How to gauge your GMing

How to gauge your GMing

How to gauge your GMing

As a DW player you have a clear mechanical representation of how well you engage the system. (and when you can get the same effects without a move that is clever too and rewared) When you make a lot of moves that is good. If you get all the XP at the End of the Session Move you are playing good and do what the system wants from you.

There is no such gauge for the GM. How do you know you are engaging the system in the right way? 

Of course you can say “when everyone has fun” etc. but that is not a mechanical thing you can look at. Is there any way a GM could check if they are following the Agenda and Principles? 

You could make a checklist and mark each Principle as you use it but that is really time consuming and pulls you out of the narrative. 

I am also not saying this is needed, i am just interested if this is possible. 

30 thoughts on “How to gauge your GMing”

  1. I’d say that introducing your fronts is a good measure. How many of them were interesting enough for the players to act on?

    Also, I’d say that the players getting XP from anything but a missed roll is really  a gauge for the GM as well. If your players are gaining XP from the end of session it means that you provided an opportunity for each of them to act in a way that rewards them.

    That said: The idea of the GM having XP or some other measure of success intrigues me. But thats all I’ve got 🙂

  2. I agree with Matt Smith; the end of session move rewards players for doing what the game “is about”. If they all mark 5 xp, then clearly you have presented them with opportunities do what the game “is about”.

    Anything else really fall more under “am I too brutal or too soft with my moves?” At least that’s the question I ask myself most often.

    Hi, my name is Kasper. I’m a softie GM.

  3. >If you get all the XP at the End of the Session Move you are playing good and do what the system wants from you.

    Definitive proof all my players are rubbish. Or I’m too hard. Or too soft. Or, perhaps, merely that my sessions are too short. 

  4. Interesting idea. Agree with Matt Smith that the total XP granted at the end of the session can serve as an indicator of how the GM is doing. My only issue is that XP is too impacted by failed player rolls for me to really accept it as an accurate gauge of player or GM performance. Doesn’t take a good player to roll a -6. And it really doesn’t take a good GM to have players roll -6… though if it did I’d be a level 20 dungeon master!

  5. I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think a good GM should exist outside the mechanics, not in them. If there was some way to mechnically quantify your efforts, then you’d have min/maxing GMs trying to get the best rating possible, instead of telling a story or having fun. Leave the mechanics to the players!

  6. Phil Mitchell we are mostly talking about the End of Session move. 

    But following that then i as a GM am rewarded for putting memorable loot in front of the players to find. 

  7. Kasper Brohus What I mean is…and maybe I’m jumping the gun, because Tim never implicity said this in his post…players have levels, and XP, and gain magic items and all that. I believe GMs should NOT have those things. I believe a GM’s rewards should be intinsic in nature, because I believe anything else could create the possibility of corruption…in other words, the idea of a GM running a game for his/her own benefit, and not for the enjoyment of the table. That’s bad enough when you have GMs railroading adventures, and having the omnipotent NPCs and all the other amateur GM mistakes…further muddying the waters with some kind of GM progression system would only make things worse, imho.

    If you want some kind of validation as a GM? Ask the players to buy you pizza. It works for me!

  8. The end of session move will give you false negatives. I think it is good for gauging success – meaning if you answer yes to all those questions and people are getting the alignment/ bond bonus you likely had a very good session. BUT, if you don’t check all those boxes, it does not mean you’ve had a bad session. 

  9. In John wick’s houses of the blooded, there’s this thing called Style points, and players can also reward the gm when certain scenes or events are much cooler than usual. Maybe something similar can be added to the game? Just a thought.

  10. It’s also not about getting cool stuff, it’s more about. “huh, looks like i didn’t GM this good this session. Let’s look at what went wrong.”

  11. I always intend to put a copy of the agenda and principles in front of me when we play but I find that I get caught up in character gen with the players, make a situation based off questions I ask and then everything just becomes a blur until someone says they have to leave. I must make myself do this and see what happens. I think the scoring/mark-off idea is a good one, I just can’t see me actually ever doing it. 

  12. Stuart McDermid LOL’d at “intend” – totally do the same thing. We spend so much time on mechanics, but mechanics are like really good film editing… it’s best when you don’t notice it.

  13. In my group’s case, the reward was the equivalent to a “AWESOME!” without breaking out of the game’s mood.  The points were handed out even as the game continues, so it worked like a thumb’s up without having to literally do a thumbs up.  Of course, in the system itself, the points also allowed some level of narrative control (but that would take a whole longer explanation to show how it worked in the game).

  14. Gonna agree with Tim Franzke and Kasper Brohus here and say that the rules are what give the players of the game certain levels of enjoyment for certain things. At it’s heart all games are a reward system for certain activities.

    The important thing is that the rules give the right rewards for the right activities, not that the player (or GM) transcend them.

    In fact, the reason DW is a great game is BECAUSE the players and GM do not need to transcend the rules in order for the game to be great.

    We all make hacks based off of various tastes and preferences, but in the end, the rules do matter.

    Steps down from soapbox, apologizes, bows clumsily, grabs soapbox, and walks off stage

  15. Stuart McDermid I always have a copy of the agenda and principles in front of me when we play. I can’t remember actually ever reading it, though.

    (I do sometimes look through the GM Moves list, though)

  16. I can’t really imagine playing without the move list (except when i would have them all remebered all the time). 

    You could just play it by ear but you loose some DW magic that way. You start not making moves. 

  17. Get the sense my views are dissenting here, which is cool. Respectfully, DW is a game, games have rules, rules should not be ignored. That being said, I’ve played in games with good GMs and bad GMs. Knowledge of the rules is not the determinant for quality. In fact, the worst GMs in my humble experience are those who knew the rules and remained slavishly tied to them. I am attracted to DW because the rules are so flexible that I barely think of them as rules. Concepts like “never state the name of your move” seem to be intended to keep the mechanics out of sight and let everyone just immerse themselves. And yes, I have and will break the rules if I think it helps my players have a good time. No DM XP for me 🙂

  18. /sub , and as an agile coach, retrospecting as a GM sounds like a great idea. I want to discover how I can apply the rules better. I tend to forget to make moves.

  19. Let’s see — you could add a line to the end of the “End of Session” move, something like:

    * Ask the players what they’d like to see in the next session.  If their answer gives you a new and useful idea for preparation, each player marks 1 experience for their character.

    I don’t feel like this is necessary, but you could tie something like this into the mechanics without much issue.  Alternatively, you could tie this line into “Make Camp” or “Recover” as these are periods of downtime that you could award the players for helping with subsequent scene framing.

  20. Come into the game with no pre-written story. If you enjoyed what went down, chances are pretty high the players did too.

    I have a lot of trouble with this too, as a relatively new GM. Most of my success has been with AW, which I am playing a little bit more before I go back to DW. If you can constantly looking back and critiquing your own work, you’re probably on the right track, but don’t forget to try different things and qualitatively analyse whether they’re good or bad for your game.

  21. Well I’ve only run one 6-session long game of DW now. First 3 sessions were doing a dungeon from dark heart of the dreamer, and the later two of those had related prep but no fronts. (E.g. custom moves, monsters, etc.).

    After that I started making fronts yeah definitely, including grim portents, with varying levels of success. I started just introducing new things prior-to-play that were fronts, but I’ve come to realise since then that these fronts are a lot less entertaining than arise out of events in game.

    I’ve also noticed problems with zooming in on the action too much. As shown above, I made 1 dungeon last 3 sessions, which is far too much. As such I’m learning to make better use of the outcomes of each move. But I think the best thing I could do for improving my GMing style is to go back to the first session and start a new setting from scratch (instead of Dis).

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