Guest Author - Margaret Dorraine Baines-Turberfield
Many Role Playing Game enthusiasts have been players for years, but never run their own campaigns. What prevents the average player from becoming a Game Master? For myself, I admit that my biggest hurdles in the transition from player to Game Master were lack of understanding of the rules, and lack of belief in myself to write an engaging adventure. Despite my fears, I was able to finally take the leap and start up two different weekly gaming sessions that have been a constant source of entertainment, personal fulfillment, and fun. I love my games so much, I want to share that feeling with other girl gamers out there who have been flirting with the same idea, but have yet to dive in.
Role Playing Games can be an expensive hobby. For example, Wizards of the Coast have published 9 titles for their current active Dungeons & Dragons Essentials line, including boxed sets and kits. While many GMs feel it is worth the investment to buy all the books available to ensure they have the most complete information during adventure preparation, don’t make the mistake of assuming you need to own them all before you can venture into Game Mastering! There are plenty of absolutely awesome gaming systems that have only one core book for you to worry about, and a surprising amount of free content available to help you get off the ground.
Let me take a moment here to encourage any player interested in getting into Game Mastering to take the time to read through the GM section of their particular game’s core rules book, and certainly devote some time to studying combat, character creation, and other rules in your system. Many of your players will look to you for clarification of rules that they, themselves, are fuzzy on. If you want to save time during actual play and prevent page-flipping-pauses, set aside that new chick lit novel on your bedside stand for a week or two, and pick up your game’s core rule book, instead.
Once you’re passably familiar with your core rules, you will want to decide what kind of games you’re interested in running. You have lots of options! Pre-generated encounter modules, randomly generated encounters, self-written “homebrew” adventures and campaigns are just a few examples. Go with what your comfort level is. If you have a story idea that is just bursting to get out of you, then go for it! If you want to test the waters a while, or if you don’t have a lot of free time for game prep, pre-generated adventures are a great resource. Depending on your players’ skill level and degree of openness, I would even encourage you to use pre-generated character statistics, if available, and get them to focus more on their role-playing and character backgrounds during character creation. (But that’s a different article!)
To recap: once you’ve taken the time to get a good grip on your game’s rules, gather a group and start adventuring! Even if you’re not ready to start world building and devising multi-story-arcing long-term campaigns, you can start Game Mastering with the wonderful pre-packaged adventure modules available for so many excellent games out there. Don’t let stage fright stop you from sharing and promoting this fantastic hobby!