I am no expert GM by any means, but I have learned a few things that are ‘too much’ for any new GM. These tricks should allow your new campaign to go much smoother. Especially if you are just starting out role-playing and are thrust into the driver’s seat.
1. Pick a simpler system to start in
I, mistakenly, took on a Palladium Fantasy game with very complex fighting rules and (not being a rules-lawyer myself) I had a hugely difficult time sorting through mechanics for the huge variety of character classes and various humanoid races. We spent far too much time flipping through pages and far too little time developing story.
If I would have picked a known system to the group or even a simple system such as the old TSR Marvel RPG, I would have been able to spend more time on the important stuff. I could have had the clarity to find out more about their characters rather than how long it took the magic-user to use that spell.
2. Limit your player characters
I know, I know, you want to please your group and give into their desires. But with your first crack at a campaign, maybe stick to one race. It will make it easier for them to connect. They could easily be from the same small village. You won’t have to create a world where it would make sense for an elf lord to interact with a human barbarian.
Remind the players that small limits on their PC does not mean that everyone is the same old, bland character, but each individual will be their own special snowflake. Then, give them a paper snowflake non-ironically.
3. Ask a million questions
I was given a wealth of knowledge from other GMs. Those that I had played with had allowed me to see what I would and would not do if I was in their seat. I absorbed that shit. And now with various groups online and articles and podcasts, there is even more of a plethora of people to steal learn from.
Find ways to tap into that knowledge and make it your own.
4. Use modules (for real)
After a hiatus of role-playing to focus on childrearing, I was sorely out of practice. I was able to start up something amazing with a group of women when I came back. It centered on a pre-made intro module to an updated system that I knew. I was skeptical at first, with my large ego getting in the way. I had my grandiose and limitless ideas for a world, but it never did match my very limited time. So I learned that even with the modules, you have the chance to put your own stamp on the adventure. And best of all, you can focus on the characters and having them buy-in to the story.
5. Question sessions
This is part of my borrowing (stealing) from elsewhere knowledge. It was natural to include these short sessions with my group. It was an out-of-game question period that allowed their characters to express their thoughts and feelings about each other, the non-player characters, the setting, and the adventure. This allows you to tweak your plan and your group’s adventure to maximize the enjoyment and the interaction with your friends.
6. Be friggen flexible
Don’t count on players to do what you would like all the time. Skeleton plan your adventure, but only hard plan those things that you know that they will encounter. Have some back-up ideas or ways to entice the players to think as you think (like candy… everyone loves candy.) With many characters and their multitude of goals, you never know which one will end up being priority for the group.
And if you think of anything else, comment below. I always have need of other’s ideas!
Vanessa is a sarcastic, 30-something wife and mother. She likes things and stuff, but not simultaneously. She thinks everyone should be roleplaying.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.