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New Year’s Resolutions

Posted By Walt Ciechanowski On January 4, 2010 @ 12:01 am In GMing Advice | 5 Comments

Am I the only one creeped out by the fact that it’s 2010?

For me, the winter holiday season is a time of reflection when it comes to RPGs. With the hustle and bustle of the various holidays (my household celebrates Christmas, Chanukah, and New Years’ Eve), I rarely have time to game in the latter half of December. With gaming in my blood, I usually do find time to reflect on my gaming over the past year and resolve to make my gaming experiences better in the coming year.

Here are some things I’ve learned over the past year:

Playtesting Mode is Awesome

This actually started in 2008, but over the course of 2009 I’ve really come to value my lessons learned by playtesting. It’s helped me focus my plots and trim the fat. On the flip side, it’s cautioned me not to run through scenes that my group would rather play out.

Don’t Just Listen to the Squeaky Wheel

I talk to one of my players about our weekly game much more than the other players and I’ve noticed that my plotting and surprises tend to revolve around that player’s character. I’ve resolved to spread the love around more in my future sessions.

Play More Games

Due to a hectic schedule, I found myself playing a large number of “mini-campaigns” using published adventures for other game systems. This helped alleviate my burnout and got me to use some of those adventures that had been sitting on my shelf. My group discovered that they actually enjoyed a couple of RPGs that they never would have considered playing had I not forced the issue.

See Things Through

The flip side of “play more games,” my frequent game-switching often meant that I ended campaigns before the rest of the group was ready to let them go. While this is common amongst my gaming groups, I really want to make a better effort at giving closure to my campaigns, even those that are forced to end quickly.

Running a Published Adventure is Tough

While I still feel that published adventures are great time-savers, I often fool myself into thinking that one or two readings is enough and end up stumbling over or omitting some material when I’m actually running it because I lack familiarity. I also tend to follow adventures as written rather than adapt on the fly for fear that I might muck up a future encounter (I usually figure this out five minutes too late). Going forward I need to do a better job absorbing and retaining information when preparing a published adventure.

Play More

Over the last couple of years, the only time I played rather than GM was at Gen Con. Being on the players’ side of the screen offers valuable insights and I really need to do it more often. I hope to play in more games in 2010.

So those are a few of my observations and resolutions from 2009. How about you? What have you learned from 2009 and what do you hope to improve during 2010?

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.




5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "New Year’s Resolutions"

#1 Comment By misterecho On January 4, 2010 @ 4:01 am

You want to play more games? You also want to experience a veriety of games. Why not encourage/groom one of the players with asperations of GMing? That way you get both.

#2 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On January 4, 2010 @ 8:34 am

@misterecho- that’s certainly the easiest way. Encouraging other players to GM is always a good thing!

In my case, it’s more about breaking my habit of always wanting to be in the GM’s seat.

#3 Comment By Scott Martin On January 4, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

I want to look closely at my group and give them what they want, not what my idealized version of our group wants. That was a big 2009 breakthrough.

I also hope to play a lot more in 2010– though I’ve really been spoiled by great gaming as a player on Hanford weekends.

#4 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On January 4, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

Spend more time/effort on organization. My notes are a muddled mess, and my game occasionally suffers because of it.

Challenge my players, not just their characters. Some of my favorite moments in gaming have been when I need to rise to the challenge, not just roll some high numbers. I want to give that to my players.

Make more props. I love props, and the look on players’ faces when they see them.

#5 Comment By BryanB On January 5, 2010 @ 11:04 am

In 2009 I finally realized that it is impossible to make some players happy. Some people are just not going to be satisfied with the game no matter what you do. They will always compare the current game to some previous game that they enjoyed more, which really isn’t fair to the current game. And my answer (Now) is: If you think you can run a “better” game, you’re free to pitch your game idea at the conclusion of the current one. :)

I’ve also learned that I need to stop fearing a new game system. Don’t be afraid to run the new shiney. It might not work well or it might be the best thing since pre-painted minis, but you won’t know what will happen until you make it happen. As they say in Dune: “Fear is the mind killer.” Don’t fear running the new game system. Get stoked!


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