Evil GM Tricks


If there's one immutable law all GMs know, it’s that players love loot. Wizards love that uber wand of disintegration. Fighters want the +12 hackmaster. Street samurai want that move by wire 4. How do you give them what they want without losing game balance? Simple. Present it like an Evil GM.

As the GM you can't wipe out the party or your campaign is over, right? What if I offered you a way to kill them all and get away without them lynching you? Intrigued? Read on.

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.

Most people seem to agree a good Gamemaster's job is to run a memorable campaign the players enjoy. This entails a good mix of suspense, humor, intrigue, preparation, improvisation, and a little acting. What many GMs mistakenly leave out is Trauma. Not blunt force trauma like hitting someone in the head with a lead pipe. No, Trauma with a capital T. Trauma is, in a nutshell, doing something so horrible to someone's character that they start laughing. Until they realize you are serious.

Being a GM is often a thankless task, and yet many of us still work tirelessly every week to thrill our players with another amazing session. We battle people's schedules, player apathy, and many other things to keep our campaigns going. Most of us do it blindly, but gradually learn from our mistakes over the years. In my own early days sitting behind the screen I wished fervently for any sort of guidance. I knew the players were out to get me, and fought constantly to stay one step ahead of them.

Talk to any Game Master and they will likely tell you the most important step for a successful campaign is introducing the Player Characters to each other. There are a variety of ways to do this, but over the years I have found certain elements are key to getting it right. Most beginning GMs underestimate the importance of the first session, and tend to overlook important warning signs. Many pitfalls and missteps can be avoided with a little preparation and a bit of forethought. So with this in mind, I have outlined a few things that have worked for me in the past.

If you are not a Game Master, Storyteller, or Dungeon Master then read no further. If you do your dice will be horribly cursed, and you will critically fail at anything you ever attempt from this day forward... Of course, knowing players like I do I know all of you are still reading. That's fine. It won't save you.

Sometimes we GMs need a break. Perhaps you've been running your game week after week for a year now, or perhaps the well of ideas has gone temporarily dry. If so, then a one-shot game may be just the thing for you. But hey, if you are going to run another game for just one weekend why not make it interesting? Halloween is fast approaching, and will be the perfect opportunity for a one-shot adventure.

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