  • Slow: (2mph) 3 hexes per 8 hours travel time

You may with to introduce to planned or random encounters while traveling. Here are some considerations that can help when deciding what to plan:

  • Distance: The total distance traveled
  • Terrain: Is the party traveling on a road or through a dangerous forest
  • Speed: Fast vs slow
  • Location: Is this path close to civilization or to any baddie encampments
  • Party State: Will another encounter wipe the entire party after a tense adventure

Road encounters need not always be combat. Meeting people along the road or neutral creatures in the wild can help show how the different areas in your world are laid out.


Eventually players will want to return back to town. They need to recover, sell valuables, level up, and prepare for the next adventure. Ask your players how long they are planning to stay in town and what downtime actions they are gong to take.

It is up to you whether to resolve these actions through quick narration or whether you want to play out the scenarios. Playing then out can help build rapport with NPCs, to give out details about town happenings, or to provide your next hook.

World Building

Non Player Characters (NPCs)

Players are going to encounter many characters throughout their adventures. So many, that it is a bit of a wasted time to flesh out NPCs as much as the players flesh our their characters.

NPCs belong in the game to further the gameplay that the players are interested in. They sell sharp objects to the players in exchange for shiny objects. They request help from the player. They exist when the players are close to them and stay out of the way otherwise. Thus, whenever you make an NPC, you first start with a skeleton NPC.

A skeleton NPC is four things:

  • A name
  • A job
  • A physical trait
  • A personality trait

Four lines. Three if you write the name and job on one line. This is all that it takes to bring an NPC to the table.

Now, if the players take an interest in the NPC, if they make an effort to return back and ask questions, that is when you are allowed to add some more detail. Maybe some things are going on in their life, and they pass those details on to the players, but NPCs should remain back seat characters. They can offer up hints when asked, but should never outright solve the party's problems without the party planning out working with them.

Mapping the World

Mapping your world is important to the realism of the game. When players travel between towns, it should take them the same amount of time every time. When they get lost in the woods and head into a random direction, you should know what kind of town or dangerous creature they are heading towards and how long it will take to get there.

The type of map in famous fantasy books is fun to look at, but not fun do distance calculations with. When the players need to go somewhere and are asking around to see how long their travel will take, you need a way to figure out offhand without getting out a ruler. Instead, you need a hex grid.

When players travel, they'll be traversing hexes on this map. Each hex represents 6 miles. There is a couple reasons for this. One is that on flat terrain, at the center of the hex, players can see about the edges of the hex and no further. That is nice for explaining what they see while they travel. Two, players travel at a rate that is divisible by 6 as described in travel.

Download the GM map and print it out. When filling it in, colors can help a lot to differentiate everything. The first thing you need to do is lay down some terrain. In each hex, decide if the hex is:

  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Hills
  • Forest
  • Lake
  • Ocean
  • Desert
  • Tundra
  • Swamp

Once the terrain is there, add in some paths. Create some rivers and streams along the edges of the hexes. These tend to flow from the higher areas like mountains, towards the larger bodies of water like lakes and oceans. Choose a few hexes to become towns. Mark these in the middle of the hexes. Connect the towns with some roads. These can run through the middle of the hexes to distinguish them. Finally, write some labels in if you want to name things. That is all there is to it. You can add more details to it as the players progress through and you come up with adventures, but just stick those over some existing unused hexes.

Be sure not to let the players see this map. Use it to do calculations and describe the world to them narratively. If you have got some time and energy, and if you are feeling fond of your players, you can make them a pretty map out of your useful one. Brush some mountains and forests on there in roughly the same places as yours. Etch in some fancy lettering. Slap a compass on there. They will love it. Do continue to use your map yourself though.

Creating Towns

Towns fill a few purposes. They are where the players refuel between adventures, where they scope out new work, and where their heroics (or lack of) have consequence. Players will return to the same town many times, so it is important to have the nearest town prepared.

Towns are a bit like NPCs in that you first start off with skeleton, then add in little details as needed. Here are the details of the town that you need to decide on and write down:

  • Purpose: Why was the town created? Is is close to natural resources, a place to ship goods, a defensive outpost?
  • Population: How big is the town? A few buildings, a few streets, a few neighborhoods? This will tell you what kind of buildings the town has and how many amenities.
  • Authority: Who writes the laws in the town and who would come talk to players if they broke those laws?
  • Amenities: What can the players do in the town? They will need a place to sleep at least, but take a look at the Town Features section in the Player's Handbook for some more ideas.
  • NPCs: Important folks, store owners, or other people that you expect the players to run into should be prepared with NPC prep.
  • Specific Details: These are bits of odd information that NPCs can feed the players. Things like, "I heard the alehouse is serving rat.", "There's a lot more man eating spiders than usual this summer.", or "The soup at the alehouse is great lately!". Stashing away about five of these tidbits is good. Any that the players take a real interest in can even be fleshed out some more. Maybe turned into side adventures a little later.

Describing the World

World details are the most generic kind of world prep. The world description should set the mood for the game. Here is a real non-inclusive list of things that you may want to consider about the world.

  • Age: Is the world filled with ruins of past civilizations or is it filled with unexplored lands?
  • Politics: Are there many organizations vying for power? Will the characters have an impact on the makeup of power?
  • Theme: Is the world a lighthearted place or filled with dread? Do people trust each other naturally?
  • Magic: Is magic abound in the world? Is it understood or trusted by the common people?

While these details can be specific for you, to the players, they should be subtle. Hide these details from them, but keep them in mind while doing the other prep for the game. They should emerge naturally as the players explore the world.

Running the Game

This section describes the minutiae of the game once you and the players have all gathered together. This is where you get to bask in the glory of the fruits of your preparation labor. Running the game is a skill that is honed with practice, but with the prep work that you already did and a couple pointers, you are more than ready to run a fun and engaging game.

The Core Game Loop

The game plays out in a constant loop, and it is a simple one:

  • The GM describes a situation
  • The players decide how to handle the situation
  • The GM describes the outcome

During a typical game, the players out for an adventure, then this loop happens a number of times until they return to town. That's the game in a nutshell. You have done the prep work creating the situations, and the game is seeing how well the players do to solve them.

Resolving Uncertainty

When the players propose doing something with an uncertain outcome, it is up to you to figure out whether they succeed or not.

For example, if the players say they enjoy a breakfast of gruel, you tell them how tasty it was. There is no need to check whether they can use a spoon. Even level one players can handle a bowl of gruel. Just move on. Now, say the players are in a heated battle with a fully grown dragon. One of the players decides that they want to suplex the dragon. That is a bold move, but how should that play out. Well the dragon is having pancakes for dinner. It beats gruel. Just move on.

If the players suggest something that they could possibly fail or possibly succeed at, then it is time to ask for a skill check. Choose one of the four stats that applies the most to what they are trying to do, then have them make the roll. While they are doing that math, figure out how difficult their task is. Reference the skill check uncertainty table to get the value that they need to beat. If the player's value matches the check, they succeed. Let them know what joys await. If they get lower than the needed value, they fail. Let them know what horrors await.


Skill Check Uncertainty Table

Difficulty Value
Trivial 0
Simple 5
Tough 10
Challenging 15
Heroic 20
Impossible n/a

Player Stats by Level

This table shows the minimum and maximum stats that a player can have at each level.

Level Min HP/MP Max HP/MP Max Stat Max Stat / 2 Max Stat / 4
1 20 21 1 1 1
2 25 27 2 1 1
3 30 33 3 2 1
4 35 39 4 2 1
5 40 50 5 3 2
6 45 57 6 3 2
7 50 64 7 4 2
8 55 71 8 4 2
9 60 87 9 5 3
10 65 95 10 5 3
11 70 103 11 6 3
12 75 111 12 6 3
13 80 132 13 7 4
14 85 141 14 7 4
15 90 150 15 8 4
16 95 159 16 8 4

Homebrew Content

If you find that the options in the game are too limiting or wish to add something specific to your game, here are some references that can help with the design.

Creating Spells

Spellmaking is not an exact science, but there are some guidelines. In general, spells should not cost more than 40 MP.

For damage dealing spells, a spell should cost MP equal to the average amount of damage it deals. If the spell hits two to three targets, its cost should be doubled. If it hits more than that, its cost should be tripled. The cost should be adjusted based on how difficult it is to hit. The following table lists recommended level requirements for damage dealing spells.

Character Rank Total Average Damage
Apprentice (1-5) 0-10
Journeyman (6-10) 10-20
Master (11-15) 20-30
Grandmaster (16) 30-40

For utility spells costs, use the following table.

Utility Benefit MP Cost
Situational 5
Good 10
Great 20
Amazing 40
Earth Shattering 80

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