Behind the GM's Screen


In this installment of his column, Gilgamesh talks about secrets and cycles, about getting back to the beginning, about magical curtains that hide secrets, and about using the Great Wheel to re-visit old knowledge from a new perspective. It's a fitting discussion to serve as a sort of transition from old to new here on Gamegrene.

Like a magician's trick, a good gaming session is all about creating a shared experience that leaves the audience mystified – it challenges preconceptions, overturns expectations, and reinforces faith. But tricks don't work if they are hidden. Making a rabbit appear from a hat only works if you show the empty hat at the beginning. At the end of the trick you need to show the rabbit too. One trick means showing the audience two points in time. Magic is the inability of the audience to connect what is shown with what is hidden.

It is all too easy for the GM to hide behind the screen, make mistakes, and have huge flaws in logic and planning. Through the course of any sustained campaign the players will come to know whether there are indeed any good mysteries behind the screen. By revealing inconsistencies in the story and execution the players can effectively pull down the curtain between player and GM.

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