Every person has a particular style of speaking. Different phrases and sayings commonly creep into our personal lexicons and come out as the commas and semicolons of our speaking. Since being a Game Master is a form of public speaking, certain of these phrases get uttered over and over during the course of our sessions.
These common phrases are picked up on by the players, and often trigger certain Pavlovian responses. Take a look at your GMing style and what phrases it includes. What responses do they trigger, and what sorts of game related things do they preface.
Some Phrases That I’ve Known
- So . . .
Usually said in relation to wanting more explanation from the players or the Game Master about what is going one. It generally results in someone making a sewing needle motion with their hands.
- Roll . . .
Whenever I am calling for a roll I say this, but unfortunately in a way that triggers: that beautiful bean footage?
- When last we left our heroes . . .
The players usually start explaining their actions and how they tie into the beginning of this session once someone utters this. It is kind of the preface to a recap.
Some That I’ve Picked Up From Other Sources
- At this particular moment…
From pushing daisies, it prefaces a flashback scenario that gives the moral of the upcoming episode.
- The facts were these…
Also from pushing daisies, it introduces a monlogue by the narrator, who is going to lay everything out on the table.
- Turning to look at the camera
While, not a narrative phrase per se, it functions in the exact same way. When someone, I.e. Ferris Bueller, turns to look at the camera and begins telling something to the audience, it functions in the same way as a narrative phrase. It changes the story being told, and reveals something outside the scope of what the characters know.
- A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…
Sets up the story as something that, while possibly similar to the audience’s world view, this story will play by its own rules and will not follow things the way the audience expects.
- I’ve got a bad feeling about this…
Something bad will happen, but it WILL be awesome!
Now, if it seems like this article is a little sparse on tips and ideas that’s because it is meant to be. You can’t make rules or judgments that stretch across multiple people’s personal lexicons. While there are some phrases we may all share in common, and they might be telling of certain shared concepts, what means one thing to one person might mean something else to another.
At this particular moment, I would like you to tell me the rest of the story. What phrases do you commonly use as a GM? What phrases do you use as a player or hear from players? What are some great phrases that can be ripped from other media?
When last we left our commenters . . .