Being the game master is a rough business. There’s a ton of rules, you never know where the players are going to go, and no one knows how things are going to turn out. Despite this, there is a yearning inside you to be the one that is not just a player in the story but the one telling the story. So here are our hints and tricks to help get you started in this new year as the game master.
1) Know that Everything Will Be Alright
More than anything else I can tell you, knowing that everything will be alright is the most critical step to being a game master. You are not running a giant multinational corporation; you’re just setting the getting in front of your friends for one evening and telling a story. You can do that, and you’ll be fine afterwards.
Put it another way: what is the worst that could happen? Will your friends stop being friends if the game goes poorly? Absolutely not. Will you completely flop, proving to the world that you are not fit to play a character, let along be the GM? Definitely not. Will you start a spiral of suckatude so great that it will form a trans-dimensional vortex that pulls in all matter from the universe, collapsing all of space and time around us? No. Even Bob in Accounting didn’t do that his first time GMing (no offense to anyone named Bob that works in accounting).
So what will most likely happen? Well you do great at some aspects and others will need improvement, just like everyone else. Ask your gamers afterwards to tell you what you did good and what needs improved. They’ll tell you. The parts that need improved, try harder next time. You can do this.
2) Ask Someone Else to be Your Rules Arbitrator
It can be really intimidating to have to know all the rules for every corner case, because you know there’s one gamer at the table that will try to find some loophole to do something crazy. That is where a rules arbitrator comes in. Ask a player you trust at the table to be the one says, “I’m sorry, Mike, but that is not allowed,” so you don’t have to make that call. This way, you can focus on the story.
Now there’s the critical part of that, make a note on that rule question and after the game ask the rules arbitrator to show you exactly where that rule is and explain to you exactly what it means. Then read that rules and all the rules around it since you probably missed them as well. This will help you be a better GM.
3) Use a Pre-Published Adventure
This is exactly why adventures are written: to help new or busy GMs with the story they want to tell. For your first game or two, run them as is, so you can see how it goes. As time goes on, vary up the adventures some: vary up a few monsters, add an NPC to connect it to one of the characters’ backstory, change the reason they are going on this adventure. Make the adventure your own.
The place to start is with short adventures, not a long campaign book or a full adventure path. First find out if you like GMing. Once you get the bug and want to do it more and more, then look at those longer campaigns.
You can find our collection of adventures right here at JonBrazer.com. I recommend starting with Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider, available for both Pathfinder and Fifth Edition. It is a great 1st-level adventure to start off with involving a bunch of spiders taking over a town. If you like it, you can follow it up with Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven, also available for Pathfinder and Fifth Edition. You can get these adventures today for 30% off their regular price with the “holiday2017” coupon code. Download these today, and run your first game. Take your first steps into a whole new world.