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Pathfinder Review

Conducting Games: A few helpful hints for game masters

Conducting Games a few helpful hints for game masters

 

  It can be a very difficult task to take on the position of game master in your circle of friends. The players will gather around the table each session and expect to leave the troubles of the world behind them. It is the time of the week where they get to be heroes and it is up to you to craft not only a story, but an entire living breathing world for them to adventure through. This can be a lot of pressure on the shoulders of a game master.

 

  Not everyone can maintain the position of game master, it can be very difficult to keep a group of your friends entertained week after week. But this maybe the role that you have chosen, or the role that was thrust upon you.

 

  Here are a few tips and tricks that you can use in your sessions.

 

1. Take notes! A lot of notes. You would be surprised at how, a small thing that you wrote down in your notes, might one day be developed into something that might snowball into something far greater than what it started as.

 

2. Fill your campaign with recurring and interesting characters for your players to interact with. You know why great television shows draw us in year after year? It is because we become attached to the characters that we watch. We want to know how they have changed and evolved, we become emotionally attached to them.

 

Heroes

Characters should not be the only thing in your campaign with character.

 

3. Create an outline for your campaign but do not set everything in stone. The best game masters learn that the best laid plans can fall apart. Unlike an author who knows how the beginning, middle, and end of his story will work out. You have players who might run a blade through a major villain early on, or the players might figure things out faster than you anticipated. Learn to adapt and let your outline be a map of what you intend, but do not let it paint you into a corner.

 

4. Describe not only the world around the players to them, but seed in far off places, people, and things that you may one day wish to expand upon. It is much more exciting for the players to visit places that they have heard of on previous occasions and this will make the world seem more real to them.

 

It holds no dread unless you plant the seeds of awe and fear...

It holds no dread, unless you plant the seeds of awe and fear first.

 

5. The players are the heroes of the story, make them all feel like it. I have seen many game masters focus on one or two players to the detriment of the rest of the players over the course of a campaign. Get everyone involved! Plan ahead little things that will give each player a chance to shine.

 

6. Remember you are all playing together, the players are not your adversaries to be picked off one by one until you have killed each of them off. Make things challenging and do not pull all of your punches, but learn when it is needed.

 

Killer DM

Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing...

 

  One of the most memorable moments in one of my campaigns involved an evil monk who ambushed the players with his students. The players where weighed down with a ton of bad rolls and even worse tactical decisions. Things started to look grim and I decided to begin pulling my punches. The monk called off his students and faced all the players in combat alone. When they were beaten down and almost dead, the monk who was to be a onetime villain (a minor minion for a much bigger villain), left them battered and beaten, openly mocking their weakness and inability to defeat him. The players lived to fight another day. But they now had a personal vendetta against the monk, a spot on their honor which needed to be cleansed. The monk became a foe that my players would interact with and do battle against for the next several years. The day they finally defeated the monk was one of their proudest and fondest memories from that campaign. All of this could have ended on a much sadder note, had I just let dice rolls rule the day.

 

7. Small props and keepsakes can enhance a game immensely. It's the little things that count, the financial burden on a game master is usually the biggest in a group, as they will typically need more rule books to play a game than the average player. Keep it simple. Has a character received a parcel of land from a noble for all their hard work defending the realm? Give that player a physical deed for the land. You would be amazed at the things you can do with a simple paint program and a word processor. Not creative in an artistic way? Have someone else make the item up for you that you know has some talent. Not only will the artist feel good because you recognize their talent, but your players will have a warm feeling inside when you present these little things to them.

 

  For those new to game mastering I hope that in some measure that these little tips offer you some help. The most important thing I can give advice on is to remember to have fun while your conducting a game, because your joy is important too.

 

    -Christopher Gravuer

 

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