Being the GM

This episode is brought to you in part by, audible.com. With more than 150,000 titles to choose from, there is something for everyone! You can listen to all your favorite audiobooks on your iPhone, Android, Kindle or other mp3 device, and now, Audible is going to give you a 30 days free trial AND you get a FREE audiobook download, just for listening to this show. just go to www.audibletrial.com/IRNerdivore and sign up today.

Additional funding provided by, Geek Fan Expo. Uniting Geeks in 2014. Learn more at www.geekfanexpo.com.

And by the support of listeners like you!

Welcome to the Show

Hello and welcome to The Quest! I am your host, “Dr. RPG” Jeff Harvey, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @IRNerdivore, or visit us on the web at www.irnerdivore.com. Thank you for hitting the download button and listening to the show. If you just happened to stumble upon us, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, just search of IRNerdivore, and if you like what you hear, we would sure appreciate it you’d give us a good rating and check out our other shows.

This week, we are gonna talk a little bit about GMing your game. I have some tips, tricks, and suggestions for both the lazy GM and the overpreper. With any luck, you will be able to learn a little something…but since it’s me talking…don’t count on it.

I don’t have anyone joining me this week as peoples schedules just didn’t align. So the next…however long, you get to just hear me blabbing into the microphone. With any luck I won’t bore you.

Before we get to deep into the conversation today though, I wanna give you a heads up about a bit of a format change. The Quest is the second podcast I created…the first was a weekly show about a play-by-post Wrestling RPG called the Virtual Championship Wrestling Federation. Well...the efed has since ended, and I only did 10 episodes of that show.

Well, then I came up with this show, and I learned a ton about podcasting in the fairly short time I have been doing this one. And of course, now we are doing a total of 3 regular shows…the Quest, IRNerdivore, and the all new DarkMatch Podcast for wrestling fans.

I have learned some of what works, and what doesn’t…and one of the segments that works good ok for some shows, but not this one, is the News. Doing the RPG news can be fun…but it is rarely anything worth listening too, and we often struggle to get anything worth reading…so…I am gonna go ahead and cut that from the shows.

We will still talk about important releases and big news, but nobody really wants to know about somebodies kickstarter. Maybe I’m wrong…if you guys like the news, and want us to keep it in…I’ll do that, but y’all are gonna need to let me know!

Hopefully, by cutting out the news, we can have a little more time to get a little deeper into our topics, get you a little more insight into the wonder that is role-playing!

Also…I have a couple of interviews coming up…so hopefully I can give you guys more time with our guests…help you to get to know them and what they come on the show to talk about!

Anyway…let’s get this show underway!

What is a GM

So…what exactly is a Gamemaster?

The gamemaster is the author of the novel, director of the movie, teller of the tale! He (or she) guides the story and controls the game session, describes the events taking place and decides on the outcomes of players' decisions. The gamemaster also provides the setting through the cunning use of non-player characters (NPCs, random encounters, and through the  general state of the game world.

Basically…a GM is engine on which your game is built and runs.

GMs run a game based on a published game world, with the maps and history already in place; like World of Darkness of D&D, or they build their own world and let their players live out their own original stories.

A good gamemaster draws the players into the adventure, allowing them to enjoy it .Providing an opportunity for everyone to have a good time. To be a good GM you need to have a quick mind, sharp wits, and rich imagination.

You also need to be able to maintain game balance: hideously overpowered monsters or players are no fun.

Generally speaking, there are four major "hats" a GM needs to be able to wear:

Author: The GM plans out (in the loosest sense) the plot of the story of which the Player Characters will become protagonists; puts together the setting, populates the world with antagonists and other NPCs, and creates any necessary backgrounds, motivations, plans and resources the story needs.

Director: During the game, while each of the other players typically controls the actions of one of the Player Characters, the GM decides the actions of everything else everywhere…entire towns, herds of animals, weather…literally everything that the PC’s do not directly do, is the responsibility of the GM.

The GM may also choose to play an "NPC" that travels with the party, but this may occasionally be open to abuse since the Game Master having a "pet" NPC may compromise his neutrality. You also risk getting into a “Mary Sue” mindset…and that is no go. I do not recommend a GM-PC for anything more than very short periods, or if the story really calls for it.

Referee: In most Tabletop RPGs, the rules are there to help resolve conflicting situations (avoiding the classic "Bang! you're dead!"/"No, you missed!" quandary). As the GM, you need to provide to know the rules of the game you are running, and make any necessary interpretation of those rules in fuzzier situations. A lot of GMs also add House Rules in order to cover recurring issues orjust to provide a different gaming experience.

I do this a lot on D&D type games…I have an entire set of house rules to make my D20 games more fun for me as a GM. Most of them are out of books like Unearthed Arcana, but with a few adjustments. But, either way, if makes the rules fit the type of story I like to tell and ads those little elements I find really fun.

Manager: The least officially prescribed portion of GMing, and thus the part that takes people the most by surprise. The GM is typically the one to organize the game in the first place, find players, schedule sessions, and figure out a place to play.

You also sometimes need act as a mediator, balancing the needs and desires of all group; and sometimes you may even feel like you have to divine the real desires of indecisive or self-deluded players.

All too often, especially among younger players just getting into gaming, you end up with a power trip player, or someone that just cannot make up their mind about what they want out of the game. It can be really tough, again, especially on younger GM’s just getting into it, to deal with “problem players”.

Every player needs different things and not all players are going to fit in every game. There is a lot of work that goes into just working a game to fit the group you have. A lot of time, I set out to run a new game with 4 super-heroes, and by the end, I have one hero and four sidekicks…don’t be afraid to focus on great players, and let the others find their place. Don’t ignore them…but sometimes you run a game that just doesn’t appeal to everyone, or maybe their character takes a different direction than you would have expected.

And that brings me to my next topic…but before I get to that, I need to pay a couple bills real quick so bear with me!

If you’re a geek, and I know you are if you’re listening to this show, then you need to check out Geek Fan Expo!

Geek Fan Expo is an all-inclusive omni-Geek-Fan Experience. Including programming from all walks of Geekdom, we’ve designed the experience around you. And together with you, we are building the next generation of hotel convention by bringing geeks of every type together to share a truly inclusive, social fan experience.

Our interactive program tracks focus on quality entertainment and high production value. GFX  features destination event like the 24 hour video gaming room provided by Dead State Pavilion, and the GenCon Games Library, one of the largest table-top gaming library’s in the world. We will have topical discussion panels and workshops featuring local makers, top shelf voice actors, and authors. And of course we have some of the best vendors and artist exhibitions, contests, the GFX bubble-gum Girls, Cosplayers, and oh so much more!

GFX  will be at the doubletree hotel in Dearborn Michigan September 5th 6th and 7th, 2014 and tickets are on sale now at www.geekfanexpo.com; use promo code IRNerdivore and get 20% the ticket price just for listening to our show!

Follow GFX on Facebook and twitter @geekfanexpo.

Tell all your friends, tell random folks on the street, climb tall buildings and shout it to the world…spread the word and let’s make GFX 2014  a huge success!

Ok…back to the show!

The "Prep" GM

There are really two kinds of GM’s when you boil it all down; there is the “Preper” and the “Winger” Both types have their ups and downs, and sometimes you may change what type you are depending on the story, players, or even your commitment to the story you are telling.

Now, I’m not saying one is better than the other, and I have been both kinds…but generally I am a “Winger”. Some people call it the “lazy GM method”, but I prefer to think of it as the “on the fly” style of storytelling.

But, let’s talk about the “Preper” GM a little before we get to deep into intricacies of “Wingers”.

As a preper, there are 4 major things you need to be able to handle. It can be a lot more work than a “Winger”, but you can also often tell a much more compelling and direct story.

So…step 1.  Have a plan.

This can be difficult at first but it is usually the most important step to take in making a game good. A lot of new GMs will try to come up with a story on the fly, and maybe some of them can do it well, but for most it just doesn't work.

It quickly leads to inconsistencies and lose of direction. You story suffers, your players get listless, and you end up never finishing your story. Trust me on this one. I have been there many times.

Instead you should come up with a fairly basic plotline, something that your group can easily get behind, like having party investigate cave for ancient treasure. Something you can easily build on. Come up with few different scenarios and tie them together. Its a good idea to plan the forest not the trees; Meaning that you should plan the overall story but be less concerned with the individual events that may occur.

Don’t forget that, as a GM, it’s your job to run the ENTIRE world, so try not to get to detail oriented. Write something that makes scenes but don’t write yourself into a corner by having things so spelled out that your players can really muck it up.

And that brings us to step 2: Be prepared to change the plan.

There is an old saying: No plan survives first contact with the enemy. Player Characters are by their very nature unpredictable. No matter how well planned your scenario might be, I guarantee they will do something you hadn't prepared for.

Sometimes they can screw your whole campaign up with one flip remark, poor decision, witty comeback or crazy die roll. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare for that in advance.

How do you plan for the unexpected as a storyteller?

Well, for one thing, try to avoid linear plot structures. Rather than writing it so that your party goes to Mordor, defeats Thoth-Amon, and rides back to Waterdeep with the Triforce, you can try having floating objectives.

Floating objectives are possible quests that your party is merely aware of but under no direct compulsion to complete. By giving them several to choose from they can come and go from them as they please. This allows you, the Game Maste,r to not have to work at keeping the player characters from straying too much .It also gives the players a greater illusion of free will.

The more a player feels they are making the choice, the more they feel their character is real. If you railroad the story, players begin to just think of their characters as avatars in a video game…and they can get that feeling from…well...video games.

Using this, “Illusionary Sandbox” approach also has the added benefit of allowing the GM to drop one or more of these objectives on top of the players should the party go off in a tangent.

Step 3. Know your audience.

While in the end, you are telling your story, you need to remember that RPG’s are collaborative storytelling experience, and that means to a certain extent, it is your job to pander a little; to play to the crowd if you like.

Coming up with a complicated and intricate plot is all fine and dandy, but if your players don’t like it then it won't be fun for you either. If you love intrigue and investigation and keep putting clue finding missions in your game, don't be surprised if your hack and slash type players get bored.

Maybe you enjoy strategic combat and always put challenging fights in your game, but your players prefer in-depth character role-playing.

Different people get different things out of role-playing, and so you need to spend some time getting a sense of what your player's want. Experimentation is always a good idea, but once you find something that doesn't work, don't keep using it. If you make your players happy you will have a good time as well.

There is a great resource in the World of Darkness books…I think Palladium also has something, and I know L5R and 7th Sea do…but it’s basically a questionnaire that you have your players fill out. It helps you get into the minds of your group and build the type of game they want around the game you want.

And lastly, Step 4. Stay in charge.

No matter how good a relationship you may have with your players, there will probably come a time when y’all disagree. More likely someone will have a problem with the way you handled an in game incident. It can be tough to decide who is right in these instances.

The short answer is always: you are. It’s ultimately your story, and you have final say over any in game dispute, and thus no matter what the rules say, you are the one who has to decide what goes down in your game. Remember that, more often than not you’re the only person that can see the forest through the trees, and are the only one that really knows is best for the overall story. Just remember not too abuse your privilege. Keep in mind that you need to be fair and respectful if you want to keep your players from leaving

Ok…I need to take another little break cause the lights are getting dim, and that means I need to pay them bills!

So, before we go any further, let’s take a quick minute talk about how you can help us out. If you like what you hear, and you want to support the show, you can go to IRNerdivore.com and click on our Amazon banner at the top of the page; it’ll take you to same old Amazon.com and lets you shop just like you normally would; the only difference is, you buy something, and Amazon gives a little back to us so that we can go all “Tom Bodet” and keep the lights on for you!

You get all the same great stuff, and you’re helping us out at the same time! Win-Win!

Now…I’m not saying you to need  buy anything right now. You can just click the banner and bookmark the page to use when you DO shop at Amazon.com…easy as that!

Alright…let’s get back to what we came here to do!

"Off the Cuff"

“Preper” GMs sometimes spend hours and hours crafting a story, and the effect is often a really awesome set of scenarios and story elements that your players will never see. Railroading them is an option, but more often than not, the GM just has to scrap the work they did and start over.

The hardest part about being a prep heavy GM is all of the amazing stories you will never get to tell. It really can be devastating to work ethic of event the best GM’s. I know that in LARPing, this is something that almost always leads to major burnout, and that it really doesn’t take very long.

Now…I am very heavy handed in my prep style stories, but I had to learn how to be that way and to tell storied that everyone enjoyed in that style, despite the lack of real freedom. For me though, the real joy of GMing comes from Winger style games.

It’s really hard on me to write super awesome, intricate stories that the players are gonna miss anyway. I've done the carefully crafted story thing…and sometimes I still find myself over writing, but frankly, I generally don’t bother to invest the time anymore, and I have WAY more fun GM.

Players don’t generally need all those deep, intricate plots either. You don’t need to try and impress your players with your storycrafting, you just need a little faith in ability to run a game "off the cuff". And it really isn’t as hard as people make it out to be sometimes.

I get that coming to the table with nothing more than a handful of NPCs and some vague ideas and staring at 3 or 4 people that are expecting you to entertain them can make you feel a little like you are about to ride a barrel over Niagara Falls, it’s a  completely unjustified fear.

Sure, you may need a little more wit, a dash more cunning and a distinct acumen for BS that you otherwise wouldn’t need if you prepped a little more…but there are tips and trick you can use to master “off the cuff” gaming.

Step One: The Campaign Idea

Just like I talked about before you need to have a basic premise for your campaign. The temptation here is to include loads of history and backstory that will make players' eyes glaze over. A lot of times the goal is to try to make the world, and the campaign, seem real by making it detailed so that players can really melt into your setting.

The problem is, nothing will make players feel more disconnected from their character, and thus the world, than the feeling that everything is completely alien, they have nothing to hook them into the world, nothing to relate too.

Save yourself some time and effort, rather than explain all the intricate details, steal them from media that the players are familiar with. Instead of explaining the elaborate politics of your nation of bored, decadent nobles, just say "Montainge is basically Alexander Dumas’ Three Musketeers era France" or "This character is more or less Hamlet".

There's nothing wrong with explaining the Hyborean nation of Stygia as "basically Egypt, except they worship an evil snake god, commit human sacrifice, and use super evil dark sorcery". Sure, there's more to it than that, but the players don't need to know every little detail right now.  You just need to hook them. They’ll explore more on their own, and you can feed them the information they NEED to know as they need to know it.

These things are all tropes, dense nuggets of information you can convey by engaging in a common frame of reference. Go ahead and straight up give you players a list the TV shows, books, and/or movies they can use to build a frame of mind for you campaign/

You then establish the premise of your game the same way. "This game is going to be kinda like Firefly. You guys are be smugglers just trying to make a living, free from the long arm of Johnny Law." Instantly your players know what kind of people they'll be roleplaying.

Step Two: The Plot

You don't really need one. Actually, you don’t even really want one. Once you have your premise, you’re basically done. If you know the game's premise is "rebels fighting the Evil Empire", then that's all you should write. Don't get swept up fleshing out the ways the players can thwart the Evil Empire. That's their job.

It sounds super lazy right…I prefer to call it “Sandboxing”. In Games like MineCraft, you can have thousands of hours of fun just running around doing what you want right…this is the same thing. You are giving the players a black canvas and reacting to them as they try and fulfill their characters goals and motivations.

All you really need to do is figure out who the movers and shakers of your Evil Empire are: a sorcerer-king, his apprentice, the arrogant military commander. Give a little extra thought here. Give them personal goals. What do they want? What kind of things will they be doing in the setting to get what they want? Keep it simple, but make do enough that you can feel their desires. These are your storytellers, and the more real they are to you, the more real they are to your players.

I suggest writing them up like a PC, with a character sheet and a few bullet points to fill out their personalities in quick reference form. Maybe your Darth Vader character has a few motivations like:

  • Wants to destroy kill all the Jedi
  • Wants to recover the plans to the Empire's secret weapon
  • Wants to finds his long lost son and convince him to join the Empire.

That's enough for now. There could be subtext, like maybe his loyalty to the Evil Emperor isn't as secure as it seems, or he isn't yet aware his son is alive (and is one of the PCs)... but that can be figured out organically in play if you really want.

Muse on what kind of things they'll do to accomplish those plans. Maybe, he would capture a Princess who is a secret member of the rebels and torture her to find out where the plans are. Maybe the Princess is an NPC whose goal is to hide the plans.

You build your basic plans around things like this. Just like I talked about earlier with the “preper” GM, you get a few quick scenarios in your mind, but now, rather than having your players go from one scenario to another, this way things are always moving and scenarios are always changing based on what the PC’s do or don’t do.

Let me warn you now though, never fall in love any of your NPC’s. Chances are they will die in a painfully anticlimactic way the first chance your PCs get. You can always make another one if you need to. As I used to say when GMing for the LARP: Crunch all you want, I’ll make more.

Remember that the PC’s are the focus of the story, not the NPC’s.

Step Three: Getting the PCs involved.

When it's game time, you show up with your NPCs and their goals, from which you've come up with a few story hooks. The next thing to do is to screw by jabbing them with those hooks.

You need to know your players, and their characters. Take a look at their character sheets. See what kind of skills, talents, hindrances, and backstory the Players have come up with and use them all against them.

This is where your quick creativity needs to come into play…but it’s not as hard as you think.

Let’s say one of your PC’s has a background where he lives on a farm with his family? Maybe your bad guy sends some troops to find the plans. They question, torture, and kill the PC's family. Oops!

You have a second PC with the disadvantage of "Enemy". Maybe it’s some gangster that he owes money to. So you have one the gangster's goons put some pressure on, then you dangle a money making opportunity in front of him. He can choose to take the bait or not...players choice

The point is, the players already did a lot of the work for you. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE games that have disadvantages and flaws, and things like that. It lets the players more or less tell you exactly what they want to be important to their characters story. All you have to do is have your NPCs' twist, abuse and otherwise stomp all over those things. You get to leave big fat bloody footprints all over your players characters hopes, dreams, loved ones, and possessions. Then sit back and enjoy the show!

I once read in a book by John Wick…at least I think it was John Wick, the guiding light of all my GMing…ever. Players what their characters to be beaten, kicked, stomped on, slashed, torn, burned, battered, bruised and dragged to within an inch of death, and they will love every second of it, so long as they win in the end.

But…what if the players don't bite at any of your plot hooks? That's ok. They don't have to…but just because the PC’s don’t want to do anything, doesn't mean your NPC’s need to sit around with their thumbs in their bums. Let the consequences of inaction catch up to them. If the PC’s are in sitting around a fire pit in town and hear tell of an wizard nearby building an army of mindless automatons, and they decide not to do anything about it, then they don’t get to bitch when they have to fight their way out of the city through hordes of baddies, or when all their stuff is destroyed when the wizard orders the town to be put to the torch.

Nothing motivates players to get involved like taking their stuff.

All the while, as you are planning your consequences, you can keep presenting the PCs with new hooks. As story ideas come to you, you can give players the choice of what elements they want to follow. Let them be proactive and come up with their own story hooks, if they're exceptionally creative players.

The key is to keep your world in a constant state of motion. Eventually your players will learn that while they can impact the world, the world is not sitting around waiting for them to interact with it. It's not an MMO where the contact stands there with a yellow exclamation point over his head until someone clicks on him. It's a living breathing world with powerful people doing powerful things that might well destroy the things that are important to player characters.

Of course…this does mean that the players actually have to write real characters and not just a conglomeration of faded penciled stats on a piece of Cheetos stained paper. Once again, the character questionnaires are a great big help here. Take an entire gaming session to sit with your players and talk about their characters. Don’t just hand them the questionnaire to fill out, ask them the questions out loud and open a dialogue with the player and get them really thinking about the character they are gonna play.

It’s also a great way to kill a few days while you come up with your first wave of hooks.

And don’t be afraid to steal ideas from everywhere. Adventure modules might be seem too linear given that it really is a lot of work to read the whole thing and know it, and get things rolling, especially when you know the players are going to go off the rails anyway, sometimes it may be just what you need if the PCs decide to sneak into the dungeon of the Evil Overlord.

Step Four: Keeping the ball rolling

The great thing about this whole process is that you never had to write an adventure. You didn't need to prep a scenario. You don't need to start up the train engine and get everyone aboard the railroad. You just kick the crap out of the things the PCs care about with your NPCs then let them figure out what to do about it.

More than that, once the PC’s get rolling, all you need to do is react to them!

But…it’s not all cupcakes and peach schnapps at the “prick” GM celebratory party.

What do you do when the PC can't decide what course of action to take, or disagree on how to proceed?

Easy: Do almost anything! Put the pressure on. It doesn't matter what really, just do something that stirs the pot. It doesn't even need to make sense: I guarantee the players will make sense out of it. Just do something to push the players into making a decision, taking an action, anything. Get them moving and the story will follow.

This isn’t the same thing as what the “preper” GM does. The “preper” has a hook or scenario ready to go, ready to drop on the players at a moment’s notice to get them back on track. In the “Winger” model of GMing you're just pushing them into deciding to do SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter what they do so long as they do something.

If they choose to do nothing, there should be consequences of inaction. You are basically punishing the characters for their impotence. Negative reinforcement really does work. Maybe the Minos Tirth has the forces to drive the Orc horde...maybe not. The PCs can change the tide of the battle either way by the choices they make. If they decide they want to abandon the city to its doom... let them. If they want to go try to negotiate with the Sauron or even join him, let them.

The biggest difference between a “Winger” GM and a “Preper” GM is that, as a “Winger”, it’s not really your story…it’s the PC’s story. You just give the players a sandbox to play in by creating a world and NPCs that demand stories happen. What those stories are about, and how they end, is out of your hands.

You are a reactionary element, the matrix fighting back against Neo.

Step Five: Ending the Campaign

So…obviously this can result in never ending games that fade into obscurity as people’s lives change. You run the risk of unresolved endings and a paralyzing lack of closure. There will come a point when you will start to lose sight of the world, and regardless of size and scope of the sandbox, sooner or later it gets dark and the kiddies get tired.

That’s when you need to put the campaign to bed.

This is a tricky thing to do though. Without a substantive plot driving the story, it's hard to know exactly how the story is supposed to end.

There are always thing you can do escalate the conflict towards resolution, so long as the players still have goals. The secret to GMing this sort of style is that you kind of have to start at the end. You kinda need to know what you want the end of the game to be, and direct your NPC’s towards that end. The PC’s should follow…and with the right pressure applied at the right times, you can get them to where you want them in the end.

The final showdown should be a do-or-die chance for the characters to attain their most difficult and long term goal, or to stop the NPC’s from obtaining theirs. It needs to be that epic, once in a lifetime moment where the stars align perfectly for them. If they need to recapture their lost throne, give them an army. If they want to find a mythic lost treasure, let them be contacted by a scholar with an ancient map. You should be guiding them through a story that allows them to finally reach out and try to seize their fondest dream.

And then…let the dice fall where they may.

The Safety Net

So…where is the safety net in all of this? Why don’t you need a bunch of elaborate notes, intricate plots, and fantastic story ideas?

Because you have the players...Seriously, this is the very best, most overlooked resource a GM can ever have. Generally you have at least 3 or 4 other creative imaginations sitting around the table with you, and they are brimming with ideas. Use them.

Trust your players to come up with their own plans, plots and resources. Trust them to plug the holes in the plot (of which there will be many). Get them talking around the table about what they think is going on. If they have a better idea of a way to do something than you do…use it.

My single greatest talent as a GM is being able to see a story that someone else created, and twisting it just enough that they don’t really know what’s coming next. If you get stuck, as the players what they think, just to get the ball rolling again. As the GM you want the players to trust you, but that trust should go both ways.

There are a few ways to build trust with your players

Say "Yes”.

There is a saying in gaming, "say yes or roll ". It's really good advice. Remember that you job as a “Winger GM” is to keep the story moving, so if something the players say sounds good, just say Yes. Yes moves the game forward. When a player asks a question, it's because they have something in mind. If they ask if the bridge made of wood, chances are have a plan where the bridge being wood is important. Saying "yes" lets the player keep that momentum and do the work of keeping the game moving.

Rolling the dice is what you do when both "yes" and "no" could move the game forward, so the answer is arbitrary: either one is good for the story. At that point, let the player roll for it. This puts the power of the story back in their hands. If a decision is going to be arbitrary, it might as well be arbitrary via the game mechanics. Let the PC make a skill or attribute roll with a success being a "yes" and a failure being a "no". Let the dice fall where they may, and make the players deal with the consequences of their roll.

Another option, and one I really prefer, is to have a “drama die” or “story point” system where the PC’s have the option to spend flip something, or give-up or spend something that just allows them to change the story in their favor in some small way. It feels less arbitrary and gives the players the sense that you actually want them to take those creative steps.

Players can be NPCs too

As the GM, most of your time is spent playing NPCs, either roleplaying or rolling dice. Give a player that isn’t in a scene a chance to play the NPC for you. It gets someone that otherwise wouldn’t be doing anything in a scene a chance to be involved, and if gives you a chance to get more story without having to think it up. You never know what the other person is going to say.

You can have them roll for their minions too! While you're at it, let them control those minion NPCs in combat, too. You can always overrule them if you're afraid they'll send them to the meat grinder, but you would be surprised at how sadistic a lot of players can get when turned loose on their normal allies.

Putting it all together

In the end, it all comes down to faith. You need to have faith in your own creativity, and in your players desire to be a part of that creativity. You may have an adversarial role to play; you and your players really share a common goal, to have fun.

There will be times when players whine and complain, and you may think that they want to just walk over everything for the easy win…they really don't. Like I said before…they want to be beaten, kicked, stomped on, slashed, torn, burned, battered, bruised and dragged to within an inch of death, and they will love every second of it, so long as they win in the end. They may not even consciously know that they want to be punished, but players are masochistic, they want to be challenged.

If you take nothing else away from this podcast…take this: beaten, kicked, stomped on, slashed, torn, burned, battered, bruised and dragged to within an inch of death, make a great big show of trying to break them, but know they have immeasurable faith in the end they WILL win.

It’s all about collaborative storytelling. You will get as much, if not more; out of a well-run game than your players ever will. Help the players help you tell a story they want to play. Secretly they want to be almost broken, and secretly you want them to win.

Neither of you will ever let the other see behind the curtain…but you both know the unspoken rule of the dice…RPG’s are a partnership. They know that they must be made to suffer, and they know you will allow them an opportunity to win. Maybe they’ll win…maybe they won’t but so long as feel that they told a good story doing either, they will leave with a smile on their faces and you will know you did your job right.

It’s a hell of a feeling to be a GM when a good story ends…honestly, I would much rather be a GM than a player anyday.

Alight, well…we can start wrapping this thing up!

We want to bring you the best possible show every week, and so we need to hear from you. Give us your thought about any of the things we talked about today, any show ideas you would like to hear us talk about, or rants about what we got wrong, or ways to make the show better.

You can leave us a voicemail online by going to www.irnerdivore.com and clicking on the icon on the right side of your screen, record you message, and we’ll listen to it; and who knows, we  might even share it with the rest of our listeners right here on the show. You can also email your questions, comment and concerns to podcast [at] IRNerdivore [dot] com, and I will personally read every single email. I may not respond to all of them…but if we get some good ones, we will talk about them here on the show.

Don’t forget to tell two of your friends about the show, and have them tell two friends and their two friends…and so on and so forth on down the road. Help us get the word out about this show!

And on that note, that should about do it for us here at the wandering-pod-studio. On behalf of myself, my guests, and everyone here at The Quest…”so long and thanks for all the fish”!

The post Being the GM appeared first on The Quest.

Facebook Comments
Post Your Comment
Upcoming Events
< 2018 >
February 19 - February 25
  • 19
    No events
  • 20
    No events
  • 21
    No events
  • 22
    No events
  • 23
    No events
  • 24
    No events
  • 25
    No events
Subscribe
Recent Posts
Archives
©2017 Studio Tembo | All Rights Reserved. All games, brands, and their logos and content are trademarks of their respective owners in the United States and other countries. All Rights Reserved. This Web site is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or specifically approved by any organization, publisher, retailer, or their parent companies.