The goodness is here. With this post I am going to hit the following topics to finish the 10 main points, or at least the ones that I think are important. the final four topics in this post is going to be:
- Grabbing and Holding Attention
- Don't let the rules get in the way
- don't try to relive the glory days
- know your limitations
7) Grabbing and Holding Attention:
Game masters have to hold the attention of a group, if we take that a step further we have to hold the attention of a group of individuals who although they are there for the same reasons have very different agendas and what they want out of the session. in addition that you will frequently have to be speaking to only a select number of them at any given time leaving the other ones to their own devices. This is a delicate balancing act and something that I want to point out some of my groups "I'm Bored" body language tells that I try to shift direction when I see it happen. Albeit usually unsuccessfully as the ones that I am working with are usually pretty into the story. The first one is not truly "body language" but will be a dead giveaway and that is crosstalk. If the players are talking OOC (out of character) then you probably spent to much time with your current focus. Try to change the focus onto those who are talking. if they missed something important I would make them squirm without the knowledge that they need, since this hopefully will be encouragement to curb the crosstalk. Another couple of tells that I have seen is Slouching, doodling or facebook. I know that all of these are normal when you are not the main focus and with electronic books and tools it has become harder to curb all of the things that can happen. To help curb this I have went as far taking experience away from the offending player, when it didn't curb it I took it away from the group. Neither of these options were terribly popular, it did work though.
To help this out a suggestion I have is the liberal use of Cliffhangers. Leaving a player hanging when an orc has him pinned down and a spear in his face, because you see a few of your other players are getting bored with the other players focus is fine in my opinion. you have to know what your audience/players level of tolerance is on this technique. Some players will absolutely hate it others will love it since then they can plot their next moves and they will be excited to start again. My thoughts are if it keeps people watching soap operas it can work to keep attention at the gaming table.
8) Don't let the rules get in the way:
player: I want to swing from the chandelier and take a shot at the head of the musketeer that I am fighting with my rapier.
Gamemaster: well there is no called shot rules, I didn't plan on the chandelier mattering either, so, NO, I don't think that I am going to let you do this. NO, NO, NO why don't you do something different?
Your players knowing the limits of the system that you picked will help prevent this scenario from occuring. As a gamemaster your job should be to facility the rules and to make sure that the game is entertaining. Making a decision on the fly is what a gamemaster has to do. Each system has some kind of on the fly response to these crazy or cinematic requests. Familiarize yourself with these rules! One game that does a great job of this is Burning Wheel. This is because of the rule of YES. I have seen some evidence to show that other games are trying to integrate this on the fly. almost needing to spell it out for some gamemasters to understand that this is an important factor for fun in a game. I suggest that you drop the you can't or no answers for an answer of yes, lets make a roll of... it has been a great change for my group.
9) Don't relive the Glory Days:
I am going to crush a lot of people with this advice. Don't try to capture the spark or fire of that one session while you were in high school, all of the stars aligned and everyone was clicking. That was then, we have to focus on the now. The glory days aren't over, they just changed. Your are creating the next Glory Day now. The other way to look at this is that if you are always looking backwards with rose colored glasses, you will not be looking forward to what you are doing now. This does NOT mean you can't revisit your roots. Honestly this is the rule that I am stuggling with myself. Try to think of this as more of a do as I say not as I do.
10) Know your Limitations:
These are the 10 tips and tricks that i feel are important, theorize important or I have used on my players. I hope that it makes your gaming experience better and i am going to continue writing more about gaming and game theory. I am planning on doing an article on improvisational skills, an important life skill and important for a gamemaster. Also an article on how to be a better player at the table. Thank you all for taking time to read my opinions and hoping that I can continue to write these articles for a long time coming.