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GMing for Fun and Profit: TTRPG Week 5

Sometimes, despite one’s best efforts, you just might not be able to play in a game. There can be any number of reasons for this, but there is one solution that is guaranteed to solve the problem. Start your own game as the GM. This is much easier than it sounds, however it is a lot more time consuming.

First things first, what does it mean to be a GM? Well, being a GM consists of three parts: being a player, being a storyteller, and being a referee. While TRPGs are a collaborative effort, the GM is the driving force behind the game, as well as the person who keeps things running smoothly. The GM plays the game alongside the players, but being the storyteller, must switch between adversarial and sympathetic roles as needed. As the storyteller, the GM must come up with the overall plot as well as the encounters that will challenge the group - with all the prep work that implies. As the referee, the GM should know the rules of the game reasonably well to be able to deal with any issues that arise, and is ultimately the one to have to deal with a player that becomes a problem. On that note, let’s get into what you need.

If you have been following this series from the start, you will have seen the list I put up the first week (and if you haven't, go check it out). All of that still applies, so I will not repeat myself and will focus on the new stuff.
  1. Books – As mentioned before, some games systems have more than one book. Being the GM, you will also want to get anything labeled as “GM/DM Guide” as well as the “bestiary.” The former will have rules not covered in the Players Guide, as well as other useful info. The bestiary will have info on monsters and other peoples and races to use in the game. I would also keep an eye out for any errata put out by the publishers. Once again is a good source for cheap PDF versions of the books.
  2. Notebooks and graph paper – and lots of them! Seriously - you will be taking a lot of notes and drawing maps and, while I would strongly recommend making use of a word processing program, having a physical backup is always a good idea. There are books made specifically for this but they are pricey. Also, there are a number of map tools out there such as Inkarnate and Dungeon Fog, some are free others are paid.
  3. A table – Not necessarily a literal table, but you do need some type of space that can accommodate all the people playing. For virtual game play, I would recommend using Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds, as both will allow for a broader net to be cast for players and have in-built tools to make your life easier. Do note that to make full use of the features a subscription fee is needed. Otherwise, if you have space at your place and are willing to host, do so. Alternatively, if there is a gaming store near you and they have tables available, try to schedule there. Just be sure to check their schedule so you have space.
  4. Players – This is obvious, but what isn't is how many you will need. Basically, you need as many players as you feel you can handle. This is a hard metric to judge at first so I recommend four to five. For reference, groups are typically around four to six players, but you can play with as little as one. Ten seems to be the maximum for players at a table from my experience, but LARP (Live Action Role Play) events can get into the triple digits. I will talk about finding players next week.
- by Jason G., Twin Rivers Branch

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