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Game Masters Hints and Tips

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Quite honestly,  I think this thread will be a hit.

I've probably spent countless hours reading articles, watching videos and experimenting myself 'in game' to perfect my role as a game master. No doubt we all want to excel and excite our players with interesting story hooks and exciting adventures, but sometimes we fall flat, something goes wrong, the entire game experience just turns sour - and it's all our fault. 

I want to make this thread a, a treasure of useful tips and advice any GM can find helpful in preparing and running a game of Grimm (or any game for that matter). I'm certain many of you have some things to say and I know I do too!


  1. Start you post with your topic, clearly mark it!
  2. Try not to initiate discussion - too much will detract from the threads intended purpose.
  3. Don't write up a tip too long, otherwise most people won't read it. 



Okay ladies and gents, lets get cracking!











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 Putting Immersion Back Into the Game

Grimm, by it's very nature, is a story-telling rpg and it rightfully should be treated as such. The focus is less about combat and more about the story - and the narrative style that a GM uses to manage the game can make or break the players immersion.

If a player fails his scamper, gets hit by the troll and suffers 2 wounds - a GM might say "oh dear, the troll just boosted his roll and managed to hit you, cross of 2 wounds", but a GM that is really into immersing his players might say something like this "The troll contorts his face into a twisted smile and lunges at you, slashing his sharp ugly claws across your arm as you try to duck out of the way. You reel from the surge of pain and start bleeding badly...take two wounds."

It may take extra effort to be more descriptive, but your players will thank you greatly afterwards. Be creative and spontaneous with your descriptions, don't be afraid of being too cliche and remember, even the GM can have fun.


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 Never Say No

Off the bat, I'm not saying GMs should succumb to their players every will and wish. Handing them their every desire on a silver platter is bound to destroy the fun of the game. Thats just plain stupid.

Instead, try not to say no in situations when a character wants to attempt something or when there may be a dire consequence. If your player wants to attempt a nearly impossible jump across a ravine, some of us will be tempted to simply say "NO!" and move them to a different solution they may not be seeing. I feel it's important to give your players a sense of unlimited freedom, just as in real life - but just like in real life, our actions have consequences which we ultimately learn from. So the scenario unfolds, I the GM say "sure, roll your scamper." and it's no surprise he fails and falls, reducing his wounds to zero. Now he's very unhappy, but at least he won't try it again.

Fortunately death is very rare in Grimm, which makes the game a lot more forgiving to players that make idiotic decisions. If you need to "slap them on the hand" so to speak, do it in the story and continue. This freedom will make players feel like they own their own fate, which they do to a certain degree, but in the greater scheme of things, it's the GM in control, but he never lets them know it!

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Making it fun!

This seems like an obvious thing, but your RP can easily go from fun to boring or annoying.  I'm one of the players in CoheeD's group, but I also GM for two groups of Deathwatch. I'm still relatively new at being a GM, but what I lack in experience I hopefully make up in my attitude to learning and applying the knowledge gained. CoheeD has mentioned some very good points on immersion and controlling your players, so I thought I'd help and contribute a bit.

So back to the topic of making it fun, as the GM you have to set the world for your players and you accomplish this by using materials given to you by the RPG and your own creativity. One thing to keep in consideration is would you enjoy playing your own story as a player? How would your current players think of the story? This can be tricky if you're GM'ing for people you don't know very well, so maybe start with some standard missions / scenes just to get your players used to each other and you, then go from there. If they are new to RPG's in general then taking it slow with relatively easy tasks is a good way to start without making your players feel overwhelmed. Nobody likes to be hit with big boss fights so early, so gauge how your players are doing and plan accordingly.


Another thing to take into consideration is the rules, or more specifically, following the rules. Now as your job as a GM you have to make sure that the rules are followed, but being too strict will only aggravate your players to the point that they might quit. So sometimes be a little bit flexible, but obviously flagrant abuse of your leniency isn't fun for you so know when to draw the line. Sometimes some fun and interesting things can happen if your players can keep guessing at what they can and can't do, as this will hopefully spur their creativity while still realizing you are the GM and you do have final say in most matters.


So back to stories / missions, while doing the standard missions are a great way to start they do lack a certain personal touch sometimes. For Deathwatch the missions given to you fill you in on important details while leaving you to fill in the rest with immersion and good storytelling, this allows you to mess around with the mission a bit but overall it'll have some form of linear ending. During this time you'll want to make sure your players are having a good time, and if not adjust the story a bit to bring their interest back in. Of course just using this framework missions is ok, but sometimes completely making up missions for your players allows you to shape the story however you wish, and with these stories I try to add a bit of non-canon things if possible. For one mission I made up, while fighting Orks on a jungle forest planet, I had my players encounter small furry creatures similar to Ewoks. This lead to many references of vehicle smashing and imperial bashing. In the end the planet was extinguished by exterminatus due to excessive ork infestation, and left one of the players deeply saddened over the loss of a pet squig (I couldn't let him keep it so I warned that if anyone's weapon jammed it'd get shot, which happened not soon after O_0).


So in summary, try to make it fun while still staying within the rules if possible but don't be worried to momentarily ignore or change them if it's bogging the game down (you are the GM afterall). Adding some fun elements into missions that you know your players will appreciate is a nice addition. So remember to see how your players are fairing, give them a challenge while still having some fun, and your players will love you forever.

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