Confessions of a Noob GM 1-23-2009
Written as a guest Column for Uncle Bear.com published there 1-30-09
I was nervous. I’ll admit it. I’ve gamed with people my own age. As a high school student I gamed with the local college group. I’ve gamed with my kids. I’ve GMed for family sessions, but I had never before GMed for anyone else.
The local youth center has wanted to have an open game night for some time. I volunteered to be THE adult in charge and supervise the activities. I figured most of the kids would play pool, ping pong, or foosball. PIT #1 suggested that Daddy run an RPG game for the teens that night. Sure, why not? My kids seemed to enjoy it when I ran Pirates of the Spanish Main at home. I agreed to be the GM for this new game group. Now I just needed to decide what game and system to run.
I personally have the core rules for PotSM, Stargate, Serenity, GURPS and Car Wars (I know CW isn’t technically an RPG but it’s close). I decided on Stargate as I had already done a lot of work “Savaging” that universe. I prefer the Savage system as it is easy to use and very versatile. The PITs were ecstatic; I knew I had three players for sure.
I had my sparse notes, my 5×7 dry erase board, my bag of bennies and I thought I was ready to go. The inaugural night was canceled due to weather. The next Sunday at church I had 2 other teens express disappointment that game night had been canceled. I was informed that at least five other teens were anticipating the game. Five additional teens, my three kids, eight people? I began to panic.
The next week I developed out my sparse notes as I wanted this to be something special as some of these kids were experienced gamers and some were complete newbies. I took advice from many of my online buddies about what I needed to do and really got as prepared as I could.
I developed my own GM screen so I wouldn’t have to thumb through the Savage Explorer’s Edition for combat rules. I bought a larger dry erase board. I photocopied off character development rules so we wouldn’t have to pass around the rulebook. Friday night came and I set up the table for eight people and my GM seat.
6:30 came and went and no one other than my kids had shown up yet. My nervousness increased. 7:00 arrived and teens started streaming in through the door. They kept coming. I had to set up another table. Eventually I had eleven young people ages 10-17 all looking to me for answers. We started character generation at 7:15.
I learned three things from my first non-family GM event:
Character generation takes more time when there’s more people, even with a simple system like Savage
Even with all the work, I still wasn’t as prepared as should have been
Teenagers have crazy imaginations (I thought I was strange)
Yet even after an hour and half of character generation, we got started and played the introductions. The kids had a blast. I had fun as well. I’m looking forward to getting to the actual game.
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