GMing (part 1): Selecting a Game

The Game Master peeks over the GM screen whilst GMing the latest session of his amazing game.I’m going to do something a little different. Today’s post will be the first in a series, which will run until I’m done. How many posts will there be in this series? I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go. 😀 But this series of posts will be an analysis of GMing. How to do it, how to get players, how to prepare, how to be good at it… that’s what we will look at in this series. The series won’t be consecutive; I’ll intersperse it with my other articles. But for today, we’ll start with How to Choose a Game System.

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GMing (part 2): Finding Players

A group of players sitting around a table covered with books and dice playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons.So you’ve found a game that you want to GM. You’ve looked at the systems, examined the genera, and decided which one was best for you. Now you have to complicate matters by adding extra people to the mix. You need to find some players to play in your game.

Today’s entry will be an examination of the things to consider when selecting players. We’ll look at fitting players to your game, fitting players to each other, choosing a group size, fitting players to you as GM, and (some might argue, most importantly) fitting everyone’s schedule together.

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GMing (part 3): Designing Your Campaign (1st of 2)

A hand holding a marker appears to be drawing a flow chart, as if designing a gaming campaign, in midair, against a background of blue cogs.Things are looking up for you; now you’ve chosen a game and have a group of players willing to play it. What do you do next? The first step, obviously, is to design the overall campaign. This sounds like a daunting task, so let’s look at some advice and tips on how to do that in the most effective manner possible.

Please note that this section is going to cover a lot of material. I don’t want to overwhelm you, though, so I’m going to break it up into two parts. We’ll do part A today, and I’ll finish with part B next week. Continue Reading →

GMing (part 3) Designing Your Campaign (2nd of 2)

A hand preparing to write the design for a game on a page in a notebook that has the words 'My Plan' written across the top.Last week, we began looking at the essentials of designing your campaign. It was a big topic, so I had to split it into two sections. Today’s entry will finish what we started, as we look at the remaining three basic campaign arrangements. In case you’ve forgotten, last week we discussed the ‘Episodic’ and ‘Set-Piece’ design systems. Today, we will cover ‘Branching,’ ‘Puzzle Piece,’ and ‘Enemy Timeline.’

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GMing (Part 4): Preparing a Game Session

A line drawing, coloured, of a swan standing on a large stone telling a story to two other birds standing nearby. In the background is a castle near some farmland and some clouds. This image is meant to be symbolic of a GM leading a game session.

A swan telling a story. Much like the GM tells a story to the players in a game session, often of fantastical tales, such as a swan telling stories.

I have one more post to write on Gen Con. But we’ve been hearing about Gen Con for months now. Let’s take a break before we finish it up. It’s been a long time since we’ve had any installments on the Analysis of GMing series. Let’s get another one of those in! This time, we’ll talk about planning a game session.

So you’ve chosen a game, gathered a group of players, and have a design for the overall campaign. It’s time to start getting into the nitty-gritty. Before you meet up with your players for that first session, you need to know what’s going to happen in that session. So let’s take a look at that. Continue Reading →

GMing (Part 5): Running the Game Session

Four people sitting at a table playing a roleplaying game, one person is GMing, and the others are playing.Finally, the time has come to play! You’ve assembled a gaming group and you’ve chosen a game. You designed the campaign, and you’re ready with the story for the first session. Now you’re sitting at a table with your friends, dice nearby, and the players all look at you. What do you do now?

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