How To Think Faster On Your Feet — Improving GM GIT Part III
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #0994
In this five-part series we’re talking about GM Interaction Time (GIT) and making a conscious effort to manage it to help make every game fun.
Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, too much GIT is not satisfying. The GM is directing most of the play. And too little means the GM isn’t satisfied or it could indicate poor pacing.
We’re aiming for GIT that’s juuuuust right.
If you think you might be hogging the spotlight as GM, try cutting back on your descriptions and letting players do more of that.
You could also try thinking less, which is what today’s tip is all about.
The second way a GM can use up a lot of game time is by thinking and research.
For example, studying a foe’s notes before deciding their move this round.
Thinking is essential. However, you can give yourself some advantages with a bit of prep to reduce cognitive load (fatigue) and time spent on deciding what to do.
Have you already got a copy of my free PDF, 114 Ways To Think Faster On Your Feet?
RPT GMs from all over the world wrote in with ideas of how to become better at improv.
Here are three of my favourites from the PDF:
Focus on Outcomes
Worry not about how the PCs reach an outcome. Think instead about consequences to the outcome itself.
For example, rather than fretting about all the ways the PCs could bypass a key encounter, focus instead on what will happen if your players bypass it.
Outcome-based thinking helps you tell a better story by not getting overwhelmed with details and possibilities.
Make Three-Round Plans
Figure out foe tactics for the first three rounds of combat ahead of time.
More than three rounds is generally a waste of time. Less than three rounds does not go deep enough into most foe features and options.
This saves you from having to do that thinking on the spot.
And it helps you study foe capabilities in a fun way so you’re better able to react to the unexpected.
Also plan foe exit options, if appropriate.
Prep a Treasure Inventory in advance. Consider player kicks and character needs.
Customize each special item on the list with flaws and traits.
Then have the PCs explore and discover during the reward portion of an encounter to buy time for thinking.
If you usually just hand out a list of treasure found, roleplay through this portion instead.
Let the PCs figure out what things are, how valuable items are, and how to split treasure up between party members.
If you don’t have an encounter treasure list ready, draw from your Treasure Inventory. Roleplay out the traits and flaws of special items.
In each of these example ways to improv better and faster, you are releasing more GM screen time and giving it to your players.
In general, if you’re quiet and thinking, the players aren’t playing. They’re waiting.