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30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge

October 4, 2013

Over at the site Triple Crit, they are having a “30 Days of Gamemastering Challenge“. It’s not 30 days of gaming, but 30 days of blog entries talking about the ins and outs of the art of the GM. Very intriguing premise and one perfect for the Master of the Game project.

I’m a little bit behind, so I’m going to combine the first three entries in today’s blog post…

What Advice Would You Give a First-Time GM?

Know your setting better than you know the rules. The rules are important, but can improvised in a pinch and referred to later. Knowing the setting inside and out helps you describe a fully fleshed out world with consequences aplenty for character actions. Your players will appreciate it and it helps define the sandbox that you’re playing in.

Which brings me to my next point–don’t write linear adventures. They are too easy to become “plot trains” and your players are not going to follow the straight line anyway. Give them a scenario, a situation. Know the setting inside and out and then just see what happens and react to it accordingly.

Also…don’t be afraid to steal ideas from the players. Oftentimes they come up with much more interesting motivations for your villains than you did. Adjust your story accordingly.

What Are Your Favorite GMing Tools and Accessories?

First and foremost, I now always have my little notebook computer (aka the “Craptop”) set to Obsidian Portal so that I have NPCs, setting notes, etc. near to hand. It has proven to be an invaluable tool for my preparation. I can also make character adjustments “on the fly” when needed.

Also, a good set of screens help. In the past I’ve made my own screens with custom tables and setting-based information. These are extremely useful for a home-brew campaign. I’ve been using the manufactured Pathfinder GM screens for my current Pathfinder game and have found them to be pretty useful. I am also doing a Dresden Files RPG campaign that doesn’t use screens–and to be honest, I feel a little naked without them.

Finally–tylenol. Because GMs always live in interesting times.

How Do You Find Players?

This hasn’t really been a problem for me as I’ve had the same players for anywhere from 10-20+ years now.  Our participation waxes and wanes, but it’s been a pretty steady group. It’s also fairly tight-knit so new players may have a hard time integrating into the group. I don’t know because I’ve never had to try.

I have had a few people from places as remote (to me) as Michigan and Seattle want to participate in my games via Obsidian Portal. But, right now, we’re not interested in expanding the group or playing remotely.


So this is a fun challenge that I hope I can keep up with. Please feel free to comment or participate in the challenge yourself!

From → Tips and Tricks

  1. How could any of this be better stated? It coud’nlt.

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  1. Day 2: GM Tools & Accessories Roundup

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