An Analysis of GMing (Part 9): Handling Player Conflict

Two warriors, a human in armour casting a fireball spell and an elf wearing only trousers wielding a large sword, fighting against one another on a bleak landscape with streams of lava flowing by. It is implied that these are the characters of two players letting player conflict spill over into the game. Player conflict is a problem that all GMs must face at least once in their life. It may result from any number of causes. But regardless of the cause, it can result in a total disintegration of the gaming group. Even if everything else is going well, two players (or their characters) being antagonistic towards one another can ruin the game for everyone.

Ideally, you’ll be able to assemble a group that gets along well enough that this won’t be an issue. But sometimes, no matter what you do, two people may develop an insurmountable conflict in the course of playing. Even worse, a disconnect may arise between a player and you, the GM. How do you handle this situation?

In today’s entry, we’ll look at ways to minimise potential player conflict, and how to handle it when it does happen. Whether vetting potential players or mediating between players once the game has started, there are always ways to avert this possible crisis. Continue Reading →

Fate Core – An Overview of a Great Roleplaying Game

The Logo for the Fate Core System, which is the word 'Fate' in large stylized block letters, with the A rising higher than the other letters, in white on a blue gradient background, with the words 'Core System' in smaller white block letters underneath.I’ve played a lot of roleplaying games in my life. I’ve talked about some of them here before, like Changeling: The Dreaming. The first I ever played was Marvel Super Heroes from TSR. I’ve tried the big, well known ones like Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve also played many small obscure ones, like AlbedoThe Whispering Vault, and Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Although I’d heard of the Fate system, it wasn’t until last month that I got to actually play it. A friend invited me to play in a two-session Dresden Files RPG game, which uses Fate. He then loaned me his copy of the Fate Core book.

I am a convert.

Let me tell you why. Continue Reading →

GMing (Part 7): The End of a Game Session

Four gamers sitting at a table playing Dungeons and Dragons. There are character sheets, dice, and pencils on the table, as well as empty food bowls and several empty (or almost empty) drink glasses, indicating that the game is at an end.The evening is drawing to a close. The session is ending. You’re nearing the end of the time allotted for tonight’s game. All done, right? Time to say, ‘See you next session!’ and pack up your stuff and go?

Not quite.

The end of a game session is at least as important as the beginning. Before you call it a night, there are a few important details that you should cover. In this entry, we shall look at some of the essential issues to consider at the end of your session.

Stopping Points

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is where to stop. The exact end point will depend on several factors: 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?

Continue Reading →

Descriptive vs Statistic – An Evolution in RPGs

The current cover art for three descriptive roleplaying games: Bluebeard's Bride, Fiasco, and Fate Accelerated Last week, when I posted the interview with Whitney Beltrán, I had to cut out a lot of material. The transcript of our conversation was over 5,000 words long. I usually try to post articles of around one thousand words. Generally, I keep a thousand five hundred as an upper limit. Even cutting out entire sections of the conversation, it was hard to get the article down to two thousand words. This is especially disappointing to me, as there were some really interesting topics that I had to remove entirely. The interview I posted absolutely stands on its own. It does a great job of communicating the important aspects of the game. But one of the topics I had to eliminate was a discussion of the evolution of roleplaying games. In particular, we discussed how roleplaying games are becoming less statistics-based, and more descriptive. Continue Reading →

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 →