How to Make Sure Your Game Never Happens

So you want to run a roleplaying game online? Great! There's lots of people on Infrno who would like to play! That's the good news. 

The bad news? You actually have to work at it to make it happen. As nice as it'd be to just be able to make every game we're curious or excited about happen by wishing it into existence, the truth is you have to make plans, have a schedule, and stick with it. 

Here's four - oops, five - common mistakes I've seen GMs make (myself included) when trying to start a game online, here or elsewhere. Do them at your peril:

Don't Show Up: If you set a date for your game, be there when it rolls around. If you can't be there, re-schedule or at least contact people beforehand to let them know. Doing otherwise isn't just a good way to undermine confidence in your GMing skills - its just plain rude. This is perhaps the #1 way to kill a game. 

Don't Communicate With Your Players: If a player has a question, you need to be available to answer it. That can be via site messaging, chat, email, or comment - take your pick - but make it clear which method you prefer and stick with it. If you don't, players will feel like you're disinterested and detached, an attitude which will soon spread.  

Don't Be Flexible: As nice as it is to have a super-specific idea for a setting, system, and premise, the more rigid your idealized campaign becomes, the less likely it is to be inviting. The fact is, the best games come about by compromise between GM and players, and the more you can discuss and tinker with your ideas as a group, the better. Coming across as an obsessive control freak tends to scare people off. 

Don't Know Your Limits: Every GM gets an itch to run something any time they're inspired by a shiny new product or story idea. Not every GM has the time, focus, or follow-through to run things every time they're inspired; in fact, pretty much nobody does. The fact is that the shine on that new thing can quickly wear off and you can get exhausted by volunteering for too much too quickly. Mull over your idea for a bit and consider the obligation it means in terms of time, contact, and preparation. If it still clicks after a week or so, maybe you should give it a go. If not, don't. 

Don't Play to Expectations: Sure, YOU may know that your My Little Pony homebrew using Rifts crossed with Dark Heresy is brilliant. Most of the rest of us don't know that though, and selling us on the idea is going to be an uphill battle unless you've already earned our trust. In other words, it doesn't hurt to be conventional and try popular and default settings before spinning off into the obscure, the obtuse, or just plain weird. Build a reputation for GMing and a base of players first; you can get around to blowing their minds afterwards.  

Comments

riastradh
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  • Wed, Oct 05, 2011

    *Bump* with my thumbs up.

    ReidWeatherly
  • Mon, Oct 03, 2011

    Great advice. 

    Craig Bayfield
  • Sat, Oct 01, 2011

    As a first time GMer, this is some good advice right here. Obvious stuff, really, but sometimes the most common sense practices need to be said outloud to the person thinking months and years ahead of where the players are.

    Perspective is appreciated, good sir.

    Jon Folk
  • Fri, Sep 30, 2011

    Infrno needs a "Like" button :)

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