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View Full Version : Hey GMs, where do you get your motivation?



valadil
2008-10-17, 01:43 PM
See title. No, I'm not talking about inspiration. I've got plenty of that. I'm just having trouble moving my ideas out of my head and into my notebook.

I'm GMing my group's next game. We typically rotate between a few GMs. Apparently the others need their break. I like being an every other game GM. Usually.

This time around though I don't feel the usual creative rush. It's more like "okay, here we go again." In the last 18 months I've only GMed a couple one shots, so I don't think I'm still burnt out from the last game, but I just don't have energy.

I'm doing all the passive and tedious prep work. I've been painting up minis color coded for different factions. I'm rereading the books(the game is set in GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire) and researching extra material online. I'm even documenting all the rules changes from standard d20. But I'm not writing a game campaign.

So, for the sake of my players someone please help me jump start this game!

BizzaroStormy
2008-10-17, 01:44 PM
My GM gets it from cattle prods and the fear that someone in our group can make peoples heads explode with their mind.

Other than that I'm not sure where he gets it.

Maxymiuk
2008-10-17, 01:46 PM
What motivates me is whenever after a session one or more players tell me "I hate you so much. Awesome game."

It's as simple as that.

RTGoodman
2008-10-17, 01:48 PM
Here's the way things work for me: If I want to play D&D, I'd better get to DMin', since no one else is gonna do it for more than a session.

Fax Celestis
2008-10-17, 02:02 PM
Put on music, preferably something epic and inspiring. Few-to-no words is preferable too. I prefer long songs on repeat, but a friend of mine who codes an online mmo (http://animecubed.com/billy/?Fax) prefers short trance songs on loop. Recently, I've been particularly fixated on Pink Floyd's Echoes and One Of These Days, and Liquid Tension Experiment's Three Minute Warning, but the important thing is that it's music you're familiar with, love, and can use as background noise and a focus aid.
Remove other distractions, such as AIM/ICQ/MSN/IRC/YIM/Jabber/GTalk/Meebo/Pidgin/WhatHaveYou. Ready your preferred documentation method: paper, MS Word, etc.
Start with a skeleton. This is centered on PrC creation, but the fundamental concept is the same: start with a general idea, and then build up specializations and specifics as you progress. Don't worry if things don't turn out the way you envisioned them initially.
Do the tedium first: that way, you'll have something to look forward to.
I find I do best when I plot by hand in a notebook, then do finalization and edits when transferring my ideas from paper to digital. A wiki (http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Fax_Encyclopedicus) is useful in this regard, as you can access it from nigh anywhere and keep a record of past versions and edits in the Page History, so if you want to go back to something you had previous, you can.
When creating an adventure or a setting, you can never have too many NPCs. Eventually, your PCs will want to talk to--or kill--someone who you haven't planned for them to, and you'll be glad you had some spare filler characters pre-prepared.

Lochar
2008-10-17, 02:03 PM
My motivation is that sick look from your player, as they go "Buh. Wha. How?" as every step they make forward they pay for with their sanity, as I slowly drive both player and PC insane.

valadil
2008-10-17, 02:03 PM
What motivates me is whenever after a session one or more players tell me "I hate you so much. Awesome game."

It's as simple as that.

That's what keeps me going once the game has started. We're still 2-4 weeks off from starting this one though.

Duke of URL
2008-10-17, 02:10 PM
The salty, yet sweet, tears of my victims players.

Calinero
2008-10-17, 02:12 PM
What motivates me? Imagining the look of terror on their faces...

Did I mention that I DM CoC? Yeah...

Piedmon_Sama
2008-10-17, 02:13 PM
DMing is kind of like writing a novel, which I've always wanted to do, only it's easier because you don't have to drive the action. There's also the chance your characters will wander away from your plot and do something completely different (actually it's more of an eventuality).....

Lert, A.
2008-10-17, 02:17 PM
I'm motivated by the sheer evilness that I am as a DM.

Whenever I am creating a NPC or an encounter, there is always something that can create a real challenge for the PCs if they don't actually think quickly. This can be abilities that will take out the primary PC - you know, the one that always seems to pull of the win for you - use of cover, concealment, aid another, common items used for nefarious purposes.

The truth is, I get a charge out of scheming to make things difficult for the PCs. When they get "that look" I feel great, but when I'm planning out the perils I'm just plain giddy. Whenever I see my players and they see my grinning, they are always nervous about what new master plan I have devised now.

Succinct answer: You need to be more evil.

valadil
2008-10-17, 02:17 PM
DMing is kind of like writing a novel, which I've always wanted to do, only it's easier because you don't have to drive the action. There's also the chance your characters will wander away from your plot and do something completely different (actually it's more of an eventuality).....

This is what I enjoy about it once I've gotten started (that and the taste of tears of unfathomable sadness). Building up momentum to get to the actual game is proving trickier than I remember though.

Keep the posts coming. I am gladdened to see that other GMs are fueled with hate as well.

EvilElitest
2008-10-17, 02:56 PM
history, books, tv shows, movies, voodica
from
EE

PnP Fan
2008-10-17, 03:19 PM
For me inspiration is my motivation. Which is to say that when I have a cool idea for a story (one shot or campaign), I want to get it into action as quickly as possible to share my neat idea. Sure I could tell my friends about my neat campaign ideas as soon as I come up with them, but then they'd know all my good ideas! Maybe that makes me a bit of a show off, though I don't tend to think of it that way.

Satyr
2008-10-17, 03:47 PM
I always wanted to be the Gamemaster I wished for my rounds when I am a player.

And I like to tell a story, especially when it is appreciated by the players. And I like the intellectual and tactical chalenge between me and them .

Once I was invited and paid to master a game. That was very flattering.

shaddy_24
2008-10-17, 04:26 PM
I'm motivated by the thought that as soon as I get all this down, I can see the looks on the players' faces as I put it out before them. I still sometimes have a few monsters that I'm pulling stats out of rulebooks, but I always have the page noted down, so I'm not flipping through looking for it. I make sure that all the NPC's are finished before anything else. The monsters and traps are usually already stated out, so I just need to find the page. I also don't worry too much about writing out a story, since it's fairly flexible. Just keep in mind who and what the players are likely to run into and come up with contingency plans.

Calinero
2008-10-17, 11:16 PM
Well, if imagining the future benefits (such as players' terror) isn't enough to get you through the creation process, you could try rewarding yourself for completing different stages of it. Go out to eat when you're halfway done, or something. Or perhaps you could get someone close to you who isn't playing the game to keep track of your process and badger you if you falter.

Hal
2008-10-17, 11:38 PM
Take a standard trope. Now put a spin on it.

crimson77
2008-10-18, 12:15 AM
See title. No, I'm not talking about inspiration. I've got plenty of that. I'm just having trouble moving my ideas out of my head and into my notebook.

I have a biased opinion, but I am an unstructured DM that will guest DM for a few gaming groups occasionally. This means that I DM with little prep work and often a loose plot.

If you are a good improvisationist then i would recommend just that. Start with a loose plot and just build off of it as the characters interact with the plot. In real life there are often lots of loose ends that are never tied up. There was one session I DMed for a friend that the players like so much he ended up moving the plot in that direction for a few months.

Nerd-o-rama
2008-10-18, 12:22 AM
My motivation, I determined recently, comes from throwing random crap at my players and watching their reactions. Now, it's never too outlandish (yet) but it's basically the same sort of pleasure young children get from poking an anthill with a stick and watching all the little guys scurry around.

Lappy9000
2008-10-18, 12:25 AM
I have a biased opinion, but I am an unstructured DM that will guest DM for a few gaming groups occasionally. This means that I DM with little prep work and often a loose plot.

If you are a good improvisationist then i would recommend just that. Start with a loose plot and just build off of it as the characters interact with the plot. In real life there are often lots of loose ends that are never tied up. There was one session I DMed for a friend that the players like so much he ended up moving the plot in that direction for a few months.

I find that a folder full of improv helps alot. Stuff like random names of NPCs, pre-typed room descriptions, as well as tables for treasure and equipment really help. Maps from wizards also helps you both describe the rooms the PC's are in as well as making sure you stay consistant.

And Motivation? It's unfortunatly not a problem for me. This is what I do with my copious amounts of free time.

Weiser_Cain
2008-10-18, 12:26 AM
The Marquis de Sade

Deathslayer7
2008-10-18, 12:37 AM
My motivation comes from session after session. With the group i play with in RL, things never happen as I want them too. So instad of writing out this whole, elaborate story/plot, I just do the beginning. Even then, they tend to diverge with what i want, but i just go with it.

So after session one, i have a week to plan the next session, and so on and so on until the campaign is over.

ninja_penguin
2008-10-18, 12:46 AM
My motivations are as follows:

1. Being able to vent creative ideas in some form, where I don't have the time, ability, or desire to flesh them out into full works such as writing or a comic.

2. Pit traps.

Dragonus45
2008-10-18, 02:30 AM
I get motivated by thinking about the only good session i ever ran. Before that i had none, but as i had a minuscule amount of experience compared to all my entirely new friends i was dm by process of elimination. All my games are mediocre but a few months ago i had one so good that my players threatened bodily harm if i stooped the session. So now i really want to try and beat myself on it and see if i can get my players interested again.

SoD
2008-10-18, 06:01 AM
The other day; one of my players said to me "I loved that session the other day. The first one was a bit boring, y'know, 'cos I was cleaning glasses most of the time. But that second one; I loved taking charge."

brant167
2008-10-18, 07:23 AM
It depends what type of game Iím working on. Currently I am working on a game with mostly a chaotic party who is trying to bring down a government. So, I am getting a great deal of motivation from conspiracy theories. The PCís just uncovered a plot by a wizard dominated society to implant a toxin in all newborns in their kingdom to suppress the sorcery gene however this didnít go over to well with the children that were born with psionic powers whom turned into a home bread creature that resembled a arcane addicted half- illithid. That idea sprung from the theory that there are damaging chemicals in vaccines.
For a more lawful group I look into history and present day wars and conflicts for the plot devices. A example of that would be if altered enough the situation with Kashmir would make a great game.

Tengu_temp
2008-10-18, 07:33 AM
I listen to music fitting the game's atmosphere and visualise the stuff that has happened in the game before - nothing brings motivation to a GM like me like the awareness that you and your players are creating a cool story.

Tormenting your players works too.

elliott20
2008-10-18, 08:04 AM
I remember after one session I GMed, everyone said "man, that was awesome." one player actually at various points of the game would sigh "that was beautiful man." for various cool little moments in game.

moments like that are my motivation. I like playing a game where my players enjoy themselves. I like to entertain my friends, and I like to entertain myself. Being a GM gives me the most freedom to do just that.

But for me, such things have limits. I do not have wads of time to sit around and prepare for campaigns. In any given week, while I might be able to think about the game whilst on the treadmill or driving home, I can maybe dedicate at most 3 hours to prepping. 3 hours a week in D&D, depending upon how fast you are, might be good enough to knock an entire module concept with some basic branches, or it might be good enough to just barely finish one really cool NPC backstory. Unfortunately for me, I'm slow when it comes to it.

as such, my greatest demotivator, to be brutally frank, is when we're playing a system where I HAVE to prepare every little detail, every stat block, and every option. Unfortunately, D&D falls under that category, which is why I haven't GMed a D&D game since college.

Drascin
2008-10-18, 08:48 AM
Mostly, I get into the first session with some quick, lazy sketch. Then run it fully by ear (when you've had the kidn of players I've had, you learn to pull out stories from your ass very fast). And then ask the players what they thought.

Putting it simply, as an empath, I derive my motivation from making other people around me motivated in the game as well. When the players get out from a session grinning wildly and saying among themselves "Julian, that thing you did was ****ing awesome!" and then turn to me and tell me "Cool session, man! When do we do the next session?", that's when I start being motivated in the campaign, and begin developing whatever we did in the first sessions.


I listen to music fitting the game's atmosphere and visualise the stuff that has happened in the game before - nothing brings motivation to a GM like me like the awareness that you and your players are creating a cool story.

Tormenting your players works too.

As one of your current players, I would like to note that I sure hope you're partial to the first method :smallwink:

Tengu_temp
2008-10-18, 08:52 AM
As one of your current players, I would like to note that I sure hope you're partial to the first method :smallwink:

I tend to create (in my mind only, unfortunately) openings to my games, and the current one is no exception. And Happily Ever After (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoJYH_iituI) is the song.

Drascin
2008-10-18, 09:05 AM
I tend to create (in my mind only, unfortunately) openings to my games, and the current one is no exception. And Happily Ever After (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoJYH_iituI) is the song.

...Really? I'm not the only one? Because I myself spent quite the time imagining a full sequence for my last campaign, and cursed my inability to draw, because some of the shots I got in my head were awesome (as they should be - my players did some really awesome stuff last campaign). It's frustrating that I cannot share it.

The song was JOINT (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAaxh8OuzHk), by the way :smalltongue:. Best thing to come out of SnS Second, really (yay character derailment :smallsigh:).

valadil
2008-10-18, 06:25 PM
I have a biased opinion, but I am an unstructured DM that will guest DM for a few gaming groups occasionally. This means that I DM with little prep work and often a loose plot.

If you are a good improvisationist then i would recommend just that. Start with a loose plot and just build off of it as the characters interact with the plot. In real life there are often lots of loose ends that are never tied up. There was one session I DMed for a friend that the players like so much he ended up moving the plot in that direction for a few months.

I can improvise pretty well, but I do so better when I know there's a safety net. What I'm trying to write right now is the safety net.

To expand on that, I'm also limited in what I can improvise. I can take an NPC and improvise a plot around that. My improvised NPCs on the other hand are flat and lame. And I can't even tell my improvised settings from my planned ones. As such I like to have NPCs ready beforehand and improvise the rest.

TY for the ideas. The stuff about player compliments has helped me recall some of the things my players have said about my own games (lately I've been focusing on the aspects I need to improve on, which is useful but doesn't help confidence).

Seffbasilisk
2008-10-18, 06:28 PM
Evil.
Hatred of bad DMs.
Love of good DMs.


...retired characters running Taverns and Magic shops. For some reason, retired adventurers always run these in my game. Makes it a lot easier to break up barfights, and stop thieves.

Kaiyanwang
2008-10-20, 03:28 AM
Non cruelty-linked motivations:

I like to tell stories, to makes people wonder, to be one day a dragon and another day a fey. I like to make my players be surprised, I like to see the doubt, the smiles and the curiosity in their faces. I like to make quotations from books, movies and legends.

Cruelty-linked motivations:

I like to torment, scare, and challenge my players.

Anyway, being a DM is the best! I prefer being a DM rather than a player.

Raz_Fox
2008-10-20, 06:36 AM
I just started my first game - a PbP.

I think my inspirations were love of storytelling, worldbuilding and characters.

Now my inspirations are all of those and not disappointing seven players. :smalleek:

It's fun so far! :smallsmile:

Triaxx
2008-10-20, 01:59 PM
Sweet, sweet VENGANCE!!

After all the nasty tricks pulled on me, I feel joyous taking vengance on those that brought the pain!!

*cough* Fax' way is great, but I prefer to just come up with a basic scenario and a map. Start the characters at the entrance and send them in. It's not Role-play heavy, but as a one shot combat, it's fantastic. Just let the random encounters chart do your work. Fudge the numbers if you think it'll be more fun.

kjones
2008-10-20, 03:19 PM
I once spent a good long while preparing an encounter with some halfling vampires, or "hampires" as I called them. The hampires had been dominating townsfolk and forcing them to commit gruesome murders against one another - when the players arrived, they succeeded in doing the same to the party rogue. To exonerate their good name, and save the townsfolk to boot, the party had to venture into the forest to the north (they decided to use the formerly-dominated player as bait, which was a nice touch) and track the hampires back to their underground lair, fight their way through the vampire's minions, save some captured townsfolk, and defeat the hampires themselves.

I was extremely proud of this series of encounters, which lasted two sessions or so. The players enjoyed themselves, I had a good time, and it was a nice mix of role-playing and combat.

After it was all over, though, and my players were leaving for the night, one of them mentioned that his favorite part of the whole thing was when the hampires, trapped in a clearing in the woods, summoned a pack of wolves to cover their retreat. Now, the party was ECL 7 or 8 by then, so a pack of CR 1 wolves didn't pose much of a threat, even when there were a lot of them. They merrily hacked and slashed their way through them, and and kept up the pursuit.

I was blown away. I had crafted this magnificent, intricate encounter, and their favorite part was hacking through a bunch of CR 1 minions?

I don't prepare adventures anymore. Now I just roll on random dungeon tables. Nobody's noticed yet - if anything, they like my game more now than ever.

I suggest the same to you.

trehek
2008-10-20, 03:45 PM
I usually don't take too much stress about DMing. I only start doing so after I get an inspiration about a plot. After that happens, I'm inspired to work on the adventures by the anticipation of revealing my epic plots and subplots to the players. And, of course, the players giving me the "Can we play your next adventure yet, plz plz?! I can't wait!!" phonecalls help a lot.

DM Raven
2008-10-20, 06:53 PM
What motivates me is whenever after a session one or more players tell me "I hate you so much. Awesome game."

It's as simple as that.

Haha, yeah...it's funny how that works. I experience the same thing...I'll have people bitching and complaining at me the whole game then at the end they are all like, "Great game man, we should run to IHOP and talk about it."

I suppose you wouldn't be doing your job if players weren't complaining about your game.

As for inspiration, I get most of mine from books I read and a random mixture of TV/Music/Anime/Movies.

Knaight
2008-10-20, 07:50 PM
That and the looks on the players faces when it all comes together, the pieces fall into place, and they realize your creative world building genius. Although I wing settings, so I probably get this way too often.

Players talking about a session for weeks and months afterwards is really rewarding too (for instance the last one I was in had an epic battle, which a week later is still admired. The session before it, primarily a bunch of monks, many of whom spoke all in proverbs talking to the player characters, one of which was a proverb speaking monk, with a huge amount of comedy in it was also great. Although there is always comedy.)

That said, you seriously need to switch to a rules light system if you hate prep so much, I wing things almost 100%, which works fine in Fudge, but if I tried that in D&D...Yeah.

Raum
2008-10-20, 08:25 PM
See title. No, I'm not talking about inspiration. I've got plenty of that. I'm just having trouble moving my ideas out of my head and into my notebook.

I'm GMing my group's next game. We typically rotate between a few GMs. Apparently the others need their break. I like being an every other game GM. Usually.I enjoy being surprised by a PC's decisions. I enjoy exercising creativity when incorporating those surprises into the game. I enjoy the strategic, tactical, and social challenges in RPGs. In short, I play (as both GM and / or PC) because it's fun. When it's more work than fun I either take a break or change whatever is causing it to be less fun.


This time around though I don't feel the usual creative rush. It's more like "okay, here we go again." In the last 18 months I've only GMed a couple one shots, so I don't think I'm still burnt out from the last game, but I just don't have energy.

I'm doing all the passive and tedious prep work. I've been painting up minis color coded for different factions. I'm rereading the books(the game is set in GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire) and researching extra material online. I'm even documenting all the rules changes from standard d20. But I'm not writing a game campaign.

So, for the sake of my players someone please help me jump start this game!Have you considered trying something different for a while? A game of Kobolds Ate My Baby or My Life With Master (or some other game system) may shake things up enough to give you a fresh outlook.

Edit:
I can improvise pretty well, but I do so better when I know there's a safety net. What I'm trying to write right now is the safety net.

To expand on that, I'm also limited in what I can improvise. I can take an NPC and improvise a plot around that. My improvised NPCs on the other hand are flat and lame. And I can't even tell my improvised settings from my planned ones. As such I like to have NPCs ready beforehand and improvise the rest. I tend to create two or three NPCs per PC and give each NPC at least one goal. The goals may require direct action or use other hirelings but, sooner or later, the PCs will interact with each - even if it's only to hear news or rumors about some event. That's often enough to get the PCs involved.

amanamana
2008-10-21, 12:13 AM
Here's the way things work for me: If I want to play D&D, I'd better get to DMin', since no one else is gonna do it for more than a session.

I feel your pain...:smallfrown:

Dove
2008-10-21, 01:21 AM
Writing something I love. If I find prep or backstory building a burden, I'm doing it wrong. The point is not to generate enough pages to answer every question the players have. The point is to create something worth engaging.

Knaight
2008-10-21, 08:07 AM
Exactly. That and somebody has to GM, and noboby else comes anywhere close to being what one would call qualified.

valadil
2008-10-21, 09:34 AM
I enjoy being surprised by a PC's decisions. I enjoy exercising creativity when incorporating those surprises into the game. I enjoy the strategic, tactical, and social challenges in RPGs. In short, I play (as both GM and / or PC) because it's fun. When it's more work than fun I either take a break or change whatever is causing it to be less fun.



and



Writing something I love. If I find prep or backstory building a burden, I'm doing it wrong. The point is not to generate enough pages to answer every question the players have. The point is to create something worth engaging.


Both ring true for me. I write plots and ideas all the time. When I have enough to bundle together and call a game I volunteer to GM.

It didn't happen that way this time though. My turn came up and nobody else has free time. Apparently I don't work well under pressure because I've been unable to sit down and come up with plot. I have a couple side ideas ready, but my main story arc needs work.

Oh and as far as system goes, I have a few reasons for using this one. a) I know D&D well enough that dealing with its rules takes as much brain power as learning a rules light system b) I'm using rules specific to the game I'm running and c) I'm in the process of developing my own rules light system which would borrow from the system I'm running and I'd like to see those rules in the wild before doing anything to them.

strayth
2008-10-21, 10:08 AM
I've been GMing various games for 15 years. At this point it's more like "well we need someone to GM" and I'm the only sucker that agrees to it. It's incredibly numbing after a while, the reason I do it is so I can play the game.

It's also gotten to the point that when I play as a player, rare as that is, I end up feeling like I'm playing only a fraction of a game considering how little data I have to keep track of.