How Can You Improve Your GM Interaction Time Rating? Improving GM GIT Part II
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0981
In a recent Musing I talked about GM Interaction Time (GIT). From the GM’s point of view, that’s a measure of how much of the game is focused on you, the GM, doing GM things.
What time’s left the players must share for their spotlights.
A poor GIT means your players have little time to actually be doing things and be active in the game.
Pay attention to this next game and come up with your estimated GIT. Or ask a player to keep rough track for you.
So what if you have a poor GIT and you want to make it better? You want to give more screen time to your players. How can you make that happen?
In general, there are four things you spend time on while GMing:
The four R’s of running a game.
Let’s take a quick look at the Rambling bucket and see how we can claw out more time for our players to be engaged and have the gameplay ball in their hands.
This is where you’re talking and they’re listening. Descriptions and details are important.
However, doing too much of the talking might not be your players’ jam because it forces them to sit back and listen and be passive.
The worst part about being forced to listen is losing cool potential Interaction Moments.
It’s like when the person you’re talking to doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise.
You want to respond with an interesting comment, share something important, or say something witty. But the machine keeps rolling on, often changing subjects on you, and you just grind your teeth and start crafting an exit plan.
One thing you can do to reduce your Rambling time is to shorten your descriptions and details.
I gave this advice to a game master the other day by email. He was overwhelmed with what to talk about at the start of an encounter.
My recommendation: just the important stuff and only in brief.
Give players notice on what their characters perceive as important upon first impression.
Then stop talking and let player curiosity take over. Player questions and character roleplaying will suss out many details over time.
The key difference here is players are carrying the gameplay ball. They’re engaged and interacting. They’re not sitting back only able to listen while you give out all the details ad nauseum.
And hey, if players overlook a key detail, drop it in. And repeat — make the description quick and give the ball back to the players.
More Player Descriptions
Let players describe their character’s actions.
If you’re doing all the combat scene descriptions, encounter narrative, and gameplay play-by-play, it means your players are back in passive mode.
Instead of describing what the characters are doing, ask the players what their characters are doing.
“Johnn, your character hits. Blood sprays everywhere and…well, you describe it for me….”
“Johnn, you’re going to try to check for a trap? Great. Describe what Roghan does while checking for traps.”
“Johnn, in this room is various bedroom furniture and bloodstains on the bedding. Curtains flap in front of an open window beside the bed. What do you do?”
Let Players Be Creators
Ask players to co-create. Give them a basic frame or detail and let them flesh it out.
This gives more ball time to players and it provides you quick mental breaks so you can listen and recharge a bit.
“Johnn, the merchant’s shop is small and run-down. A worried man almost slithers out from behind the counter to great you. Give this merchant a name, and describe him and his shop for us, would you?”
More Player Effects
Ask players to describe the detailed effects of their actions.
Again, this takes the onus off you and shares the spotlight more.
It’s like asking players to describe their actions, but here you’re asking them to get into the details of the results of their success or failure.
Taking a page out of Powered by the Apocalypse engine games. Set up the degree and nature of success and let the affected player take over.
“Johnn, you try to barter. You get the merchant to drop his price a bit but your character also gives the merchant minor insult. Describe what happened.”
“Johnn, you scored a terrible failure. What happened?”
“Johnn, you bypassed the trap with flying colours! And, you spot a clue while doing so. Describe your character’s success and the nature of the clue — I’ll tell you what the clue means when you’re done.”
Ok, speaking of rambling, I’ve bent your ear enough today.
Next game, consider how much game time you spend describing things.
Then talk with your players or experiment by reducing your Rambling so players can do more of that themselves.