GM Interview: Andy Munich

Today’s GM interview follows a new format that is about half the length of the older one. I hope you like it—feedback is always welcome in the comment section below. In this interview, Andy lets us know whether he prefers sessions to be like raw fish or stuffed bird.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Andy Munich. I live and game in Seattle, WA. I’ve been GMing for over 15 years and playing for at least 20. After several system changes I discovered Cinematic Unisystem and now use it for almost everything. I’ve been on a very long hiatus from running, but look forward to being able to begin again soon.

What would you like to improve about your GMing right now?

I’d like to begin trimming some of the fat from my game sessions. Despite my best efforts and planning, they always seem to run long. A more lean, mean game would benefit myself and my players.

Describe your typical gaming setup.

I run my sessions entirely from my MacBook. All my game books and other materials are in PDF format for quick reference. I use categorized music cue playlists in iTunes, hooked up to my surround sound system, to provide scene specific scoring. My laptop is connected to a large LCD television that I use for Keynote presentations of images and maps. My players are encouraged to use laptops as well. All of this is setup in our entertainment room.

When active, I like to run a session every other weekend. I’ll normally run during the TV season, taking breaks when the networks usually do (during summer and the winter holidays).

How did you first get into GMing?

While still in high school, I was lucky enough to become part of our local university’s gaming guild. Seeing so many other people running successful (and unsuccessful) games around me was an inspiration to jump into the ring myself.

Do you create your own stuff, use published materials or do a bit of both?

Aside from other projects, I’ve been running a more or less continuous Star Wars saga for the better part of the decade. While I freely pull from established SW canon, all my characters and the bulk of my locations are of my own creation.

How do you prepare for campaigns and sessions?

After a session, I normally don’t think about gaming for the next week, allowing my creative energy to recharge. Starting about a week before game day, I begin compiling notes for the next session. Once I have an idea of what’s going to happen, I’ll write and render my Opening Crawl video, which is played at the start of each game. After that, it’s on to writing up new NPCs, choosing music cues and sorting out images for presentation.

Describe in a few words your group’s playing style.

My players are very indulgent—both of the game and of my personal GM predilections. They enjoy tons of in character conversation, exciting combat and my big romantic themes. I’m lucky enough to have players that like having the story sweep them up and players who like to drive the story further themselves.

What are the top qualities you look for or need in a player?

The most important aspect is genuine, unbridled enthusiasm. I want my players to have no shame in the game or with their love of it. It’s this energy that I, as GM, feed off and recycle into incredible sessions.

Describe your GMing style.

I’m a story heavy GM. I like to create intricate plots brimming with melodrama! I enjoy putting my players into life or death situations and forcing them to make hard choices. Moral and ethical dilemmas are a specialty.

I back up my story telling with the best technology I have at my disposal. Audio/visual components have really enhanced the experience I can offer my players.

What is your best GMing skill or ability? What advice would you give to a GM wanting to improve in that area?

I think my players would tell you (and I’d agree) that my greatest strength is in crafting memorable and engaging NPCs. I’m never satisfied with cookie cutter villains or allies. I endeavor to breathe life into anyone I create.

What are your favourite online resources for GMing?

I find the Star Wars wikia, The Wookieepedia, to be an indispensable resource for my game. The community at RPG.net has also been a great source of inspiration.

What is your best GMing skill or ability? What advice would you give to a GM wanting to improve in that area?

I think my players would tell you (and I’d agree) that my greatest strength is in crafting memorable and engaging NPCs. I’m never satisfied with cookie cutter villains or allies. I endeavor to breathe life into anyone I create. I’ve found the best way to do this is by always remembering that an NPC is motivated by their own desires. No matter how much of a help or hindrance they serve for the player characters, they should always be motivated by their own goals and not simply the needs of the plot. An NPC who wants or needs something has a way of taking on a life of their own; they’ll often start telling you what to have them do!

After working through these question and getting a 10,000 foot view of your GMing, what is the number #1 thing you’d like to learn about and work on next to become a better GM?

I want to be able to run shorter, leaner sessions so that my players are hungry for more rather than stuffed to bursting. A sushi dinner rather than a Thanksgiving feast.

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  • http://GermanCityGirl.deviantart.com Kristine

    I have had the distinct pleasure of gaming with Andy for over a decade — a perk of dating the GM. He never fails to surprise and thoroughly entertain his group with clever storylines and NPCs that the PCs genuinely care for or dread, as the case may be. The stories that he crafts are clever and engaging. And I am honoured to have been one of his players.

    I’ve thanked you in the past but consider this as my enthusiastic public thanks for creating worlds of escape where my PC can experience exhilarating combat and real emotion. It’s not hyperbole when I boast you’re the best GM I’ve ever gamed with… : )

  • Gerald

    I’ve actually read each interview from top to bottom and found all of it to be very interesting. I do like knowing how long the GM has been running games, games played, the “perfect” gaming session and the current stumbling blocks (which usually includes some ideas of how the GM intends to solve them) – all add to the interest.

    So, I guess I prefer the longer format personally, however I’m willing to take my GM interview how it comes! This feature adds to the variety of the site and gives an insight into things I can be doing better myself.