Shortly after I started writing TT, I asked this open question: how did you learn to GM? Your answers were elightening and entertaining, and they revealed a number of commonalities in the way GMs learn their craft.

I wanted to wait until the TT community had grown to ask the obvious follow-up question, and it’s grown a lot since July. So how about it — how should GMs learn to GM?

Most GMs seem to have followed one of these two paths: play for a little while, then start GMing; or jump right into GMing, without playing first.

Several folks mentioned this ingredient: having GMed for a while, really learning the craft by playing certain indie RPGs.

Only one GM mentioned this, which I found very interesting: learning by getting pointers from another GM.

Let’s use those 4 elements as the basis for a list of ways GMs can learn to GM, and expand the list with several other options — some of which don’t exist (yet?), others that aren’t in widespread use. First, the four gleaned from your responses to the original question:

  • Play for a little while, then start GMing.
  • Jump right into GMing, without playing first.
  • GM for a little while, but really learn the craft by playing indie RPGs.
  • Get pointers from another GM.

Here come the new approaches:

  • In a class.
  • Through a mentorship, apprenticeship or tutor.
  • Through GM workshops.
  • By reading a solid treatise on the basics.
  • By working through self-directed lessons (workbook, online, etc.).

…and one suggested by Scott, in the comments:

  • Self-directed learning using online resources (forums, websites, blogs).

Would taking one of those approaches have helped you figure out what a GM does? Or let you improve the “work to fun” ratio in your sessions more quickly? Does the idea of GM workouts have any merit as a learning tool?

And perhaps most importantly, would you want to learn (or have learned) to GM in a more formalized way? And if so, what might that formal approach look like?

(And just to finish things off, what isn’t on my list, but should be?)