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becoming a GM

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Allym2559

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« on: <02-27-14/2004:13> »
Our local GM just stopped hosting games in our area eight months ago. I missed gaming so much I decided to try and GM on my own. I would like some help on figuring out where to start. feel free to email me, or post any advice you may have. I am just unsure on where to begin. :-\

RHat

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« Reply #1 on: <02-27-14/2027:13> »
Main starting points would be figuring out what sort of campaign you want to run, who your players would be, and what they'd be interested in.
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Zilfer

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« Reply #2 on: <02-27-14/2034:03> »
^Basically what Rhat said. Maybe you can pick up some old ones from the previous group or maybe you have other friends in mind. Regardless talk to them to see if they'd like to be in one and let them know this is your first time DM/GMing. Most people are pretty forgiving of new GMs.

If you already have a firm grasp of the rules on the player side it can help on the GM side since you got a good deal of the rules already figured out. If your not so sure on Magic or a specific area I'd recommend sitting down and reading to understand. You don't need a perfect understanding of all 100% of the rules before you being however. Just try and keep the game moving if you start up and run into something you haven't encountered before. Generally it's best to keep the game moving instead of cracking the book open 50 times to look up that grenade spread table again. xD

Having access to Ares Technology isn't so bad, being in a room that's connected to the 'trix with holographic display throughout the whole room isn't bad either. Food, drinks whenever you want it. Over all not bad, but being unable to leave and with a Female Dragon? No Thanks! ~The Captive Man

WellsIDidIt

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« Reply #3 on: <02-27-14/2044:54> »
Figure out what kind of game style you want to run, mood and genre, and feel what kind of GM you are.

This is probably the best list of GM styles that I've seen:
Quote
God Mode: PCs rarely get scratched, they are practically gods.

Feather Duster (Oh that tickles): PCs will occasionally take damage, but never more than a quarter of their health or they are considered seriously injured.

Action Movie: PCs will get shot up and hurt on a regular basis, but they don't die. When they hit 1/4 of their wound track left, they're horribly hurt.

Die Hard: PCs rarely die without a good dramatic reason, but they're used to walking away with one box of health and two rounds left in the gun.

Who's intestines am I tripping in: PCs die so often they're required to have multiple back up characters in case they "burn" through several in a session.

Next, start out with a one shot. Just to get yourself, and your players, used to your play style and the tone of your game.

Reaver

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« Reply #4 on: <02-27-14/2329:28> »
some things to keep in mind:


1: Know the rules!

Make sure you understand the major points of SR (combat, magic, rigging, hacking/decking... in that order usually) this helps speed up the game when you actually get down to play and is a great way of heading off problems that can side track that game.


2: Know you players!

People are funny animals. What offends one, is funny to an other. What one holds as scared, an other holds up as ridiculous! Before you start forming an idea for an adventure, you should take the time to get to know your players a bit. Nothing ends a game faster then when you start off your campaign with a car accident.... only to learn that one of the players lost their girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife in a motor vehicle accident 6 months earlier and you have now reduced them to tears! (trust me on this, I felt like an ass for a year!) Also, by knowing your players, you have an idea of what type of game they what to play in.


3: design your run/adventure/campaign

Try to run a game that your players want to play. It's ok to throw them something different from time to time, but if your players want a stealthy game, and all you throw at them are screaming security guards, things get boring fast. The REAL trick to designing an adventure is making sure your "McGuffin" is achievable by all archtypes. No sense in putting your "McGuffin" in the matrix, if every single player is awakened and can not hack... whatever your overall goal is, it should be achievable no matter if the player is playing a Sammy, an adept, mage, rigger, or ninja schoolgirl.

Do not box yourself in when you design your campaign/mission/run. Players have a tendency to go where they like, and not down the yellow brick road. Be aware of this, and have a plan in place, just in case they don't want to get the shiny "Mcguffin" from Ares. Always try to lead the players by making them s=think they are going where they think they want to go... trust me, it's harder then it sounds.

4: It's about a story, not a contest.
AS the GM, you are trying to tell a story. The protagonists of the story are your players. Not your NPCs, or your cool villain, or that awakened technomancer AI Robot Cyberzombie. I repeat, THE PLAYERS ARE THE PROTAGONISTS!! They are the center of the story, and every thing else is there just to tell the story.... and usually die horribly,in an exponential ratio to the amount of time you spent building them. (So don't waste more then 5 minutes!)

5: HAVE FUN!!!!

SR is a game. it is to be enjoyed. So, make sure you and your players enjoy yourselves! If you or your players are not having fun, it is time to fix something and quick! (but, we will cross that bridge when we get to it)
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

Namikaze

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« Reply #5 on: <02-27-14/2337:06> »
All the key components of being a good GM have already been listed, but I'd like to add a couple of finer details.

Have Fun (part 2): If your players are having a blast, but you're not feeling satisfied or not having fun, tell your players.  Let them know what is going on, and see if you can all work together to come up with a solution.  Maybe your group needs a change of scenery.  Maybe you just need a change of pace.

Know Your Limits: There are way too many times when a player tries to jump to the GM pool, and gets in way over their head, stresses out, and burns out quickly.  Pace yourself.  Start with some of the pre-made missions just to get your feet wet (and the feet of your players).  Be prepared to back out of games if you're not ready, but give your players sufficient notice.  Maybe the weekly schedule is too fast, so you guys switch to a bi-weekly one.  Whatever works.

Improvise: Additionally, don't try to plan out every detail in advance.  Down that path is the way of madness.  Some GMs can walk the line between script and improv really well, and that's the goal to aspire to.  If you build every last detail of a world, and then the players try to destroy the world, then roll with it.  Which brings me to my final point:

Don't Get Attached: Be prepared to throw away everything you spent the last X hours working on, because some player will get a wild hair and do something you never could have predicted.  There are times when you'll work on a NPC that you really want to drop into the game, but the players just never come across him/her or they do something to jeopardize the NPC.  It happens, and you'll have to be ready for it.
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Reaver

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« Reply #6 on: <02-28-14/0001:54> »

Don't Get Attached: Be prepared to throw away everything you spent the last X hours working on, because some player will get a wild hair and do something you never could have predicted.  There are times when you'll work on a NPC that you really want to drop into the game, but the players just never come across him/her or they do something to jeopardize the NPC.  It happens, and you'll have to be ready for it.

Or they shoot them in the face during their intro.*






*if this happens employ Reaver's GM sanity trick #1221: Erase, name, sex, race, age and put back into file folder of other good NPCs for later use. Never throw out any NPC you have spent more then 10 minutes on. Also helps if you keep them name simple. "Beta Bioware Sammy combat axe monster" is a good name, as it helps you keep your folder organized to what NPCs you have ready to go.

after 25 years of GMing, I have about 1500 sanity tricks. And well over 500 pre-made NPCs for the game systems I GM on a regular basis. Trust me, NPCs, maps, plots, it all can be recycled so never throw away any notes you have. that run that got  kyboshed in January might be just the ticket in April.
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

Insaniac99

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« Reply #7 on: <02-28-14/0422:10> »
All of the advice is good.  If you want any products, the Alphaware box (which you can get as a PDF bundle for $20) has a pretty good manual for a beginning GM (along with some maps and other good stuff).  It all depends on how you learn best.
Check out my all purpose Shadowrun Die roller and Probability generator: http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=13241.0

RHat

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« Reply #8 on: <02-28-14/0427:13> »
after 25 years of GMing, I have about 1500 sanity tricks.

Only 1500?  That explains why you don't know where you're going in that handbasket...
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Reaver

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« Reply #9 on: <02-28-14/0740:33> »
after 25 years of GMing, I have about 1500 sanity tricks.



Only 1500?  That explains why you don't know where you're going in that handbasket...


But, but, but.... it was yellow!
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

biotech66

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« Reply #10 on: <02-28-14/1202:37> »
Reading the rules is good, reading the players is better.  If its been a real bad day for the chummers and no one can make one success on 18 dice, sometimes the GM screen can be player armor.  Just saying...

Remember its no you vs them, its you with them.  You're telling a story, NOT trying to just kill people.  There are games like that, but this isn't that game.

Give the story a quick read through.  If you haven't GM'ed before, don't go cold.  Even experienced GM's like to give the story a read through to make sure the game goes smoother.

Be fair, and be consistent.  Don't play favorites.

If someones a douche at the table, its not for for anybody.  Talk to them privately and if they keep it up, kick them out.

Remember the most important rule: have fun!
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CopperHead

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« Reply #11 on: <02-28-14/1331:01> »
Things that helped me when I started GMing (and still see constant use):

-Pre-staged mooks, conflicts, and layouts. Sometimes the PCs just aren't buying what you're selling, or are going after it in a way you never anticipated. That's not a problem, if you have some general opposition already prepped in your back pocket. A page of potential random conflicts (not all violent, just things the Runners can Run/run into), some general NPC mooks that can be whipped out with a name change, and a short list of ways they can run into the group on another paper. This is, essentially, the more group tailored "random run generator". But when you have to pull this out, you really have to consider...

-Breaks. Never be afraid to take a break. If the players just went to left field instead of the hockey rink, and you resolved the immediate consequences, feel free to take a break to plan your next actions. 5 minutes planning something out (even using the random run generator) and you can have your storytelling feet under you again and ready to push the story forward in a new direction. But sometimes...

-If you run out of material, ideas, or steam you should be ready to stop the session. If it's been fun, and everyone has enjoyed themselves, but it's 3 hours into what would normally be 6 hours and you have nothing left to give then you should feel fine calling a stop. Enjoy talking to your friends about the weather, sports, your lives. Myself, I prefer getting more ideas for what to run next time, which means...

-Feel free to talk to your players about the story, their characters, your NPCs and the game. You don't have to give away anything you're planning, but it's amazing how much information you can get from players about what would make it fun for them. I've had my whole group tell me that while they're having a blast, they really didn't think one of the characters had really been in the spotlight yet, and they couldn't wait to see what that character could really do. I've also had a really tactical, combat focused group tell me that they didn't feel like they're characters were really engaged with the community. These were things I hadn't noticed from behind the scenes, where I saw the big picture.

So, in short:

-Have something prepped for those random times. Nothing fancy, just a go-to grab bag of fun or tension
-Take a break when you need to (but preferably after resolving the actions you're in the middle of at the moment)
-Don't feel obligated to go beyond your limits. If that's all you could give, then it's already 100% effort on your part
-Talk to your players. They are the greatest resource any GM could have, beyond any books, forums, movies, or stats.

Of course, you should always remember why this game is called a game: It's ALL for FUN!  :)

Belker

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« Reply #12 on: <03-03-14/1111:12> »
Don't let anyone tell you that you should never run published adventures. When you're just starting out, having the adventure written for you - even if you wind up modifying it - lets you focus your energy on developing the rest of your GM skills.

Always have in the back of your mind, "What is the absolute coolest thing that could happen right now?"

Know that gamers are people and have different motivations for playing. Figure out what kinds of players you have and adjust accordingly.

"Everyone is having fun" is the only criteria of whether it's a good game or not. Anyone who insists there is only one true way to play or GM is WRONG.

You might also want to hit up Steve Jackson Games for a copy of "Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering" by Robin Laws - it's out of print but available in PDF.
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