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Share your Game Master tips!

Started by Mana December 20th, 2015 7:25 AM
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  • 16 replies

Mana

Age 28
Male
UK
Seen 41 Minutes Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
10,070 posts
10.5 Years
What advice would you give to someone who is preparing to be a GM for the first time?

What advice helped you during your first game?

Sopheria

響け〜 響け!

Female
深き海の彼方
Seen December 17th, 2017
Posted December 17th, 2017
4,904 posts
5.7 Years
This is a really useful thread. I know I could sure use some tips!

The only advice I would give is don't bend the rules for inactive players. If the rules of your game state that missing 2 votes results in being kicked for inactivity, immediately kick any players who miss 2 votes. I didn't do that and I think it's the biggest mistake I made, looking back on it.

Also, Google Doc is your friend! Use it to record night actions, roles, votes, everything that needs to be managed.
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Age 20
Male
the States
Seen 15 Hours Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
3,546 posts
5.6 Years
Google Doc/Sheets is the most amazing tool a GM can have.

I'll add more when Gotham is finished :P

jdthebud

Engineering Solutions

Male
Washington, USA
Seen 16 Hours Ago
Posted 16 Hours Ago
4,159 posts
8.8 Years
I'd be interested in tips for how to set up your games, especially in balancing the roles. Also, how you decide what format your game will follow, if it's not a typical day lynching/night kill setup, like tDD and Rocket Investigation, or even Supps4.

Lycanthropy

Owl + Bear =
Owlbear

Age 22
Male
That place called... Wait, what was it called again?
Seen 11 Hours Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
10,681 posts
5.5 Years
Most important thing: don't make it yourself too hard!

I have this tendency to have lots and lots of great ideas that I all want to implement in one game. If I didn't discard like half of it before starting the game, it would've been a chaos, impossible for me to actually know what's happening, because you as GM have to track all the actions (and other special game elements, if any) and how they influence each other. A simple mistake, like missing a small detail, is easily made. Also keep in mind that more special roles don't necessary mean you get a better game. Try to get a feeling of what you're capable of to keep up with without getting mad and note everything in a clear way, for which I recommend Excel or the aforementioned Google Docs (I'm using a five page sheet in Excel at the moment for RI that contains almost every single detail in the game).
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Klippy

L E G E N D of

Age 27
Male
Disneyland
Seen 5 Days Ago
Posted May 16th, 2019
16,383 posts
13.5 Years
Make roles that fit your game, not in reverse.

If you have a concept like Game of Thrones, as I did, try to track the story and see what abilities are best for your roles. The White Walker was clearly a cult-role, Joffrey's fit his role, etc. Same for Rick and Morty (mostly). Unity had the ability to meld all votes to whatever she wanted (similar to her actual character - I didn't want a cult role in R&M either), Mr. Poopybutthole was a bleeder, Snowball was an alien-role (probed/neutered people), etc.

If you craft a story, do not shoehorn in roles just to make it complicated or more "complex". The harder the game is to get into, the less likely your players will get involved.

Be consistent

If you're going to host, don't bail or neglect your game. It's a disservice to people signing up and being committed to your game to slowly churn out posts or events. If you can't commit to hosting consistently for your run, delay your game or don't bother.

Let your plot flow

If you are hosting a game with the anticipation of ignoring the events of a game (to reach a goal or ending you've already pre-determined), then reconsider hosting. It's a completely illogical and insulting way to run your game if the game is not allowed to grow and develop AS it runs. I never plot out myself except the beginning few posts. Each phase is a new chapter and the story writes itself as you go. I tried to plan for aSoIaF and decided to stray from that plot and develop our own, and I unsuccessfully tried again with PCU, which I feel is one of my weakest GMing attempts (probably along with R&M).

Don't force unique to be edgy or unique - be natural to the reality of your "world"

If you are forcing in unnecessary game mechanics that don't fit the confines of your "world", then you're doing it wrong.

tDD worked because it was an RPG and it naturally makes sense to have HP and DMG and whatnot. Same, I'd argue, for Rocket's. aSoIaF worked because the world has Houses and betrayals and extreme plot twists, so loyalty is very key to the game as well.

Salzorrah

grassium Z

Age 21
Female
Floaroma Town, Sinnoh
Seen 21 Hours Ago
Posted 2 Days Ago
6,372 posts
8.6 Years
Don't be afraid to explore new possibilities

Simple mafia mechanics can get a bit boring sometimes so it's best for you to change perspectives, make variants like the ever popular damage variant used in tDD and Rocket, or interesting concepts like S4's city capture system, or Xilia's time mechanic. Even though you might make some notorious variants like S3's tier system, it will help generate "some" interest in your games.

Limit yourself to what you can do

I know how contradicting this sounds when I just said to explore new possibilities, but hear me out. Always know when to draw the line when it comes to implementing ideas because if you fail, your ideas become counterproductive to what you are doing.

Try simpler games before diving into the complex games

Try to follow a progressive GM style, like for a beginner, do a vanilla variant, then after GMing a few games, be creative. Doing this complicated for your first game might just confuse you.

Google Docs or Excel is your best friend

Personally, I use Excel because I'm more familiar with it and makes things more private, but you can use Google Docs as well. When I was hosting S2, S3, and Fangirl, I used Notepad :P Planning S4, MCM Scratched, and this new small game I'm working on, I switched to Excel.

Finish your goddamn game

I'm looking at you Mathia, MCM, Babylon, FDL epilogue, GAU epilogue >.> If there's one thing I'm irked about, it's this. If you are doing a game, make sure you see it from conception to death.

Mana

Age 28
Male
UK
Seen 41 Minutes Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
10,070 posts
10.5 Years
Echoing most of these points. Creating something new is great, but be careful that you're not trying to reinvent every single thing at once or you're going to struggle to keep up. Active games become a big time pressure.

Don't worry about numbers

Don't expect to (or prepare for, to be honest) 40+ players on your first run. Not only will it be a bit harder for you to manage, it means you have to restructure and rebalance your game if not enough people sign up. A more appropriate goal is probably 25-30. If you get more that's great! But big numbers =/= good game.

Google Docs or Excel is your best friend

Personally, I use Excel because I'm more familiar with it and makes things more private, but you can use Google Docs as well. When I was hosting S2, S3, and Fangirl, I used Notepad :P Planning S4, MCM Scratched, and this new small game I'm working on, I switched to Excel.
When I first GM'd I was kind of shocked that a lot of game runners were using notepad, postit notes, etc. to keep track of everything. I'm a biggggg supporter of spreadsheets.

Excel is generally easier, but Google Docs is great if you have a co-GM or someone supporting you as you can both access all information easily :).

Salzorrah

grassium Z

Age 21
Female
Floaroma Town, Sinnoh
Seen 21 Hours Ago
Posted 2 Days Ago
6,372 posts
8.6 Years
Well, there are some pros and cons when using either Notepad or Spreadsheets... For Notepad, you see the information more direct and makes things more easier to read and put some heavy details but at the cost of wasting too much space while for Spreadsheets, you can put a lot of information but details are rather limited on space. It's your choice on what you use, as long as you're comfortable with using it, there shouldn't be a problem :D

Charlie Brown

coolcoolcool

Age 24
Male
Melbourne, Australia
Seen 21 Hours Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
4,224 posts
7.3 Years
Does anyone have any suggestions/words of advice in balancing the game in terms of roles?

Foxrally

Age 20
Male
a Torterra's back
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 2 Weeks Ago
2,585 posts
6.3 Years
Does anyone have any suggestions/words of advice in balancing the game in terms of roles?
One thing I remember being told when equating the number of mafia to town is 1 maf for every 5/6 town, can't remember who though.

As for specific role balance well, just thing of a strategy to counter each role (e.g. a cop can be countered by a framer, a doctor by a roleblocker)
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gimmepie

Age 23
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Australia
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7.2 Years
Just to build onto Fox's point, don't just make counters against one side. Each group should have a way of thwarting the other to keep things fair. Also something to note, the really powerful (for want of a better word) roles should probably have some sort of drawback or limitation as well.

Mana

Age 28
Male
UK
Seen 41 Minutes Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
10,070 posts
10.5 Years
I always used the ratio 1-4 at most : < so a game of 20 has 16 inno and 4 mafia.

Nakuzami

Age 21
Female
The Forgotten Crossroads
Seen 13 Hours Ago
Posted June 9th, 2019
6,879 posts
8.9 Years
I believe the highest you want is one third, and that's only really applicable to games that have rather basic roles or are well balanced.

Generally one fourth is the rule of thumb. You might achieve the one third scum ratio with third party roles, as well, which is a bit more balanced than one third being mafia.

I believe in a game where I had fifty roles planned, fifteen were intended to be mafia and third party. That sits somewhere between one fourth and one third, more approaching the latter.
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