Game Masters


When I started role playing, the very first character I ever played was a fighter, no doubt. But the very second character I ever played was a thief. I enjoyed the idea of a character who could sneak into a rich noble's house, full of treasure, just waiting for me to plunder. Having no levels to speak of, but lost of ideas, I set out with my little thief, staking out the target house, using disguises and bribes to get any information about the security of the place I could.

The day feels oppressively hot, the sun baking all of L'Trel as the heat wave continues for at least one more day in the northern port-city. You hear a cry from nearby, and a rumbling far away. You turn to see, and you observe a cloud of flame rise and reach for the sky, as a mushroom from the wet, spring soil. People young and old alike cry out in unison around you, just now you hear the first of many wails of disbelief and screams of terror, and people begin to run for their lives from this flaming menace. You look ahead of you, and you see a woman trapped under the wheel of a now-abandoned wagon, and just then, as you move to help, it begins to rain. This rain brings no relief however, as it is not water but fire falling from the emerald and azure summer sky.


All of your players are seated around you waiting for you to do something. They've just walked into a small inn, the only one in town. Ted, the leader of the group, looks at you and says, "My player walks up to the innkeeper and says hello."

GMs are central to role-playing games. They keep everything running, they regulate the rules, they write the adventures. . . so on and so forth. Basically, a lot of the enjoyment of the game comes from them. There are things they can do that seriously ruin the adventure for all involved. Note that I am not condoning these by any means; I am using them as a warning.

Armor clanked as the four paladins strode into the cell where the Orcish prisoner was chained. The first of them, a grizzled man with long gray hair and a beard, raised his torch.

I've been playing and DMing various games for nearly 14 years now. There has always been one thing I have never liked: the random encounter. I am not saying I don't think it's useful from time to time. . .characters should stumble upon random events occurring in the world, after all the world is happening all around them. Just because they're chasing the Villain Of The Month doesn't mean there aren't a million other things going on in the world as well. Bandits, monsters, and even other heroes are out scouring the world too.

By their very nature RPGs have a tendency to pit the players against the Game Master. You supply the challenges, the monsters and if you are an Evil GM, all the horrible things the players will encounter. Being one such Evil GM I have noticed the players in my group tend to band together for protection. They stand back to back against the worst I can throw at them, and have learned to trust, or at least tolerate, each other.


I have to say I'm a lazy GM. I don't have the time or the energy to prepare a vast amount of background, labyrinthine plots, or hundreds of stats for monsters. So I spend an awful lot of time winging it during a game. My plots may be complex, and the background detailed, but this has little to do with the preparation I put in; mostly they are player lead adventures, and so I rely upon them for a lot of the inspiration and development of the game.

A lot of things can ruin a game when it's being written and assembled by developers. Unwieldy or unsound systems, derivative story concepts, an uninteresting setting, bad art, or even an overabundance of typos and spelling errors can all make a gamer set down a book in disgust and consign it to the hindmost reaches of the bookshelf, where it will never again see the surface of a gaming table, or even the light of day.

As a gamemaster, your most important job is keeping the players happy. There are mundane reasons for this: if you don't have happy players, soon you won't have players at all. Ultimately you want to keep the players happy because roleplaying is a recreational activity; whether you're telling a good story or presenting difficult tactical problems, the point is to have fun.

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