GM Tips: What’s the Most Important Skill to Have?

When it comes to running a game, there are so many things to worry about (especially if it’s your first game). “Have I prepared enough?” “Do I know the rules for this?” “Will the players need to be railroaded?” etc. And on top of that, you then have to worry about, whether you are any good, are you fun and energizing, are you creative enough.

No matter how you look at it, there are just too many things to worry about as a GM. You start looking at streamed games (especially those with celebrities) and you worry you are not skilled enough to do the game justice.

Let me tell you right now. You got this.

Image result for teamworkSure, you need some simple math skills and being creative and full of energy helps. But there is one skill above all others that matters most. Teamwork.

Teamwork as a player comes naturally for most. Whether you’re swinging a sword or slinging a spell, most groups of adventurers find the best way to overcome a threat, is to tackle it head on as a team.

But what about the person behind the screen? There are many ways for the gamemaster to cooperate with the PCs. And I believe, that teamwork is just as important a skill (if not more so) than any other in a DM’s arsenal.

So how do you be a team player as the person running the game?

  1. Assign Appropriate Challenges
    This is easy enough to do. Keep the players facing appropriate challenges, nothing so far below the party’s level that they are bored, and nothing so crazy high that they are constantly dying and backtracking. Sure, I know you want to have a realistic world in a sandbox game, but you still need to make most of the actual challenges fit in an appropriate range.
  2. Solve Problems
    Problems are going to hit you in just about every session. Maybe even multiple times during a single session. The best thing you can do is keep your cool and then try to solve it as best as you can. You don’t have to always have all the answers, but you do need to be willing to get your hands dirty and fix a problem. Whether it be a troubled player, someone disrupting the game, or just someone forgetting their dice. Be fair, be consistent, and above all, keep the game and fun rolling.
  3. Story-telling
    RPGs are basically interactive stories. Not every storyteller is the same and not everyone enjoys the same stories and genres. Your job in being the storyteller for your campaigns is simple: Sprinkle in a little bit of everyone’s interests. I say sprinkle because you don’t want to completely cater to every whim. You also don’t want to go more one direction than others if only one or two people enjoy a certain aspect. Toss in just enough to peak each person’s interest (including yourself).
  4. Bending the Rules and Laws of Nature
    In a way, this is similar to all the above. I only stress this because it is not the fact that as the person running the game you have the right to do this, but because you need to do this appropriately. What is appropriate will partially depend on your group. But to keep things simple, you want to keep in mind that the PCs are normally the heroes and heroines of the story. They are the master characters. You don’t want to always save them by deus ex machina, but you shouldn’t feel that the PCs are expendable either. You and the players behind the character sheets are all working together to form a fun, entertaining story. If you need to have a songbird bring them an old hat with just the item they need, fine. If you need them to survive a fall into a pit of lava (reminder: Humans float on lava, and theĀ leidenfrost effect can spare them for a short time), do it. Keep the game going. If you don’t know a rule, make a quick decision and tell everyone that you will research it after the session ends.
I hope you now have an idea of how important teamwork is whether you are a player or a game master. This is the most important skill to have when playing social roleplaying games. Now go, and have some awesome, fun sessions. Doctor’s Orders!
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