What I Have Learned About GMing
Its been a long and arduous journey.
This was actually the inspiration for this page. A lot of the games I have run, especially recently, have suffered from a strange lack of drive. There was very little initiative from the players, and I couldnt figure out why.
Well, I finally did.
Crawl Before You Walk
I am impatient (HOLY MOTHERFUCKING CRAP REALLY OMG!!!!!!111). I have always wanted players to drive the plot in games because I feel like that is when they (both games and players) are at their best. Yet what I hadnt considered is that games (or possibly groups) dont just start out with this kind of chemistry. Players need a certain amount of time to get acquainted with the setting and really come to grips with who their character is (not just who they thought the character would be when they created it).
What Players Want
Excitement! Oh, and encounters. Its easy to get caught up in creating a big, twisted storyline that has subplots, intrigue and NPCs galore, but what players really crave are focused details in the form of interesting encounters. This is especially true early in the game before characters have developed their own subplots and been ensnared into strings of encounters that create storylines the GM never anticipated.
In the beginning of a game, the meta-plot is only apparent to the GM. The players need a strong sequence of encounters early in the game to draw them into the world.
These are the challenges the players face (through their character medium) during the game. It doesnt matter if its combat or a persuasion roll, its just the character vs the environment. Early in the game the interactions which form the basis of encounters must be colorful and memorable because they illustrate the environment more than because they advance the plot.
Even if the players arent driving the plot, it should go where they take it. The players decisions or lack thereof should always determine where the plot goes. In other words, the story is not preordained.
We aint Presbyterians!