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GM Guiding Philosophy

VSpace GM Philosophy


Rule 0: Belly Rubs All Around

  "Everybody likes belly rubs." This community was started to focus on players having fun. Players want attention paid to their characters, they want to be the stars, and they want to be challenged. Nobody comes to a Star Wars game to play Rebel Soldier #12; nobody comes to a Legend of the Five Rings game to play Ashigaru #3. GMs need to give characters a chance to shine based on what kind of character they play, even if you don’t particularly care for their player's style.  

Rule 1: Don’t Fall In Love With Your Plots & Your NPCs

  Your story is not as important as the PCs. It’s certainly important and encouraged for you to have one or more story arcs that you want to run. Be aware, though, that the PCs might want to do something else. Read the table and offer adventures that fit the mood; don’t force them to take specific jobs. As well: if you stat it, they’ll try to defeat it. Don’t present enemies in combat situations that you don’t expect to die, flee, or get captured.  

Rule 2: Understand the Rules and When Not To Use Them

  We run complex games with complex systems, some of which are scattered over many books. You're not expected to know *all* of them *all* the time, but by the same token, they are a tool to serve you and not a weapon for players and GMs to beat each other with. Be fair, strive to understand the rules you can, and learn new ones as needed.  

Rule 3: Style Over Substance

  The purpose of our games is to tell fun stories; with non-fixed tables, the mix of PCs may not fit with a set piece plot. When you’re running, your goal should be to give a spotlight turn to as many PCs at your table as you can. Is the table mostly fighty-types? Offer combats that are different & challenge everyone (but see Rule 7). Are there a lot of talky types? Negotiation and diplomacy. Make sure, however, that your missions aren’t all one thing or another.  

Rule 4: Communication Prevents Aggravation

  GMs MUST talk to each other or at least document the basics of our plots. That doesn’t mean you should reveal everything to all the other GMs, but it does mean that you need to keep the other GMs informed in at least an outline form of what you’re doing. Players love GMs coordinating on plot stuff so that there’s some consistency across different GMs’ tables for rewards/contacts. OneNote helps with this, but if you have disagreements or concerns with other GMs, please work on them privately or on the GM Channels before they cause larger problems!  

Rule 5: Don’t Overuse Dice

  You don’t have to roll for everything, and you don’t have to overdo every critical success or failure. The dice are a tool to provide randomness, not the be-all end-all of the game. If a PC is remarkably good at something they’re trying and they’re facing an obstacle that’s not critical, don’t make them roll.  

Rule 6: Chicken Wire, Not Railroads

  Don’t (obviously) force it. No plot survives contact with the PCs, and they will often do things vastly different from what you expected. Guide them gently, corral them and keep an eye on the clock, but don’t force them to stop roleplaying or following a path unless it leads to certain destruction. They don’t need to follow your puzzle pieces, you need to adapt the puzzle so that their solution eventually works.  

Rule 7: Proportionate Threats

  Challenges should keep in mind who is at the table. Every table has a mix of characters with very different specializations and desires. Bringing an AT-AT into a mission with a demolitions expert and a diplomat isn’t gonna end will for the diplomat. Try not to drop star destroyers or inquisitors on groups that can’t handle them, and be aware: even if you THINK they can handle things, they may not be able to.  

Rule 8: Player Arcs, Faction Arcs and One Shots

  Most stories should fit into one of these three categories.  
  • Player Arcs: Each player should have an arc (especially if they have a rival) that you may be able to work in. Track player-specific story elements on WorldAnvil (such as a character’s specific contact or gained rival), glance over the notes on PCs at your table starts and include elements in your story if possible.
  • Faction Missions: Most stories will revolve around the desires of one of the factions in the game's universe that can reward the players. Factions should be shared by the GMs with one GM taking point, however, other GMs should be able to run sessions that fit the faction’s goals. Again, keep notes in WorldAnvil.
  • One-Shot Missions: You should always have a few One Shots you can run in your back pocket if nothing more substantial fits the mood or the characters. Not every game should require a follow-up.

Rule 9: The Party That Stays Together, Plays Together

  Keep the PCs together, or cut between separated PCs regularly. Stay on the fucking ball for this, because ABSOLUTELY NOTHING kills interest for players than being idle while others are focused on for extended periods. While splitting up in groups can be fun occasionally, try to avoid it, or switch focus every five minutes or so to keep everyone invested.  

Rule 10: Put The Books Back On The Shelves

  At the end of every mission, return the characters to base without having made them unplayable. Think of the game as a library: you are taking the characters out of the library and are bound to return them (relatively) undamaged so that other GMs can take them out without worrying about long-term consequences.

Text, Philosophical

Cover image: VSpace Cover by W.Morgenthien