Game Masters and Leadership Skills: Part 1

Don't Step In The Leadership

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The GM is the leader in any given party, regardless of what player has stepped up to inform him of their actions. No one leads a party or a game like the Game Master will. His influence is by far the most pervasive on any gaming table. With that in mind, using leadership skills can help you develop better adventures more efficiently.

When you begin thinking about the next adventure you’re going to write for your game, what do you do first? Do you develop a time frame and start assigning tasks to NPCs or do you think about who would prefer to do what and try to schedule around their strengths and weaknesses? When planning starts to fall behind schedule, what is your first reaction? Do you frantically being working on all aspects of the adventure at the same time, or do you give yourself a break – recognizing that you’re going to do your best and that life will intervene sometimes?

Your answers to these types of questions can reveal a great deal about your personal leadership style. Some leaders are very task-oriented; they simply want to get things done. Others are very people-oriented; they want people to be happy. – Mind Tools, questions above adapted from the same source.

What it really comes down to is, are you goal oriented in your adventure writing or player oriented? Both styles have strengths and weaknesses and both can make for excellent games but a combination of the two will create an adventure your players will still be telling stories about in 10 or 15 years.

It’s useful to understand what your natural leadership tendencies are, so that you can then working on developing skills that you may be missing. – Mind Tools

I personally am a very goal and story oriented designer. While I care about my players and understand they’re going to have different priorities than I do, I run games in the first place to be able to tell the story in my head. This can and has been a problem at times. Understanding this has helped me to work with my players so that both of us can enjoy the campaign, both so they don’t feel railroaded and so I can show them the awesome ideas I’ve developed.

In Part 2, we’re going to look at some styles of Game Mastering so we know what kind we are and where we need improvment.

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12 Responses to “Game Masters and Leadership Skills: Part 1”

  1. Micah Says:

    I’m definitely very player-oriented. I ask the players constantly what their plans and goals are and tweak my plans accordingly. And by “plans” I mean the very foggy outline of what I want to do in the immediate future. There really is nothing concrete beyond that.

    This can cause problems with disjointed storylines and often a lack of overarching structure, but the players are always pursuing their own goals, so they’re usually happy.

  2. viricordova Says:

    So long as your players are happy, and as importantly YOU are happy, you are doing it right. Like I said above, “Both styles have strengths and weaknesses and both can make for excellent games”.

    My goal here is to look at the games I played 20, 15, 10 years ago, that my friends and I STILL tell stories about, and ask why we loved them so much we remember them so fondly so long after they’ve passed.

    I want the players I have now to do the same thing 10 and 15 years from now and I think alot of GMs would, too🙂

  3. TheLemming Says:

    It’s an interesting approach and I have to say I doubt I can give myself into one of the two categories – I try to be both and at times I manage at others I fail with either one or (worst case) both of them.
    An interesting approach would be to have my players judge this after a campaign.

    That said, how important is feedback of your players for you?

  4. viricordova Says:

    Player feedback is very important to me.

    These people are my friends, and I like having my ego stroked😛 Conversely, if they’re unhappy I want to know, or they’re going to being making excuses to avoid the game. Never cool.

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