Episode 104: Only One Serious Case of Assault

This month, Roger and Mike attempt to work out what GM skills are .

We mentioned “The Country’s In The Very Best Of Hands”, Fragged RPG at the Bundle of Holding and Fragged Aeternum at the Bundle of Holding (both until 2 August), Fate Worlds at the Bundle of Holding (until 9 August), Traveller the New Era, the tekeli.li discussion thread on GMing skills, the Tay Bridge Disaster, John Wick and “Play Dirty”, lythia.com and Hârn, The Great Pendragon Campaign, Stroboscope at Whartson Hall, Pool of Radiance, and the game Roger couldn’t remember, Neverwinter Nights,

We have a tip jar (please tell us how you’d like to be acknowledged on the show).

Music by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com.


I was struck at the end by Michael’s use of the term responsibilities rather than skills as the discussion of hosting closed the podcast.

I’ve run into times when GMing experience was how I turned a bad work meeting around.

There’s something there about responsibilities from coming together as a group because you expect you can all have fun with something together and it becomes an environment to develop a great many skills.

I half wonder if social self-confidence and commitment more to my friends than to a hobby is why I’ve never tried to run a convention game or gotten a group of strangers together at the hobby shop.

It’s certainly feels like intimidating responsibility to me at times and I haven’t found myself up to risking goofing it up with new folks in some time.

Thank y’all again for a good show.

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On the one hand there’s less responsibility because it’s people you’ll probably never see again.

On the other hand you want them to have a good time and not be put off the game you’re showing (or even RPGs in general). (I’ve probably run more convention RPGs as an Official Demo Person than not. And yeah, one time I looked up to find Sean Punch listening in to my GURPS Reign of Steel session. I did know he was a guest at that convention but I hadn’t actually had a chance to speak with him yet…) This is your one chance to give them a positive impression of yourself plus your chosen game plus, potentially, the hobby.

The one-shot 4-ish-hour adventure format seems to work for me, but that doesn’t suit everyone either.

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I routinely use the table management (some would say crowd control) skills I honed as GM when I’m training a classroom (usually new sales engineers).

What’s great about convention games is that you generally get committed players, the scheduling and logistics are handled by someone else, you do not have to recruit players, and you can just show up and run.

To further comment on GM as host, I currently host because I have the most convenient gaming space, whether I am GMing or not. I am a terrible host. Players are welcome to bring their own food and drink, but I will gladly share anything. I’m just really bad at preparing and offering food and drink. This is a social failing, not a gaming one.

Some GMs have far too many miniatures, terrain, or other paraphernalia to schlep around and it is easier on their backs to host.

It would not be uncommon for DMs to bring several hardcover D&D books to their games; the option to have PDFs have made this easier, though I find the PDF reader on my Chromebook a bear to deal with when I need to have 2 or more books at the ready.

I remember when I gamed with the Backpack of Rolemaster… with GURPS4 I find I usually want the basic set and maybe 1-2 others in hardcopy at most. (I prefer paper for planning games though.)

Umph. Well. You have to write an appealing blurb… and several times at recent* conventions I’ve had a full table of 5-6 signups, but then only two or three bothered to come to the table. Which I feel is just plain rude.

* recent when conventions were a thing

I much enjoy writing blurbs. They are like haiku or nanofiction.
Each convention has its own vibe and culture. I mostly go to two conventions a year that run over three-day holiday weekends, starting Friday and ending Monday. Nowadays (and I’ve been running games at these cons for 30 years), I almost always run on Monday morning in the last sign-up period, so I expect a certain amount of attrition. I’ve run games with few signups and full games where I had to turn away players. I guess it just doesn’t bother me much anymore.

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I look forward to running convention games though I sometimes feel I over prepare for them. I look forward to good, committed players who I don’t know turning up and giving me something new.

(There are, it must be admitted, people whose names I dread seeing turning up in my sign-up list having been introduced to their tin ears for role playing before. But if you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined…)

I normally (nowadays) only volunteer at Stabcon where I know a lot of people and the ambience isn’t that of a huge anonymous gathering of all the clans. But perhaps I should work up the nerve to do something for an on-line convention if there isn’t going to be face to face any time soon.


I’m sure I’m on some people’s lists. I can be unpleasant at times. I do not say this proudly.

I also kept a list of GMs I made sure to avoid. I misplace it every few years. There are some GMs look for, but some GMs attract a following that sets off my anti-clique alarms and makes me want to avoid them.