Brief Game Master Pointers

[Cross-posted, originally posted on Canadian Geek]

I’ve got a few administrative items to pass along this month that I’ll pass along before we get to the meat and potatoes. Firstly, I’m going to add something to the end of my columns – a few game recommendations. These titles are likely going to be games I’ve never played and have barely read through, but something about them caught my eye. I hope some of these turn out to be gems in your collection. The second item is to blatantly self promote – if you’ve never RPed before, or if you just haven’t been able to find a group, be sure to check out the Edmonton Gamers’ Association. You can check them out on Meetup, which will tell you about all the events they have planned (There’s one this weekend, March 8th!).

With that taken care of…here’s a few pointers for new Game Masters.

Game Master Tips

The first two pieces of advice I’d give to new GMs are:

  • Plan out your session beforehand. Know where you plan on taking the adventure.
  • Don’t plan out your session beforehand.

Of course, I’m sure you realize these points contradict each other. Let me explain what I mean in a bit more detail. For most GMs, just making stuff up as they go just does not work, you’ll end up forgetting something and your players will call you on it. You need to have an idea of what the goal of the adventure is. Know some of the details of how the characters go from point A to point B. But…don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Players hate ‘box canyons’ with one direction of travel. They will find a way to break your intended path. So, don’t plan everything. Make multiple-plan ideas. Think of one or two alternate paths that can be chosen to get to the end goal. Sometimes, they’ll think of something you never thought of. You’ll have to make that up – but take personal notes of what you’re telling players. It will help you later on.

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