For the first time ever, I’m running a campaign in which I am a GM and also a player. Already it’s been pushing me to be a better GM, but it also has its pitfalls.
All GMs have their foibles, their bad habits and weaknesses, but recognizing them is something else entirely. It’s pretty amazing how directly comparing the same campaign as run by another person can really put your own weaknesses in the limelight: “Man, his descriptions are so much more vivid, and the players are really immersed in what is happening.” Or, “that puzzle was so simple yet fun and effective.”
On the one hand, this is awesome. I can see what’s working better at my co-GM’s table and focus on adapting that to mine in extremely similar ways. I’ve already had some success with this, and I think that with more practice I can adopt these methods into my GMing repertoire.
I know that many of these benefits can come from playing in another campaign at the same time as GMing your own, but having the story and system remain constant allows for less to be lost in the translation. It’s easier to replicate the things that are working.
On the flip side, there’s the matter of consistency and also difference in styles. I don’t want to wholly emulate my co-GM because that could mean giving up my strengths as a GM or the kind of things that make a session fun/enjoyable for me.
Nevertheless, the ways in which our styles diverge can potentially have a great impact on the game experience. For instance, I’m running the system close to RAW (partially because I’m fairly fluent with it), while he’s much more fast-and-loose with the rules. It makes it feel like I’m the “tough” GM and he’s the easy one.
The question is, which way is more fun–for me and for my players? Why am I being such a hard ass, and does being strict really help my game? Do the players enjoy the challenge, or does it get in the way of the storytelling?
Hopefully over time the players will help me answer these questions. My biggest worry is that someday the players might decide they unanimously prefer my co-GM’s style over my own, but that’s just my insecurity talking. The desire to become a better storyteller and run a better session will motivate me to be continue upping my game and not fall into the same ruts that a GM who has a monopoly of the player’s attention.