Thursday, October 24, 2013

30 Days of GameMastering--Day 21!

Today marks the start of the final leg of Lindevi's "30 Days of GameMastering" challenge; we're going to start talking about some of the "meta" details of gaming, starting with...

What are your favorite books about gamemastering?

Let's get one thing clear.  GMing means writing.  Even when you're running a game off-the-cuff, you're creating a narrative in which your players interact.  Even if you're using a pre-made setting or pre-made adventure, the details will always be different:  your Greyhawk is not my Greyhawk is not JimBob's Greyhawk.  And, even if you're not committing your campaign to text for posterity's sake, it's still being published each and every game night.

The best manual on GMing
that you could ever want.
Because of this, my favorite book about GMing is actually my favorite book about writing:  Stephen King's On Writing.   Say what you will about Stephen King--I find his writing poignant and tense, though I do enjoy his short stories more than his novels--but the man knows how to weave together interesting characters into a great narrative.  And, his magnum opus--the Dark Tower saga--is nothing short of masterful.

King intersperses his insights on the writing process with the story of his own development as a writer, taking a painful and self-deprecating look at not only his years of substance addiction, but also the recovery from his crippling car accident.  King's autobiographical moments permeate his advice, as he's able to contribute a full lifetime of writing and reading to his advice for other writers.

I can't really recommend On Writing highly enough; but, in the words of LeVar Burton, you don't have to take my word for it.  Take a good think about the following 6 rules--taken directly from a Guardian excerpt of On Writing itself--and then go pick it up:

  1. The basics:  forget plot, but remember the importance of 'situation'.
  2. Similes and metaphors:  the rights, the wrong.
  3. Dialogue:  talk is sneaky.
  4. Characters:  nobody is the 'bad guy'.
  5. Pace: fast is not always best.
  6. Do the research, but don't overdo it for the reader.

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