As promised, here is the second part of the key rules for being a Games Master.
“Keeping the game fun is Rule One”
Rule One is a simple rule that can be difficult for most Games Masters to grasp. As a GM your sole responsibility is to keep the game going. How? How do you do that? You have to keep it fun. Keeping the game fun is Rule One. It is like with a movie or a book if either is dull and don’t stimulate the audience then they will lose interest. The same can go with your players. As I stated before, a GM is a story teller and the players your audience.
So, how do you keep the game fun? This is where you have to do some research. Before I run a game or plan a full campaign I talk with my intended players and toss out probing, hypothetical ideas. For instance, one of my current campaigns, which is on an temporary hiatus, before I began to put it together I asked my players what they thought about a War Campaign where they would be expected to do a lot of sneaky-sneaky things. They were all for it. That is how it begins, ask probing questions to see if there is an interest or desire to try a campaign like that. If not then I toss out other ideas to them. The thing about being a GM is, if it is your forte, you will have ideas just not always sure how to use them (I will cover this in a later article). Bottom line, you have to have players willing to play.
The next step is keeping them interested. This is where many a GMs drop the ball. Anyone can roll dice, kill the monsters, and collect treasure. If that is all you are wanting to do and that is all your players want to do then more power to you and I recommend playing the card game Munchkin. But many players need more than that. To keep the game fun you need to know your players. You need to know their likes and dislikes when it comes to gaming. Not every player is the same. Some want more story based game play others want more role-play based game play and you need to be ready to deliver that.
“…you have to know when you are getting burned out as the GM.”
The final step, and this is the hardest one, is making sure you, the GM, do not get bored. It is one thing to keep your players happy but you too are sharing in the gaming experience and need to have fun as well. If there is one thing that gets boring for me it is spending countless hours creating NPCs and designing traps that my players go through with, what seems like to me, little effort are their part, though that is not the reality. It is like a player that has put a lot of time into his or her own character only to see it cut down without really being able to do much. It doesn’t seem fair but that is what happens. Now, I am not telling you to make the NPCs weaklings then there is no challenge but you have to know when you are getting burned out as the GM. What we in my group of friends do is have another GM waiting in the wings to run their own game and alternate between games to give everyone a chance to play. Because even though you GM your are also a player and you want a chance to play. Doing this gives you, the GM, a chance to recharge and get back in the mind of a player which adds to your effectiveness as a GM. Think of it like being a spy working as a double agent. It helps you to get further into the minds of your players learning their strengths and weaknesses.
You now know the two key Rules for being a Game Master. Stay tuned for further tips on how to help you out as a GM and improve your game.