Have you ever heard the saying, “Every man should own at least one pink shirt”? In my experience, the key to wearing a pink shirt is confidence.
And you know what? Confidence is critical to good GMing, too.
How you approach GMing matters a lot less than maintaining momentum. If you don’t know the answer, make it up; if you’re not sure something will work, try it and then get some feedback; if you need help, ask for it; if you ran a bad session, make the next one better.
Keep moving forwards, with confidence, and many of the other myriad details involved in GMing will follow.
Reading this make me realize that I’m the kind of player that undermines DM confidence. For example, this past sunday my wife was DMing and she had a dungeon filled with gray oozes. No problem there except that the dungeon also had a bunch of wooden furniture. Desks, chairs, etc… And a lot of the clues/treasure we found was scrolls, books, etc… ON that wooden furniture. Not a big deal until I asked “What are these doors made of?” That set off her “Oh crap”dar because I only ask about weird stuff like that for a reason. “Wood” She told me. “And how high off the floor are the bottoms of the doors?” I asked. “About an inch. Why?” She answered. “Oh nothing.” I announced “That’s just really weird. Since Gray oozes EAT wood, like all this furniture.” Thinking quickly, she pointed out that the other creatures in the dungeon (redcaps) fed the oozes because they’re twisted enough to enjoy watching the helpless rats they throw to them struggle as they’re slowly dissolved. But of course, I didn’t relent, stating that as mindless creatures with an aciding body they didn’t eat because they were hungry, but because they literally stumbled on something digestible. She then announced that the furniture remained uneaten because the doors were air-tight dwarven stone doors which the oozes couldn’t get through. I didn’t point out that she had told me minutes earlier that they were wooden doors with an inch of clearance underneath, but my teasing didn’t end there. Now that I think about it, I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to not do that to my DMs.
Point of my story: Don’t be like me. GM confidence IS an important thing and it’s hard to stay confident when one of your players points out your mistakes in front of everyone. If something NEEDS to be said, it can be said after the game, via note, and in private.
“Keep moving forwards, with confidence, and many of the other myriad details involved in GMing will follow.”
Personally, I find GM confidence to be a big issue. You have to be able to roll with the punches when the players’ plans and yours don’t match up or when you just plain blow it with rules issues. Keep plugging away, and the that sense of confidence will build with time. Not that long ago I was very panicky running D&D 3.5. I had tried a brief 3E campaign and fled screaming back to earlier editions for a couple years. But I got back on the horse with 3.5 and now I’ve reached the point where I’m not totally leaning on canned modules and razzle-dazzle.
Rick, I appreciate you acknowledging that you are sometimes part of the problem. But your GM needs to know that it’s okay to say to the players “Oops, I totally didn’t think of that, what can we do here? I think the best answer would be to snap my fingers and make the doors stone.” No GM should live with the fear of being busted. The players aren’t the cops interrogating a suspect after all.
Heh. Some people don’t have the right coloring to wear pink. I know I don’t, unless I get a really good tan over the summer. So it’s a matter of recognizing that pink just isn’t for you, and having the confidence to say so, knowing that some people will take that statement as a lack of confidence.
GM confidence is a lot like that, too. There are all kinds of good GM advice out there. Most of it applies to most people, most of the time. Have the confidence to recognize that occasionally you will be one of the exceptions. 😀