GMing Mistakes 10 – There’s a Chance You Don’t Get Probabilities

Okay, so, there’s thief in your group and they want to infiltrate the tent of an officer from an opposing army. Its in the middle of the camp and you want to make it hard, but from your point of view, it would be a good thing if the thief was able to do it.

So, lets suppose the player rolls 2d6 and has to get at least 7 to succeed. They get +2 from their.. skill. Whatever. First, you want them to roll for moving into the camp. Then you want them to roll for moving through the camp. Then you want them to figure out where the tent is and roll for that as well. Then you want them to roll for entering the tent. They’re pretty good at what they do, so this should work, right?

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GMing Mistakes 9 – Randomized Characters

I’ve heard all sorts of reasoning. “Not everyone is equal in real life.” “It doesn’t matter how good your character is, there’s always something to do.” “Its in the rules.” “I want to push the players to do something different.” Well, these are true. I can’t argue with that. What I can argue with is that these aren’t very good reasons. There are a lot of things that are true, but you wouldn’t really want it that way.

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GMing Mistakes 8 – Underestimating the Importance of the System

You’ve been playing a while and you’ve been always using CoC and its worked out pretty well. Sure, you have to invoke the Golden Rule every now and then, but at the same time, you know the system, so why not use it for the fantasy campaign you’re trying to sell your players on.

Please don’t. I know many people think CoC is the greatest thing ever, but at the same time, that group of people haven’t usually played anything more sophisticated. They still like to think that the solutions of their youth are still valid solutions today. Would you still use the same computer you used back in the 80s? Probably not. These things have moved on. Why shouldn’t RPG systems? After all, they are of pretty comparable age.

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GMing Mistakes 7 – Homework

I love Glorantha. Its a rich world with its own interesting cosmology and a wealth of myths. I would love to run a campaign in there. Just to get really into all the stuff I love. And I never should. Sure, I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t seem to work out. Why? Because I can’t ever communicate all things I want to any potential players.

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GMing Mistakes 6 – Railroading

I’ve been saving this pretty one for a while now, but it needs to be discussed.

What’s railroading? That’s when the GM has clearly planned out what’s going to happen and then pushes the players to follow that plan. Personally, I hate it. It makes me the audience to GMs story. And you know what? That story isn’t really as engaging as the GMs think.

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GMing Mistakes 5 – Putting Too Much Importance on One Character

I know most fiction works like this, so its understandably tempting to make one character the main character in the campaign. However, it doesn’t work like that in practice. Your audience consists of a handful people in the form of your players. Each of them has a character and each of them feels particularly close to that character. So, for them, your chosen protagonist is just a nuisance that keeps their character from taking the spotlight. Nice job alienating most of your audience.

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GMing Mistakes 3 – Not Trusting Your Players

Okay, this is a big one. Nothing like the previous two, but gladly this isn’t big in the sense that I would need a book’s worth of words for this.

What it boils down to is this: If you are willing, you can put a lot of the responsibility on the players and let them control much of the environment. So, of course, the question is, what happens when your players, who are gamers by definition and as such understand that this can give them an advantage, abuse the system? Well, first, lets recount all the instances this has happened since I’ve adopted this trusting style of GMing.

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Asking Help from Community

Roleplaying communities in internet are a beautiful thing. Back in the day when we played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I was really active on Strike-to-Stun. I quickly learned that if I had a problem or wanted to change ideas an international community of likeminded players was a great place to start. Now we haven’t played WFRP in ages but I still visit the communities because I want to keep up with the people there.

There are a lot of rpg communities all around the web. There are dedicated forums, publisher’s forums, Facebook and (my personal favorite) Google+ for example. Combine them and you have almost unlimited resources of information and ideas. Ask help and you will get it.

Most of the time.

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