Thursday, November 5, 2015

Learning Resources for GMs: Play on Target Podcast Ep. 49

In this episode of the Play on Target podcast we go through resources for GMs. If you want to improve your GMing or simply get more comfortable with it, where can you go? What can you do? We run through a decent list of ideas and there's something for everyone. We touch on Actual Play Videos. I watch these from time to time...and I would be a terrible self-promoter if I didn't mention my own YouTube channel with 13th Age, Kingdom, M&M, and other sessions. In some cases I've recorded it so you can see the Roll20 desktop rather than my ugly mug. 

There’s a certain irony of timing that we release this episode at the same time Leaving Mundania posted Anne Vinkel’s interesting and well-circulated essay critiquing the idea of a “Good Roleplayer.” There’s some food for thought there. Rob Donohue has commented on the post here and here. I think some of my uncertainty about the piece overlaps with his. I absolutely agree with the concept that there’s no one true way. I have to think more about this.

But given that discussion and what we’re doing in this episode, what do I mean by being a better GM? What can going to these resources do- or what do I hope they can do. Here are ten things.
  1. More comfortable with the act of GMing.
  2. Less stressed when you come to the table.
  3. Have new ideas for structuring adventures.
  4. Appreciate the good stuff in different games.
  5. Be more open to talking with players about results.
  6. Assess your own performance more accurately.
  7. Find new tools to read rules, novels, and other media.
  8. Locate a community you’re comfortable interacting with.
  9. Take more useful material away from any session you watch, play, or run.
  10. Playing more.
One last little suggestion. In the podcast, I mention reading various books on GMing, from all across the spectrum of styles: the excellent Gnome Stew series, Johnn Four’s RPG tips, Venger Satanis. In those you’ll often find interesting tips or tricks, and you may find yourself saying: p’shaw (or some less dated exclamation).

Give it a try.

Try some of the stuff that sounds dumb or perhaps doesn’t fit with your usual RPG paradigm. Build a box for your table, map the adventure as a series of islands, dress up for the first couple of sessions. I’m not saying these will always work, but I am saying you’ll probably learn something from them. Go with an open mind. I can say from experience that when I’ve dropped being a curmudgeon or saying I have nothing to learn from X, I’ve usually picked up at least one cool thing. 

If you like RPG Gaming podcasts, I hope you'll check it out. We take a focused approach- tackling a single topic each episode. You can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the podcast's page at

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