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 →

GMing (Part 8): Awarding Experience Points

A variety of medals on blue ribbons lying in a pile, representing the concept of a rewards, which is how many players perceive experience points. The evening is over, and the game is finished for tonight. Everyone is ready to go home. There’s one last thing left to do. It’s finally time to award experience points. For some players, this is, in some ways, the entire point of the game. They see it as a reward for having done a good job. Getting a lot of experience indicates that they’re a proficient gamer. After all, it helps them feel as if they were useful to the completion of the goal. For that reason, awarding experience points is an important and often delicate task.

Depending on the system you’re using, this can be a very easy task, or it can be daunting. Let’s look at some of the intricacies involved in effectively awarding experience. 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 6): Beginning a Campaign or Session

A road, beginning at the bottom of the image and stretching away from the viewer into the background, fading in the distance. In the foreground, the word 'start' is stenciled on the road in large white letters. Last time, we talked about running a game session. However, there is an important corollary that goes along with this idea. That is the the understanding of how to begin a game session. But this concept of a beginning doesn’t apply exclusively to game sessions: the beginning of a campaign is just as important (in some ways, more so!). So we’re going to talk about beginning things in today’s session.

For those less familiar with gaming, a trope exists about most campaigns beginning in a tavern. The location of the beginning is less an issue than the nature of the characters themselves. I wrote an in-depth discussion of the concern on my other blog. In short, the first session of a campaign often starts with the characters, who have never met, in the same tavern. There are problems with this approach, which we will discuss later in this article. The important point here: the beginning of a campaign or game session is very important.

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 →