The campaign I was running when I created Treasure Tables ended shortly after I got started the site, and I haven’t GMed anything since then (mid-2005). My group of four includes three folks who GM regularly and one player who GMs occasionally — there’s no shortage of GMs, in other words.
This weekend, however, I’ll be running a one-shot of sorts: a pitch session for Burning Empires (BE), my nerd-crush for the past year. One of the things I wanted to do the next time I ran a game was see what TT could do for me: pull together all of the resources here that I could find related to my GMing needs.
In general terms, that could be nearly everything — but that’d be a cop-out, and not terribly useful. The point of this post is to serve as an example of how you can put TT to work for your games. This site is here to help you, so let’s stretch its muscles, shall we?
For starters, it’s a pitch session — there’s lots of reader advice about running pitch sessions in the aptly-named How Do You Craft a Good Pitch Session? Since Burning Empires brings some unique elements to the table, though, I started a thread in the TT forums asking for specific advice.
I got pointers and ideas from knowledgeable fellow GMs, including some kickass links and a suggestion from the creator of the game himself, Luke Crane. That’s what the TT forums are all about — if you have a problem, or just want to talk GMing, in my opinion there’s no better place to go.
In terms of blog posts, I started with Every GM Should Own at Least One Pink Shirt, which is all about having confidence as a GM. I’ve been out of the saddle for over two years — I needed that reminder! Playing Burning Wheel with Luke at my past three GenCons was also a big inspiration; details are in my interview with Luke Crane (and, more generally, in Pinks Shirts at GenCon 2007).
Overall, Nine Steps to Help You Run a Great One-Shot Adventure is my blueprint. I’m still not 100% sure I’ll be running the BE demo scenario, “Fires Over Omac,” or doing worldbuilding and character creation, but the guidelines in that post are useful to keep in mind either way.
I’m doing OK on budgeting my time so far, and I’m printing off sheets, creating the soundtrack and doing other stuff in parallel with reading the book and doing more general prep (plus using my mental back burners). I’m also setting aside time this Saturday (the game’s in the evening) for refinement prep — a stage I forget, or put off until it’s too late, all too often.
In terms of mindset, I’m keeping my players first. Yes, I’m pumped about finally getting to run BE, and hopeful that I’ll do a good enough job that my group will want to play a full-on campaign — but priority one is making sure the guys have a good time.
There’s no specific post on TT about that (as far as I can remember), but it comes through in everything I write — or at least, I hope it does! A quick browse through the titles of the 76 posts in the Players category in our archives serves as a good reminder of this priority — and provides some more advice.
Never Say No When You Could Say Yes is a big part of Burning Wheel, the engine that powers Burning Empires. I’m also keeping my players’ flashlight and my 150 watt bulb in mind, of course (although BE is so flag-driven that this should be less of a problem than it might be in some games).
I’m planning on not sitting behind a GMing screen — something I’ve only ever done once or twice, and that I was convinced to try by the comments thread on Do You Use a GM’s Screen? I’ll probably keep a screen off to one side, just in case.
That’s what I’ve found helpful here so far — in the next couple of days, I might find more. I feel like I got some good mileage out of the resources on TT, and I know that if I need more specific help with certain things I can always go to the forums.
Was this case study useful to you? Have you used TT this way? If so, what could I do to make it easier to pull together what you need?