Sunday, August 5, 2012
Being a better GameMaster pt.1
For the last 15 years or so i have been playing some kind of RPG (RolePlaying Game) I will admit that most of that time has been playing Dungeons and Dragons. Recently I have been trying to branch out into other games and listening to Podcasts to see how other Gamemasters run their sessions. What i wanted to share is what I have learned along the way. A number of the discoveries I will admit has been just recently figured out though and they are just theories at this time, as we haven't gotten to the table with them. they will be followed with (Theory) to make them easier to understand.
We all know that one amazing gamemaster, dungeon master or storyteller. sometimes this one person is elected by the group, out of necessity they become one. For whatever reason that you have donned this mantle we all know that it is often a thankless job and one that takes a considerable amount of preperation to make successful. here are some tricks that I have found to be useful and I am by no means a great GM.
Tricks to being a better gm:
1) Know your Audience/Players: This may come across as a common sense statement, it is one of the more easily overlooked processes though. when we as gamemasters sit down to begin creating our stories and our world we see the overarching stories we see grand battles and deep plots which twist and turn on themselves with hooks galore for the players to go on and get drug into our fantasy and stories. What really happens though is that we have a player at the table that is more into the combat or one that want to pursue a story of their creation within the world that you shaped. A book that i have read Robin's Law of Good Game Mastering has what I feel a majority of its writing directed towards figuring out the goals and motivations of what your players are.
2) Being over prepared is just as bad as under (theory): You have to know what works for you. I can't stress that enough. I have spent literal hours of prep work for one session. then when we went to the table we used a very limited amount of the prep work. this prep included specific dialogue with NPC's, which surprise surprise the players never talked to them. If instead you prepped the hooks that the players will find outwith a list of NPC names then you can quickly respond to what the players are looking for out of their game. This brings up the next point.
3) Your story, your work. Their Game: This is an idea that adopted from the book GURPS for Dummies. while some say that the book is not a great reference book for GURPS is does offer some insight to games. What it has given is me is that is the insight that a Gamemaster without players is just a person reading books and thinking up stories. Players without a gamemaster are just people hanging out. the best way that I have found to identify this is that it is not you vs. them it is the group of you choosing to hangout and putting together a story for the mutual benefit of all. Collective storytelling is in my opinion more rewarding experience.
With this I am going to stop on my list for now I will post another section of this article at a later time. let me know what you guys think.