In the past, I’ve always pointed to GM’s advice such as Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads for CP2020 or Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering as really good sources for GM advice. And, for the most part, those assessments still stand even as my style, techniques, and goals for GMing have changed over the years.
But re-reading Blades in the Dark again, I realized I am struck every single time at how good chapter 7, Running the Game, is. Period. It’s amazing all around advice, and it’s almost like the GMing chapter that Fate Core should have had.
These three goals should be every GM’s goals, regardless of the game:
- Play to find out what happens
- Convey the fictional world honestly
- Bring <the world> to life
They seem simple, but these three concepts have a lot packaged into them. You’re not playing to try to trick or beat or railroad your players or their characters. You’re along for the ride as much as they are. Subsequent advice on asking establishing, provocative and leading questions ties into this – you want to find out what happens, through the PCs’ actions. By conveying the fictional world honestly, you are letting them know what the possible consequences or results will be. As the GM, you’re following through on these things, and providing much needed context so that the player’s can make decisions for their characters. And by bringing the world to life, you’re not only keeping the player’s interested and informed but providing opportunities for them to take action.
If John Harper and the other contributors to the GMing chapter for Blades in the Dark were to write a general GMing advice book using this as a foundation, I would buy it/back the project in a heartbeat. It’s essential advice for any GM.