If there’s a Treasure Tables philosophy (as longtime reader John Arcadian suggests that there is), then this is its cornerstone — number one with a bullet, a gold star and a chorus of angels playing little trumpets:

Always put your players first.

Don’t ignore your own fun, but apart from that let this be your touchstone. Whenever you have to make a game-related decision, ask yourself what would be the most fun for your players — and then do that. When your players are having fun, 99% of the time you, as the GM, will also be having fun.

If this sounds obvious, then rock on. It should be obvious, but it isn’t always — and yet nearly everything you do as a GM should flow either from this principle or towards this goal. For example, leading with the cool stuff, keeping your players’ flashlight beam in mind and using the encounter formula all come back to putting your players first.

In fact, it’s time to update my maxims for GMs with this one, plus a couple of others that have emerged over the past two years:

  1. Always put your players first.
  2. Be confident.
  3. Make mistakes.
  4. Never stop learning how to be a better GM.
  5. When you run games, try new things.
  6. Learn from both sides of the screen.