What do GM Stars signify to you?


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Some people love to run games, and therefore collect stars.
Some people run games mostly to make sure that games happen (hi), and get fewer stars.
Some people don't want to run games (for all sorts of reasons), and so don't get any stars.

The only thing the stars tell you is how many games somebody has run, except for #5, which should be an indication that they know what they're doing well enough not to spoil a game.

However, there are some 5-stars I won't sit at a table with (even if they aren't running), due to either personality incompatibilities or disagreement over how the rules work.

And knowledge of one system doesn't always carry over to a different system; sometimes that's worse when the systems are similar (hands up all those who still get mixed up between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder)

The Exchange 5/5

Andy Brown wrote:

Some people love to run games, and therefore collect stars.

Some people run games mostly to make sure that games happen (hi), and get fewer stars.
Some people don't want to run games (for all sorts of reasons), and so don't get any stars.

The only thing the stars tell you is how many games somebody has run, except for #5, which should be an indication that they know what they're doing well enough not to spoil a game.

However, there are some 5-stars I won't sit at a table with (even if they aren't running), due to either personality incompatibilities or disagreement over how the rules work.

And knowledge of one system doesn't always carry over to a different system; sometimes that's worse when the systems are similar (hands up all those who still get mixed up between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder)

raises hand...

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

nosig wrote:
Andy Brown wrote:

Some people love to run games, and therefore collect stars.

Some people run games mostly to make sure that games happen (hi), and get fewer stars.
Some people don't want to run games (for all sorts of reasons), and so don't get any stars.

The only thing the stars tell you is how many games somebody has run, except for #5, which should be an indication that they know what they're doing well enough not to spoil a game.

However, there are some 5-stars I won't sit at a table with (even if they aren't running), due to either personality incompatibilities or disagreement over how the rules work.

And knowledge of one system doesn't always carry over to a different system; sometimes that's worse when the systems are similar (hands up all those who still get mixed up between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder)

raises hand...

raises hand too

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Tineke Bolleman wrote:
nosig wrote:
Andy Brown wrote:

Some people love to run games, and therefore collect stars.

Some people run games mostly to make sure that games happen (hi), and get fewer stars.
Some people don't want to run games (for all sorts of reasons), and so don't get any stars.

The only thing the stars tell you is how many games somebody has run, except for #5, which should be an indication that they know what they're doing well enough not to spoil a game.

However, there are some 5-stars I won't sit at a table with (even if they aren't running), due to either personality incompatibilities or disagreement over how the rules work.

And knowledge of one system doesn't always carry over to a different system; sometimes that's worse when the systems are similar (hands up all those who still get mixed up between D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder)

raises hand...
raises hand too

I still hear people ask for spot checks.

------
One of the things that I notice, having played the majority of my PFS online, is how many people pop up in our dischord channel's LFG chat, just looking for a game. By it's very nature, finding someone who wants to GM just for the love of GMing a game is very rare.

Originally, I starting GMing for my static online group because nobody else wanted to run it. There's alot more to GMing online than there is for GMing in person. I feel like I can whip up a map IRL, have a stat block, and be good to go. Online, not so much. I prep macros for my NPCs to try and minimize the interruption to game flow. I go out of my way to find interesting pictures for NPCs that aren't just taken from the bestiary, since I know at least 2 of my players have been around the block a few times, and can probably guess monsters just based on the pictures. I do dynamic lighting on my maps, to help my players get involved in the game more. I go out of my way to find hilarious memes to post on my splash screen of a starter page to give my players a chuckle. All in all, it usually takes me about a week to make a single scenario ready for gameplay (taking into account being a full time college student and part time worker).

This involvement of time also means that I have less time to play than I would normally like. Looking back at my chronicles, I have way too many characters, and the majority of the chronicle sheets are from GM credit. I have a 15th level character that I've played maybe 5 times.

Now, I GM because I enjoy it. I love reading the behind the scenes action, and helping my players flesh out their characters. Im touched by some of the actions that they've done. Sure, I may be gaming vicariously through my PCs. What GM doesn't?

I swear, this is the end of my rant. >_< Hilary, my GM stars mean more to my players than they mean to me. They show that I was willing to take (from their perspective) 5-10 hours out of my week to make a few hours of their time a little more enjoyable. None of them read the forums, so I know they'll never read this, and probably will never know the truth about how long it takes to set up a table (nobody's ever asked at least). One of my players has a huge social media fanbase, and you should see how she brags to her friends about her barbarian Barb. One of my other players, whos favorite character has the cooking profession as a dayjob, spends time in-scenario finding out what each exotic location has for new ingredients, and serves the party at his next mission briefing a local delicacy from the last place they adventured. They, and others, are the reason why I gm so much, and thus the reason why I currently have 4 stars.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a bonekeep table to prep. :D

The Exchange 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

Gerard van Konijnenburg wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

This.

As for confirmation tables: I think we should see it as a celebration of the commitment, time, energy and other things the GM put in to allow his players to shine and not as an appraisal. The appraisal should have been done beforehand and not in that specific game.

Are you taking notes Tineke and Auke?

This is what mine ended up being. A group of hand picked players there to celebrate with me.

The Exchange 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

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Blind I really do feel bad I haven't been able to make pick up games happen the way I used to.

My schedule changed and with it my ability to just pop and in and snap off a game of The Many Fortunes of Grand Master Torch on like 20 minutes notice....but man it was awesome when I could.

Scarab Sages 1/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Michigan—Grand Rapids aka maldar

The GM Stars mean very little to me. I like how we had a scoring system for GMs, Players and the Scenario all rolled into one process at the end of each game for the RPGA. Players were able to leave comments on the bottom of the voting sheets as well. GMs and Players both earned points based on the totals and some formula the RPGA had, which included balancing out points based on table size.

One of the things I liked about GMs and Players both earning levels is that you could run events where you had to meet level requirements as a player or GM to play or run that event. This allowed both players and GMs the ability to play with others of the say skill level. You mainly only saw this at major cons. This was also a way to encourage others to up their own skills. People don't tend to improve unless there is an incentive.

To me, the Star/Nova system just rewards people for running, at least until they reach the point of having to prove their abilities before they can advance. A point-based scoring system would slow the progression of weaker GMs while accelerating that of stronger GMs. There are a few GMs I know that should be 5 star GMs but are not due to table numbers.

Personally, I started out poorly as a GM for the RPGA, but what helped me want to improve were those scoring sheets and the comments on them, and they were not positive comments. I don't feel that same drive to improve under this system.

I know many people don't like the idea of being scored or having comments written about them; however, on the flip side, I dislike the "Everybody is a Winner" style of the Star/Nova system.

When I hear or see the announcements about someone being a 5 Star GM I think "meh", "whatever", "I'll believe it once I play at their table".

I'll take a table with a Paragon Level GM and Paragon Level players over a table of 5 Star GMs any day. Nothing like a table where a die is never rolled.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8 aka WalterGM

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A couple months ago one of my local GMs qualified for his 5th star and ran Bonekeep level 3 for me (an RVC), a VL, and some other folks. I told him the following (more or less) when he was awarded his 5th star.

"So what does a 5th star mean? Back in the day, when there was so much less play options going around, it was a pretty large milestone. It meant you had run just about everything out there and were a huge campaign participant. What does it mean now? With infinite Thornkeep level 1 replays and people farming First Steps to make Aasimars? Honestly, not so much.

Of my two worst experiences playing PFS, out of hundreds of games, one was under a 5 star GM. He was obstinate, the game was riddled with rules errors, and refused to have a dialogue with his players about anything remotely table variation. He was determined to have the game be us against him. The scenario he ran was the exact same one you ran tonight, and it was a wretched, wretched experience. Your table of the same scenario was so much better than his, yet in the context of PFS you are both 5 star GMs. That this is the only metric I have in PFS to signify your level of GMing expertise is profoundly tragic. And for that, I am sorry.

I think of GMing as an art form, akin to music or painting. Great musicians borrow chords and bridges from other musicians, just like artists are influenced by other artists. As a GM over these last years, I have seen you grow and develop your own unique style. The best possible style you could muster, really, as you have been exposed to so many great (and terrible) GMs. You have cherry picked exactly what works best for you in order to give every table you run an outstanding experience. That, to me, is what a 5 star GM should be. Someone that is constantly innovating, learning, and performing above just reading what's on the page. But it isn't. It just means you ran 150 games, 10 of which were harder to organize.

So congratulations on your 5th star, and however important a milestone you wish that to be. More importantly, in my opinion, are the countless players and other GMs that you have educated, influenced, and shaped through all the games that you have run. Those people are the ones that benefit the most from the table experiences you deliver, and long before you earned this arbitrary metric, you earned their respect. I hope that you don't see this 5th star as the final thing you can achieve GMing, and know that, really, you've only just started honing your chops. Make every game better than this one.

So on behalf of all those people, thank you for being my GM today. It was another great game I'll remember for years to come."

3/5

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I tend to think of GM stars as condition bar for mental trauma...

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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We have no idea what you are talking about.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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and you knew who you were then

Elves were girls and dwarves were men

We could use a DM like Gary gygax agaiiiiin...

3/5

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Walter Shepard is a much better word-haver than I can ever brain, so I'm going to simply point upwards and say "yeah my thoughts are kinda like that."

But let's have some fun and go over my own journey in progress, one star at a time. May include speculation.

*: I have proven that I am not a puckered, winking goblinhole. Oh hey, I can play Black Waters again.

**: Oh my god why does this special need 15 maps.

***: Wait, I can run Gallows of Madness how many times for legal credit?

****: Rosc's log, year 20XX. They still think I know what I'm doing.

*****: And this. Is to go. Even further..... beyond!

Spoiler:
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH...!

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

I am proud of my five stars. Not because it’s an indication of my skill, but because it’s a measure of my commitment to the campaign. I feel like I’ve given back to those who GMd for me so many hundreds of times. When I look at my stars, it reminds me that all the agonizing hours of blood, sweat, and tears I’ve poured into preping paid off in such a way that players kept coming back to my table. Am I a better GM now than when I started? Do I know the rules better than I did? Do players enjoy playing at my table? I certainly hope so.

One of the toughest tasks I have as a 5 Star VO is “judging” potential 5 Star candidates at their review table. My general opinion is that in order to get to 150 tables reported, you have to be at least competent at running a good otherwise why would players keep coming back? A bad GM can often hide out at conventions with different p,Ayers all the time, but under that premise it would take them many years to reach 150 tables. Most games run by five star candidates are done in their local lodges. If you suck and show no ability or interest in improving, I would expect the organizer/s to stop using you and/or players to stop playing at your table.

So, when someone gets to 150 tables, it is a relatively rare thing for them not to be at least a competent GM. Whether or not “competent” is a good enough description for a five star is in the eye of the beholder (or whatever Pathfinder equivalent creature we have that doesn’t violate WotC IP), but it is a hard thing to tell someone who has run 150+ tables investing 750+ hours GMing at the table plus roughly the same amount of time prepping those tables that their contribution is not worthy of recognition, that being the 5th Star. As such, when I look upon other people’s five stars it means the same to me as my own 5th Star. Primarily a measure of their commitment to our campaign and to their local community. I hope it means they are a better GM, a better leader, and a better representative of what our community is all about.

Explore! Report! Cooperate!

1/5

Bob talks about the 'straight facts' of a five-star GM.

This does NOT take into consideration that there may be an *equal* number of tables that DID NOT FIRE that were *also* prepped with painstaking care (hopefully!) by said GM.

It does not take into consideration the number of 'last-minute' scenario drops that the GM had to kitbash into something presentable with less than two weeks (hours?) to prepare it.

It does not take into consideration the poor unfortunate soul who gets a second copy of a scenario shoved into their hands moments before a slot at a convention because they've run it before and have the maps and minis handy from a different yet similar scenario.

It took me nearly three years to get my *first* star. Not because I didn't want to GM, but because I wanted to GM *right*.

Anyone that can put together fifteen times that is at least worth the initial and thoughtful consideration of their skills, and anyone that has more of them should have developed skills for adopting the things they like and don't like.

True story, several of the things I've done as Quality of Life for my tables (table tents, scratch paper, pens, little chit for initiative tracking) are outright borrows from either other GMs or other players, and it makes life So Much Easier.

5/5

Anyone with more than two stars(/etc) is someone who spends way too much time on Pathfinder and should probably get more hours of sleep than they currently do.

1/5

TheFlyingPhoton wrote:
Anyone with more than two stars(/etc) is someone who spends way too much time on Pathfinder and should probably get more hours of sleep than they currently do.

I would disagree, but only on the number, which should be *any stars*. See my above commentary for why I disagree that a 1-star GM should be discounted from the statement.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Walter Sheppard wrote:
You have cherry picked exactly what works best for you in order to give every table you run an outstanding experience. That, to me, is what a 5 star GM should be. Someone that is constantly innovating, learning, and performing above just reading what's on the page. But it isn't. It just means you ran 150 games, 10 of which were harder to organize.

The bolding is what 5 star means to me. It's not just time devoted to the campaign -- it's striving, over and over, to provide the very best games to your players.

Hmm

Scarab Sages 1/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Michigan—Grand Rapids aka maldar

One of the reasons I like the old RPGA system is that you avoided all of these separate ranks for each system.

All GMs no matter what system(s) they GMed all had the same point pool and the points you earned were based on player rating the GM at the end of each game. If the GM was knowledgeable on rules and good at Role-Playing then they were ranked higher by the players, and lower if they were not. The better one was at GMing the more points they earned and the faster they achieved higher ranks.

Just like with the higher Star/Nova levels, the higher levels in the RPGA also required someone higher in the Organization to approve the rank after watching the GM run a game and assessing their abilities.

1/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There are problems that comes up when a GM is 'fishing' for 'likes'.

Also, there are people who are amazing at HQ that never see recognition, but without their skills, quality GMing is harder to accomplish.

Grand Lodge 4/5

You can be a 4-Star GM and still have a bad session. While I am not a 5-Star yet, I pride myself on being a very good GM (albeit still struggling with mastering all of the rules). Just this last week I ran a session of The Halflight Path where I broke my cardinal rule of having the table built before I announced the session. When the session started I was not prepared due to real life concerns. I had to prep a dynamic lit map on the fly which embarrassed me to no end. Then some of the rules areas I am weak on featured front and center. I felt like I was a total PFS GM Noob again.

Stars are nice, but they are not the end all, be all for GMing. You can have 5 stars and still have a bad day or not be a great GM at every aspect involved in GMing as session. You can be a great storyteller and not know half the rules (or less). You can have the rules memorized and not be able to do more than speak in a monotone making the session dull as dishwater.

It doesn't really matter in the end. What does matter is that the individual volunteered their time, made an effort, and committed to run a session. A GM with x stars shows me they've taken the time to volunteer and GM. Most improve over time. Some have odd GM styles. It really doesn't matter in the long run because we need them as a GM. I'm grateful when I play because that means I don't have to GM and can relax and enjoy the session.

Basically, the stars a nice metric of time investment.

PS. I can't find myself on that 5-Star roster in the Rising Star section. Nor can I find a few other GMs. I'm not sure why that is.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

No system is perfect. If you go with a feedback system, it is inherently biased towards extremes where friends give each other the highest marks and people who are generally disliked are given extremely poor marks even if their GM skills are adequate. It typically works well for convention events since the GM is often an unknown to the players so they are not personally invested and tend to give more measured marks.

With a strictly production system like ours, you lose the "human touch" which differentiates quality from GM to GM. It is a more fair representation of time investment as a measuring stick eliminating human bias, but it becomes quantity rather than quality with an assumption of quality associated with more experience.

Personally, I would like a system where five, four, and three stars all have to be approved, but that is A LOT of approving to ask of a volunteer corps of leaders, not to mention whatever evaluation system we would need to implement in order to try and make the test itself fair. Though it would allow us to catch bad habits early in the GM's lifespan and encourage corrections, while reinforcing good habits. It is better to mentor GMs along the journey than to "surprise" them with a poor evaluation after they have invested 150 sessions and upwards of 1000 hours of their time. The rubric being tested right now might be a step in that direction. If, at the end of the day, it results in higher quality GMs and happier players, then it will be worth the effort.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Took my prestige point AND 5 gold off the chronicle?

Wors. dm. EVER!!!!!

Sovereign Court 4/5

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Honestly the only thing they mean is commitment to the campaign as a whole. Some of my best and worst tables have been run by 5 star GMs. I've sat with 5 stars that have a soundtrack for the game set out, handouts and keep everyone engaged. Then people who you can tell the first time they are looking at something is while they are reading the introduction and happen to have maps and generic minis.

Some of my best tables have been run by 2 star GMs that what they have mostly run for people and their skills have been some of the best, but their experience falls under unsanctioned paizo content - so it doesn't count for their stars. I've had players while I'm an acting VA come up to me and ask why those GMs are not rated higher and have to explain stars are not a rating system.

I also agree with Xathos, I'm seriously scheduling a game with someone who can review me for 5 star and didn't even make the list either, as well as a few others who got to that point before me.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

The 'Rising Star'spreadsheet was a document from a fan tracking stars, nothing official and hasn't even been updated since 2018 some time so it's really not an issue if someone was missed or someone who started GMIng more recently isn't on there. It's certainly not a snub nor will it affect your ability or chances to get 5 stars.

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