Asking your players to give GMing a try is a good idea, but I’ve found that a lot of players are nervous about the prospect.
But when the end result is a player who gets to see another side of gaming, and has a good time in the process, it’s well worth taking some steps to give them the boost of confidence that they need.
And let’s be honest here: We can always use more GMs!
Plenty of players also have no interest in GMing, and while I still think it’s a good idea for them to give it a shot at least once, that’s not really the group I’m considering here.
Assuming you game with someone who is interested in GMing but also nervous, worried or otherwise concerned about seeing what it’s like — most often because they’re afraid they’ll screw it up, and disappoint the rest of the group — how can you help them get over that hump?
Here are a few suggestions, in the order that I’d approach them.
Six Steps to a Great First Session
Remind them that no friendships are on the line. If they do screw something up, is your group really going to care? Nope — so make sure they know that.
All GMs make mistakes. Talk about some of yours (mine that naughty list) — and make sure to talk about your triumphs, too.
Find out what interests them most about GMing. Is it crafting intricate stories? Putting characters in high-pressure situations? Running a party through the dungeon they’ve been doodling for five years? Whatever it is, getting them to talk about it will get them excited about the game — and give you ideas about how else you can help.
No long-term commitment. Encourage them to try one session — run a one-shot, see how it goes, and then decide whether it’s something they want to try again.
Suggest running a published adventure. There are pros and cons to this one, but I see a lot more pros: the structure is there, it’s probably been playtested, advice about how to handle things should be included and there’s a lot less prep involved.
Offer your support. You’ve already been supportive, but close the deal by making an open-ended offer: if they need anything — advice, help with rules, whatever — let them know that you, as well as the rest of your group, are happy to help.
What other steps would you take? How can you make the actual session go smoothly, once they’ve taken this first step?