By Shadomain Staff

TTRPG Random Thoughts is an occasional feature that collects ideas and opinions about role playing games – things that don’t warrant an entire article but are still worthy of note. Here’s our thoughts for this week:

Why I’m a Forever GM

I always describe myself as a “forever GM by choice.” I first played ttrpgs with the Moldvay (red book) Basic D&D edition in 1981. My friends and I loved the game and played as often as we could, taking turns being DM or players. We all had a collection of PCs of all levels and classes so we’d be ready anytime someone had an adventure ready. Sometime during D&D’s second edition I stopped playing ttrpgs and didn’t come back until the D&D 5e era. I learned this latest edition and immediately started playing as the Dungeon Master. 

I ran published adventures occasionally to learn the game, but nearly all the adventures I ran were ones that I wrote in worlds I had created. This is why I’m a forever GM – more than a game player or even designer, I enjoy writing. I’m not a great writer when it comes to fiction or nonfiction. Ttrpgs give me a framework for writing. I can create the scenarios I imagine using the rules structure as a basis. I still am a player, but only so I can experience how other GMs run their games, in the quest to improve my own GM skills. But really, it’s all about writing for me.

GM Prep: NPCs

When preparing NPCs for upcoming ttrpg sessions you need to establish the physical description of the person, including things like the sound of their voice, smells and sometimes, touch. Common advice for games like Dungeons & Dragons is to then determine the NPC’s traits, ideals, bonds and flaws. That can help round out a character, but I suggest another approach.

To know how to portray an NPC, make sure you determine what they want. Decide what their goals are. This could mean immediate goals (They want to sneak past the party and escape), or long term goals (they want to return the city to the glory it had 250 years ago). Knowing this will allow you to know how the NPC would react no matter what the PCs do or say. It will strengthen your improvisation.

Running Games in FLGS

For a little over a year I’ve been running games at a friendly local game store. Many stores would like to do this but may need GMs. In most cases this won’t be a paid gig, but you might be able to get store credit or a discount. But if you’re interested in this it should be to help more people learn the fun of ttrpgs and have fun yourself. 

The first step is a brief conversation with the store manager to determine the goals of the game session. They may want to promote games that they carry, in which case they may only be interested in running games that they sell. Other stores may only want to drive traffic into the store and may be open to many different games. You’ll also need to determine if you’re going to run an ongoing campaign, with the same players each week, or one-shots with potentially a new group each session. In the case of one-shots you’ll need to be ready to work with many different types of players. You will also need to make sure your games are appropriate for all ages. Even if your players are all adults, if the game is in earshot of customers browsing the store you’ll need to make sure the language at your table is appropriate. 

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