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.
Archive for DM
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.
We spend too much time saying no. All of us. As GMs, we say “No, that doesn’t work.” As players we say “No, my character wouldn’t do that.” There’s a place for that, but I think we’re too fast on the draw, and it curtails our creativity. So here’s a better idea than saying no. Read more
A few weeks ago I headed over to the KW Poetry Slam. It’s been a while since I was there, and I didn’t slam, but I’m committed to it next time. I’ve got a D&D slam poem in me, I think. But watching poets describe spaces, emotions, and even works of literature, I learned some things. Things I wanted to do in my game, ways of speaking and moving that would have more of an impact on my players and make my descriptions and characters more vibrant. I’m not going to run a game as a slam poem any time soon, but here are three things I learned about GMing from slam poetry. Read more
That’s right, the last post on heroes for the time being. Next week we’ll move on to something else, maybe have a bit of fun with it. So far, I’ve discussed what a hero is, how heroes can be guided by values, and what some of those values are, as well as different types of heroes and how they fit in. Today I just want to close with some final thoughts on heroic characters. Read more
It’s the last day of the year, so it’s time for a year in review. A lot of ground has been covered, so I want to go over some of the highlights, and what I hope to accomplish in 2013. Read more
Heroes, despite being a common theme in most rpgs, are actually pretty hard to find. When you do find them, they tend to get a lot of grief. Paladins are a good example of this, a class hardwired to be a hero, and yet probably the worst at it. “The heroes” is a term that’s basically synonymous with “The PCs”, but how many PCs are actually heroic? Over the next month, I’m going to spend some time on this topic, but first I need to establish what it means to be a hero. Read more
Last week I went over how to work with your players to construct a story arc that creates a bond between two characters. You make them all the time, but they don’t, so your help can go a long way toward making the process fast and painless. Of course, that means you have to be a bit of an expert, so here are some questions you can ask at every phase of the story arc to get players thinking and help them along. Read more
Wayne’s World, etc. Last week I talked about getting players to tell the story of how they got together, and I said to ask questions and work to get their story to fit with the setting. Basically, to play the role of the producer, rather than the director. There were a few tweets on what you actually do for that, so I’m going to do a short series on it. It’s easy to say, but harder to do, so I’ll get to some of the tools. This week is about helping them create a story arc. You’re the GM. You make these kinds of things up all the time, and often on the fly when they wander off the reservation, which is pretty much always if your players are like mine. They have a lot less experience, but here’s how you can help them without making the decisions for them. Read more