The goal of New Gamemaster Month is to encourage new or less seasoned GMs to step into the seat with some helpful hints and information about specific games.
I chose to learn about how to run a game of Monster of the Week, and ran a game of it with a group of people who were also unfamiliar with the system after New GM Month was over. For anyone unfamiliar with the system, Monster of the Week is a Powered by the Apocalypse system (as is Blades in the Dark, which we’ve referenced previously on this site). Because it’s a game we all were completely new to, we were all trying to best figure out how to play.
The experience was an enlightening one, and really challenged me in a lot of ways, but also solidified what I’d always felt my biggest GM flaw is: adapting as fast as my players need me to. My other big challenge is that I’m pretty terrible at playing manipulative characters – which really proved to be problematic for me, though probably not as noticeable for my players.
We ran a basic storyline that was part of the Monster of the Week book, called “Dream Away the Time.” What made this setting particularly challenging for me is that when running a MotW adventure, the Keeper (or GM) is given information about the town, NPCs, monsters, an overall “schedule” of when major events happen… and not much else. It’s a very large sandbox, which is why I said above, it really solidified what my challenge is as a GM and what I really would need to work on improving.
My players, however, were gracious, as they, too, were learning the system – which proved to be quite easy to get the hang of as we went on. The rules themselves weren’t difficult to grasp, and with practice, I think we’d all get the hang of it pretty quickly.
One of the biggest challenges was pacing – I am a firm believer in starting and ending as close to the scheduled time as possible. When it was clear the adventure was going to take longer than expected, I cut what could have been a potentially long trek into having a portal take the Hunters (or PCs) where they needed to go. However, a piece of feedback I received from a seasoned GM that played was that having a police car go by to steer the PCs in a direction to get additional information, and having that portal take them right where they needed to go was “really advanced GM stuff.” While I’m not sure it was that, I think my experience as a player helped me see what the players might need in order to successfully continue this adventure.
We didn’t have time to play through any of the “downtime” style mechanics that are built into the game, but it’s important to note that they do exist for people who decide to check out the game. They are just as important as the actual time the Hunters spend looking for monsters. This allows Hunters time to heal any harm they took during fights. If they dive right into their next hunt, it can actually cause more damage.
This system would be great if you had an inconsistent group of players where occasionally someone had to be out, or occasionally you’d have someone join in who wants to play. It lends itself to a group that can change out people now and then based on the type of adventure you’re having.
Did you participate in New Gamemaster Month? What system did you decide to run, and how did your first game go? Leave us a comment below and tell us about your first GM experience!