[While I prefer to be a player rather than a games master, I have also games mastered quite a bit. This is another post that I wrote back in 2007.]
Congratulations on stepping up to the breach and being a member of your group who is willing to run a role play game. You are now part of the elite caste of people known as Games Masters.
Games Mastering a role play game can be one of the most nerve wracking experiences of a player’s life. Depending on the age group, the games master, sometimes called Dungeon Master, has to act as storyteller, scribe, actor, director, personal assistant, mathematician, and childminder. These many roles all have to be melded together seamlessly for a story to be enjoyable for all players.
That said, it is also a highly enjoyable as watching players come across your fiendish plans is quite satisfying, as is knowing something that they don’t. One of the most important aspects of creating a game for your players is to make sure you tailor your game to the players. If your players once a role play game which is high on combat, it makes sense to fulfil this otherwise players will quickly get bored. Hardcore role players will also get bored if they games consist entirely of combat.
Finding a balance in your game
Let us face it, you are going to be roleplaying with your friends most likely so you will have a good knowledge of their likes and dislikes. Add to this knowledge by having a talk before you start choosing, or writing the first role play adventure. Ask direct questions about what they want, particularly in the character generation stage, as, with most games takes a full night. During character generation, if your players or create characters based on ninjas and Samurai, it is a fair bet that your players want a combat heavy adventure, likewise if you end up the party of apprentice mages, magic will most likely have a large impact on your games.
When running an adventure, either a published version, or one that you written yourself you should make sure that it is one that contains all the aspects that your players are looking for. This really is the subject of another article, but when running your adventure you should make sure that you do not stick to rigidly to the part to the detriment of the fun of your players. As with any game, first role should be fun for you and friends. This is after all a role play game.
Overall, running a game should be fun, and so anything from you, all the other players, which is not fun should be stomped on. Anything which is fun, such as layers doing things that are not strictly in the rules but are very funny should most definitely be encouraged.
This is the tight rope that Games Masters must balance on to ensure fun for everyone and a game where there are no losers, well, unless you are players are really bad. Have fun, and remember: if you get really annoyed at your players, you have dragons to throw at them.