View Full Version : Good GM advice/tips/sights?

2011-07-27, 10:56 PM
I just recently got all the Monsters and other Childish Things books and am planning on making a quick one shot for people who co-host a radio show I do. The problem is I have never GM'ed before. I've been listening to podcasts and reading these forums for tips on how to GM but its just quicker and easier to ask.

Do y'all have any specific tips/advice for new GMs? also y'all know any good websites?

I'm kind nervous because 1) Its my first time GMing (redundant department of redundancy.) and 2) One of the guys loves RPGs, one is a fan but never like playing, and the other played and hated them.

Thanks for the help. If anyone needs more info on Monsters I can explain it to y'all.

2011-07-27, 11:03 PM
Well, be flexible is my best advice. Players outnumber you and might come up with things you couldn't. Roll with good ideas.

2011-07-27, 11:44 PM
1) Play to your strengths. I never plan out a session beforehand, and being a theatrical improviser, I can handle pretty much anything my players throw at me. Not everyone can GM off the cuff like that. Likewise, sometimes people plan everything down beforehand, and the session comes off like they're reading from a book, with no room to handle the player's innovations. Try and find a balance that you're comfortable with, and I'm sure you're aware of the truism that you'll never be able to anticipate everything that your players do, so try and give them as much leeway as possible, and if they're at all charitable they should extend you the same.

2) Don't get discouraged. You're first session will probably start off pretty rough. My players have told me that I'm the best GM they've ever had, and we frequently hit patches in our games where it feels like its grinding to a halt, I'm doing everything wrong, and no-body's having any fun. The key is that's just my perception, and when I tough it out and keep going with the story, or whatever side story they've invented, or just stop and make Monty Python references for five minutes, everything continues on like beautiful. Fight the urge to decry yourself as the worst GM ever and just give up when things get rough, and your players will be more likely to stick out the patches that are tough for them too.
That said, it's important to keep the flow of a session. Rules may come up that you don't know. Someone might have a question about the setting that you don't know, or a comment that the laws of physics don't work that way. If play stops for more than a minute or so as you shuffle through piles of notes and research, stop, make something up, and keep playing. There's no need to be dishonest about it either, just tell them you'd rather sort out the detail later so you can game now, and make a call. So long as you're willing to acknowledge that you were wrong later, they shouldn't have a problem with that.

3) Try and gauge what your players expectations are, if any, right off the bat, and make any of your own equally clear. In-depth, in-character roleplaying, lighthearted fun and zany capers are all fun, but not necessarily all in the same campaign. Frustrations will run a lot higher if people feel like they're having to compete with one another, out of game.

4) Have fun. Obvious, but important none-the-less. Your attitude will likely set the tone of the sessions, so be serious and in character while you're playing, and when people start cracking jokes and breaking character, go with it and everyone will have a lot more fun.

2011-07-27, 11:57 PM
I second everything that's been said so far. In addition:

5. Remember that the PCs are the main characters. They are the ones who should be saving the village/kingdom/world/etc. Do not make them spectators to your NPCs who get to do all the cool stuff.

6. Know your players. Try to get a feel for what each of them is looking for in the game, and do your best to provide for each of them. Maybe one guy wants his character to be a total combat badass. Try and give him that chance, without letting the others feel overshadowed. Maybe another wants to start his own thieves' guild/church/druid circle/knightly order. Let him do it, but don't let that take over the game unless everyone is on board.

7. Fun is the primary goal, for you as well as the players. Fun comes before everything else - story, characters, balance, rules, whatever. If everyone is having fun, you're doing it right. If someone is not having fun (yourself included), try to figure out why and do what you can to fix that.

2011-07-28, 12:14 AM
1. Kill a player right off the bat. That way everyone knows death is an option.

2. Kill a player right at the end so the session ends on a sufficiently dramatic note.

3. Do steps one and two every session.

Give options. (And not pick A, B, or C options. Like, open ended problems that reward creativity.)

Fish around with your players. If it seems like they are getting bored make things harder. If it seems like they are getting frustrated give them something to blow through and feel like BAs.

Remember old school spiderman comics? Most issues had some character interaction, some personality development, a little bit of problem solving and investigative work without fighting, and action. The majority of fights were an uphill battle. The villian is usually stronger then spiderman. They were difficult fights and the odds were against our hero. He would win either through luck, determination, or clever tactics and outside the box thinking. But every sixth issue or so Peter would kick the crap out of the bad guy to relieve stress and remind us that spiderman is still cool and strong.

As yourself if the session would make a good spiderman comic.