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On Game Mastering For Fun

Or how I learned to stop worrying and just play.

So I'd like to start by making it clear that I am in no way a GM god. I started playing D&D like, 10 years ago and for some reason, it seemed like I was the only dude with enough disposable time to take up the mantle and just do it.

That being said, as time goes on, being an RPG GM OG BAMF starts taking more and more of a toll resource wise. Gone are the days where a 4e PHB can see you going through 40+ sessions of a campaign. It all seems so long ago. Nah. As things progress and you step into the consumer mindset, that $18 piece of cardboard with easily transcribed stats and helpers starts to subtly wink at you from the bottom of your Amazon account's suggested bar. Time is no longer your only investment. A monetary investment is also...uhm...another investment(?). Poor dramatic embellishment aside my core message is this: 

Shit gets expensive.

It's no wonder that many a confused beginner GMs find/found Facebook and G+ groups and start asking questions about "this product" and "that" and "this situation" and "that ruling." It's also no wonder that every now and again you get an entire thread dedicated to thrashing GMs in general.

Cruel, confused fiends whose intentions range from genuine and benevolent but misguided to outright murderous and power hungry. Monsters who dare to challenge the oh, so sacred bond of respect between GMs and players, always looking to extend the shadow of their influence into the very fabric of the PCs' backstories. To constantly mess with the PCs narrative for their own sadistic amusement.

Look, there's no doubt that the hobby has a history of this being exactly the case. Just look up "that guy" on an RPG forum and you'll see exactly what I mean. We should remember, however, that just like the paragraph above, people tend to exaggerate things whenever they find themselves telling a story. Hell, it's what the hobby is based on. That clique attitude that you get is part of it. GMs will talk about how difficult the players are and vice versa. The key is not to force this on to people. Especially not when they're just starting out.

Imagine having to deal with the following:

  • You are expected to get the books.
  • You are expected to have read all those books.
  • You are expected to have a functional story each session.
  • You are expected to be fair.
  • You are expected to be impartial in a game about personalities.
  • You are (sometimes) expected to be Matt Mercer (<3).

So yeah, it kind of sounds like the core responsibilities of a judge out of Judge Dredd but we all know it's not all that. On the surface (and this is mainly because of the inevitable elitist culture on some boards). this sounds less like playing a game and more like work. Which, it kinda is. 

If you can't find any of those elements enjoyable, maybe GMing a traditional pen and paper RPG isn't your thing, anyway. That's fine. Back to the point, though: it is work and it does sometimes feel tedious.

Those times are the times you need your players to be supportive and understanding. Maybe you're bored of the campaign. Maybe you're bored of the system. Maybe you've got some other stuff to do that's equally or more important than your hobby and are just winging it for the night. Maybe winging isn't your thing.

And I'm not saying that players are not important.

They. Are. Crucial.

But there's a reason most GM books insist that the GM is always right. The game is our baby, we spend so much time and money making sure it grows up to be great, and we need you to be a part of that process but it hurts when you re-roll "Mega-Legolas Z" for the 1000th time.

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On Game Mastering For Fun
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