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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: Ask a GM [07/07/08]: Motivation to be a GM

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    Ask a GM [07/07/08]: Motivation to be a GM

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    Our first question for the Ask a GM section comes from Dimthar. I thought this would make a great start to getting to know our new GM Panel.

    Dimthar asks,

    1) Why Did You Decide to "Play" the GM?

    2) Do You Miss Playing a "PC"?
    Robert A. Howard
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    I enjoy both being a game master and a player. Right now I am lucky enough to be doing both. Running and playing a game are not diametrically opposed ends of a spectrum. We are partners, all in this together. We are building an adventure.

    But the GM does have one important duty and contribution that no player gets to make you set the ground rules. You decide where we will begin play and how the world works. Its like building a wind-up toy. After you set it free, you can never be exactly sure where it is going to go or how long it will take to wind down. Perhaps you try to steer it, but these contraptions are notoriously prone to jumping even the best laid tracks.

    Here then is my motivation I love seeing what players do with my wind-up toy. Ive got a world and some conflict, sure. But how will the players respond when things spin out of control? Will they run for their very lives, taking cover from this teapot tempest? Or will they be heroes and save the town?

    Well see.

    Gary

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    I basically became the DM by default, since when I got back home to PA, noone there knew how to run a game, but they wanted to play. Voila, instant DM.

    Actually, since the DM runs the NPC's, we are actually getting to play also. It's just that at the same time, we are also the referee. I agree with mcbride, the players and the DM are partners in building the adventure together. We each build off of what the other does and says.

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    I had a similar issue as cplmac did-I could find players now and again, but no one wanted to DM. I ended up caving, and buying a DMG; and borrowing Monster Manuals the game store where we played. I do like creating some of my larger NPCs-and agree with cplmac:

    Quote Originally Posted by cplmac View Post
    Actually, since the DM runs the NPC's, we are actually getting to play also. It's just that at the same time, we are also the referee. I agree with mcbride, the players and the DM are partners in building the adventure together. We each build off of what the other does and says.
    One thing that helps me is something I borrowed from the "I, Robot" movie-what the players do with "breadcrumbs" of information or coincedences I leave. Will they take things on face value or try to figure it out? Are there enough breadcrumbs to make a clearer picture? Do they suddenly remember that weird guy from the last town has information they need?
    There's nothing to fear except fear itself and, of course, the boogeyman.

    Co-Organizer of NEPA D&D and Stroudsburg Geeks. Member of Stroudsburg Area Gaming Association.

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    Hi

    1) Why Did You Decide to "Play" the GM?

    When I was first introduced to gaming it was D&D and it wasn't with people I could game with again. So when I got home, knowing that I wanted more, I bought the "red box" and just went from there. I had to teach my friends to play, so I ended up being the GM by merit of making others play.

    2) Do You Miss Playing a "PC"?

    Nope. I've been quite lucky over the years, especially after high school, and there has always been someone to run a game I could play in -- while I ran a game they could play in. Tandem GM's, shifting campaigns every so often, etc. that sort of stuff can provide Heavenly breaks.
    --
    Grimwell

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    1) Why Did You Decide to "Play" the GM?

    For me, I think GMing was a much more deliberate choice. As soon as I had gotten a taste for RPGs via a friend putting me through a couple of rules-less D&D adventures, I realized how cool it must be to be the one to create those adventures. Ultimately, I was also the oldest of the kids in our earliest of groups and thus was deemed "most qualified" to be GM, and I ended up being the one to pick up the books, read them, and teach everybody else how to play.

    I have no regrets being a GM as much as I have. To tell the truth, I love GMing and if I go too long without it, I start to get anxious, like a junkie needing a fix. I'm a story-teller at heart. I love stories and I love to create them and watch the reactions of the people who experience them. As GM, you're responsible for a much more sizable portion of the story of a game than a player portraying a single PC. It can mean a lot of extra work, but it can also bring great rewards.

    2) Do You Miss Playing a "PC"?

    Occasionally. I've been fortunate that there was almost always some alternate or secondary game that was being run by someone else that I got to participate in as a player. I like playing and GMing both, so it is nice to have a balance of the two when possible.

    One of the biggest advantages of GMing is that you get to be the one to choose how your game comes together. What genre or system to use, what kind of stories you're going to tell, what kinds of ideas your players will consider when making their PCs. In this way, a GM may get to "play" games that he wouldn't otherwise get to if no one else in the group is willing to run them. It's the old addage that's been mentioned on the boards a few times: "You tend to run the kinds of games you wish you could play in".
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    Why did I decide to take up the role of Game Master? Well, at first it was a matter of necessity. It was hard enough to find other gamers anywhere near my age range when I was a fledgling roleplayer of twelve. So, you will understand when I say it was nearly impossible to find willing and able bodies to take the GM chair. It was a lot easier to induct my friends if I was willing to run the game anyway.

    After many years, I found that being the storyteller was were I was most comfortable. I've actually gamed as a player with only a handful of GMs. Of the admittedly few campaigns I have played in, there is only one that I miss today. And that is a credit to how incredibly well done and enjoyable the story was. Therein lies the crux of it, I imagine. As a GM, I run a very story driven game. I just don't like episodic or poorly strung together campaigns, and I loathe modules. If I run the game, I know exactly the kind of game I am going to get...

    So, do I miss being a player? I guess I don't look at it that way. I feel like I am as much a player in my games as, well, my players. I may put together a scenario for the characters to overcome, but the turns the story takes based on the direction the players choose is often as much of a surprise to me as it is to them. Not to mention the satisfaction-factor of putting together a story or memorable characters that my group talks about for months or even years to come is a real high.
    Robert A. Howard
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    Why indeed...

    I like stories... That's really all it is for me, I am story focused in a role-playing game to the point where most PCs can get annoyed at how little hack there is. And I personally don't like the ways the rules sometimes get in the way of the story I am trying to cooperatively write with the players.

    Also, I am less competitive and want a more cooperative storytelling experience, mainly where the players have some say over how the story is written and they don't assume the DM's job is to stop them or beat them.

    So, because of that most games where I am a player suck for me because it's an endless chain of fights strung together with a story designed to lead to repeat combats crescendoing in a final fight and it's just a matter of figuring out which link you are on.

    I've been playing with Farcaster as a player for a while now and he is great though.

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    motivation... the elephants which lure men into diplomacy. ^^ (bonus points for anyone who recognizes the obsure bujold reference...) ;D

    i'll toss in my two coppers.... i have various reasons, obvious and not so. my hobby is world-building, so gm-ing is a natural extension of that. combined with my perchant for storytelling, well... let's say that it feels pretty comfortable. i'll also toss in one of the more unusual observations on motivations that are likely common to any of the judeo-christian belief tree, or any other faith that holds certain similar beliefs. since God has declared that we are the children of same, what is more natural than children mimicing activities of the adult that they are offspring of?

    i frequently play an npc party member. i enjoy playing from the different points of view simultaneously. so i don't usually feel the bite of wanting to only play. sort of like playing both sides of the chess board vs onesself.
    Last edited by nijineko; 07-07-2008 at 03:27 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    1) Why Did You Decide to "Play" the GM?
    No one else was willing to run the game so being a 'take charge' kind of person, I started whipping up simple stories to run. I


    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    2) Do You Miss Playing a "PC"?
    I tried to play recently and it's just not the same. When you're running the game you are 100% occupied by what's going on, as a player I'm finding my mind wanders a lot.

    Getting the NPCs to play is fine with me. I make sure they aren't a pushover for the characters, I've been told that makes things much more engaging.

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    Heh, I am not one of the panel, but being a little ornery Ill chime in anyway...

    I chose to be a GM because I was the first to have books and was excited to put them to use. I suppose some of that remains as my reason to GM today. I like to play enough not to mind working for it and someone always has to go first. I admit the control can be nice too. I get to run a game to my standards (even if I do not always meet them).

    It is hard on some GMs to run a fun game with which I am very familiar. I am hard to surprise or fool since I know most monsters weaknesses and strengths whether I act on that information or not and must restrain myself from educating when I know something they might need to look up or deliberate. That said, I love playing in games I know very little about with a good GM who can make the world come to life.
    "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - JFK

    "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
    - Noam Chomsky

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    1) Nobody else seemed to want to. Plus, that way I could have the house rules and campaign plots that *I* wanted to do. I've yet to be give the opportunity to decide the house rules or plots for any campaign I've participated in as a player. It's always the DM. So, if I like a specific kind of game with specific kind of house rules, being the DM is the best way to ensure that.

    2) Yes, I'd love to be a player again, but there aren't many groups in my area, plus it would mean having to give up on being able to determine what kind of game to run. Still, I'd do it (and have done it) if I got the opportunity.

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    1) Why Did You Decide to "Play" the GM?
    At first because it looked so cool. After that, I was simply hooked. And I love the "windup toy" analogy; I feel much the same way.

    2) Do You Miss Playing a "PC"?
    Nope. There are times I've had fun playing, mostly moments here and there, but in the case of GMing it's more like almost always having a grand time, with only some moments that were really unpleasant. With that in mind, it's pretty obvious on which side of the screen I truly belong.
    I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable, and I'm not going! (But I'll happily be the GM...)

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    Where the heck is Turku? Or is that Turkey? Either way if you found a group you are a star in my book! I remember long standing house rules we hashed out as a group back in 2e. Quick rulings were not up for discussion during game.
    "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - JFK

    "If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all."
    - Noam Chomsky

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    I use to love playing the PC, but now i am more into world building, and that means being the DM. I believe in time, if one plays long enough, they usually will side with the GM's.

    Thoth-Amon

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