Storytelling 101

So… to all you gamers who read the blog, I have a question for you – hopefully I’ll get some feedback! haha

Most RPG books that you buy have at least one chapter dedicated to the storyteller/gameaster/fatedealer, whatever you call him/her. Since this role is vital to the success of ANY role-playing game, it makes sense that you would somehow try to coach that individual on how to be a good storyteller.

Here’s my question:  What advanced content are you looking for in the “GM” chapter?

I think it always makes sense to provide general storytelling elements like plot devices, story arch, character motivations, etc. I like providing tips on how to make things like combat exciting, or to further dramatize conversations, etc. But especially if you have been a gamemaster for any length of time (a successful one, at least), you are already aware of these basic components to a living narrative.

Are you looking for reference tables? Would you prefer to have a mini-adventure available – maybe not to run, but to just see how the creator envisioned the game would be run? Pre-made characters?

As a follow-up question, out of the RPGs that you own, which of them had the best “GM” chapter, in your opinion? Why?

3 responses to “Storytelling 101

  1. GMing is a personal experience and I’ve found that a GMs style is just his style. I have 2 right now and one is a very good GM with little time on his hands. And the other… well the other infuriates me at times. I am often asked to GM from people who have played under me, but I don’t have the zest for it that I once did.

    Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the roll-playing scenario where each player is illustrated like a play in the text. That has always given me the best flow of a game, but I feel its pretty universal among all games.

    I also like having a detailed adventure. Given todays technology, I would rather see this as downloadable content as opposed to being in a book (as I would not want my players accidentally skimming over it.

    A set of tables (again this would proffered to be in DLC for me) that could be printed out and placed in GM screen, I have a generic screen I swap out for my games.

    One thing I have not seen is a common knowledge section in the GM area. With almost any new player, there is a “Would I know that?” phase or a failure to ask a question cause their not familiar with the world, or they’re afraid to look like a noob. I think a section on what you can assume a player would know would good or a quick way to determine if a character would know something relevant to the situation may be useful.

    • I think these are all excellent points. I also prefer to read game examples in a sort of play format. I think that captures the interactions between people better.

      About the whole ‘would I know this’ for new players… Are you talking about providing something that helps with game mechanic terminology (like knowing how to say you want to perform some kind of action or knowing how to declare a called shot) or more like an explanation of the world setting… Knowing the name of groups, how available resources are, etc.

      I like the idea of something that would make a new roleplayer feel more comfortable. I want to make sure I’m following along.

  2. As an experienced GM, what I want to see in a GMing chapter is exactly how to play this game. How do _you_ (as the the designer(s)) run it? What playting styles do the mechanics support? What kind of characters and stories work well in the setting?

    If the game is so generic that you can’t answer those questions – it’s not worth my time _as a game_. It’s a just source/art book (which is valuable, too, but a different thing).

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