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Jan
23

5 Tips for Gamemastering an RPG System for the First Time

5 Tips for Gamemastering an RPG System for the First Time Inspired to try your hand at running a new roleplaying game for the New Year? Approaching an unfamiliar ruleset can be daunting, but with the right tools you can learn the mechanics more quickly and easily, making for a smoother first session when you finally have a chance to play! Here are my five tips for teaching yourself a new RPG system. Tip #1: Equip Yourself with a Beginner Game, Starter Set, or Quickstart Product Publishers have tried to make it easier than ever to pick up and start playing their games. Rather than starting out by reading the whole core...
Sep
25

Don’t Let Fear or Anxiety Keep You Out of the GM’s Chair

Don’t Let Fear or Anxiety Keep You Out of the GM’s Chair As with any activity that requires you to perform in front of other people, GMing can be nerve-wracking. Some amount of nervousness is to be expected, but when your fears overwhelm you and you consider cancelling the session at the last minute, you can unwittingly put your entire campaign in jeopardy. Many of us creative types know how anxiety and depression can interfere with the way we want to live our lives. If you haven’t already heard Wil Wheaton’s powerful talk on anxiety, depression, and recovery, you owe it to yourself to have a listen. Our inner demons are...
Oct
31

Use a Player Survey to Gauge RPG Players’ Preferences

Use a Player Survey to Gauge RPG Players’ Preferences I’ve talked before about how I believe the main job of the GM—besides having fun, of course—is to elicit or evoke emotion (e.g. fun) in the players. Before we talk about techniques to elicit those emotions in the pursuit of fun, however, you’ll want to use a player survey or otherwise determine what kind of players are in your group and the kinds of things they find fun in tabletop roleplaying games. That way, you can focus your efforts on cultivating certain roleplaying games elements and techniques, saving you time while maximizing the return at your...
Jul
18

Gamemastering for Emotional Impact Pt. 2

Gamemastering for Emotional Impact Pt. 2 Varieties of Emotional Experiences in Roleplaying Games In the introductory article for this series, I determined that in my mind, at least, the main job of the GM is to elicit or evoke emotion in the audience, i.e. the player. That’s why I play roleplaying games, why I don the persona of another: so I can experience emotion I don’t normally get to in my day-to-day life. To me, emotion is the difference between a “meh” session and an awesome session. Whereas writers have only their words to try and evoke an emotion in the audience, Game Masters have a couple of other...
Jul
13

Gamemastering for Emotional Impact Pt. 1

Gamemastering for Emotional Impact Pt. 1 Emotion: The Raison D’Être of Roleplaying Games Recently I wrote a preview article about how to use emotional strengths and weaknesses part of the Morality mechanic in Star Wars: Force and Destiny, an element that I designed in collaboration with Sam Stewart. At the same time, I’ve also had Deuterium Ice’s article on the lack of intermediary GM materials floating in the back of my head. Over the weekend I was thinking a little more about exactly how a GM can dramatize these internal conflicts via an external impetus. How do you prep that? How do you...

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