Basic GMing Rules
And we do want good writing.
When I was talking with Melissa
Scott at ConFusion and
Her Friends (local SF convention) some years ago (2003) I mentioned running a
D&D game for 27 years (at the time) Her eyes got as big as
saucers and she said "That is writing too!" So you have it
from a pro, and a well educated one. Your RPG writing is
writing. Treat your game with respect, take writing it
seriously and it will furnish you and your friends decades of
enjoyment. Last note, just don't take yourself seriously.
1: Garry's First Rule of Fantasy
A) Do not change reality more than necessary to make
work. Real world physics are your friend, you do not need to
gravity, weather, or in general how the world functions. So don't
things that do not require complication. Adding super science or magic
is complication enough.
B) All role-playing games are fantasy, even if
it is not. Of course it's
fantasy, if it was real you would be living it, not playing it in a
game. Even the modern games or science fiction games are a
Fantasy is not an excuse for sloppy writing or world
building. Never ever. "Fantasy" is
not an excuse word that means you don't have to do your homework or
keep track of things. Good fantasy is internally consistent.
We do wish to write a good fantasy.
Write to your audience
Explore the limits, but be careful.
Pushing the limits can be a good thing if you do not push then
too far.. Push people's limits too far and they get
uncomfortable. uncomfortable people are not having fun.
People that are not having fun stop coming. Don't even go
there if you do not know your players very well indeed. It's a
game, not a psychological test.
Know your players. Ask what they like and what they want to see in the
game. Vital, ASK. Don't assume, poll the players, inquire and check
things out. Their role in the game is as important as yours.
On that note seek adventures of mutual
enjoyment. If you are a sea adventure bunny (like me) and your
players are not (like mine), then don't write sea adventures.
Write something you both like. You are part of your own
audience. If you don't like what you are doing it will show and
enjoyment will be lessened.
3: The Rule of Yes
A) Unless there is a compelling reason to say
no, say yes.
Playing a game with Dr. No isn't any fun. Players want to have fun and
to do things. There is a time and place for obstacles, learn and know
that time and place. Trying to find a royal blue shirt or spell
components in the market is not that time.
B) A roll is not required for everything, even
if a roll is
required. Use judgment in applying the dice. Dice are
random isn't vital even if the rules say it is. Remember the
Rule of Yes.
4: Keep encounters open ended
A) An encounter with one solution is bad.
I do not write
encounters with a solution in mind. I present the problem, and let the
players tell me how it will be solved. Remember they are creative too.
B) Frustrated players are bad. Look
back to the Rule of Yes. If
your players cannot solve something because you wrote in a single
solution they didn't think of, they get frustrated. This makes the GM
C) Use any reasonable solution, be open to
solutions you didn't
think of. As above, rule of yes and keep and open minds. You
one brain, your players have one each. Use the brains around you to
improve the game.
5: BE FLEXIBLE
Don't script. Players will do the unpredictable. And that is that. You
want north they go south. You have the old gypsy with the legend they
visit everyone but. When that happens, punt. If an encounter
important, it can be fit in elsewhere. Only you know how the scenario
is assembled. No one will smite you if you shuffle the parts. If the
Vicar has the legend and not the Gypsy you don't loose GMing
Most Important, have
fun. The game is played for fun. If everyone is
having fun, you are a successful GM.
Garry Stahl: 2009. All rights reserved, re-print only with
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