Lessons Learned  by a New Games Master

Lessons Learned by a New Games Master

Popular tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu had fascinated me since I was a kid. Games without controllers, fuelled by player imagination, I wanted to use my adult initiative to create my own games, writing my own plots to capture the attention of a table of players. My head filled with romantic notions of sprawling dungeons crammed with loot and monsters, I rummaged around the Internet and asked friends for advice on where to start my journey. I wanted to become an officiator of tabletop roleplaying games, commonly known as a Games Master (GM). I found the learning curve steep, and the initial experience more than a little daunting. Tabletop roleplaying games are about thematic storytelling, using a combination of imagination and a core rulebook. Rules provide the core mechanical components of game, commonly referred to as the ‘crunch’, and provide players with the tools to interact in a world. The GM creates a scenario in which players make decisions as their characters, using their character’s skills and dice rolls to determine outcomes. Thinking of tabletop roleplaying games as a videogame, players are responsible for making choices on behalf of their characters, while the GM builds everything else; sound, graphics, AI, storytelling and level design. A year into learning to GM tabletop roleplaying games, here’s some of the best advice I received from seasoned players. 1. Keep the plot simple and accessible.   Creating a long piece of fiction will result in bored players and a frustrated GM. The experience is about collective storytelling, so think of the planning process as a handful of key...
Games without screens

Games without screens

  The word “boardgames”, conjures images of Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders. It’s not unlike the way many people associate “spaghetti bolognese” with Italian food. A popularised favourite often epitomises our definition, and contains familiar thematic flavours. Hopefully you’ll be enticed to try something new next time you sit down at the family dinner table. Monopoly typifies traditional boardgames, entering the public consciousness in a way few games have been able to emulate. But development of boardgames games certainly didn’t stop in the 1930s. There was Dungeons & Dragons in the 1970s, Wargames in the 1980s, the boom of Collectible Card Games in the 1990s, followed by the Eurogames explosion in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While videogames have continued to grow and change since their inception, so to have tabletop games, the encapsulating umbrella term that collectivises the full gamut of games. Limited only by imagination and physical components, the shapes, sizes and varieties of tabletop games are infinite. The fundamental ingredients of a tabletop game (dice, miniatures, a board, rules, those tiny pencils) allow us to take conventions and components that feel familiar, and explore further afield.  But as with trying anything new, it’s sometimes challenging to know where to start. To make it easier to roll your first new dice, I wanted to share some common genres of tabletop games, hopefully enticing you to try something different when looking for your next game to play.   Eurogames You might have heard of games like Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico or Carcassone, rising to popularity in the mid 1990s. Accessible and emphasising ease of play, it’s clear to see...