Things GM should have for their Games

Saint of M

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Some of this will be like with the player character one, just more. Except dice. You were either going to have a lot or not a lot as normal. Besides dice…

1. More Books. Generally speaking, have core rule book, bestiary, Game Master’s Guide, and maybe a couple other supplemental books if available. Most of this is for rules and an inspiration for potential games. Anything more than that will either be limited to what you want, or in the case of Pathfinder 1st edition, have the players responsible for bringing the books and showing you the page.

2. Notes: Basically, have notes and know your campaign. Regardless if its a world you made or a pregenerated one, you need to interpret what is given and change things as needed either due to the actions of the players or how ridiculously overpowered some pregen games are. Also, this might help keep you from accidentally from Nurfing (making a character needlessly and or ridiculously weak),

3GM screen: This is a divider that folds up and expands as needs be. Its purpose is to block the view of players so they don’t peek at your notes. This adds an aura of mystery, and keeps the fun bits from being spoiled. Also hides dice roles and so you need to know how strong something is, and the scores you need to roll for successes.

4Maps:This is what your game will be on.Most players have a reusable game mate that they can draw the surroundings with a dry erase markers (NOT SHARPIES), or print it up. You don't have to be a good artist, just get the gist.

5Background Music: If allowed, and keep in mind if its allowed, try to have it as background to add to the scene. If it overwhelms it fails its job. A boss fight or other intense scenes can have a little more intensity or bombast. Also keep in mind what is supposed o be a few couple minutes in game for a fight, is gonna be 30 minutes with a single GM and 3 PC's. Have lots of stuff, and try not to have the same track on repeat too much. Even the best tracks can be reduced to irritation if overused.

6Rules can be merely suggestions: You are the one interpreting the game. Even if its pregenerated, there is plenty of room for interpretation, This means you can adjust difficulty even more if say the pregen mission is too difficult. Don't be afraid to fudge things if it makes the story more interesting.

7Don’t be a cruel tyrant, but don’t be a pushover: You have to have a measure of control in the game. You can’t let the other players walk all over you as this won’t be fun for you. On the otherhand, if you are there and only there to torment your players this isn’t going to be fun.

Except for the HP Lovecraft themed games as those are there to see how long your character lasts before they die or go insane.

The rest of the time, make the consequences for actions realistic. Insult the mob boss, there is going to be trouble. Steal everything that isn’t nail down, you are going to have the guards after you.

8Practice your communication skills: I am not saying you are perfect, but you should be clear and understandable. I have a stutter, and plan to GM some games. My main Dungeons and Dragons group is GM’d by someone with a stutter. But outside of a couple moments when asked to slowdown and say that again, we both get out points across clearly the games are pretty fun. Maybe take a communication or speech class if needs be, but getting the point across is good enough. Do a good enough job and none of the other players will think about it at all.

9You are a referee first and foremost. This is maybe the most important aspect of this. We can argue till we are blue in the face, but if we had to make a list of things a GM needs, this is going to be one of them. You are providing a scenario for other people to play. Sometimes this means these are 12 year olds. Other times you have 20 and 30 somethings with the mind of a 12 year old. You are going to play with all manner of people, and in the case of Society play, not all of them are going to have the same level of social skills.

I have played with people with a spectrum of Autism like myself. I have played with the Schizophrenics, and people with Anxiety disorders. And we all had fun. Despite our hang ups, we acted like decent human beings, and most of the time we weren’t the ones that needed to be told to grow up. However questions and arguments will happen, and you will have the final say on if one party is right or wrong, if both are right and wrong, and so on. Or if things should be altered for the flow of the story and how the charecters shape it.

This is particularly good with some home brew classes and races. I have seen mech pilots and warg players. I have seen bunny people and variation of ratfolk closer in design to the Skaven then anything else. I have even played next to a player who had a monk Pegasus. I will leave it to you to figure that out.

In these cases, you are going to help keep things from being over or under powered.

You also have to make sure that things progress in a manner that helps everyone not do something jerkish to other charecters or would cause needless problems for the group. Of course this means lawful, chaotic, or evil stupid charecters and by extention their players. If they are too problematic, you have to deal with it before it gets nightmarish.


How to be a Great Game Master

The youtuber does videos on how to handle different situations that pop up, world building, and generally how to be a good Game Master. In particularly, look up his video on how to handle the dreaded Murder Hobo.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1F4eMw3W_rHBfxf9_m1hbw

Seth Skorkowsky: Another ryoutube that focuses on the table top, but he does both tips and tricks for the GM and as a Player Character. Particularly the worst kind of players and characters.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1F4eMw3W_rHBfxf9_m1hbw

See Bashew is good as he has these flash animated videos on different spells, and stratagies on how to use them (Book and Cook with Heat metal for instance).

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCXR2kCo7Lcw_BKwWxo09kw

Critcrab: He’s a youtuber who takes stories, both good and bad, from his Reddit page and narrates them over a background, usually a video game he is playing.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSIvTcuNzmGlGBQ3owdMZ1Q

Whistle While You Work: here is the video to


So, No pressure and have fun
 

Kae

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Well I'm going to be honest I'm lazy as hell as a GM, so you can normally count on a few things I'll have a random assortment of maps prepared, I'll have a few possible encounters prepared, I'll bring character sheets for the players and that's it.

I mostly just bullshit my way through my campaigns, mostly because I've found out that my players rarely do what was supposed to be done in the campaign and I'll have to improvise anyway, so my main recommendation would be that, be ready improvise and if you're not good at making stuff up on the spot, have a random assortment of things to insert to any situation like a few encounters, NPCs, dungeon/cave/forest maps and so on.

But seriously practice improvisation it's the single most important skill in GM-ing, you'll get so good at it eventually that you'll be able to start a campaign with 0 preparation eventually.
 

happyninja42

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Well I'm going to be honest I'm lazy as hell as a GM, so you can normally count on a few things I'll have a random assortment of maps prepared, I'll have a few possible encounters prepared, I'll bring character sheets for the players and that's it.

I mostly just bullshit my way through my campaigns, mostly because I've found out that my players rarely do what was supposed to be done in the campaign and I'll have to improvise anyway, so my main recommendation would be that, be ready improvise and if you're not good at making stuff up on the spot, have a random assortment of things to insert to any situation like a few encounters, NPCs, dungeon/cave/forest maps and so on.

But seriously practice improvisation it's the single most important skill in GM-ing, you'll get so good at it eventually that you'll be able to start a campaign with 0 preparation eventually.
It helps that some game systems are designed to be less rigid and structured in their rules, and allow for flexibility, and improvisation of stuff. My favorite system for this, is the FFG Star Wars system, that was so popular they decided to make it into a GURPS style, generic template system that you could adapt to any setting, not just SW.

GENYSYS is the name of it, if I got my spelling correct. And I think the...well...genesis of GENYSYS was that so many people were posting "homebrew settings" that used the FFG system, because they found it so easy to use, and fun, that FFG just said "fuck it, let's just make an official generic system to make it easier on people to do what they are doing anyway." So boom, new game line.

And they planned to make it modular, and interchangeable, so you could easily add in a random, unplanned cantina scene, without any real turbulence that the GM has to deal with.

The Order 66 podcast did an entire episode on various systems they had come up with using the FFG rules, and how much fun they were having.
 

Saint of M

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Different game systems need different things. Use your defression, I was trying to be a generalist.

Even with minitures, you can get away with some of the more talki bits. Use them for situations where you need to have a good visual, like a combat situation.
 

Buyetyen

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But seriously practice improvisation it's the single most important skill in GM-ing, you'll get so good at it eventually that you'll be able to start a campaign with 0 preparation eventually.
Apocalypse World and Dungeon World are all built on this idea. Everything is procedurally generated. Pretty much anything that runs off the Powered by the Apocalypse engine can be totally improvised. Monster of the Week for example can be played with the only prep work being in the last 10 minutes before the session to come up with a monster.

And on that note, I have to give a plug for World Wide Wrestling. Picked it up recently, played a few sessions over voice chat, ohmygodsomuchfun! It's what it sounds like: pro wrestling, the RPG. We would have kept going, but we couldn't get enough people together consistently to make it happen.

FATE is also an easy system to improvise with. I've recently gone into sessions with some characters, a couple of plot developments, and everything else I improvise. The system is lean and intuitive so once you get a feel for it, it's pretty easy to gauge what you need to challenge players on the fly.
 

TheMysteriousGX

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One of these handy dandy checklists:
E4A06384-5CBB-4DE8-A05F-D780FB891C3E.jpeg
A decent way to figure out what story bits you'd like to include that don't end up having your players say "f*ck this, I'm out".
 

Kae

Just burn the whole thing.
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It helps that some game systems are designed to be less rigid and structured in their rules, and allow for flexibility, and improvisation of stuff. My favorite system for this, is the FFG Star Wars system, that was so popular they decided to make it into a GURPS style, generic template system that you could adapt to any setting, not just SW.

GENYSYS is the name of it, if I got my spelling correct. And I think the...well...genesis of GENYSYS was that so many people were posting "homebrew settings" that used the FFG system, because they found it so easy to use, and fun, that FFG just said "fuck it, let's just make an official generic system to make it easier on people to do what they are doing anyway." So boom, new game line.

And they planned to make it modular, and interchangeable, so you could easily add in a random, unplanned cantina scene, without any real turbulence that the GM has to deal with.

The Order 66 podcast did an entire episode on various systems they had come up with using the FFG rules, and how much fun they were having.
I'll see if we can give it a whirl, it's going to be hard to convince them though, there's this game that used to be published by AEG called Legend of the Five Rings and my friends were huge fans of it but when it was sold to Fantasy Flight and they changed the system they were really pissed off, and they still talk shit about how FFG does things, it might be easier convince with the Star Wars RPG or something, but if that's the case I know someone that's better suited to GM that than me.
Apocalypse World and Dungeon World are all built on this idea. Everything is procedurally generated. Pretty much anything that runs off the Powered by the Apocalypse engine can be totally improvised. Monster of the Week for example can be played with the only prep work being in the last 10 minutes before the session to come up with a monster.

And on that note, I have to give a plug for World Wide Wrestling. Picked it up recently, played a few sessions over voice chat, ohmygodsomuchfun! It's what it sounds like: pro wrestling, the RPG. We would have kept going, but we couldn't get enough people together consistently to make it happen.

FATE is also an easy system to improvise with. I've recently gone into sessions with some characters, a couple of plot developments, and everything else I improvise. The system is lean and intuitive so once you get a feel for it, it's pretty easy to gauge what you need to challenge players on the fly.
I've heard of the Apocalypse Engine quite a bit, it sounds interesting but I'll admit that I've never read it, once I have disposable income I think I'll buy the book, probably for Apocalypse World since I'm honestly tired of fantasy and I know some of my players have been wanting to play a post-apocalyptic game anyway.

I get what you mean for Wrestling, sounds very niche I can understand why it was hard to schedule, a shame really, it always sucks when a fun campaign just stops.

And yeah I've heard of FATE quite a bit, I know it's generic so unless I'm doing my own thing which is possible I'm cooking a Fantasy game in a World War 2 Era type setting and haven't found any system to be sufficiently satisfactory for it yet, so I'm still looking through generics, I'll check the FFG Genysys system to see if it fits for that too.

One of these handy dandy checklists:

A decent way to figure out what story bits you'd like to include that don't end up having your players say "f*ck this, I'm out".
I honestly really like the idea, but unfortunately I can't really use that, my players are too edgy and would laugh me off the table if I gave them that both the guys and the girls, unfortunately that means that everyone had to learn I wasn't OK with Sexual Assault by having an Orc try to rape my character to which I honestly didn't say anything but I'm pretty sure everyone could tell I was super-uncomfortable with that, especially since the topic hasn't been brought up since that happened and that was years ago, but if people use common sense rather than pretending to be too cool to care about those things.
 

happyninja42

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I'll see if we can give it a whirl, it's going to be hard to convince them though, there's this game that used to be published by AEG called Legend of the Five Rings and my friends were huge fans of it but when it was sold to Fantasy Flight and they changed the system they were really pissed off, and they still talk shit about how FFG does things, it might be easier convince with the Star Wars RPG or something, but if that's the case I know someone that's better suited to GM that than me.
Yeah some players prefer different systems, based on what they want to try and get out of gaming. Some people see it as a tactical strategy game, so it's all about maximizing stats, and optimizing the locations on the board when combat arises. Others, like myself, see roleplaying more like improv theater with friends, where the GM basically just outlines a script, and we adlib it along the way. For me, systems that don't rely on number tables and graphs to simply play my character, are preferable. It's why I got so tired of the D20 system after a few years, because it emphasized aspects of gaming that I don't find as enjoyable. Now I'm not saying I'm 100% against combat stats and crunch, you have to have some to have a structure of a system, sure. But, when all of your published books, the actual printed pages, consist of like 95% combat stats/feats/rules/equipment, and you only pay lip service to the lore/social/non-combat aspect of your setting....well I think it speaks for itself what the focus of your game system is. But at my table, I am the outlier in my love of the acting/ROLEplaying part of it. My friends are very much about just making battle simulators with the games, and seeing how effective they can be with some particular character build. When I GM, they are out of their comfort zone, and end up sort of floundering when I try and roleplay a long conversation with an NPC about what the heroes are doing and why. The FFG/Genysys system is very much more tailored for my style of gaming, but I can totally understand that some people just don't like it. It asks for a lot more investment and involvement from the player, when the results of the dice roll require the player to explain what they did. Instead of just having the GM tell them what happened.

I think that's the biggest hurdle a lot of players have with the system. It essentially is sort of like a barter system, in that the dice results will give you positive and negative values. The positive values, can basically be "spent" to alter the situation. For example:

Lets say one of your players fires their blaster at a group of stormtroopers, as the party is trying to escape, however due to the dice results, they actually miss the shot, causing no direct damage to the troopers. However, the dice resulted in a Triumph (a very good extra result on the roll), and 2 Advantage (also good extra result, just not as good as a Triumph), and 2 Threat (a negative result, equivalent to Advantage in scale). So, the end result of the attack is a miss, but there is a LOT of other stuff that is now up to the player and GM to basically negotiate out.

"Ok so, I have 2 advantage and a triumph....hmmm" *player considers situation* "Can I say, that in my volley of blaster bolts, I hit a nearby control panel, and the blast causes the blast doors to slam shut, cutting them off?" GM: "Sure, that will cost you both of your advantage for a situational thing like that. Be aware, it's not a permanent lock. Since the controls were blasted, it can't be locked, and it's very likely they will be able to get it open in a turn or two. But you have bought your team some time. What next?" Player "Ok, well, let's see. How about, for the Triumph, I see that my ally is wounded, and he's moving slow, so he won't make it to the escape ship in this turn right?" GM: "Correct." Player: "Ok, so can I use the Triumph to give him an extra maneuver and thus make it this round?" GM: "Actually an extra maneuver like that woulnd't normally cost a Triumph, so how about this. You can do that, AND I'll even say that as you shout out encouragement to your allies, the pilot who's already in the ship, is able to bypass having to do some of the normal startup routines. So instead of taking 2 turns to take off, it's only one. Your lucky shot has given everyone enough time to bolster their efforts, and so they are all more efficient. Does that sound good to you?" Player: "Hell yeah that works! " GM: "Great, ok, however, there are 2 Threat, so as the GM I'm going to say that translates to your weapon overheating when you fired crazily, so it's jammed, it will take a Mechanics check to fix, meaning you can't use your gun until you have enough downtime to do so. Sound good?" Player: "That's fair yeah." GM: "Ok, so next is Floofloo NoobleFray, what is your action?"

And it continues like that. The players and GMs altering the fine details of a scene based on the results, regardless of whether the check itself actually succeeds or not. And I frankly love it. It can be a bit intimidating for players who have difficulty with quick thinking, as they will sometimes just be at a loss for creative things to spend the results on. But usually with a few sessions this issue improves significantly.
 

Buyetyen

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I honestly really like the idea, but unfortunately I can't really use that, my players are too edgy and would laugh me off the table if I gave them that both the guys and the girls, unfortunately that means that everyone had to learn I wasn't OK with Sexual Assault by having an Orc try to rape my character to which I honestly didn't say anything but I'm pretty sure everyone could tell I was super-uncomfortable with that, especially since the topic hasn't been brought up since that happened and that was years ago, but if people use common sense rather than pretending to be too cool to care about those things.
House rule in my campaigns is that if for any reason a topic comes up that makes someone uncomfortable and they want to stop, they just shout "X!" and we immediately take a break, no questions asked. The player is not obligated to explain themselves and we'll reconvene when they are ready. So far, I have yet to encounter a player who finds this a problem, but if anyone objects I will make clear that this is not negotiable. The experience of my players comes first.
 

Buyetyen

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I've heard of the Apocalypse Engine quite a bit, it sounds interesting but I'll admit that I've never read it, once I have disposable income I think I'll buy the book, probably for Apocalypse World since I'm honestly tired of fantasy and I know some of my players have been wanting to play a post-apocalyptic game anyway.

I get what you mean for Wrestling, sounds very niche I can understand why it was hard to schedule, a shame really, it always sucks when a fun campaign just stops.

And yeah I've heard of FATE quite a bit, I know it's generic so unless I'm doing my own thing which is possible I'm cooking a Fantasy game in a World War 2 Era type setting and haven't found any system to be sufficiently satisfactory for it yet, so I'm still looking through generics, I'll check the FFG Genysys system to see if it fits for that too.
Forgot to reply to this part and can't seem to find an edit button on my posts. Anyway...

If you get Apocalypse World just be aware that the game really commits to its motto: "There are no status quos." Anyway, the improv thing applies to most games under the system so you have a lot to pick from.

FATE is generic specifically so it can be adapted more easily. Unlike GURPS the rules are light and make sense, so you can mix and match ideas and genres really easily. There aren't any WW2-specific supplements that I know of, but the Systems Toolkit sourcebook has a lot of advice for creating magic systems.