GMing Mistakes 12 – Improper Balance Between Experimentation and Repetition

One of those mistakes I’ve made plenty of times myself.

There are groups out there who have been playing campaigns for decades. They get together when they can and go on one more dungeon raid, where they pretty routinely move from room to room, emptying them from threats that just sit there, waiting for them.

My mistakes have been in the completely other direction.

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GMing Mistakes 11 – Experience Doesn’t Necessarily Make Players Better

I was once in a game where the GM had somehow gotten in his head that he could require as to make harder rolls, because everyone in the group had been playing for so long. So what’s the assumption here? Experienced players get luckier? Experienced players have learned how to get away with cheating? I’m not sure. Sure, we might be able to use the resources we have more flexibly and in different ways, but we still have all the same limitations as the beginning playes.

… actually, I think experience is often a hindrance.

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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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