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Reference The Game Master Group

Discussion in 'Role Playing Resource' started by DarkLordoftheFins, Sep 11, 2009.

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  1. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I'd also like to point to Imp's excellent essay On Sociality in the Gaming Theory thread. I say this because while we all have mental categories of people similar to what Bravo posted, the contents of each are probably different for everyone, depending on who they know. For better or for worse, the RPF is also a social place, and people are more likely to join games by people they know. Post in the social threads, play in games, join the AIM/MSN chats... that sort of thing.

    However: the RPF is also a very strong meritocracy. Excellent games will get players even if they're started by new, unproven users - Asylum is an example of that - and then if they're any good at GMing, it takes off. Sometimes it's really that simple. It's a sink-or-swim scenario there, but a few cold-started games have done well recently, so if you're confident go for it.

    Otherwise it's marketing, marketing, marketing. Post a teaser trailer in the intro thread if you have one, put it up in the GDG, that sort of thing. That never hurts. Just don't go overboard or people will ignore you because they think you're spamming.
  2. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Hero is right. Play, then GM. Well you played a little and I know you have no choice, because you move a game in existence over here, but . . . play. That is the way to get people interested in you.

    Okay, I simply won´t behave as if I "would not know" what kind of game you talk about and what you mean by "a few players" and give you a specific commentary on your situation, TGI. Make sure people find it accessible. Sacrifice all to make sure of it. A game of size and tradition like the one you and your people are about to move here, will get immediate recognition. People will read it. That´s the time you got to convince them to send in a CS.

    Also neither capitalize nore negate your experience. I have seldomly played with you, but know through various circles, you are around for a few years in the "scene". If you tell that, it won´t mean anything here. Probably alienate people, even. On the contrary, if you sell yourself as newbie . . . it might have the same effect. Just get here and play. None of those who has seen your writing thinks you began yesterday with this. And even if, these boards are welcoming. But I think in time, they will appreciate your experiences. They did with others, who had some.

    A word on sociality. Well, forget it. Please. Everybody has a user-list like the one above and if he never looks beyond it, he will miss all the good games. For Bravo´s list read like a "former RPer" meeting. Mine begins to do the same, actually. And would share none of the player-names above except Mitth-Fisto. To get a broad range of players, you cannot aim for any generation or group or circle of players. You shall look at the board in it´s whole size and approach it that way. Naming or addressing certain player circles (especially if you do not belong to them) is problematic. The most successful recruiter we had recently (I know of) has been LordTroepfchen´s The Cold Embrace, with three times the numbers he was willing to accept in "best case". While this posed a problem in itself, the most remarkable thing was, that after a year of absence, he basically got this response? Why? We are all still puzzling, trying to duplicate that effect . . . but an intruiging Opening Post, a good reputation and a commitment to fairness (he accepted only one person of his social circle of choice, the Germans and that seemed to be liked) he pulled it off. Arriving in a game-low, player-high did not harm his approach. See Market-theory from Imperial Hammer. Over at the Philosophy thread.

    So, hope this helped you a bit.
  3. Bravo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 6
    And my player list is a bit one sided. For years, I really only played the Jedi Outcasts game series under the username Jim_Palso. So any recent experience with the newer players (at least to me) like Fins, Xan, and BobaMatt have been very few. Only recently have I come back into the full swing of RPing, like I use to do years ago.

    But I both like Fins and Xan's approach. Play first, then GM, but with Xan's approach, if you got the skills to GM, show them, but marketing is key.
  4. Hero_Of_The_Force Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2008
    star 2
  5. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    I think it is pretty much common sense.

    Fin agreed I introduce a new topic. If one looks at the last few Best GM winners, Ramza, Winged, Fin or now BobaMatt and Saintheart . . . they all do their thing very different.

    Don´t get me wrong, I appreciate variation in style.

    But what are the qualities of a good GM? What is it all the GMs we like and love have in common?
  6. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    What makes a good GM? Not burning out. :p

    No, I'm serious. Not burning out is very, very important. Don't take on more players than you can handle, and make sure you plan time effectively to avoid becoming overwhelmed. If you burn out, you let down your players, and to an extent you pick up a bit of pessimism yourself that you can't really shed - assuming you even come back.
  7. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Agreed. Nothing's more frustrating than a RPG that flames out because it's more popular than the GM originally anticipated, and s/he takes on more than s/he can handle.

    Related to this, consistency. It's one thing to start a game up with a strong, attentive GM who's on hand all the time and who provides massive, detailed updates. It's another thing entirely to keep that up for the 18 months plus it might take to finish out a game. You have to pace yourself.
  8. SirakRomar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 30, 2007
    star 4
    A solid purposeful plot. The "endless facton" can cry as much as they want, at some point half the players might enjoy the game still, but if you go nowhere, it is all just random writing. Stories do not exist without plotpoints.

    A feeling for his players. You need to know what you can and cannot aks them to. Do they follow you into all, do they accept streamlining, so they prefer to parody things? You actually should know what and who you´re dealing with.

    A dedication to update. As said before, you should update. Not only in general, but also every player in special. You should just write updates for the, or they feel irrelevant. Okay, sometimes you go to the GM and say, we wanna do this on our own. but if you are left out, feel like nobody is connceted in your game anymore, you can as well drop out and do you own.

    A humble approach to himself. This is a growijng problem here. Some GMs consider themselves stars, some do desire such "status". While I understand the system of motivation behind the boards, the star-status thing is a little out of hand, ESPECIALLY when it comes to GMs. That is a problem, as some of them can´t life up to the expectations. And while still good, a man can fail, if he wants to much, even when achieiving a lot. A good example is how affected and unaffected certain GMs are from Award Season.

    My approaches, mainly from a player-perspective.
  9. TheManinBlack Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 1, 2007
    star 4
    QFT
  10. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Pfft, I hardly think it's gotten to the point where GMs feel a sense of celebrity entitlement.

    *Sips his champagne from a solid gold glass labeled "RPF Superstar" while wearing a monocle and silk smoking jacket, sitting on a chair stuffed with dodo feathers, an ivory pipe in hand*

    Sarcasm aside, I really don't see this as a problem around here. True, there are those groups of people that go around singing another GMs' praises, but I've yet to see any GM going around talking about how awesome they are. At least, not in a serious manner.

    However, I acknowledge this could be some variety of willing ignorance on my part.
  11. Bravo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 6
    I would agree with darthramza here. I don't see any GM's walking around like their all that. The landscape has changed a lot for a olbie like me who wasn't active outside of a singular game for so many years. With that said, I think the RPF is a tighter-knit community then I last remembered.
  12. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    Can´t think of any problems with "GM-stardom" myelf. I think the second group, those longing for such a reputation is more of a problem. Also a problem for themselves, only. There is tendency of people considering their game a failure because it isn´t instantly the "next big thing" . . . which is in most cases only a matter of perception. The downside of competitive thinking is, that you probably care more about the competition than anything else. Like your game, plot etc.

    It also makes people try to get the best out of themselves. Grow, get better. Which is a very positive effect. So I guess it balances each other out.

    I see her point with the second group, even though my personal experience would make me spell it out a little different. I wouldn´t call it a "problem" by any means. But it might make a good GM not to fall for that trap.
  13. HarbingerSTG Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2009
    I am looking at starting a new game. Not a forum RPG but an IRC one I was wondering if this post has enough information to inform the characters but not too much to overwhelm them. This is going to be posted in the Plot category on my site's forums not in an actual IRC post.

    "It is 1000 Years before the epic Battle of Yavin, a time when the Sith and Jedi are locked in mortal combat. Thousands of lives are being lost every month on both sides. To the rest of the Galaxy it seemed as if the war was finally drawing to a close. The Sith are finally beginning to give ground, losing planet after planet as the Army of Light surges outward from the Republic's core. The tables turn, however, when Lord Kaan, the leader of the Dark Brotherhood is assassinated. Under normal circumstances the halls of the Jedi Temple would be resounding with joyous roars of victory, but now a shrill silence hangs over the Temple, for a new leader of the Dark Brotherhood has taken Kaan's place; one far more competent, one far more relentless and one exponentially more deadly. Now under this new leadership the Sith begin conquering almost every gain the Jedi have made into Sith territory and then some until at last the Sith have choked the very essence of life out of the Republic. Poised for the killing blow the leader of the Sith gathers all fleets to him in an attempt to invade Coruscant itself. The battle rages on until a force of Sith Lords consisting of the best of the Sith and even the Sith Leader attack the Jedi Temple. Countless Jedi are killed in their path when the Sith are finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The Sith fleet, now leaderless, falls back to the Outer Rim. The Sith and the Jedi are locked in a stalemate, much like the one before Kaan's assassination and now both sides are attempting to put a final end to the war by any means necessary..."
  14. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    Congratulations, you've created every Star Wars RPG ever.

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but you haven't done anything that we haven't seen over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. You may have semi-tied it to a specific time frame, but I really don't know where you're going with this. As far as I can tell, you have a newer and badder Sith Lord, who statistically would probably wear a big dark cloak and glower a lot, and wield two lightsabers. This doesn't really inform your players of anything. Since this is an IRC game, I assume they're all in the same area, because plotting several different arcs in real time over a several sessions is... taxing. What exactly are they? What will they do? Where do you plan on taking this? All I can tell is that you're doing the same thing that dozens of other GMs on this board have done, few to any memorable degree. Maybe yours is different, or maybe yours is exactly what your group is looking for, I can't tell.

    (Also, "thousands of lives are being lost" isn't that impressive, since crude math puts the USSR at losing upwards of 200,000 soldiers a month in World War 2, and that was merely one country in one war between countries of one planet, not the combined losses of an interstellar war. Just skip it, doing the math at this scale isn't worth it.)
  15. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    I think the sarcasm may actually be somewhat justified here, because saying "Hey, I have no intention of ever letting any of you see more of this game, but can I get some help" warrants a few snide remarks. And when the guy running an RPF IM game is saying that, I think it warrants a bit of consideration.[face_plain]

    On the more polite and non-"politicized" side of the coin, I basically agree with the points LW brings up. The setting and scenario seem very same-y and generic, and there's a decided lack of any captivating elements to keep everyone interested for the long haul.
  16. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    Just wanted to add that this group is for refining ones art of GMing post-by-post. We could even discusss IRC stuff, if it happened around here . . . but we´re not a universal help program to people playing elsewhere. Actually we cannot. We have not clue how you play.

    Otherwise Lightwarden sentence with the many "agains" basically reflects my feelings about the story perfectly.
  17. BobaMatt TFN EU Staff

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2002
    star 6
    The biggest problem - for any RPG, but especially in an instant message rp, I would imagine - is the lack of specificity. There's a big epic war...and then what? The RP is not the breadth of the whole war. The game is...who are your characters and what are they doing? What you wrote is this massive, intense backstory. The next step is telling us where the game starts and why. Perhaps it's a squad of Jedi seeking the plans to a weapon...perhaps it's a Jedi doing a bit of investigative work to try and uncover this Sith Lord's identity...perhaps it's a cargo ship carrying a mysterious cargo and bound for the Outer Rim before being intercepted by the Sith...what's the story?

    The movies, for example, take place during a massive Galactic Civil War, but A New Hope is about the plans for a very powerful weapon landing in a reluctant farmboy's lap, and his mission to save a princess.

  18. HarbingerSTG Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Thank you all for your criticism. I already have a few more ideas for some different games so perhaps I'll work a bit more with those and adjust my writing style a bit. ;)
  19. DarkLordoftheFins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2007
    star 4
    A question I am personally interested in. How much time per day/per week does it take for you to GM? How much time do you invest in your games?
  20. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    5+ hours from crazy pseudo RPF game land: 1.5+ Prep time, 3+ session, .5+ summary writing.

    So yeah. Back when I was doing Aria it would routinely take about 3, so I mostly blame the above on format specifications.
  21. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    I was wondering when someone would ask this rather glaring question, and it's a damned good one, too.

    First, my experience on ToF, since as a true D&D RPG played in PbP format, it probably differs from the norm.

    It does ebb and flow somewhat for me based on the input my players put in. The more stuff they put in, generally the more I'll put in. My situation is markedly different from probably a lot of GMs in that my job is surprisingly manageable, surprisingly easy, and surprisingly autonomous. Therefore I've got considerable time to watch my game and polish on it.

    One also has to draw a distinction between combat and non-combat situations. Combat is comparatively a lot heavier on my time than non-combat; it isn't just writing the update, it's resolving characters' actions mathematically behind the scenes and adjusting my battle maps as I go ... as well as then hosting the maps on pbucket and making sure it all looks okay. With eight people in the game it'll usually take me about 2-3 hours to write a combat update, of which the actual writing is the shortest and easiest part -- by that point I've crunched the numbers and repainted my map; the actions and mathematical outcomes suggest a storyline, or at least a thread for that update.

    Outside of combat, it's a somewhat easier pace. I watch the thread on a daily - even hourly - basis, because since I have the opportunity and the motivation to provide quick information for people, I'm usually inclined to do so. Say about an hour online per day if it gets pretty busy, but otherwise maybe 15-30 minutes per day. That includes communing with Lightwarden via PM as to what horrible things we're going to do to the characters next, albeit I don't have to do it quite as much now because I think I've fooled him that I know how to run some parts of the game ... :D :p Handy as hell to have an advising GM when it comes to RPG, by the way.

    It's been a while since I ran true freeform ... actually, come to think of it, the last one might have been Brave New World ... and in those cases the time was considerably less on updates. Say 1-2 hours out of a day for a really big update where I'm doing a large scene or a few smaller scenes at once, and otherwise maybe 30 minutes out of a day.

    But yeah. Quantifiable RPGs like the "Risk" format or a proper d20 RPG I think are always going to chew more GM time than true freeform if only because there's both the calculation element and the writing element, but I've got to say I'm growing more and more to like doing PbP format for Dungeons and Dragons. Probably because I'm used to it now after over a year running one, but that's really my observations.

    EDIT: Actually, the last true freeform RPG I ran was Legio Angelus, and I created a rod for my own back by just spamming scenes for new players as they came in. That sucker chewed a good two hours an update, and my updates tended to be twice weekly at least. No wonder I collapsed when Jessica came along halfway through it. Sheesh.
  22. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    I was used to need 5-7 hours for a game I ran alone. It became a little slower when I arrived here, as doing it in english was a challenge at first. But I reduced player numbers and kept my updates more concentrated so I came out at 1 hour per update, 2 updates a week. For a max of five players. It is all I could afford to do, actually.

    Freeform. Semi-free-form is different, obviously. The pure rules based form of playing somehow never attracted me, because I have that when I meet p&p people in RL.

    When I do a rule based game, like the background dicing of the german ABYverse, where we had rules for GMs use only or Monomyth, where they are used in the open, I usually need longer. About three hours, therefore one update a week. Depends on the set of rules, obviously. D&D has the much criticzed rule-heavy approach. WoD was a lot less, but could still get hairy when it came to disciplines. Especially Thaumatrugy and stuff. I think d6 and GURPs were pretty perfect for converting to simplified online-rules. But obviously lack the complexity. Deceivers 2d6 idea and R.Talsorian´s simple and perfect rules for
    Cyberpunk were really fast to use. But only worked within´the game worlds they were designed for . . .
  23. LordTroepfchen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 9, 2007
    star 4
    Skipped my last gig here to Co-GM another project. So, the question came up to me . . . what makes a good Co-GM?
  24. Penguinator RPF Modinator and Batmanager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 23, 2005
    star 6
    A Co-GM is a ludicrous concept, if you ask me. First of all it's a complete misnomer, as the Co-GM is more often than not a sub-GM answering to the GM proper.

    It's a poor system of delegating work - and really, it's not a partnership if one person delegates the menial nature of it all to a subordinate.
  25. LightWarden Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 2001
    star 4
    I'd imagine that being a good co-GM is the same as being a regular GM. Attentiveness, effort, preparation, that sort of thing. As far as delegation goes, it seems to depend on the game. With the largest games, co-GMs are often used for running different segments involving different groups of PCs. With ToF, Saintheart does the in-character updates, while I stick more with mechanics, though both of us chat a lot via PM about what's going to happen next, with me offering advice. My job consists mainly of anything that needs to be built or modified, be it helping players with their characters or tweaking the enemies.
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