There’s an adage in film and comics that I think should be applied to GMing advice: “Show, don’t tell.

Imagine if the next RPG rulebook you bought had not only a section of advice for GMs, but came bundled with a DVD showing an iconic gaming session from the GM’s perspective — wouldn’t that be useful, especially for new GMs?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Find a real gaming group that clicks well together, with a great GM.
  • Set up a digital video camera behind the GM’s screen, with a view of the whole table, and have them play a short session — an hour, tops.
  • Make sure they address the basics (some of which would vary depending on which RPG the DVD comes with, of course) during the course of play. Think of an extended version of the “example of play” section that’s included in many RPGs.
  • Have a very loose script — the goal is to combine acting (to include things that aren’t guaranteed to come up in any given session) and actual play, which will be the most useful part.
  • It doesn’t need to have high production values, or even multiple camera angles — it just has to avoid being cheesy. Have you ever watched a training video for work? Think of the opposite of that.

That framework could be varied according to the publisher’s needs — a PDF could come with a link to a free, downloadable version of the video, for example — but the end result would be the same: A training video for new GMs.

This isn’t to say that written GMing advice is a bad thing — given where you’re reading this, it’s safe to say that I don’t feel that way about it.

The difference is that a veteran GM can parse written advice in relation to their GMing experience, while a first-time GM won’t be able to do that — for them, seeing it would be a big advantage.

Why hasn’t anyone done this? Is it a lousy idea?

And does anyone want to try it? (If you’ve got a DV camera and a willing group, drop me a line — I’d love to host a video like this here, if it fit the bill.)