As a GM, one of the greatest things that I found kept me back when I first started trying to provide a gaming experience to my players was my desire to create an “original experience” for them.
This led to a number of things that didn’t work: trying too hard to be original can mean that you reject the useful methods of the past that have been proven successful, and it can also mean that to compensate for the lack of existing material, you simply pass over into the realm of spectacle.
Continue reading “Drawing Inspiration For Games”
If you missed the previous entry in this series, Improv GM’ing Dos and Don’ts: Improv is not Unprepared, I’d suggest going there now and checking it out.
This is part 2 in an ongoing series about improvisational Game Mastering for tabletop roleplaying games. As such I’m assuming you know more or less where I’m coming from with regards to the preparation you need to do before starting the game.
Continue reading “Improv GM’ing Dos and Don’ts: Connect the Dots”
When I GM a game, I’m an improv guy. I can’t do it all the time, and I can’t do it with every game, but when I run a game, I tend not to do a whole lot of work ahead of sessions on specific sessions. Recently I’ve been running pretty hard on the improv stuff, and encouraging some other people to take up a similar style, but I think that I need to point out that there are a few caveats to consider that I don’t know I’ve fully explored elsewhere.
Continue reading “Improv GM’ing Dos and Don’ts: Improv is not Unprepared”
I’ve been a GM and game designer for years now, and one thing that’s always struck me about the process is how much skills overlap there is in the process, and how many nuggets of wisdom carry over from one to the other. I’ve been thinking about some key points now that I’m working on two projects that should see the light of day relatively soon.
Continue reading “Things I Learned from Being a GM & a Designer”
Game Masters of tabletop roleplaying games have to create a story that works well, and that can often be difficult not only because a story has to be engaging, but because it’s difficult to keep track of the way in which a story will unfold; it’s easy to forget about some minor elements, or conflate them too heavily with the main plot, and wind up coming to a screeching halt. One great way to handle this is to think of each plot as a thread; it develops from the previous events in sequence, but will eventually be brought to fruition by the players’ actions.
Continue reading “Threads of Narrative: Managing Open Worlds in Tabletop Roleplaying”
I see a lot of GM horror stories that essentially amount to “The game isn’t going the way I’d planned! Now I’m on fire, and my pet Chihuahua is wearing a fake mustache!”. Well, I actually hear a lot of the first frantic exclamation, and very little of the second, but it’s been a long week and I’m taking some liberties from reality. Frequently, the way to get what you want as a GM is to give what your players want, and use it to shape their interests toward what you will do. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Player Responsive Tailoring”
One of the most useful items in the human intellectual toolkit is the ability to question; as a fundamental tool of analysis asking questions is a core function of being an effective Game Master. When running a game for others, it is important to ask questions about the rules, yourself, and the players at your table to craft the most meaningful experiences for you and your players. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Better Game Mastering Through Questioning”
As a long-term GM, one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced is dealing with novice players who are more than a little intimidated by joining a gaming group. In addition, many veteran roleplayers I’ve played with prefer to play in groups where they know they are welcomed and valued, and while I don’t think many GM’s host games just to belittle and exclude their players, it’s still crucial to consider presentation and readiness. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Creating A Welcoming Table”
As a GM who runs a lot of darker themed campaigns, be they cyberpunk or gothic fantasy, I’ve encountered situations where the players should not be allowed to win, but they shouldn’t be totally crushed and leave unfulfilled. The challenge then comes down to providing a satisfying play experience without giving the players a victory that unbalances and complicates the narrative. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Snatching Defeat from the Brink of Success”
I’ve noticed that there are a lot of warning signs that I’ve seen in campaigns I’ve run or campaigns I’ve played in that can be indicators of a dangerous decline. These things, however, are all avoidable, and are hallmarks of a negligent approach to running games. After the break, I’ll explain what they are and how they can be avoided. Continue reading “Table Reflection: Seven Deadly Sins of Campaign Management”