July 13, 2010

GM Background

A part of character generation in many systems is the character background; the jobs and livelihood the character had before he became an adventurer. What did your character do before he became an adventurer? The same question could be asked about a GM. What did you do before you became a GM or rather what do you do when you are not a GM? And more importantly, how does what you do in your job affect how you GM?

I have seen various blogs discuss how being a teacher changes how they run a game. Parents have also chimed in with how they bring in some of their skills they have learned as a parent into the game setting. People are of diverse backgrounds and that includes a GM. What skills from their non-game life do they apply to the art of being a GM?

For myself, I utilize two aspects. I have long been involved in computer programming and logic thinking. This has allowed me to dissect an encounter to its key components and push the best of those components to the forefront. I like to think I can write an interesting, challenging and fun encounter. I can look at a game system and make the best use of its mechanics. As a downside my “fluff” is severely lacking. I tend to utilize mechanics over fluff to my game’s detriment.

A second aspect is my involvement in LARPS (live-action-role-play). Again this has given me a ready field to write encounters and have them tested out (and vise versa). I can get a quick reaction to an encounter I have written. It also helps me to keep things fast paced and interactive. It’s all about the players on the field at the time. The NPCs are there to interact with the players and not other NPCs. Entertaining the players is the most important part of running a LARP and the same applies to your tabletop game. I also use a lot of props at my table since I use a lot of props at a live action game.

So, I ask you, what non-game skills do you bring to the table when you GM? What is your background and how has it affected how you run a game?
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