Best GM Advice?

It’s International GM’s Day today, and I’m throwing out a lot of love for everyone who’s run a game for me! It’s a difficult job, but few things are as creatively rewarding as a game well-run.

In observance of the holiday, I’d like to collect advice for game masters.

My best piece of advice for Game Masters: “Say yes.”

Say ‘yes’ as often as you can. This is a technique taken from improv comedy, where no one can say ‘no’ to an idea put forward by another player. You cannot tear down in improv, you can only build up. If possible, say ‘yes, and…’ But most of the time, ‘yes’ is enough.

Your players want to take option D, when you only had plans for options A and B? Say yes. Your player has come up with an unorthodox character concept? Say yes.

Saying yes fosters trust – your players know you want to work with them, not against them. Sometimes you have to say ‘no’ – there’s just no good way to include a space marine into a high fantasy game. But if you say yes as often as you can, it gives your ‘no’ more weight. And if you must say no, say ‘no, but…’ ‘No,you can’t play a space marine… but there’s this order of paladins with access to special magic you can join.’ ‘No, you can’t single-handedly transform this despotic government into a free democracy… but you can make life better for the peasants in these ways.’

Don’t worry about losing control of your game, or not being prepared for alternate choices. Just say yes.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for GMs? Leave it in the comments!


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