Become A Better Gamemaster

“The most important thing to remember when you actually get the scenario off the ground is this: whatever happens will always be different from what you expect.” — Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game

Learn from the Masters

  • Focal Point: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Running Extraordinary Sessions – When you’re at the table running a game, you’re really doing three things at once — entertaining, telling a story, and facilitating the action. This book delves into how you can become better at all three.
  • The Lazy Dungeon Master – While aimed at D&D/d20 dungeon masters, this book book presents a framework applicable to a wide variety of games. It delivers an array of clever, practical tools to implement this approach. Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t a primer on being a lazy game master, it’s about being an efficient one.
  • Never Unprepared: The Complete Gamemaster’s Guide to Session Prep – Even an old dog can learn new tricks, and this book is chock full of them. Covering the five phases of prep, from brainstorming to review, this is a thorough examination that will help you come up with your own efficient approach to session prep.
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The key is to keep your players engaged. Image: PICT1233, by Dan Catchpole — CC-by-2.0 license
  • Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management – Focusing squarely on the planning and management of long-term campaigns, this book was written for beginners and veterans alike. It is thoughtfully written, thorough, and filled with helpful insights.
  • Play Unsafe – Graham Whalmsley takes inspiration for improv theater and applies it to tabletop RPGs. The result is a refreshing reinforcement of why we play games in the first place, with high-level techniques for sustaining a focus on enjoying your time at the table.
  • Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering – This is a deservedly famous book in gaming circles, particularly for its discussions of player types and finding creativity as a gamemaster. Produced by one of the most experienced game designers in the business, it incorporates both high-level analysis and hands-on techniques, and is aimed at experienced gamers.
  • Unframed: The Art of Improvisation for Gamemasters – This book takes the form of a series of short essays by prominent game designers and gamemasters. Some of the advice overlaps, and what you get out of the book will depend on your experience. New gamemasters in particular will benefit from this one.