Coming to you on a Friday because I forgot what day of the week it was (in my defence, I haven’t had a proper weekly schedule in months), we’re continuing improv month with a look at it from the new GM’s perspective. And especially for those starting out, improv is hard.
Later post today on account of work-related busyness and my growing addiction to Doctor Who. David Tennant is the real Doctor, and while I love Matt Smith, I do not care that he is leaving. Okay, I care a little bit. This is not about Doctor Who.
Today’s post is about how to keep your improvisation consistent. I love improvising at the table, but it can be a challenge when players rely on your to provide accurate and complete information to them. Whatever you say about the world has to be believable, which means it has to fit with all of the other things they know about the world. If Steve is the King of Baltimore, then Jack cannot also be the King of Baltimore. If the treasure of the Unhallowed Hall lies in the swamp to the east, then it shouldn’t also be a dungeon in the north. These kinds of inconsistencies will crop up, and your players will notice some of them. Today I’m going to talk about how to keep them to a minimum and what to do when you get caught (and you will sometimes).
Despite our focus suffering a bit, with Ryan finishing his thesis and me wrapping up Headshots from the Heart, we’re still alive. On life support, but still breathing. And it’s time to get moving.
The GM can be a lot of things: storyteller, adversary, creator, judge, but I think the most important role is that of coach. They work with players to help them succeed, and make sure they face the right challenges to do so. I work with my players from character creation to retirement, advising them on the best ways to get what they want out of the game. Today I’m going to detail some of the ways I do that, and how it’s been helpful.
This week on History Hooks, I am up to my neck in thesis work so the Gauls will once again be gracing us with their presence since I have nothing else on the brain. But, while we focused on the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar in the years 58-50 BCE last time, today we will be fast forwarding over a century to the year 69 CE and a man named Mariccus who thought himself a god.
Today on Hisory Hooks we are going to look at one of my favourite individuals from antiquity: Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II of Egypt and his rather complicated family history. He was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, which began after Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BCE and lasted until Cleopatra VII committed suicide in 30 BCE. Lets look and see what a GM can gleam from this troubled Pharaoh.
One of the first and most important steps when starting up as a GM is to pick your system. There are many factors to take into account when choosing one, e.g. complexity, setting, combat, player expectations. When faced with these factors last year I settled on D&D Essentials as my system of choice and I’ll explain why below.
I’ve described GMing as equal parts urban planning, storytelling and psychological warfare, and an essential component of all of those is improvisation. It’s probably one of my favourite things about GMing, despite the amount I rant about the need to have a plan. I love creating characters and their expressions on the fly, adding little bits of flavour to my setting, and it’s saved me more than once in a pinch. Remember, if anyone asks, you planned it that way the whole time. I want to spend some time talking about improvisation and worldbuilding, character portrayal, and adventure design, but today I want to start with some fundamentals.
Here on History Hooks I will be examining some aspect of history that can be brought into your games. Everything from historical figures as NPCs to an entire setting from a time and place in the past will be on the table. Usually this will mean focusing on only one element, such as a particular individual or event, but today as an introduction to this series, we will be taking a more expansive look at the topic of my current thesis: Gaul.
It’s an exciting day. Here, at the shrine of my GMing acumen, I will bestow upon you the greatest pieces of wisdom that twenty years of GMing has to offer. This shall be my magnum opus, so listen well to the ten best pieces of GMing advice you will ever hear.
“It’s my game” is a phrase often uttered by GMs everywhere, and of this I am by no means innocent. It crossed my lips on many occasions in my younger days, and represents a terrible way of thinking about roleplaying games and the practice of GMing. Today, I want to talk about it and the way games are structured, and about why the phrase should be expunged from our minds.