Mastering the Game
2 Game sessions ago
Fire lord and Mind Maid's real world romantic conflicts prevented them from showing up to the session. The team leader is questioning your game master judgment and the adventure stalls due to lack of adequate preparation.
1 Game session ago
Your beefed up agents used their danger sense-universal detect-invisibility cloaks to sneak up and surprise the player characters. Dr. Destroyer's evil agents attack with variable effect laser gatling rifles that just happened to automatically adjust to each players disadvantage vulnerabilities.
Current game session
No one shows up to the game, but your phone rings off the hook. Each player conveniently supplies you with a litany of perfectly good reasons explaining why they can't play anymore. You are dumfounded by the response and decide to go back to sleep.
This is a very good example of what can happen with bad game mastering. After the heady euphoria of initiate game mastering wears off, one thing is for sure, you better know what you are doing. The interpretation and handling of various problematic issues epitomizes the purpose of game mastering. During the transition from novice to expert game master is when the myth of a GM fraternity and/or school surfaces. Searching for legendary and bizarre associations of GM gurus that will pass down the ancient secrets of game mastering, novice GM's have been known to seek out Tibetan monks in their desperation for advise. To date, no one has found the gurus and the monks won't return our calls. In lieu of an East Asian expedition, the array of elements presented here should help polish your skills and give you some of the confidence needed to succeed. In your decision to become a game master, you took on a big responsibility but the rewards are unique and bountiful. One of the greatest rewards a game master can garner is to successfully run a fun and memorable adventure. The rewards accrue as you, the GM, sit quietly in the background listening to the players recant spectacular events, engaging characters, and grand adventures as if they had read a great novel or seen a blockbuster movie. The event becomes that much more satisfying as you realize that the players are your friends and relatives with whom you've spent a great deal of quality time together. As a precursor to the academics of game mastering, remember that this source book is the beginning of the gaming experience, not the end. Use Dramatis Arcanum as an introductory reference to launch your own thoughts and ideas to greater heights. Game mastering is a complex skill that may in time develop into an art. The material presented here has been broken down into individual elements to promote an understanding of the fundamental basics. Game operation responsibility can be divided into two major pillars: direction and style. Direction is the skill of the
Just as actors are not the sum total of a stage production, players alone do not encompass all that a game master needs to run a role playing game. The director’s chair requires an ability to tell a story, speak in front of and handle a group, perform calculations, make rule judgments and to do it all at the same time. Know what you’re getting into before the game starts so you can try to bring as many successful elements into play when you host a game. With stage and company established, all that remains is to find a director’s chair and put it at the head of the table.
game and style is the flair of story. Each pillar has been divided into crucial elements that must be combined to implement the appropriate function. All the elements of game mastering overlap and strengthen each other when used in concert. Weigh each principle against your own strengths and weaknesses to determine your existing abilities and learn at your own pace. Rather than immediately incorporate all of these concepts ad-nauseam, focus on supporting your weaknesses and develop a holistic game master technique. Over the course of time and experience, the mechanical aspects of game mastering will blend and the seamless presence of cognizant function will become artful. The art is an almost Zen like flow of game master and player minds coming together to create a fantastic story from the wellspring of aggregate imagination - - That is Game Mastering.
When you follow your bliss... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.
The Director's Chair
Tension filled the room like a thick fog, bringing all the players to dull angry simmer. Steeling your game master nerves, you peer over the protective screen at a hostile audience then glance down at the blank pad before you. A moment of silent confusion hangs in the air as your mind feverishly tries to recall adventure ideas only to be interrupted by weak sparks and puffs of light blue smoke slowly wafting from your ears. Images of your players warp and roll like heat exhaust off of hot pavement leaving you with queasy suspicion as they transmogrify into slavering beasts huddled amongst themselves planning to attack.
Private conversations build to a cacophonous crescendo in tandem with the thunder of tapping pencils and rattling dice. Paper bits and rubber bands fly about the room in chair to chair border skirmishes while empty cans and food debris pile to the ceiling. You can't hear...vision blurred...sweat rolls down your face, your throat swells and breathing becomes completely choked. The guttural growls of the feisty beasties on the other side of the table begin to chant, "boring, boring, boring!"
You snap awake.
Springing to a sitting position, you realize you are covered in real perspiration. Harsh reality stares you in the face as the realization of time clamps down on your chest like a big pink elephant that wants to use you as a footstool. Players will begin walking through your front door in half an hour!
Left unprepared for the game, the nightmare becomes reality.
The yearning to run a role playing game can hold as much draw and glamour as Hollywood's time honored director's chair but earning the right to sit in the chair takes more than some books and a megaphone. A game master functions very much indeed like a director. Game masters must pull together key elements of a story and effectively communicate them to the players. The GM also acts to enforce the role of a characters consistency and vigor as the game session progresses. More importantly, it is an endorsement by the players to liquefy imagination by pulling together an array of creative elements to orchestrate a grand adventure for everyone to participate.
While enjoying the presentation of the adventure material, players must interpret the setting, compare it with the construction of their characters, and interact with the prescribed environment. Judging the characters reactions and ensuing impact with the game environment, the GM must then play off the character's reactions, compare them against the course of the adventure and provide players with an updated status of the story...all with a little flair.
Taking all these variables into consideration, game mastering can be a tough prospect. Just when you think your handling of the players, their characters, and the story line begins to coalesce an unexpected foible will pop up and botch the whole game session. Akin to a runaway train, an improperly guided campaign can end in chaos and embitterment. Let's try to imagine the proverbial runaway train as the dream becomes reality for our super hero test group:
4 Game sessions ago
As a GM, you started the Champions adventure: Day of the Destroyer with grand designs on high adventure. Simultaneously, the team's energy projector, Fire lord, began his grand designs on dating Mind Maid, the mentalist.
3 Game sessions ago
Your "custom alteration" to the adventure resulted in a rules botch because you misruled and couldn't support your position or find it in the rule book. The situation worsened as you covered it up with a glibly contrived, "Doctor Destroyer's agents followed up behind your noble efforts, and repaired the doomsday satellites before you could have any effect on his evil plan."