Wednesday, October 02, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering: Day 1!

All righty, gang!  Today marks Day 1 of Lindevi's 30 Days of GameMastering challenge.  Follow that link to check out all of the entries!  But for now, today's question:

What advice do you have for a first time GM?

Never fear, GMing noobs!
Darth Warlock is here to help you out!
Well, first up, don't panic.  It's a game.  You're probably--at least I hope you are!--running game for your friends, so they're going to understand if you don't run things perfectly.  And, if you're open to feedback, they'll give it to you in a gentle, friendly manner.

Secondly, don't try to do everything.  It's easy to want to sculpt a massive, overarching campaign, but rein in your sights a bit.  Pick a villain or a handful of monsters, give him some motivations, some goons, and an evil plot to enact.  Or, better yet?  Just drop your players into a scenario and let them do what they do best:  get into trouble.  Your first game ever doesn't have to be a masterpiece; just make it fun and learn from there.

Also, pick a system that you're comfortable with.  Don't try to learn the rules at the same time that you're teaching them to yourself.  You're the authority at the table, so you should at least have a little system mastery, even if it's just something that you've played before and enjoy playing.  Played a lot of D&D?  There's tons of settings out there for it; pick one of those!  Play a lot of Savage Worlds?  Go with that.  Stay within your comfort zone and, as you gain experience, you can add options from there.  Man, that almost sounds familiar...almost like leveling up!

And, finally?  Remember that it's supposed to be fun.  Bend the rules.  Break them outright.  Let other players take control of elements you don't care for.  Have trouble tracking initiative?  Have someone else do it, and give them bennies/fate points/action points/extra snacks for doing so.  You're all here to have a good time, GM included, so enjoy yourself!


  1. I agree with you on "don't try to do everything." My first adventure idea was a massive campaign involving a year-long countdown to invasion by an invading army which would either be delayed or hastened by the player's actions. Instead, my first scenario was a published D&D scenario, which gave me a much more realistic view of what was feasible in a game. I'm sure you will talk about this more on Day 4, but I would definitely recommend first time GMs start with a premade scenario for this reason.

  2. It's way too easy to bite off more than you can chew in regards to gaming. When your inspiring works are things like "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars" it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to create a huge, sweeping epic. Not every game needs to be like that. Rather, it's much better to scale back the scope and focus on your players having fun.

    Cheers, man!