Welcome to the second installment of New Gamemaster Month!
In New Gamemaster Month we’re helping players who feel the urge to run an RPG—to become a GM for the first time—take the plunge. If you’re just joining us, start with the first installment. Then join us every Tuesday and Thursday throughout January, and by the end of the month you’ll be a GM too!
In our last post, we introduced the idea behind New Gamemaster Month and asked you to get your hands on the corebook for your game of choice. If you’re just joining the program, go back and read that post. Then click your way back here and read on!
Today we’re going to delve into some of the specifics of preparing for your first session. Before we do, though, I want to touch on one topic:
Is It Always This Much Work?
We’re going to spend a month getting you ready for your first adventure. Eight posts, and eight activities, each of which might take you an hour or so—and that’s just for your first game session. Perhaps you’re feeling a little panic when you think that your first adventure might span two or three whole evening-length sessions. And it’s just the start of what might be a lengthy campaign! Is this really such a good idea???
Relax: It’s not always like this. We’re covering a lot of ground that you won’t have to cover again, and a lot of what we’re doing this month will soon become second nature to you. Being a GM does require some prep work, but it’s not too daunting, and how much you put into it is entirely up to you.
Every GM has a different experience, and every game system has different characteristics, but many GMs experience a long-term average of one hour or so of prep time per evening-length game session. That’s often front-loaded, so the launch of a new campaign might involve a great deal more time, while individual sessions later in the campaign require little or no prep. If you’re creating your own adventures, or building your own setting, you’ll probably spend more time getting ready than if you run published adventures—but that’s OK, because many GMs find creating and running new adventures to be especially rewarding.
Regardless, the short answer is no, it isn’t always this much work!
The adventure you’re going to run is called Taker of Sorrow. You’ll find it on page 363 of Numenera Discovery. We’ve picked this adventure because it’s a great introduction to Numenera for new players and is easy on GMs running Numenera for the first time. Feel free to look it over, but you don’t have to read it just yet.
Here’s what you do need to do now:
Choose a Time and Place
First, decide when and where you’re going to hold your first game session. The weekend of January 31st ties in nicely with the New Gamemaster Month syllabus. But if that doesn’t work out, choose a later date. And be prepared to be flexible, because obviously you won’t be the only one involved—you’ll need a time and place that work for your players as well as for you. Speaking of which:
Wrangle Your Players
Reach out to some potential players. Perhaps you’ve already been talking about this with some of your friends or family. Or maybe this will be a complete surprise to them. Either way, identify some people for whom you’d like to run the game. Four or five players is an ideal group size, but three to six is fine. You can run a game successfully with only two players, or even just one, but it’s a bit more difficult. And with more than six it can be very challenging to keep everyone engaged. (And sometimes just to fit them around the gaming table!)
How you go about it is up to you, but it might be best to contact about half a dozen people initially. That way, if everyone says yes your group won’t be too big, but if a couple of people can’t make it, you’ll still have enough players. If you don’t get enough yes responses from that group, maybe reach out to one or two more.
Tell the players you plan to run Numenera (you can tell them the name of the adventure if you like), and suggest your preferred time and place. A website like whenisgood.net can be helpful if scheduling is difficult.
Who should you invite? That’s easy: People you think you’ll have fun with. If you already have an existing gaming group, that’s a good place to start. If not, just gather some folk who you’ll enjoy spending several hours with (and who will enjoy spending a few hours with each other!). They don’t need to be experienced gamers, or experienced with Numenera in particular.
Do A Little Initial Reading
Finally, read Part 1 of Numenera Discovery. It begins on page 11 and runs for ten pages, so it shouldn’t take you too long. This section gives you a foundation regarding the world and the game system. (One quick note: In Chapter 2, the text is directed at “you.” In this case, “you” generally means the players more than the GM—for example, when it talks about “you” making rolls, that’s always the players.) There’s more to know, but we’ll tackle it as we go.
This is so exciting! You’re on your way—once you complete these activities, you’ll have committed yourself to your first game session. Don’t panic: It’s going to be great.
We’ll take our next steps on Tuesday!
Throughout this program, we have expert GMs on hand to answer questions and provide general support at the New Gamemaster Month Facebook group. Please drop in, join the group, introduce yourself, and ask any questions you might have. Other new GMs will also be there—it’s a great place to share your experiences and support one another. Hope to see you there!