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Author Topic: Recommendations for gamemasters/narrators/directors/...  (Read 2639 times)
Don Lag
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« on: July 10, 2002, 08:15:16 PM »

Hi, a local group for gamemasters has formed in my town and one of the iniciatives they have is preparing gamemastering tutorials for newcomers to the game.

Since I've found this forum to be a sort of sanctuary for more enlighted ideas regarding roleplaying, I can think of no better place to query for resources regarding valuable gamemastering skills.

Of course I'll scan through this topic (Actual Play), and any helpful references I can find in the resource library, but if anyone is aware of an especially helpful website (or other material) then I'd be more than thankful for learning it's location.

:)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2002, 08:40:43 PM »

Hi Sebastian,

This is going to sound terrible, but there is absolutely nothing I can tell you.

Why not?

1) The very term "Game Master" encompasses a huge variety of social and procedural roles in this hobby. Even breaking it up into "Narrator" or "Guide" or whatever other terms has not helped.

2) The variety among GNS modes alone is enormous, and when you add to that the various different rules that enforce different stances, or when you consider the narration-switching that goes on in many games, or when you think of the difference between character-rich or setting-rich play ... it's boggling.

Answering questions like this requires a lot more focus in the question. A generalized "What makes a good GM" article would be - in my view - worthless from the start.

Best,
Ron
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2002, 08:53:52 PM »

I'm going to totally hijack this thread. I completely agree with Ron. However, I think we might gain some interesting techniques and ideas from seeing what makes people on the Forge good GMs - that is, what do you do to prepare?

I think for this to work, though, we'll need to be very upfront: tell us what types of games you play, what you aim for, and the most common stances in your games when you reply.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Don Lag
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« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2002, 09:01:07 PM »

Thanks, both of you.

Even though I agree with Ron's point (the question is too general), I think Clinton's proposal would be of enourmous help for newcoming "gamemasters" and is very much in the spirit of what I was looking for.
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Clay
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Posts: 550


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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2002, 04:08:34 AM »

1. Know the NPCs, including how they're likely to react to certain
   things, and how they are tied to other NPCs and the player
   characters.

2. Have a map.  It doesn't need to be to scale, and will probably work
   better if it isn't.  But know where the important places are for
   your story, and know how you're going to set the atmosphere in
   those places.  Done properly, these places can really do a lot for
   your game.

3. Figure out what's important to your players/characters.  The
   character that they built will help you get a good idea of the
   kinds of stories that are going to interest them.  Watch what they
   do in-game as well; that will help you figure out what's going to
   make it tick for them.

4. Figure out what encounters are likely to happen, based on what you
   know about the characters and NPCs already. Don't plan them in
   detail, because the players aren't going to do things exactly as
   you planned anyway, but have a rough idea of what the setup is
   going to look like.  Don't be disappointed if they don't happen, or
   if they don't happen the way you planned.  Plans are made solely
   for the purpose of changing.  If you have a plan, when the things
   out of your control change, you know how to adjust the things that
   are in your control.

5. Make sure that everyone has a story that engages and interests
   them.  The Kicker technique from Sorcerer works well to generate
   this, but most players are good at dealing with a story that's
   handed to them, so long as they have a hand in shaping it.  It
   doesn't even have to be a big story.  The important thing is that
   everyone has a story where they're the central figure.

6. Don't try to dive directly into the story on the same night that
   you generate characters.  I like to have a little shakedown run
   with new characters and new systems, so that we can all get a feel
   for the game world and our specific characters.  From that I can
   tell a little more about what's likely to work for the game.

I don't profess to be the world's greatest GM, but these are the things that I do when I run a game. It's when I haven't done these things that I run into trouble. If I remember them all, then I usually have a good game.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2002, 06:13:19 AM »

All good stuff Clay.  I'd append / expand on, the following

Don't play the game for your players.  THEY are the protagonists of the story not you.  Being a good GM requires realizing that you are NOT the star of the show, they are.  Every opportunity should be given to enhance their performance.

Be prepared.  Preparation does not mean script out everything and have every encounter detailed in advance.  That type of preparation is essentially the GM playing the game for the players.  Protagonists by definition drive the story.  If the PCs are protagonists (and they should be) the players should be in the drivers seat.  This will generally mean alot of improv by the GM.  Improv is MUCH easier when its rehersed.  Sounds like an oxymoron, but most of the best improv artists are constantly running lines and routines and pieces of routines through their head to be ready to deliver on the spur of the moment.  Know the PCs, know the NPCs, know the locations and have thought about a number of "what ifs" in advance.  Its much easier to adapt one of your "what ifs" to what the players actually do than it is to invent them new.

IMO, the primary job of the GM is to convey color.  The GM is the eyes, and ears of the player.  He is the window into the world.  Mood, tone, flavor, must be facilitated by the GM.  This doesn't mean pages of prewritten purple prose.  But it does mean being aware of how people react, what tone of voice information is portrayed in, and what sorts of details are emphasized in descriptions.
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