Game Mastering 101 - The Reality of Getting Started in Game Mastering
As some of you know, and many of you probably don't, I am considered by a number of people to be a decent game master. I have gotten lots of feedback from friends, companies, and strangers that all say I run games well. My definitive proof of this is that I am regularly invited to run games at cons for a group called The Wrecking Crew, which works very closely with Onyx Path and White Wolf, two large companies in the tabletop RPG industry.
So, was I just one of those people who are just naturally good at game mastering? Hell no! Anyone who tells you they were always good at running games is a liar! My first game was so cringe worthy, my future children will be cringing for years. After that experience, I never wanted to run another game. I swore to myself that I would only ever be a player ever again, never a game master.
Well, what changed? What happened between the worst game I've ever run, and the games I run today? I didn't give up. I broke my promise to myself, and I did run other games, and they were still bad. I ran a lot of really bad games. The key was, each game I ran was slightly less bad than the last one. I still think I run bad games, but others seem to enjoy them, so I just focus on learning what I can do better so that I suck a little bit less each time.
"That's great, Z, glad to read your story, but how does this help me?" If you're asking this, go back and reread the story. I don't teach very well through instruction, and I have found most people don't learn very well through instruction. People learn best by doing, but people learn second best by seeing others do. Which brings me to my next point.
If you want to learn to be a game master, stop researching, stop overthinking, and go run a game. Yes, it will suck. Let me say that again. YOUR FIRST GAME WILL SUCK. Your second game will suck. Your 100th game will suck. Get over it. Run the game, learn, and make sure the next one sucks just a little less. So stop making excuses, find some friends, and go run a game.