GMing a game can be a daunting task, especially if you haven’t done it much before or if you’re playing with a new group. That’s why we thought you might enjoy some helpful hints and tips on GMing from ICE fans and followers on how to make your game the best it could possibly be.
When I originally asked people to send in their hints and tips for running a great game, I specifically asked for tips on ‘running a great game of Rolemaster’. However, I’m pleased to say that the majority of the tips could just as easily be used when GMing HARP, Spacemaster, HARP-SF or any other tabletop roleplaying game.
So, hopefully you will enjoy these tips and find them useful. If you have any specific questions about running Rolemaster, Spacemaster, HARP, HARP-SF or any ICE game, visit the ICE forum where we have thousands of helpful GMs and fans who may have some advice.
So, without further ado, here are our 19 tips for running a great tabletop roleplaying game (specifically Rolemaster):
Always, above all else, Have fun! As GM’s we often forget that we are doing this to have fun as well and if you are not having fun, then in my opinion, you are doing it wrong.
Find what works best for you. There are a tonne of apps, VTTs and other tools to make the process of managing a game easier. Try them out and use whichever you find most useful.
This might be controversial, but decide early on how deadly you want things to be for your PCs. If you want maximum havoc, use the critical charts exactly as rolled no matter what. If you want more stability, don’t be afraid to fudge those charts away from the occasional instant death result to a mere maiming.
The dice are a supplemental aid, not god. Don’t let a bad die roll get in the way of fun and story development.
Ask your players what type of quests, campaigns and settings they like to participate in, then design your game with that in mind. Players constantly facing stuff that they don’t find interesting will lose interest and perhaps quit your group.
The Boy Scout motto: Be prepared
If you have newer players, take time up front to ask them questions about their character and answer any questions they may bring up; as we all know, sometimes they don’t want to say something for appearing “ignorant”
Have some tables of random encounters, items, NPCs etc that you can refer to quickly in case you need them.
Don’t get overwhelmed by everything. Pick the rules and concepts that suit you and your players and pare the game down to a fun playable level to match your style of roleplaying. You don’t need to follow the book to the letter.
Pre generate characters (especially if playing with people that are new to the hobby)
Be flexible, adapt your plot to the players action, don’t try to railroad your players into your plot.
Give all players the weapon hit charts for quick reference and get them to look up their own attacks.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with NPCs. You’re not a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and nobody expects literary excellence from you, just make them memorable and distinctive.
Be consistent in rulings. If it was this way the last time you played, it should be that way again.
Let the random events created by fate and the PC’s actions create the story.
Don’t try to be a story teller, let the players drive the story with the actions of their characters.
Design your adventures around villains doing things. Leave as much as possible of the adventure unscripted as so to allow the players to roam free.
Hook your players through events and rumours instead of trying to railroad them through a story line.
Always give your players choices, and be ready with consequences (good and bad) for those choices. Try to include some moral dilemma to the choices.