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GMing and meeting your players' needs

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This is my first post to the Blogosphere, I figured I'd give this a go. This is just a meager blog, but I hope you get something from it.

I've been gaming for 20+ years now, and a good portion of that as a GM. Both as a young child (11 years old) to present day.

Well, I've noticed a trending difference in how I approach GMing from those older days to today. I've always been trying to GM from the perspective of "This would be cool and fun" and "What can I use to challenge the characters" back when most campaigns had a small plot and a lot of fighting or were designed for lots of fighting. But it shouldn't be focused on what I think is fun, but what will be entertaining to the players. There is a slight difference - What is fun to me, might be boring to the players. So my approach is "Will this be Fun or Entertaining to the players".

We all know the Player Stereotypes, and chances are, you've encountered a few of them. The Goal of GMing should be to cater to each of their playstyles, while bringing yourself to the table to offer a complete package.

How does one GM cater to everyone's needs? Especially when you have a mixed group with diverse interests? It requires communication -
  • Take note of when your players get particularly involved, what seems to be the drive when they get involved. (Do they seem to be interested in being active when there is a negotiation? Are they more interested in acquiring wealth? Are they seeking power through lands? Do they seem to want to outfit themselves with the most powerful items?)
  • Backstory and Backgrounds - If you aren't requiring this, you're shooting yourself in the foot. A reasonable background is a nice window into the player's mind when they actually create the character - What is included or not can be very beneficial. Family is always great for hooks to get the character involved. It also means you can make things very personal. Kidnapping, having a family member be evil and using the player, or just plain having someone to call upon the character is a handy incentive. Also, do they list enemies, friends or goals? All of these should be attempted to be brought into a campaign thread. Don't go overboard, but make the character more lively by having elements of their background in the actual campaign.
  • Before or After (or even both) a game, solicit feedback - did the players enjoy the game, WHY? Don't be afraid to ask, and while you're asking, find out what they want to do with the character as far as side quests.
Some players will not be very open to giving you ideas, they show up to play and then they leave. The answers they provide are short and minimal. That's fine, there is usually one of those in every group; For them, it's best to focus on seeing what they react too; Chances are the background has no family, no goals, and barely a backstory on how they're loners (or an only child) and don't like attachments.

Be upfront with the players - Let them know that the more they put into the game the more they'll get back from you.

It's much easier to tailor a game to a player that has goals, backstory with reasonable items, and something they're pursuing short-term.
It's not as easy when you have a player that gives no feedback, doesn't make any effort to be involved and just goes through the motions. I'd recommend grabbing the guy before/after the game session and having a chat. Ask them if they're having a good time, and if they want anything in particular. At that point, it's up to them.

My last tidbit - Examine yourself, we all have quirks and how we appear or come off to others. Try changing how you present the game, mix things up a little bit. Take note if the players react or don't. As long as you give 100% you have nothing to worry about. Don't be afraid to look foolish or sound foolish in the name of the game. Roleplayers all seem to love it when a GM seems unconcerned about roleplaying and having fun with it.

That's it from me - I hope these tidbits have been helpful and happy gaming.


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Updated 07-20-2010 at 11:14 AM by LegacyKing

Tags: d20, rpg Add / Edit Tags