If being a player is like using a flashlight, being the GM is like sitting under a 150 watt lamp. Everything is fully illuminated (sometimes too fully), and nothing is hidden from view.
You’re privy to the big picture, whether you created it (homebrewed the world, wrote the adventure) or read the whole thing beforehand, and it all seems clear and obvious to you.
But when the light is that bright, you can’t see the players’ flashlight beam at all — which makes it tough to know which parts they’re interested in, familiar with or missing entirely.
I think there’s a couple of exceptions in some of the games that focus on ‘role’ far more than ‘roll’. Amber in particular. Everyone is scheming, and ‘the adventure’ may be a distant third in importance to the internecine politics. Many player-player interactions really don’t require the GM, so they occur without the GM’s knowledge.
And can lead to complete bafflement on the GM’s face.
GM: ‘Joe trips and falls almost completely off the cliff path.’
Player: ‘No one can see me, I give him a push. With a big grin.’
GM: ‘… um…’
Of course, sometimes your also stumbling around, figuring things out. Many systems (like Burning Wheel) help highlight what the players are interested in before you begin– but you have to remain alert and attentive to make sure their current interests are getting hit.
Both very good points. 🙂
I have found it is good to wait a few days after a gaming session, then ask your players what they remember from the prior session. This will tell you where their flashlight is pointed. They will remember the elements that are important to them, and forget the boring ones. Take the things they remember and focus on them in the next session.
I think my problem i have to work on is I am a 40 watt light bulb.
lebkin: That’s an awesome tip. Would you be interested in expanding it slightly as a guest post? Drop me a line if you are. 🙂 (I’ll be at GenCon Wed-Sun.)
Karnov: I doubt that. 😉 But if you do find yourself needing help with anything GMing-related, I recommend checking out our friendly forums. 🙂
Martin: I would love to write up a guest post. I know you are at Gen Con the rest of this week. So I will send you an email, and you can get me the details of what you would like from me.
lebkin: Thanks! I’ve emailed you back about your guest post. 🙂