Sunday, December 25

Game Master Advice I Never See

Surprisingly, to me, given the sheer amount of threads started by folks on this topic, I never see much reference to the source material of the genre being suggested as something essential. I mean being steeped in the genre being run. Not just a cursory read of a few books or watching a couple of movies. I mean a deep dive as if one were taking a course study in college. 

To be an effective, to be a "good", "great" Dungeon Master, Game Master, Keeper, Star Master and what not, you need to be extremely versed in the genre being run. If you are planning on running a supers game you should be reading comic books all the time. If you have never read comic books much you should go back in time and work your way back up to the present. The grand sweep of the comic tradition should be a topic you can nimbly navigate, process and use at the table. Many folks today seem to be asking how to run a cyberpunk game. Much product is being suggested as the platform of use, but rarely is their an insistence on the asking individual to read a fuck-ton of cyberpunk novels. I would even go so far as recommending extensive reading of the latest technology publications available to the laymen drafting out the latest developments in technology. Climate crisis, political efforts of social constructs, and corporate bloat, basically a master of current events with a bedrock knowledge of cyberpunk literature since William Gibson jump-started the genre. The catalogue of horror literature is incredibly vast. How many Keepers are knowledgeable of Mary Shelly's masterpiece, all of Lovecraft's work into your King and Barker? The horror Game Master also has the task of diving into the incredibly vast library of horror films. 

Why? Why would one need to become a scholar of a particular genre to be a good Game Master? It is the underpinning, scaffold, colossal structure supporting every decision the game's referee will make at the table. Creating your mind into a rolodex of genre tropes transcends mechanics and system 

in such a degree to almost make game of choice irrelevant. When a Game Master becomes pitch-perfect in breadth and scope of genre, when what they speak has absolute fidelity with the genre being run experiences such as "immersion" and "living world" are a matter of course, not something all at the table are struggling to achieve.  Only through extensive reading of source material will a Game Master ever hope to achieve greatness. The benefits of scholarly-level pursuits in the genre being run are so transformative it will take much more than this simple blog post has time to dive into (or more accurately, my time). I, for one, have too much reading on my plate to attend to this task. But my direct experience has shown the more knowledgeable of a genre and its tropes I have the better the game and the better my skill at running. My mind becomes a tea kettle constantly steaming at high heat, always needing additional water to be added. The experience becomes... scalding. 

The benefits of being a studied master of the genre blow all other considerations being debated on the subject away. Random encounter tables write themselves, adventure ideas come unbidden, thorny knots of character interaction become organic growth under good sun and good soil.

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