How does one become a GM?


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Scarab Sages

I have played the game a bunch, but I would like to get a chance to GM as well. It seems like that is where all the fun is if you like to role play. I know the rule pretty well and have a good memory, so all I need now is to figure out how it works and where to do what a GM does after the game and before the game.

Sczarni

One finds players... and runs a game for them. And no. It is not fun. It is hard work. Or I should say, it is more work than showing up with a single piece of paper and playing. It is still fun to GM.

You can try local gaming shops, or other places geeks like us like to hang out. Most have a board to post on for attracting new players, or you can bring your own friends. PFS organized play sessions also look for GMs at conventions and will break you in softly/but that requires there to be a Con near you.


grab a copy of the game mastey guide and bestiary if you dont have them and then just put a campaign together and find players.


Yeah, just read through the GM mastery guide. Just ask to GM once or twice and you can really get into it. I asked my old GM for a few quick one on one sessions to practice. I just dug into a book real quickyl and said "hey this looks cool!" and eventually I really got into it. That said, I usually prefer the player's role.

Shadow Lodge

Being a GM takes practice. The best way to learn is just to dive in. As long a everyone is having a good time then you are doing it right.

Liberty's Edge

Step 0) Get players willing to play a game you'll be running

Step 1) Create a story idea. This can be as detailed or simple as you want. Alternatively, you can buy and read a pre-published module. Paizo has many available, both regular and Pathfinder Society

Step 2) Play

Step 3) Reflect on the game and make a note of what worked and what didn't, what you were good at and what you needed to work at.

It's pretty much always the same process, for your first game or for your seventy-first.

If you want to get really technical, as you plan your story or read your module make notes of rules that might come up and look them up on advance.
Read through your monsters and their abilities, planning how they might act.

Reading the Gamemaster advice in the back of the rules is also handy, mostly for building encounters and awarding experience and treasure. Like any game, reading the rules before you play is a plus.


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The most important thing to have if you want to GM is a desire to create a stage for your players to shine.


I would also recommend playing for at least a few months before trying to GM, if possible.


Ximen Bao wrote:
I would also recommend playing for at least a few months before trying to GM, if possible.

I know people who are fresh and start out as GMs and do great! I also know people who've played since 3.0 and their first try GMing, after 10 years of play, they constantly trip over their own two feet.

Somewhere out there there was a first GM... I treally helps if you have support too. Can't tell you how much I could've used a little bit of support during any of my first tries.


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There is an initiation involving three tests, and you will have to pass them all. A reputable gaming store will have a secret chamber where the rites and trials are conducted.

Scarab Sages

Actually, I meant PFS play. They modules are pre-made, all you have to do is familiarize yourself with them. The monsters are premade, everything is predetermined. Easiest thing in the world to run. I don't mean make things up as I go. There is a place where one can print out "First Steps" things like that. I just don't know where that place is. That, and where to post the character progress PFS.

The Exchange

Vincent The Dark wrote:
Easiest thing in the world to run.

wow.

...wow...

Liberty's Edge

Vincent The Dark wrote:
Actually, I meant PFS play. They modules are pre-made, all you have to do is familiarize yourself with them. The monsters are premade, everything is predetermined. Easiest thing in the world to run. I don't mean make things up as I go. There is a place where one can print out "First Steps" things like that. I just don't know where that place is. That, and where to post the character progress PFS.

This depends on your region and who is running the adventures and coordinating play. If there's someone in charge of the regular game days and the like. They're the people to talk to.

I'd suggest running an adventure you've already played to start. You won't get credit for your main for doing so, but you'll already be familiar with how the module handles at a table and what PCs might do.
Then you can move onto other modules.

This also depends on how many GMs are in your area and how many games are played. If there are more GMs than tables it might take some time.

Sczarni

Dysfunction wrote:
Vincent The Dark wrote:
Easiest thing in the world to run.

wow.

...wow...

Yeh, I agree, its way easy right up until that Nightwing (huge monster with a 80 foot wingspan) is stuck in a 60' diameter star tower... with columns in it for support of the roof. Did we mention: familiarize yourself with the module before you run it? Hope so.


We were finishing up at Level 9/10 and our current DM wanted a break to play for a few months. I saw a module that looked interesting (Hollow's Last Hope), added a few small things that were subtle inside jokes to get the group's attention, and that was it; we were off.

I LOVE making those do or die rolls right in front of the group. Most rountine rolls are behind the screen but the tension and freak-outs that occur are FAR more satisfying when they see that 20 (or 1) themselves.

Also, once you hit the higher levels as a player in a larger group (>5) it may take a while for your turn and, as a DM, you are always in play.

Finally.....I love playing the "important" NPCs. The randoms goons and underlings have no depth but giving some mannerisms and accents to the main bad guys each time is great.


When I first started, I asked some people to be in my first game. I told them we were going to play for a period then stop and I would like feedback. They agreed. We all had a great time and I learned a lot from those first few games. Those first few games helped me also gain the experiance and to learn to trust myself as GM.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

You should post this in the PFS General Discussion forum. Or the Advice forum, for running home games.

Otherwise just approach your local Venture Lieutenant and see what he/she thinks.

Scarab Sages

Vincent The Dark wrote:
Actually, I meant PFS play. They modules are pre-made, all you have to do is familiarize yourself with them. The monsters are premade, everything is predetermined. Easiest thing in the world to run. I don't mean make things up as I go. There is a place where one can print out "First Steps" things like that. I just don't know where that place is. That, and where to post the character progress PFS.

"The modules are pre-made, all you have to do is familiarize yourself with them. "

Scarab Sages

GoldEdition42 wrote:

We were finishing up at Level 9/10 and our current DM wanted a break to play for a few months. I saw a module that looked interesting (Hollow's Last Hope), added a few small things that were subtle inside jokes to get the group's attention, and that was it; we were off.

I LOVE making those do or die rolls right in front of the group. Most rountine rolls are behind the screen but the tension and freak-outs that occur are FAR more satisfying when they see that 20 (or 1) themselves.

Also, once you hit the higher levels as a player in a larger group (>5) it may take a while for your turn and, as a DM, you are always in play.

Finally.....I love playing the "important" NPCs. The randoms goons and underlings have no depth but giving some mannerisms and accents to the main bad guys each time is great.

I would say that this is the reason I want to gm, but if you GM and you are complaining, maybe you should "play" instead.

Scarab Sages

Well, I guess I found out where to get the modules, (like First Steps), and my second actual question was, how do I report the game? You know where do I go, what do I do?


Vincent The Dark wrote:
Actually, I meant PFS play. They modules are pre-made, all you have to do is familiarize yourself with them. The monsters are premade, everything is predetermined. Easiest thing in the world to run. I don't mean make things up as I go. There is a place where one can print out "First Steps" things like that. I just don't know where that place is. That, and where to post the character progress PFS.

One wonders why you didn't simply ask this in the first place.

Instead of posting a thread in the wrong forum with a very general/vague question.

Scarab Sages

Rynjin wrote:

One wonders why you didn't simply ask this in the first place.

Instead of posting a thread in the wrong forum with a very general/vague question.

Well, I thought that there were rules about it that people knew. If nobody answers this here, I will post somewhere else with the info I got from here and make it a better question, like the one I have now. It's a process for those that don't know anything about the mystery of the origins of a G.M.

Liberty's Edge

Vincent:

Have you read the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play? If not, do so; it contains lots of helpful information on how to organise and report PFS games.

Have you read Pathfinder Society: Gamemastering 101? If not, do so; it contains lots of helpful advice on how to GM PFS games.

Once you've read those, post on the Pathfinder Society messageboards if you have any more questions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You can download the free modules here, just click on "add pdf" and after there will be the message that it´s in your download section, from where you can download it to your device. You can then either read it there or print it with any printer you have.

As for the rest, read what PAZ posted above. If you have questions then, ask them in the Society General Discussion Thread.


As far as "Mystery of the origins", for me it was a process:

1) I disliked "Start at Level 3, roll for best 3 of 5, no stats lower than 13".

2) I disliked starting a campaign that didn't keep going.

3) I disliked the idea of GM'ing a campaign that *I* would have to keep going, and never have opportunity to play.

4) I wanted something organized and structured, so I would have a better feel for the world and think of it as a fictional place, rather than something somebody scratched up.

5) "The World's Oldest Fantasy RPG" would have been 'nice', except the people I talked to really disliked the 4e changes, I knew 5e was coming and 4e would 'go away'. But since 5e won't exist for a few years, if I wanted to do anything I would have to look at the Pathfinder product, and I liked what I saw.

6) PFS looked like I could get some sort of structured play in a world setting and with a rule set that was still in print and being maintained by the company, unlike 3.5e. It also solved other areas of dissatisfaction I was having with other play I had tried up to this point.

7) I fetched the "First Steps" freebies and looked them over, and I decided to contact the Venture Captains/ Venture Lieutenants in my area. They pointed me to a great guy, Doug Benson, who is doing PFS in my area.

8) Unfortunately, when I'm available to play, he's working. I already decided by that point if I was going to do PFS, I would have to do it. But the kind person invited my wife and me over to enjoy our first PFS game.

9) Shortly after, I ran my first PFS game. At the moment, I'm working on my third game.

For me, it was never a question of who was going to permit me to do this. I simply decided what I wanted to accomplish, and I've been attempting to have a go at it as best as I possibly can. I really don't want to GM a game, as such. I simply want to enjoy a weekend out with my wife socializing. I would prefer to play. But for the moment, if I'm not GM'ing PFS, there is no game. Hopefully, I'll be able to encourage someone else to step up and we can trade running sessions so we both can play. That is a bridge to cross as I arrive there.

I really don't know what I'm doing, but Paizo does not seem inclined to put up a barrier to allowing me to learn as I go. The people who come to the game have been very patient with me, and along with my wife they are helping and encouraging me to learn. Doug has been very gracious and helpful, answering my questions. We simply can't arrange a good schedule for me to participate in his games.

I think the process would apply just the same if someone were inclined to be a GM, just not doing PFS. I would not suggest being a GM, PFS or otherwise, just for some sort of 'power' thing. This is a great deal of work for no money. Rather the truth, my reach for things I wish I could buy from the Local Friendly Game Store far exceeds the grasp of my budget. I'm doing the GM job because there simply is nobody else in the position to make it happen when I can be there to play it. Paizo allows it, and anyone *else* inclined to stop me for whatever reason can simply argue the point with someone else besides me.

And I continue to invest the time and effort in this with the hopes someone will be willing to step forward and share the duty that both of us may continue to play. That is pretty much the reason I picked PFS, but if it wasn't for the hope-in-hell someone else would be willing to share the duty, I'd likely just do a campaign. I don't know enough yet to roll my own, and that's a huge amount of work. I'd just as soon pay someone else to deal with all that so I could focus on producing a great game session. But whatever one is inclined to do, I think it makes a difference to take an honest look at what your end-goal is, and then try to take the most rational approach to how you will GET to your end goal as possible.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

I hope this helps and inspires someone into considering being a GM. Hopefully maybe a PFS GM. :)

Liberty's Edge

You demonstrate to others that you are ready to the point that they let you run.

That is what worked for me.

Although others on here seem to report that they simply must accept whatever comes...although I suspect this is more a result of the person in the mirror.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
The most important thing to have if you want to GM is a desire to create a stage for your players to shine.

What a bunch of feel-good hippy nonsense. "Stage for your players to shine?"

Tycho Brahe knows the proper way.


Xexyz wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
The most important thing to have if you want to GM is a desire to create a stage for your players to shine.

What a bunch of feel-good hippy nonsense. "Stage for your players to shine?"

Tycho Brahe knows the proper way.

Heh... Can't say I've never encountered such a GM...

"Hippy nonsense". Heh. Can't say I've been accused of that much in my life either. My players consider me the "killer GM" of our group. :)

Scarab Sages

The only thing I didn't get so far is where to report the games. I only have paizo.com/pathfindersociety

Silver Crusade

http://paizo.com/pathfinderSociety/faq


This piece of information, and many others like it, are available in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play: http://paizo.com/products/btpy84k4

Specifically, read the chapter that explains how to GM.

Don't skim it. Read the whole thing. Because it's in there, in plain English. And if you can't find it, you haven't actually read the chapter thoroughly enough to be GMing for PFS.

Scarab Sages

The Fox wrote:

http://paizo.com/pathfinderSociety/faq

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I got it. : )

Liberty's Edge

I started GMing at 12 -- 1980! -- because an adult friend found a coverless copy of the D&D Expert rulebook, gave it to me, I devoured it, and I extrapolated rules that allowed me to use it. (I didn't get the Basic rulebook for a few more months, and I didn't get into AD&D until 1984.) My first dungeons had no orcs or dragons (those were in the Basic rulebook!), but lots of scorpions and vampires.

I was basically the only one of my friends who was in a position to "get" what RPGs and GMing meant, so I was the GM by default.

If I were to start over today, and I wanted to GM, I would (seriously) find a good GM (asking around to get opinions) and watch. Not play. Watch. If the GM doesn't mind you asking the occasional question, even better. But if you can sit in on 10 or 12 hours of good GMing, you will either (1) have a good idea that GMing isn't likely to be a strength, or (2) get a very good sense of what makes a good GM.

Jumping in, feet first, fully clothed, worked out well for me, but there were definitely times where it was tough staying afloat. (And, unlike today, I didn't have much choice.) Better to get a really good look before leaping.


maouse wrote:
One finds players... and runs a game for them...

If you want to be in an epic gaming group that goes for years and years and years,I would challenge this assumption. I suggest splitting the role of GM and Host/organizer. When I pulled together my Thursday evening group I made sure to invite several GMs because even the best GM burns out after a while, and should play occasionally for the sake of perspective. The hard part was getting them all to agree to run in the same world. That Involved a lot of trust building.

And in answer to the question...
If you want to GM, make sure you can tell a story. If you can tell a ghost story and get everyone to jump at the end, you're ready to GM.


Xot wrote:
maouse wrote:
One finds players... and runs a game for them...

If you want to be in an epic gaming group that goes for years and years and years,I would challenge this assumption. I suggest splitting the role of GM and Host/organizer. When I pulled together my Thursday evening group I made sure to invite several GMs because even the best GM burns out after a while, and should play occasionally for the sake of perspective. The hard part was getting them all to agree to run in the same world. That Involved a lot of trust building.

And in answer to the question...
If you want to GM, make sure you can tell a story. If you can tell a ghost story and get everyone to jump at the end, you're ready to GM.

Interesting that you say that as I have been with the same gaming group for the most part for over 10 years, some players for more than 15 years, with me as the GM. One of my players has run other games but my game has always been the primary game. Perhaps the occassional playing helps but I avoid burn out by taking a few months off each summer. That gives me the time to write and re-charge the battery.


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You take the Test of the Starstone. If you pass, you become a god. If you fail by fewer than 5 points, you become a GM.

Shadow Lodge

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Pain. Pain and suffering.


A great book to read is 'Never Unprepared'. It talks about the ideas behind preparing for a session as a GM. It doesn't give you exact instructions, but it will help you think about how to get ready for your next session. Even if you're an experienced GM, I highly recommend the book.


Xot wrote:
maouse wrote:
One finds players... and runs a game for them...

If you want to be in an epic gaming group that goes for years and years and years,I would challenge this assumption. I suggest splitting the role of GM and Host/organizer. When I pulled together my Thursday evening group I made sure to invite several GMs because even the best GM burns out after a while, and should play occasionally for the sake of perspective. The hard part was getting them all to agree to run in the same world. That Involved a lot of trust building.

We do it the other way around and rotate hosting rather than rotate GMing.


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People that hate you lie to you and tell you that you are good at GMing and emotionally blackmail you into running games for the rest of your life. Even when you beg to have a break and play, they twist things so you end up behind the screen even when you start the game as a player.

You then become jaded and spiteful and do your best to make your players as miserable as you are until there is a player revolt and you refuse to GM ever again.

It worked for me...


I like dm, and want to play, then when I start playing, wish I was dm again.

I don't care if they lie and hate me. They're scum and deserve my contempt.

It makes the job easier. And more fulfilling.


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In my experience, it was something like:

Me: "Guys, GUYS, let's play D&D!"
Guys: "Awww yeah!"
Me: "So... who's DMing?"
Guys: "Err..."

It's been 17 years since. I think I've been less than 6 times on the other side of the screen.

That or the Starstone thing.

More seriously, though I don't remember learning or doing anything particularly different when I first took the DM hat, stuff I've picked up along the way would be:

1.- The amount of prep you need to do will be correlated to your capacity for improvisation. The more you can make up on the spot, the less you need to worry about the details.

2.- You can really help your improvisation capacity by having a good idea of the background. Rather than laying down every single event, character, and fight in detail, if you create a solid setting (or study it well if you are playing with a published world) you'll be able to pull stuff out very easily.

3.- Players will do half your work if you let them. Players regularly give out suggestions of what to do next, most of the time without noticing it. Pay good ear to what they say and use it to weave the plot when you're out of ideas. Even when you already have stuff set, players can sometimes give out even better ideas.

4.- Knowing all the rules is less important than knowing the spirit of the game and being fair. Nine times out of ten there'll be a player in your group that knows more about a specific rule than you do. But as long as you can act as a fair referee, don't be afraid to say you don't remember the price of chicken or the rules regarding concrete mixing. Let the players collaborate with their knowledge and then give a ruling that you consider fair.

5.- That said, know your players. Some people really don't mind absolute rule precision, while others will be expecting you to stick to the RAW on every step. One option is not better or worse than the other, just different ways of enjoying the game.

6.- Lay out your expectations for the game early on. If you are planning on giving out a lot of background information for a mystery story, tell the players you'll be expecting them to take notes. If your game will be heavy on the world's mythology, tell players to do some preping of their own. Try to set the mood you want for the game before it starts, so both you and the players know well what they are getting into.

7.- Don't make a story for yourself alone. Though you don't need to have players decide how the whole thing will develop, ask their input on what they'd like to play before you plunge into writing the whole story (unless, of course, we're talking about DMing for an unknown group). Some groups really don't like investigations; others prefer their adventures to have a certain degree of lighthearted humour. Always remember that, no matter how deep and well crafted the story is, it needs to connect with what players want in order to get them involved.

8.- That said, you are the DM, and you should always make that clear. Define which level of control you want and tell your players. You are there to have fun too, and in order to do so you will need some things to go your way. Maybe you need to restrict character concepts within a certain style, or perhaps having too many minions/companions will boggle the game down for you. If there is a point of contention, try to reach a compromise, but never DM something you are not comfortable with. In the end, it will just make the game a problem for you and a problem for the players.

9.- Finally, let players play with your story. I've found that the greatest and most unique thrill in our field as DMs is the wonder of what will they do with what you give them. Stick to your narrative, but give them room to bend it around. In the end, it will both pleasantly surprise you and also decrease your workload, since the more you write in stone, the more prep you need to support it.

Hope it helps!


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One...does not simply become a GM.


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kmal2t wrote:

One...does not simply become a GM.

I did.


On a related topic, how do the GMs here get inspiration for their storylines?


Romaq wrote:
kmal2t wrote:

One...does not simply become a GM.

I did.

Me too.

It is easy being a GM. I mean you don't have any stress of your characters dieing. They are meant to die...and if they do you can just make more.


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horngeek wrote:
On a related topic, how do the GMs here get inspiration for their storylines?

A vast number of places...

- From novels, movies, video games, etc
- From RL history
- From Camapign Setting souce material
- From the PCs backgrounds and/or the PC characters in game actions.
- From your own imaginaton
- From your dreams/or nightmares
- From listening or reading about other people's campaigns.
- From Modules, APs, etc.

And I am sure there is some I missed


At this time I am just doing PFS. I am very new to the whole thing, I only started tabletop RPG last summer, and PFS starting this year. So 'home-brew', rolling my own is simply out of the question for me at this time.

But when I'm ready to start thinking that direction, http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage is your friend.


One tip I have learned the wisdom of, but was obscure to me: The expectations of the players are sharply based on the first few sessions. I.e. If all you do for three sessions is dungeoneering, that is what the players will feel the campaign is about. Even years later, with little dungeoneering.


Romaq wrote:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HomePage is your friend.

Be careful with that.

People have a tendency to become lost in its depths and not return until all their free time has been stolen.

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