Jun 032016

Stand ThereAre you frustrated with a lack of active games to join? I see a lot of players around the Internet in the same boat. I’ve been there too, and I’ll bet most roleplayers go through the same thing at some point in their lives. But the nice thing about roleplaying is the amount of power we have as a community and the tomes of resources available to new GMs. So if you really can’t find a game, run one!

The simple fact is that game designers love GMs, because it’s GMs who buy rule books, adventures, miniatures and everything else. Heck, I own more player’s guides than my players do. This means that there’s something or someone out there, ready to help you. That’s what Stuffer Shack is here for, too.

Wearing the GM Hat

You probably already have a shiny new game you’re itching to play, but how do you get ready to run it?

First off, go out and get yourself a pre-written adventure. There’s a lot to be said for piggybacking off the ideas of others, even if you decide not to run the adventure as written. Read through the adventure and get a feel for the rules you need to know. Stuffer Shack has plenty of free adventure seeds right here.

As for the rules, don’t bother reading everything, at least not for your first game. Rather, get a good grasp of the core mechanics, character creation and combat. If there’s anything else that comes into play in the adventure, look it up and make some notes.

Now, you’re ready to set up your game night.

Setting up Your Game

Keep your first game small. Three to four players, including yourself, is enough.  Plan to have a character creation session before your first actual game. Knowing your players’ characters from “birth” lets you familiarize yourself with all their powers and abilities, which is a huge boon.  Set a time limit of three hours for your first game. If you’re playing in person, eating together before play is an excellent icebreaker. If you’re playing online, set aside time for a tech test.

Spreading the Word

Most games have an online community, and many regions around the world have some place for players to connect online. There are many Google Plus communities and Facebook groups worth looking into — search for general RPG groups and ones related to your specific game. Some game companies host their own forums, and may even have a specific thread for players looking for a game.

Find the community with the best fit for the game you want to run and, about two weeks before game day, post some details.  With any luck, you’ll get enough bites. If not, don’t be disheartened; try again in a week or so.

Running your game

It can take years to understand and master all the principles required to be a great GM. That said, some of my best games were the ones where I knew relatively little. The key is in the first rule of roleplaying: have fun. If you make choices that lead to more fun for everyone, then you don’t need to worry about playing the game “right”. When you need to make a rules call — don’t go to your books — weigh up the decision based on plausibility and entertainment value, then go with it. Make a mental note to find an answer in the rules when the session’s done. This way, you maintain the game’s pace and demonstrate your authority as the GM.

Other than that, just enjoy the experience. Only a GM gets to play such a wide spectrum of scum and villainy in a single session, or play with all the nasty toys. And, at the end of the day, you’ll have created a shared memory that wouldn’t have existed without your effort.

May it be the first of many!

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Rodney Sloan

Rodney Sloan has been writing adventures for the South African convention scene since 2009, for such systems as Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, 4th Edition and Pathfinder. He gained notoriety for creating Dr Frank and his flesh golum, Stein, who took an entire army of LARPers to put down. By day he enjoys rock star status as a teacher of English in several Japanese high schools. You can read more on his blog over at Rising Phoenix Games.

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