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Gm Advice

Posted by Hal, 20 July 2013 · 1,202 views

history advice gaming rpg gm advice
Gm Advice It occurred to me a while ago that for as long as I have been gaming (and it has been a long time) I have been GMing.

I grew up in Cumbria in the UK and it was pretty rural and isolated. I was always interested in fantasy and sci fi and stumbled over roleplaying pretty early in my school life and managed to get hold of copies of ADnD and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (I'm not an old brown box grognard unfortunately - but I have gamed a lot).

When my friends and decided to give it a try we decided Warhammer looked the easiest option - I think the art was better and one of my friends was strong drawn to the giantslayer on the cover. We needed a GM so as owner of the book that responsibility fell to me - apparently.

Thus I ran my first game, the classic Oldenhaller Contract from the back of the main rulebook. As I recall it went pretty well and the party TPKed on the final encounter with the Nurgle sorcerer. Most of them were rotten with disease by that point anyway. It is a pretty unforgiving adventure to be honest.

I learned a few important lessons from that first session...
  • GMing was awesome good fun - I loved being able to tell the story without worrying what the main characters were going to do. It was like writing a book but without having to be overly concerned with the reactions of established characters.
  • GMing is hugely creative - Even when you are running a well written publish scenario, there are countless opportunities to personalize, adjust and inject your own things.
  • GMing is relaxing - I found that I was really able to relax into GMing. It all became about the story for me and I have continued to develop that focus over the years. Often I make calls to strengthen the story over the rules but then I can do that because I am the GM!
  • GMing is tiring - After a session of GMing, I often find my mind is buzzing with all kinds of things. It is hard to juggle so many things in your head all at once for such a long period of time but the feeling of doing it is amazing. If we play late, I can't even go straight to sleep after GMing. I have to read or watch TV for a while to let the buzzing in my head calm down.
I guess the purpose of the this blog is to act as a place where I can write out my experiences running, writing, recording and playing games over the years. I love all games, wargames to card games to board games to RPGs. I have spent innumerable hours sat at the gaming table and I want to be able to share what I have found.

Hopefully I can get to the meat of the issue without too much posturing or flowery language. This is a cool thing we are doing and it doesn't need any more reason for discussion than that. I am not one for being overly verbose but I can be thoughtful when offering advice.

And finally, I am happy to take questions about the secret and amazing art of GMing. In fact it would be awesome as it will mean I will have to think less about what topics to choose to write about...

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Reposted this as it seemed I became disconnected from it when we did the last import of users.

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Up-vote for the man who continually teaches me how to be a better GM!

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Did this ever become a recurring blog? Pity if it didn't, because I bet you're full of useful tips as a long-time DM. Could even open it up to other talented community member GMs for guest posts.

 

I'll throw out a few questions to get the ball rolling.

 

1) Any tips for adventure creation, specifically making them simple yet compelling? As a DM, I find myself trying to prepare so thoroughly for every possible outcome that I eventually end up with such a complex weave of plots and subplots (many that will likely never see the light of day) that not even I can keep them straight in the end. Is this a simple matter of overpreparation? How much do you prepare ahead of time for an average session?

 

2) How did you get so good at improvising NPC dialogue? Your characters are always distinct and never lacking for things to say. Do you just have the gift of gab or do you put a lot of thought into what these folks are like ahead of time? Any tips for getting in character/improvising?

 

3) Any tips on encouraging roleplay in games? It's something I try to do with my players by using voices and speaking to them in character when they deal with NPCs, but I'm often met with a lot of "I tell him 'yada yada yada.'" I know that some people will just never be comfortable putting themselves out there enough to REALLY get into character, but any tips on drawing them out would be immensely helpful.

 

Well, there are a few. If those questions aren't helpful, I'm sure I can come up with several dozen more. :) That's all for now. Hope this nearly year-old blog post someday gets a sequel!

 

~Hamfeast~

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It didn't sadly because I suck at blogging :) But I have some plans :)

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