As the (unofficial until quite recently) Community Manager for Degenesis: Rebirth, Erwan has been a highly visible ambassador for the game. In recorded game sessions he always appears calm and collected. He’s also very active on the Degenesis Discord and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the game. So it was a no-brainer to ask him how he runs his sessions, and he kindly answered my questions.
Master of the Game explores the nuts and bolts of how gamemasters run their games. What games do they play and what tools do they use to run ’em?
Liam (aka Boganova), is one of the hosts of Mud & Blood, a podcast that focuses on grim, gritty games. I have been continually impressed with his approach to gamemastering, and he graciously accepted my invitation to share his GMing setup. Read more
Gamemastering isn’t as difficult as it’s often made out to be. Is it some sort of mystical power only possessed by a lucky few? Absolutely not. Is it a skill that can be continuously improved? Absolutely. Read more
Most game masters have at least a few campaign ideas rolling around in their heads. It’s a natural outgrowth of the GM mentality, because you’re always on the lookout for new ingredients to add to your game. Read more
I was reminded of the power of genre tropes last night when one of the players in my Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign complained that because all the action in the game takes place in a single city on a single planet, it isn’t very Star Wars at all. Read more
You can find hundreds of podcasts covering all manner of tabletop RPG subjects, from how to optimize a Pathfinder character to storygame actual plays. But some of my favorite RPG inspiration comes from what I call RPG-adjacent podcasts.
Some of them touch on RPGs directly from time to time, but mostly I enjoy them because they help me see the world a bit differently, which is always helpful for a game master. I also get some of my best GM ideas by piecing together bits and pieces from these shows. Read more
A good game master welcomes the challenges that come with the role. A really good game master can even make money at it. Then there are game masters whose impact transcends the game entirely. This Three for Thursday examines game mastering as a craft, a vocation, and as a means of lifting spirits. Read more
The 100 is a post-apocalyptic TV show with an intriguing premise: Survivors of a global nuclear apocalypse have stayed alive in a space station for generations. They believe the planet below them to be uninhabitable until they send group of 100 juvenile delinquents to ground, who discover that they’re not alone.
The 100 invites criticism. Somehow humans stayed alive in space for generations without any muscle degradation or loss of bone mass. Finicky technology keeps working for decades without fail. Almost everyone is hawt. You get the idea.
But it’s also a show that provides lessons for running a campaign in a setting where scarcity pushes factions and individuals into repeated conflict. Five seasons in, here are a few of the things about the show that fascinate and inspire me as a GM: Read more
Today my barber told me the story of how he and his wife traveled across the country back in 1969. He recounted every city they went to, in sequence. He told me the names of the hotels they stayed in, and what specific part on their VW bus needed replacing when they swung up to Montreal.
I’ve been a steady client for years, and the precision of his memory astounds me. I can’t remember what I did last Friday, and he can recall what day of the week it was when he watched the moon landing on TV. His powers of recall are mind-boggling .
I’ve run several post-apocalypse campaigns over the years, using a variety of game systems:
- Gamma World — gonzo mutant jackrabbits and all
- Aftermath! — 20 years after a nuclear war, using my hometown as a setting
- Twilight: 2000 — the default WWIII-is-petering-out setting
- Basic Roleplaying — zombies take over America in multi-generational campaign
- Apocalypse World — small, isolated enclaves eke out a living, avoiding poisoned skies and other enclaves
- NEMESIS — WWIII-has-just-ended journey across the remains of America
- Mutant: Year Zero —the NEMESIS campaign extended forward by three generations
Along the way I’ve learned a few things about post-apocalypse settings and running campaigns in them. Much of that education has come the hard way, through trial and error, and I’m certainly still learning. As with any GM advice, your game is your game, and some or all of this may not make sense for you and your campaign. So take it as food for thought. With that in mind, whether you’re already game mastering a post-apocalypse campaign or are in the planning stages hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful. Read more