My first session as a GM:

My first session as a GM:

My first session as a GM:

Well, it could have gone better, I’ll say. But stiff-upper lip and all that!

I see what I could have done differently and I am going to try again – I believe I could be a good GM once I get the hang of it…

Anyway, tell me your first time GM horror stories! Maybe I can feel better about this?

I really wish I could watch other folks GMing, so I could “get it”.

10 thoughts on “My first session as a GM:”

  1. I would also encourage looking/listening too some apocalypse world let’s play, particularly the JankCast let’s play. AP is the system DW is based off of, and it has some really cool ideas you can easily integrate and use in your system.

    Don’t worry if you’re having a rough start! I know my first try was rough as well, so keep it up and I’m sure you’ll find your own groove to rock in.

  2. Too, being a GM with DW is really challenging. You’ll get better at it with practice. I don’t have much in the way of horror stories to tell, but I figured I’d throw in some reassurance anyway. This is a great community to ask questions and get a wide variety of answers and opinions.

  3. Just because you think it may have gone wrong doesn’t necessarily mean the players thought it went sideways. I have ‘behind the scenes’ game crisis that players were completely oblivious to and still enjoy themselves. What do you think really went wrong?

  4. I mean my horror story was certainly running Kult as trying to shoehorn a group that is generally into playing heroes (even if they were occasionally angst ridden heroes) as anti-heroes in a world of supernatural corruption. They didn’t want to play these flawed, unbalanced people seeing horror beyond illusion and the outset of them not being beyond control of Lictors and the vast unfathomable forces… It just didn’t work. You know, you have to play to your audience and the general nastiness of Kult didn’t jive at all. 

    Mercifully, I realized this after one session and the players were honest that they couldn’t imagine the game being enjoyable given the setting. Now DW plays to my strengths as a game master in that I’ve always been a fan of the players’ characters in most games. And players have certainly enjoyed the transition from AD&D 1st edition to DW as they appreciate having effective heroes out of the gate that still have an ability to grow.

  5. This is from a friend of mine.

    Monster of the week, second mistery.

    GM: ok guys, I’m asking some questions. How long since last mistery?

    Me: hum, three months.

    GM: NO! That’s too much!!

    me: grrrrrrrr

  6. I’d echo what many are saying here, don’t be so harsh on your first run at GMing. Think of the story elements you want to explore by providing the skeleton as it were and allow your players to flesh it out in response to your beginning questions.  I think the biggest difference with DW is telling the story and rolling dice when dictated by the story, in many other games one must roll the dice to tell the story. 

  7. If I had to give one recommendation to a GM running Dungeon World I’d say “visualize”. 

    In your mind you need to see the scene and be aware of all the subtle details. Location, weather, the protagonists, the antagonists, weapons, clothing, attitude; the more you can visualize the easier it all becomes.

    The more you’re able to visualize the scene the more detailed and vivid your descriptions will become. When your descriptions become more detailed and vivid your players begin acting and reacting to the descriptions more and spend less time “thinking mechanically”. When your vivid descriptions and the players creative descriptions meet there is a synergistic effect that is greater than the sum of the parts. This is the heart and soul of the Dungeon World experience. 

    Why does this work? For the GM your visualization is the key to creative GM moves and what appears to the players as great improve. In most games things like the environment, weather, and assorted props (furniture, plants, etc.) are just “window dressing”. In DW they are active parts of the scene to be used and abused. In this example I’ll describe the visualization and make some suggestions on what to do with it in the parenthesis. Let’s say the heroes are facing a troll on the edge of the swamps. In your mind you see this scene:

    Muddy ground giving way to thigh-deep water (slippery tripping hazards, gear falling into water and needing recovered, someone being forced underwater by something huge, leeches on exposed flesh, or even much deeper sinkholes to fall into). Twisted trees with huge roots (climb on or get stuck in), fallen dead trees with giant dirt filled root balls (used as natural “bridges” that are prone to collapsing, bug-filled hollows a character may end up in, deep pools where the tree stood, or a makeshift club for the troll). Lets add some environmental elements. The rainstorm that recently ended (ground mist obscuring vision and making it hard to pinpoint the troll with ranged attacks which might hit allies, occasional lightning in the distance that may reveal something unwelcome). The troll itself has massive muscles and limbs (good for grabbing heroes, throwing heroes at other heroes or anything else in the environment, feet that can pin a hero down in the mud or underwater, the reach to make getting close a problem, the strength to pick up water-logged logs), a tough scaly hide (hard to grab, tough to damage because of its armor) and a huge mouth full of horrible teeth (a bite that may cause damage, wounds, disarm, remove gear) and a tongue (that may lash a hero, entangle a hero and pull him closer to his mouth). We’ve described some environment and the troll but what about the heroes? Who has weapons that can be lost? Equipment that may be ruined in the water and mud or accidentally “activated”? A helmet that can be knocked off or caused to slip over the eyes? How about boots that may get stuck in the mud forcing a hero to be immobile or  barefoot exposing himself to additional problems (damage, injury, infection)?

    Picturing these elements in your mind is the wellspring that you draw from in order to make DW really flow. Although you could begin by jotting down some of these things in your notes, the sooner you can see these elements with your mind’s eye the easier, and more naturally they’ll flow into the fiction. Before you know it both you and your players will be immersed in the fiction and the game will become a seamless exchange of detail description and breathtaking action. 

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