7 thoughts on “Have you ever botched a game as GM? What did you do to bounce back? What did you go through emotionally?”

  1. I (more than) once tried to run it as you might a game of DnD: writing out everything beforehand and getting upset when they (doing exactly what they’re supposed to in DW) decided to do their own thing to get around the problems i threw at them.

    As far as bouncing back was concerned, i started completely over with a new campaign with the same playgroup.

    Emotionally, it taught me a lot about GMing this game. I went back and read the book cover-to-cover, plus the GM guide, as well as talking to some buddies of mine as to how to avoid that.

  2. Mark Weis good on you! I have read the book a few times now and every time I do, I realize that I am still controlling the game too much. I was also fortunate to be a player in a one shot. It showed me how great some other GM’s are and it highlighted many of the things that I thought were superfluous, but are actually foundational.

  3. When i was new to DMing, i was running an adventure in AD&D, 2nd Ed., and was running the Curse of Strahd module (or was it House of Strahd?).

    My players had discovered a Deck of Many Things, and knew exactly what it was; there was clearly come player knowledge there. Curiously, they held onto it until their next opportunity to level. When that came, the wizard in the group made an argument that it would be fun to become a Wild Mage, and i was happy to let them.

    They then revealed that a Wild Mage could exert some influence over random effects of wondrous items, and the Wild Mage was able to pull cards safely from the Deck of Many Things. I forget exactly how it transpired, but they ended up with a Wish, with some magic items, with basically everything they needed to “beat” the module then and there.

    This effectively killed the campaign, and put me into a horrible “GM vs. PCs” mindset for many years. It wasn’t until i found Dungeon World, and started delving into the community and design philosophy around PbtA generally, that i started really seeing how that kind of thinking was crippling my ability to enjoy games.

    Coming to understand the GM as just another player, joining with colleagues to enjoy a game, has helped me be a better GM, and a better non-GM player.

    And realizing that the fun of a game is in the game experience, rather than “beating the story,” has helped me get much, much more out of my sessions.

  4. One of my recurring failings is spending too much time in scenes, coming from a traditional, simulationist game where we almost never jumped ahead to the next interesting scene. Mastering the art of hard framing scenes is something I’m struggling with.

  5. Asbjørn H Flø right? Sim games make us think we need to keep the camera on the players all the time. Even during the boring down times.

    I really value the times I’ve played story games or fate because of this. It let’s me just direct the scenes that are worth playing like a director. Porting that over to DW and other more combat heavy games has been invaluable.

  6. Andrew Huffaker yeah. And when we had the time and inclination to play long into the nights, horsing around in town or on the road was more fun than trying to understand the grappling rules in Pathfinder.

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