Never been a GM, have some questions.

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Garp, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. Hello, everyone! I've had ideas for forum based roleplays in the past, but I've never been a GM before, and I worry that maybe I don't have a grasp on how to be a proper GM. I've had a look around the internet but I still feel a little lost. Here are some questions for you guys - thanks for taking a look.

    1.) When you're a GM, and you have a character in the roleplay, is it better to move the plot along through your character, or are non-character "narrator" posts acceptable? Say for instance, there was an earthquake. Would it be better to make a post like "Billy-bob felt the ground rumble beneath his feet." vs a narrator post that describes the earthquake as it happens, and then allows the players to react to it?

    2.) I get the feeling most GMs have a definite plot in mind when they start an RP. How do they keep the RP moving in the direction of the plot without stepping on players' toes? Is it acceptable to have "chapters" and to end and close chapters at a place where everyone agrees?

    I'm sure I have other questions but I can't think of how to put them into words right now. Again, thanks for taking a look, any advice is appreciated.

  2. 1) This really depends on your personal style, the specific RP, and the timing, as well as whether or not you already have an established narrator. Both styles have different effects on the reader, so I usually think about what and how I'm trying to convey to the reader.

    2) Good OOC communication is helpful in keeping a plot moving forward, trying to keep people from stagnating. You also incorporate posts similar in nature to the ones you asked about in your first question. Chapters are a good way to keep a plot moving, so long as the players are informed about such chapters through OOC communication.

    Hopefully this helps you out a bit, and if you have any other questions, feel free to ask me whenever, as I'll (usually) help to answer with the best of my ability.
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  3. 1) I really don't think there are any real advantages/disadvantages to posting these things as a character vs as a narrator, assuming both make sense in your specific scenario. Generally what I do is -- if I have a character in that situation, then I work that event into my post for them so that it flows more naturally with the way the post is written. If I don't have a character in a given situation or if the event I'm trying to introduce doesn't really affect them, then I take on more of a narrator style, just to get the information across. So, really, I guess it just depends on what's going on at that given moment. And there's certainly no need to stick completely to one or the other for the duration of the RP.

    2) I think the important thing I try to focus on is simply not trying to herd my players down any specific path in the first place. The way I see it, it's all about giving the players something to do -- some objective to go after. The details of how they carry that out and the subplots that happen along the way are for them to create, so long as they have the motivation to get themselves started. Therefore, my RP's usually start with a rather vague objective to work towards, and, as the RP goes on, I'll adjust my level of control of the plot depending on what the players need. If the players are active and interested and create their own subplots and interactions as the RP chugs along like a well-oiled machine, then I step back a bit, and let the players take things where they want to go, because me trying to assert my own desired plot at that point would just stifle the already-flowing creativity and make the players feel like they're being railroaded. On the other hand, though, if the RP feels stagnant due to all the players sort of feeling lost like they don't know what to do next, with the characters all just sort of sitting around not having anything interesting to do, then I take more control and give them a more specific objective to carry out -- I give them enemies to fight, I introduce new developments, etc -- basically, I give them the plot that they needed to get themselves going, so that, hopefully, it'll get all the creative juices flowing and the players will all find a nice groove with their characters and the RP will continue on swimmingly.

    So, basically, there's no set strategy for how much control you should have over where the RP goes. You kind of just have to gauge what your RP and its players need and accommodate for that. The only consistent piece of advice I can really give there is to not try to stop players from pursuing their own subplots or approaching the main plot from another angle, assuming it doesn't cause any major problems, of course. If the players are able to stay inspired and keep churning out solid interactions, that's great! Certainly beats a stagnant RP where everyone feels like they're doing nothing and players start to lose interest fast. And, in my experience, a strong activity flow is very easy to throw off and rather difficult to start back up again -- so you definitely don't want to mess up a good thing when you have it. But, of course, if your players are bored, you should definitely give them something to do. Again, it's all a matter of accommodating for your RP's specific needs.

    In fact, I think being flexible and responding to the different needs of each RP is a good skill to have for all aspects of GMing, really. A strategy that works well in one of your RP's might fail horribly in another, since each RP is not only structured differently but will also have a different set of players and a very different set of circumstances and interactions to manage. Because of this, there really is no single right way to GM, I'd say. It's all about being flexible and knowing what your specific roleplay needs under its specific set of circumstances.
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  4. Both can work. It depends on what you ant to convey. If you want to set a scene, you can write it through your character's interpretation or by a more neutral narrator's voice. When I have a PC in a scene, I often opt for a combination, because I like writing in character better, but can't reasonably convey certain meta-knowledge through them without breaking my own rules. Some things that are relevant to some characters may not always be to mine. Rule of thumb really is, what do the other writers need to know for their next post(s) and how much of that information is accessible to my character. Sometimes you may also opt for narrator simply to have less coloured information and make people feel less like they're rehashing what your character notices.

    I also often have none of my own PC's in a scene in which case I don't really have a choice.

    If player-actions are of no consequence, they aren't roleplaying, they are writing your story for you. Instead, you give people an objective, you give them a set of tools, you give them a set of challenges, you watch it unfold. Railroading is dumb and only bad GM's have an inflexible definite plot. Good GM'ing means having a rough outline, allowing both freedom and some sort of guideline.
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