So in my last post I started telling you about my journey into RPG gaming. I wanted to focus a little on my comment about Eric being such a great GM. In any RPG game there are two things that can make or break a game, the players and the GM. You can have the best GM in the world, but with bad players the game is going to suck. This is also true for the opposite. You can have the best players in the world, but if the GM is bad then the game is going to suck.
A GM has many responsibilities.
1. To create the story for the players – Every RPG group needs a story, something that their characters can get involved in. Every GM has a different way of doing this. Some like to buy or download pre-written story lines, also called modules, missions, adventures, or quests. Others like to write their own story from scratch. There are also a few who like to do a combination of both. With each option come up sides and down sides. We will go over these in a future post.
2. Train the players in how to play the game – All over the world there are people who are like I was. Interested in playing an RPG, but not having clue one what to do. Learning to play these games can be very complicated. Each game has its own set of rule-books, and these books can be very numerous. For example in the current RPG I am playing, called Shadowrun has 6 core rule books. Newbies if not given some help can find themselves either buying the wrong book, which can be expensive, or they can buy all the books, even more expensive, and in some very sad cases not buying a book at all.
The GM has the job of teaching new players what books to buy, and the core rules of the game. I have seen and played with some GM’s that sadly tell new players to buy the book and read it cover to cover. In my opinion this is a bad thing to do and scares off a lot of potentially good players.
Eric was brilliant in the way he taught me. I as a person new nothing about the world of Vampires, so he helped me create a character that new nothing about Vampires. This forced me to Role-play my learning of a new world and in so doing that I learned along with my character.
3. Keep the game flowing – If you have ever played an RPG you know there are times that the players need a little push. This could be for many many reasons. They are getting bored, or maybe not catching the clues the GM is leaving, etc. No matter what the reason when the game starts to slow down its the GM’s job to get the game going again.
4. Manage the players – Its a hard fact of life but not everyone is cut out to play an RPG. It could be because they are a bad player, or maybe they dont get along well with others. Just in the last year I had a player come to my game that was both. He liked to create characters that would fight with his own team mates. He also sucked as a player. All his ideas were horrible and his playing style was really bringing the moral of the group down. I tried working with him, I offered advice, and I even helped him create a more group friendly character. In the end I had to ask him to leave. I didn’t like it, but in the end the group was better off because of it.
There are other parts to the GM’s job, and I am sure I will go over them in future posts. But I have been thinking about my first GM Eric all day. I dont know where he is, or if he even knows what an impression he made on me, but I really hope he is doing well. It was because of his invitation, and his great GM style that got me started into the RPG universe. If Eric had been any other GM, and told me to go read the book, or been a rule nazi, or any other combination of bad GM styles I might have walked away and never looked into RPGing again. But thats not what happened, and because of Eric I was able to develop a love for a system of gaming that has brought me a lot of fun in my life.
Having a good GM really is important to every game. Without good GM’s out there the whole RPG universe I think would crumble. I have played with a lot of good and bad GM’s. Many of whom I will talk about in future posts. This theme of going through my journey into RPG gaming has me very excited. Even as I sit here and write I have about 10 other posts floating around in my head, and I cant wait to get them all down.