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Don’t Forget to Recharge the Batteries

Posted By Walt Ciechanowski On March 4, 2009 @ 11:01 am In GMing Advice | 7 Comments

I can’t wait for GenCon 2009. One of the many reasons that I’m looking forward to it is because I get to do something that I almost never do the rest of the year: I become a player.

I’m one of those gamers that just prefers to GM over playing and, for the last two years, I’ve been GMing for both of my gaming groups. While I do enjoy playing every once in a while, it isn’t long before I start getting that itch again and start plotting my next campaign.

That said all running and no play can make Walt a stale GM.

Every GM can use a recharge every now and then. Moving to the other side of the screen offers new perspectives; playing under a different GM, working with other players, and observing the gaming environment.

Perhaps most importantly, it helps you understand what makes your players tick. Were you upset when you couldn’t play a barbarian? Did you enjoy the plotline? Do you feel like your decisions are important? Does losing have consequences? Did you find the “strange, new setting that redefines old standards” immersive or distracting?

All of this can provide invaluable information to incorporate into your own GMing style. Most of the time it isn’t rocket science, sometimes you just need to see things from a different point of view.

And don’t forget, we can all use a break now and then just to recharge our batteries and get our GM juices flowing while we’re not up against a session deadline.

Happy GM’s Day! Just don’t forget to play every once in a while!

Walt Ciechanowski

About  Walt Ciechanowski

Walt’s been a game master ever since he accidentally picked up the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1982. He became a freelance RPG writer in 2005 and is currently the Victoriana Line Developer for Cubicle 7. Walt lives in Springfield, PA with his wife Helena and their three children, Leianna, Stephen, and Zoe.




7 Comments (Open | Close)

7 Comments To "Don’t Forget to Recharge the Batteries"

#1 Comment By Scott Martin On March 4, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

I get a lot from getting to play in great games every other week. Getting to be a player helps keep me focused on the player’s experience when I’m running the game for my players. (Though I really should have gone with a “rule of fun” intervention last session, instead of following game world logic…)

#2 Comment By Karizma On March 4, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

As the standard GM for my current group, I was originally worried that I wouldn’t get to play. But luckily, the GM who raised me into our Wonderful Hobby is planning on setting aside one week of the year around his birthday to host a play-a-thon, since all of our old group has dispersed around.

It’s an exciting idea, and if it happens, I will enjoy that week of playing. I will enjoy it hard.

#3 Comment By LesInk On March 4, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

After the last campaign I GM’d, I passed the baton and am now sitting in as a player. I can’t say I’m totally confortable being a player, but it really is nice not having to grind out work for the next session. I guess my only problem is I tend to talk too much when I should let others get involved.

Trying to let go … but its even hard as a player ….

#4 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On March 5, 2009 @ 12:30 am

Every now and then, I just stop gaming. I read the blogs, keep up with the latest buzz, even buy books and PDFs, but I don’t play nor GM. I feel this lets me recharge my batteries, and build up enough “other stuff” in my subconscious to pull out at the table. When I return, everything’s new again, and I’m not doing the same old thing.

#5 Comment By Scott Martin On March 5, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

@Kurt “Telas” Schneider – You survive when you’re away from a game? I don’t know if I dare go without for that long… ;)

#6 Comment By Martin Ralya On March 7, 2009 @ 11:47 am

My group is 4/5 GMs (and the fifth easily could be), and we have to games running at once — which means everyone gets a chance to play in one game, even if they’re running another. It is fabulous, and I both second Walt’s advice and highly recommend our setup.

#7 Comment By Alnakar On March 8, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

Truly one of the best pieces of advide you can give.

I tend to be the default DM in our group, and after a few years of running games I was starting to feel like I was pulling the same two tricks out of my hat every session. I took a break for a year and returned to being a player for a while, and while neither of the people who stepped up to the plate to DM in my absence ended up being able to continue the campaign, I really felt like that experience on the other side of the screen reminded me of what the important elements of the game were. I’ve gone back to DMing for our group now that my second replacement has stepped down, and I’m getting far more out of the games as a DM than I have for ages. My players have definitely benefited from my renewed interest as well.


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