Gamemaster Style : What kind of game master are you? Rules, Story , Fun

Gamemaster Style : What kind of game master are you? Rules, Story , Fun


Kevin C Masonfrom Jack monkey games I’m taking a break from working on Invoke the Table top game and um oh yeah I shaved my head the today’s topic is what is your job as a GM and any time that I see or hear this conversation going on the Internet it comes with prepackaged trolls I think prepackaged tools because I see the same ones all the time and they’re extraordinarily angry like crazy angry like someone get a bag of holding filled of acid kind of angry troll kind of angry thing and I find that really interesting so I wanted to have this topic and hopefully turn it into a discussion on the different styles of being a gamemaster the pros and cons for each okay so the first camp we’re going to be talking about is that the GM is the rules advocate or they’re the advocate for the rules and part of their job is to know the rules backwards and forwards and make appropriate judgment calls on the rules as they come up now this does mean that they do need to be fairly brush with the rules it also means that they have to have a general idea of what fairness is now fairness can be relative on that because you’re talking about that you’re not doing player versus player in most cases so when you’re doing that the fact that the troll didn’t get its extra saving throw that doesn’t mean that you’re not being fair to that troll it just means that you’re ignoring that particular rule for whatever reason pros for that is that if you are paying attention to the rules and focusing on rules you’ve got everything’s fair as bare as you possibly can the disadvantage on that is that it does get a bit mechanical there’s a lot of advantages to it as well I think that having a rules driven GM can also be a fun experience as long as everyone is on the same page I’ve noticed that anything that threatens the gm’s power tends to be a bit of a butthurt thing um where I find that players are game masters that are only about the rules tend to also forget about storyline and about the players having fun in fact in most cases where the players are not having fun usually there’s a rule of driven game master behind the screen not always but it tends to be that way I would love to get your comments about the rules driven GM okay the second world may be talking about is the story-driven GM now this is the game master who thinks that the story is the best part now what I really like about story of in GM’s is that as a player love to hear the story I mean after all that’s the whole point of me being there is listening to the story so with that the the problem with being a story focused GM is that sometimes you make sacrifices towards the story and the players kind of start to feel railroaded so in situations where a GM is all about the story and not about the players they tend to railroad a little bit the extreme case of that is a situation where I i was listening to I was in a game situation and the GM was so bad that I I almost felt violated in fact i’ve got a video to that here the videos long so i apologize for that but we’re checking out it just was not a fun experience because i had completely lost my agency as a player so a story GM has that disadvantage the advantage is that well once again the story is fantastic okay and the last one is the kind of like the host driven GM this is the GM where they want to make sure that everyone’s having fun the disadvantage of this is that if you go too far and becomes a Monty Hall situation where the players end up getting all bunch of stuff that you don’t do anything that might create danger you don’t do anything that might infringe on the party and sometimes it gets a bit sandboxie or to sandbox I don’t mind the sandbox key same sandbox game but sometimes it gets too much sometimes the GM in this case is not willing to make those hard calls it can actually ruin the game I have been in a game like that where we started off with everything and the GM was trying to make everyone happy and so anytime that we encountered something it was like more loot than we could carry the problem was is that the power creep was so fast and he he had a hard time finding things for us to fight so it got to the point where we have roll initiative and first hit from the fighter half the villains were dead and leaving almost nothing for the managed to do so even though we had everything it just became more about the status there wasn’t enough story and it just didn’t seem like there was any reason to do it other than oh look I get the right things out on my character sheet it comes down to balance as a GM you should have balance you should work with the rules you should make sure that you’ve got a great story and you make sure everyone’s having fun now this means that you’ve got to be fair make sure everyone has their ability to tell their own story and that you’ve got you know that you’re having a blast check in with your players you’re getting that feedback and I think that if you if you focus in on all three of those and trying to find a balance as a GM you’re going to do fine here is where the trolls come in now you have to make sure that everyone else is having fun and that you’re not there to show off you’re not there to tell your story or to dictate rules to everyone because as a gem that’s not why we’re there we have our friends around the table so why would you be addictive them if you want to have a point where you can talk on uninterruptedly should get a YouTube channel if find that balance and it’s going to something you’re going to be working on as a GM for a very long time I know that I myself have been in all three of those camps and I think that I finally reached that balance because of this point well I have to actually break up my game group because running 12 people in shadowrun is kind of tough so I’ve had to break it up I’ve had to break them up into different groups and um I guess that I guess I’m doing something right now I’m not the end all be all in fact I wish to barely quantify what I’m doing but as I can master maybe you can so leave a comment in the video and let me know what you think okay in other news um we are currently working on Jack Lindsay games website we had to move our hosting so that website is currently down but you will be able to go to Jack Marquis gamescom and check it out we’ve got section 4 videos we’ve got Roe vs. roll tips we’ve got game mastering tips and we’ve got a section for the new game invoke which should be coming out in two of 2017 you

10 thoughts on “Gamemaster Style : What kind of game master are you? Rules, Story , Fun

  1. Im definitely story focused, I hate rule arbiters. I understand that rules are there to facilitate the world's … physics i guess for lack of a better word, but I like my stories, and you are right about the railroading, but if you have a group that is okay with that then its really not a problem. I assume my focus on this is because of how deeply ingrained JRPGs are in my life. We're going to be starting a live play up on May the 9th, and theres going to have to be some sacrifices just… realistically for time purposes, and im afraid that a lot of people who know 5th edition inside and out are going to poke holes, but again, it'll be streaming every other tuesday and we've set up a 2 hour session each time. So with that little amount of time, some of the mechanics will be sacrificed in order to have a faster paced story.

    All that being said, you mention expression of the players is hampered by railroading, and I agree to an extent. I actually get around this quite a bit, because I have my players write extensive backgrounds with their own small world building stuff, for example they can make NPCs that they knew in their childhood, or parents or something. They can make up towns they were from etc etc. The only request is that they leave open ends so I can take their creations and weave them into the larger narrative.

    This facilitates a huge emotional growth for the characters. I don't know if you've seen my trailer, but im gonna totally take this opportunity for some shameless promotion of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faUEIYrWV-E lol. Dont mean to hijack the video comments. I hope I contributed to the discussion you wanted to have between the viewers and yourself.

  2. Also you look like the Dean from Community now lol. I don't know if thats a good or bad thing, but take it as you will hahah.

  3. high adventure!!! also we finally started recording our first game online!!! there's still some technical difficulties which should clear up by the next session 🙁 That being said I'm excited! And hope the community likes them!

  4. There is a difference between a "rule" focused GM, and a "mechanical" focused GM : One is just about following the rules, the other is about knowing the rules to create adventures as mechanically interactive and interesting as possible.

  5. I don't think they are so much as rule driven as they pit themselves against the players as opposed to seeing it as a cooperative story that everyone is making. Also, it's very easy to slip in that mode when constantly denying the players. I error on the side of the players, and when I have an npc that exceeds the players capabilities that it's very easy to guage that, due to describing the npc as badasses. Personally if the players get to showcase the players abilities they tend to not fight you when you describe a situation where they are out matched.

  6. Nice video. Do you think that these are phases that we DMs all go through? Sometimes I'll purposely flip styles, just because I think that the game needs it, but I learned this over time.

  7. I really like your point about balance- i value a dm who is fun, and i try to be a dm who values the players fun over keeping a strict plot, but the rules are there to keep the game going smoothly and the story is there to drive the characters forward! all parts are important and it's okay to lean towards a particular play style, but when it gets overpowering, its just eeeeh.

  8. Good video. I think between fun-focused and story-focused there's another class: the Player-Focused GM, writing stories to be "multi-pathed" and adaptable to whatever players do… This is the style I've been practicing at my table for several years: the potential advantage is that the players are driving the story forward (with the GM simply maintaining it) and thus the pacing fits exactly what the players want – the potential disadvantage is that if the GM lapses in his adaptability, he's now stuck in a player-created situation, at a loss how to bring the story back into it.

  9. I try to be a sandbox DM.

    I have a list of directions the party can choose from.
    However, I "age" any problem that the party ignores.

    Ignore the bandits raiding caravans and pretty soon the economy of the area suffers. There are shortages of certain products. Some of these can be serious. Also, nobody wants to cart the products of the local area out in caravans f they are expecting to be killed for trying.

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