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Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:06 am

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I'll be attempting my first ever GM role with some newbies to RIFTS and table-top RPG. Personally, I'm also new to tabletop RPG, despite owning RIFTS books since childhood, but have a lot of great RP experience in other venues, like a brutally unforgiving, massive PvP Star Wars chat RPG back in the day that I basically conquered.

To prepare for this venture, I turned to the youtube. Here are my summarized observations:

1. Matt Mercer online is a lone great example, and a starting point for what a GM should want to be.

2. Basically every other person I've seen GM a game online has been terrible at best, if not complete cringe. The fact that this really isn't a lie is even more sad because all of these people FANCY themselves GMs. You can tell it's the seat they've been occupying for some time, probably since childhood, and they freaking stink at it.

The difference between #1 and #2 is flat out immersion.

A good GM is a Master of Ceremony. A bad one is basically just a lame #1 munchkin, pretentiously hanging out with his players like their Cheetos-sharing friend.

I'm going to be playing with my very good friends when I begin my campaign, and there will be snacks, and there will be alcohol, and people will be smoking plants now 100% legal in Massachusetts. However, I, as the Game Master, will only partake in their banter so much. There will be a wall up between us the entire night. It's my job to COMMAND the room while also maintaining some level and feel of distance.

If you're describing an eerie, dark, spooky cave, and trying to drive the horror elements of RIFTS in a way that's suspenseful, don't do it while laughing and telling bad jokes. Don't do it while "hanging out" with your buddies to the same extent that THEY get to hang out with each other. To be a truly great GM, giving your players a truly great experience, YOU CAN'T. You have a layer of responsibility the players simply do not have.

And if one of your players cracks a joke during your setting of the setting, THAT'S FINE, and it'll ring like the humor of the character in a tense situation, because the moment the laughter dies down, it's YOUR responsibility to reel everyone back into the mood, and you simply cannot do that if you're there as one of the boys.

I've started, skipped through, endured, tried, and kind of watched about 6 different RIFTS campaigns online, and in exactly none of them did I have any idea what the hell was going on because the GM wasn't putting himself on a pedestal of authority. It was all just a meaningless cluster**** to anyone that didn't exist outside their social gathering, which completely defeats the purpose of putting it online.

Next... a GM has to role play some. You have to mix up the voices. Not even just for NPC's, but even just for description. Fortunately, I'm a charismatic story teller, and if there's Coalition Sky Cycles circling out around wide and returning, I'm going to be explaining that to my players with the zeal and presence of Mussolini. Arms out, STANDING, not sitting.

TENSION. How the **** can their be any tension if the GM is just `hanging` out, sharing in on all of your jokes and laughter?
A GM needs presence, man, especially with setting. I want my body language and tone and decibel level to reflect whatever setting they find themselves in.

My players are going to begin in a cave-base, inside a cage as prisoners. I'm going to introduce them to RIFTS by having an evil Cyber-Doc start crudely sawing one of their fellow prisoners arms off right in front of them, while strapped to a near-vertical surgeons table. This Doctor is going to have a bunch of crudely put together partial-borgs walking around awkwardly, with one leg longer then the other, hunched back, looking creepy and terrible. The place is going to be a nightmare. After the blood starts hitting the floor, they're going to realize the floor is grated, and beneath them is water, where an unworldly aquatic predator is swirling around, breaking the surface, now that there's a waterfall of blood.

As I put them through this entire, tension-filled gorefest/escape, my demeanor is always going to reflect THE CAVE, regardless of theirs. That will be my character for an hour. A dark, wet, black cave, full of dark, wet, razor-fanged things, where people are getting tortured and dismembered. Thats my character and my character doesn't deal in satire or humor of any kind.

Everyone is there to have fun, but the GM should feel he has a greater responsibility, and should aim to find a lot of his fun in fulfilling that responsibility, and live vicariously through his Players to an even GREATER extent because of it.

Immersion is honestly EVERYTHING. It makes all the difference. A GM that won't role play the voices of NPCs (even a little) and always breaks the immersion, either by not separating himself from his players, or from being overly monotone and basic. Like, why even do it? It's almost pretensions sounding. "...So, you like, come down the path, and, you like, see this giant monster..."
Ok. Are you going to put any effort into our game or just sit there, soullessly rambling basic, generic details?

No one should expect Shakespeare, but without some creative effort and performance and presence, your world has no spirit-- your world has no life.

I wouldn't even want to play in one of those games. Just terrible. Would feel like a complete waste of time because of how counter-productive it is to creating the moments that MAKE this hobby so much fun.

Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:16 am

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All of my posts on this forum are rants at 3:06 in the morning.

Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:31 pm

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Not everyone can be Matt Mercer. Some of us are just trying our best.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:07 pm

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Honestly, everything you listed is what you consider a good GM. That does not make it those the sole requirements for a good GM. Some players honestly do not care about immersion, gaming is a social event to hang out with their nerd friends and have fun and break stuff. Some take their gaming very serious, as it seems you do. Some like to mix it up some, and keep the immersion going but still like a bit of light heartedness

My personal opinion, the best GM is the one who can figure out what his players are looking for and delivering it, and also being able to adapt when required.

Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:39 pm

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Just popping in to respond to the "Matt Mercer is the one great example" comment.

I have no bone to pick here, but I figured I'd offer a relevant suggestion.

The GM in this Rifts campaign I think is really really good.

He's dealing with a bunch of tabletop newbies who know nothing of Rifts. His ability to change things up at the spur of the moment (or rather at the whim of his players) is admirable.

He plays fast and loose with the rules, but that doesn't bother me at all. The players are super into it.

I have a hard time following online tabletop games. That goes for both this one and Critical Role, and every single other one. I made it quite far in this one, despite my inherent difficulty following this format, and at least one overly obnoxious player. It's success with me is all due to the GM (I love rifts, but I haven't made it through even a single full session of any other stream, and I'm constantly looking for them and trying them out when they appear, 'cause somehow I think things will change).

Anywhoo, maybe you'll get some mileage out of it.

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