Play It Again (Rapid Shots: GMing in Organized Play)

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Polling players at PaizoCon this week, we saw a lot of patterns for player satisfaction when playing in Organized Play scenarios. Below are the top 5 yays and nays we heard:

Yays! (Good Tips for Organized Play GMs)

  • Do voices if you can. This was a number one identified trait of people who were happy with their GMs. Particularly if iconic or repeating NPCs had memorable or recognizable character voices. It also sped play because less players were asking who someone was during reprise.
  • Maps. Pre-drawn or printed maps were an absolute win, While not as unanimous as voices, a second attribute high in the ranks for “Good” GMs was having maps prepped to go.
  • Scenario Read-Throughs. Good grasps of the flow of the adventure and its challenges were always applauded. Read it once and then again, don’t assume because you have played a scenario it was run correctly or will run the same.
  • Working with event coordinators to make the game work. Having trouble talking? Ask to move to the quieter side of the room. It usually can be done.
  • Respond to the Party. If a group of characters needs it, work with them to reach a functional state of play. Don’t hesitate to encourage character changes, pregens or GM PCs if needed.

Nays (Possible Pitfalls)

  • Comparing Performance to previous groups or the GMs own run through the same scenario. Nothing underscores a party’s victory more than hearing how another party did something better. If you have to compare, try to wait until after the scenario is over.
  • Silent Treatment from NPCs: While handing a player the best information effortlessly is potentially dissatisfying. Guide the group if they can’t get to the right questions.
  • Quiet or Facedown Readthroughs. There is a lot of text in some adventures of scenarios. Pause and check for eye contact. Project loudly if possible.
  • Don’t draw attention to alterations you make due to player or character difficulties. Hearing that the scenario would fail if you had run an encounter as scripted makes it as bad as a failure to some players.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Players may not be transparent with motives, issues or needs. Communicated and question. Make sure the table is ready and if you need to accelerate play or to force and issue communicate why.

A little effort or adjustment goes a long way at the table. A Good GM keeps the entire community stronger, engaged and developing!

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