So Why Would You Want To GM, Anyway?

Who will prove to be the better GM - C or this cat? Stay tuned!

In the past several months, I’ve openly declared my intentions to sit on the other side of the screen and run a game. It was one of my geeky resolutions in my column here, I’ve stated it at my game club, and I really made it official by saying something on Facebook. My declaration has been met with a lot of excitement from my friends, with some of them even trying to call dibs on seats at my future game table. Their enthusiasm has served to make me simultaneously pumped up and scared as hell. Suddenly there is a lot of pressure on me to come up with something amazing.

Why would I put myself in a position with such high expectations? Why would anyone, really? Somebody has to be the GM, of course, but there are many more players than there are gamemasters. What makes someone decide that they’re going to take the helm?

I know a number of GMs have found themselves behind the screen for the first time by default: no one else has the skills, materials, or drive to run the game. This is certainly not the case for me, as I’ve never been left wanting for a GM to run a game for me to play in. When I have so many willing GMs at my disposal, what gives me the bravado to want to step up to the plate? Well, bravado, it ain’t. But there are several things motivating me – none of them especially deep or profound, but they’re driving me nonetheless.

I have stories to tell.

Since I was just a wee little geek, I’ve been making up characters and adventures for them. (When you’re little, it’s called “make-believe” instead of “roleplaying”.) While I’ve been lucky enough to put some of those stories into print as flavor text for our books, I’ve yet to present any of my grand ideas to a group of my friends to let them help me flesh out the tale with their own characters and actions. I can’t say I’m not nervous about getting a poor reaction (what if they think my story sucks?) but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Granted, I’m going to start out small, with a published module or two, but if I end up liking being the GM, I’ve got some campaign ideas that are fabulous, if I do say so myself.

I want a chance to drive.

I’m not a control freak. I have no desire to be the boss or supervisor of anything, and for the most part am very content to be a follower rather than a leader. Yet, as all the times I’ve had to take a leadership role in the past have proven, I have it in me to be a master and commander. The opportunity to be the one in control of the game (at least until the players go in a completely different direction than I’d planned) is appealing, even to a follower like me.

I want to see if I’ve got the chops.

My entire life has been about doing things I (or others) never thought I could do. I’ve failed at some of the things I’ve tried – quite epically, in fact – but I’ve been surprisingly good at other things. Every time I get scared about trying something new, I remind myself of this, and it’s usually enough to make me take a deep breath and take a chance.

My attempts at running a game might go horribly and cause me to vow to never be anything but a player ever again. Or I might find a groove, be caught by the GM bug, and want to run games all the time. Either way, I won’t know unless I try. I really think I can do this and be decent at it. But thinking it does nothing for me. I’ve got to actually do it.

Am I there yet?

I’m well aware that it’s September and I only have a few months left to hit my resolution to run a game for the first time this year. The good news is that I have finally decided on a system – Pathfinder, the one I know best and am most comfortable with. And I think I may have found the perfect module. Now I just have to buck up the courage to run it. I’m almost to the finish line!

So, that’s why I have this crazy idea to run a game. What about you? What made you decide to GM? Or, if you’re still a virgin like me, what’s driving you toward doing it for the first time?

About c

By day, Connie Thomson (aka Ariel Manx) is a mild-mannered shoe salesgirl, geeking out about insoles, outsoles, and shanks. But when night falls, she takes her turn at the helm of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, where she writes, edits, and does layout for table-top RPG products. Regardless of her persona, C is always a fangirl, bookworm, and craft diva. (Email C or follow @arielmanx on Twitter.)

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