Focus on More of This To Have More Fun at Every Game
Forget fiction. Forget scripts. We’re talking interactive storytelling and gaming here. We have our own rules.
I think of interactive story games — let’s just call them RPGs for short — as a collection of inputs and outputs.
Your Multitude of Inputs
On the input side we have:
- Adventure material
- Campaign material
- World material
Adventure, campaign, and world material consists of:
We also have the game room and larger contexts such as real world happenings influencing gameplay.
That’s a lot of inputs for a game master to process!
Figure Out Your GMing Style This Way
Fortunately, most RPGs last many sessions, so you can travel along the input intake curve in measured manner. You can get to know your players or rules better over time, for example.
You also have your personal style you meld into a GMing style. And that style partly comes from how you process all those inputs.
What are your favourite inputs? What ones are the most fun? What ones give you energy instead of sap it for d3 motivation damage?
Some of my favourite inputs include reading adventures and studying what makes the great ones different from the bad ones, hearing quips and jokes from my friends at the game table, and mulling over foe options and tactics in combats.
What inputs do you enjoy least or understand least? Which ones give you headaches or rob your energy? Which ones are obstacles to fun?
Who Knows your GM Style Best?
Your players know all your input and output preferences. They watch you for hours, after all. They can tell where your passions are, where your strengths and weaknesses are.
They also see how you process the massive amount of inputs. Can you multi-task well? Are you a good listener? What are your tactical skills? How are you at observing? What is your rules mastery like? Do you focus on something until completion or are you easily distracted?
If you don’t understand yourself yet, ask your players. Learn how you handle inputs and you’ll discover a big piece of your GMing style.
Focus On This To Have More Fun
Once self-aware, double-down on the inputs that give you strength, inspiration, and energy. If you are a people person, master social parts of the game and your Emotional Intelligence. If the rules stymie your imagination, change systems or use player help and house rules so that pain fades as much as possible. If you love dungeons, craft and run a magnificent bottomless megadungeon rife with factions, treasures, dangers, and surprises.
You will always be a better GM when working toward your strengths and orchestrating the game to make best use of them, versus trying to shore up your weaknesses and cater to that which robs your energy and inspiration.
Think about it. Do you sabotage yourself before the game even begins by focusing on the wrong inputs? Do you run complex game systems when rules are a personal weakness? Do you love world building but always use published settings you find fault with? Become self-aware and start tweaking things so you take advantage of that which bequeaths you the most inspiration and energy.