Blogrimage 2014 Day 28: Have you ever had a single moment's thought about my responsibilities?
"Have you ever had a single moment's thought about my responsibilities? Have you ever thought for a single solitary moment about my responsibilities to my employers? Has it ever occurred to you that I have agreed to look after the Overlook Hotel until May the first? Does it matter to you at all that the owners have placed their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have signed a letter of agreement, a contract, in which I have accepted that responsibility? Do you have the slightest idea what a moral and ethical principle is, do you? Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? Has it?" - Jack Torrance
It's safe to say that that I'm getting a little loopy here. There's no question that we'll continue to play Pathfinder after this blogrimage is over, but I'll be glad to not write about it every day. Don't get me wrong, I write a lot--my job demands it--but I'm usually writing in response to things. It's been difficult to keep finding topics, especially near the end. So tonight my wife suggested I write about what makes a good GM. As I sat here staring at Jack's picture and trying to figure out how to start, his rant from The Shining started running through my head. I decided it's kind of appropriate. I'm still new at this, but to run a good game, I think it's a big deal to understand, and the live up to, the commitment you're making as a GM.
The most important rule is to make sure that everyone, including the GM, is having a good time. The best way to do that is through preparation. Know the game rules as well as you can. Know your current adventure as well as you can. Unless you're truly playing a one-off scenario, have a good idea where your story is going, even if you're not sure how you'll get there. (The final seasons of Breaking Bad and Dexter kind of drove that point home.) Be flexible, willing to adapt elements of the game where it will keep your players engaged. The GM is the final arbiter of all rules, so an occasional fudge of the rules or a die roll in favor of your characters won't hurt as long as you don't do it enough to break the game.
Take good notes. You probably won't remember details under pressure, especially if things go sideways and you need to adapt something you were sure you'd be able to recall when the time came. Make cheat sheets for frequent tasks that slow you down looking up specific details or stats. You can't learn the whole rulebook in a short time, but learn where everything is so you can look it up more quickly.
Use the Internet as a resource, and bookmark useful stuff when you find it. Take time to read and listen to stuff you're not ready to use yet, because that's where basics get mentioned in passing, which is sometimes a better way to learn about them than deciphering the rules.
To be a good GM, put in the work, but don't forget to have fun. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.