Game Master Series - Be the Player

During my early developmental years, my mother bought me a copy of Dungeon and Dragons Advanced 2nd edition. She was leaving on a trip and thought one of the books would be an entertaining endeavor for me. The Dungeon Master guide would open a whole new world of gaming that I did not know existed. On her next trip a couple months later, I was gifted the Players Guide and Monster Manual to complete the initial set. The path to being a Game Master had started for me.

Each person who has ever game mastered has their own tips and tricks in order to survive any issue, from story pacing to disruptive players. That will be the goal of each of the Game Master Series posts. Tips that have helped me level up in my game master class will be presented with examples. Without further ado, we'll hop into the first tip of the series.

A good Game Master will ensure that he/she experiences the role of player from time to time. Any Game Master who has not sat in the chair of a player will miss some critical aspect to telling a story for everyone. New Game Masters tend to focus on their story while neglecting their players' development, or they emphasize the individual character stories without having an arcing plot. The focus on individual players takes away from the overall group experience. Never being a player at any point means you're going to have a bad time. 

When I started out playing Dungeon and Dragons (skip ahead about two years after my first books were given to me), I spent all of my time being the Dungeon Master. My goal as my group's DM was trying to weave epic stories similar to the tales spun by authors such as Greenwood, Feist, and Martin. Each session revolved around more plat setup than time given to the players for developing their characters. After a bit, I noticed players would get bored and do their best to railroad my campaigns. The reasons behind their actions baffled me. My answers would come in the form of the Lakeland Roleplaying Guild; it would be the first time I sat down as player in another person's game. After a couple sessions, my thoughts began to focus on how to improve the story for the players instead of focusing solely on my story.

Once a Game Master has sat on the other side of the screen, they gain new insight into the world of a player. From that point on, the focus of one's game involves the players alongside their story. Until next time, let the dice continue to roll critical for you!