GM Mailbag: Keys to GM Improvement, GM Magazines, Never Say Fail

Some great GM tips today from our fellow GMs around the world.

But before I share those, I wanted to remind Wizards of Adventure that our monthly GMing Q&A call happens in two days: this Saturday, 12pm Mountain.

Get the call link and more details here.

Let me, and your fellow smart GMs, help you with ideas, advice, techniques, tools, or whatever would help you have more fun at every game.

If you are not yet a Wizard of Adventure, this is the perfect way to kick-off the summer. Whether running some great games or preparing for them, access the helpful and no-drama community of avid game masters and get my help with your campaign.

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Never Say Fail Without This

From RPT GM mark

Never just say “You fail.”

Rather say “You fail because …” and give the reason.

The smallest “fail forward” is to at least learn why they failed.

Sometimes, players will blame themselves when it is a higher difficulty than they expected or just bad luck on the roll. This can make players feel their characters are underpowered and ineffective, which can make the game less fun for them.

Be a Better GM

re: Where to Focus for Greatest GMing Improvement?

From Roleplaying Tips GM Gustavo

I would say the most impactful things that changed my way of game mastering are not encounters. They are learning about falling forward and when to use it.

I also learnt about different degrees of success/failure and how to only require a dice throw when both the good and the bad outcome are interesting.

Another impactful technique where progress clocks and how to add tension with them.

Another awesome thing I thought I was doing great but was changed by Roleplaying Tips and Sly Flourish was to prepare JUST enough to run, only enough to give me a good framework to rely on.

And that helped me to be better at descriptions based on bullet points, and not suffer a lot when the players went outside the adventure.

This in turn made me far better at improvising and thus make it as interesting as if I developed it fully.

For me those are the most impactful things I learnt and modified.
And the thing that made me a better GM, above all, was GMing several different games, and picking up things to take to other games.

More GM Magazines

re: 4 Great GM Magazines


From RPT GM Mandalia:

Hi Johnn!

I always love getting your newsletters, so many great ideas and inputs for my DMing, so first of all, thank you for that 🙂
On the topic of magazines, I think I can recommend something I always keep coming back to: the Arcadia Magazine by MCDM!

It’s has a mix of everything a [5E] DM might need: new monsters and NPCs, items, adventures, new skills (my players LOVE the harvesting kit from Issue 8 (Monstrous components) – where you can use bits from monsters to power your spells) and class options.

A personal favorite of mine is the Oneshot Funnel Adventure, “Filthy Peasants” (for Level Zero Characters, where every player plays as a gaggle of simple townsfolk) in Issue 9, it’s always a blast to run.

I hope I could share something new 🙂


From Master of the 5 Room Dungeon Workshop alumni, Buck:

Although they haven’t published an issue since 2018, And-Mag is a treasure for OSR GMs.

Each issue is reminiscent of early Dragon magazines and there are often monsters, NPC’s, adventures, magic items and more in each issue. The spells and mundane magic items are real flavor enhancers to any campaign.

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Thanks for the great tips and resources everyone!

Have more fun at every game!

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