Becoming the Master of the Game

My wife and I are tabletop role playing gamers (TTRPG). We enjoy getting together with friends, telling stories, pretending to be new people for a while, and telling stories. It’s a good way for all of us to make the time to hang out and spend time with each other. Since a lot of us are more introverted or tend to be otherwise busy, it’s useful to have a reason to meet up.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately as our main group Game Master (GM). For those of you not in the know or aren’t familiar with the hobby, the Game Master is the person in charge of telling the story and moving the narrative along. Depending on the game, that title can vary; Dungeon Master, Story Teller, Director, Hollyhock God…. But Game Master is by far the most common.

Each other player takes on the role of an imaginary person, a Player Character (PC) or character. They design their character based on a set of rules. Most people who play TTRPGs start as a PC.

The GM is in charge of everything else in the game. They decide the actions for all of the Non-Player Characters (NPCs), decide the weather, the setting, tell the story and interpret/adjudicate the actions of the players.

When I started, I played one, maybe two sessions as a PC then moved behind the gaming screen and became a GM. Since then, I’ve gone back and forth and still enjoy being a player but I feel like I really know what I’m doing as a GM and I like that I get to be the group entertainer.

Sometimes I feel a little insecure and I’m constantly asking my groups if they had a good time or if they think I need to change or adjust anything but the fact that they keep coming back to my table really makes me happy. I get to make them feel like Big Damn Heroes. I love that feeling.

Early games often had the GM as a more neutral judge and some games felt like the GM was the opponent of the PCs. The GM was The Enemy. Some GMs actively looked for ways to “win” against the other players or the others saw the GM as the adversary. Or both.

Personally, I see myself as part of the team. I want my players to succeed but I want to challenge them. I don’t want to make it feel too easy. Individual gaming sessions or entire campaigns should feel satisfying, and that works best through mutual collaboration. And I love it!

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