Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Classic Beginner GM Mistakes

Gamesmastering Style

- Railroading.
- Author Appeal - "what I think is cool must be cool"
- Focused only on combat to the exclusion of role playing: weak narrative - numbers focused.
- Excessive cheating.
- GM plays all NPCs with the same personality and mannerisms.
- GM does not narrate well (stilted descriptions).

Player Interaction

- Not understanding player preferences.
- GM Rules lawyering (niddling over rules with players in-game).
- GM allowing rules lawyering during the game.
- GM fails to establish reasonable player expectations (what kind of game are we playing?)
- GM Egotism - playing the game to Beat the Players and WIN THE GAME (bad, bad, bad).
-- Abusive GM Fiat.
-- GM-PC - another symptom of GM Egoism. Falling in love with one's own NPC.
-- Player Favoritism - the GM's Girlfriend, or best friend.

Game Prep

- Not knowing the rules well enough.
- Being under-prepared for the game.
- Overstacking the odds against the player characters (accidentally or otherwise).
- Understacking the odds against the player characters.
- Rules Tunnel Vision - being locked in by the rules making the world limited, technical and predictable.
- Mediocre story.
- Too much control over Players.
- Creating overly complicated scenarios (and then losing track and creating internal contradictions).
- Creating overly simplistic scenarios (uninteresting).
- Monty Hall Dungeons (can work, sometimes, but not often).
- GM failing to establish party unity in the back story or setting.
- GM does not know their world well enough (the "um um um" syndrom).
- Pampering Players.
-- Giving out too much stuff too fast (treasure, info, etc).
-- Never letting PCs die.

The list was gleaned from discussions at one of our Literary Role Playing Game Society of Westchester Meetings not too long ago.  I thought it was a good enough list to share.  Perhaps it will save some Newbie Gamesmasters from some of the common pitfalls of the beginning GM.   Best wishes!
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