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What Type of GM Are You?

Posted By Walt Ciechanowski On March 30, 2009 @ 12:01 am In GMing Advice | 41 Comments

Ever since I first read the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide back in the 1980s (I’m sure I was wearing sweatpants and listening to my box radio at the time), I’ve been fascinated by the concept of categorizing players into types. The old DSG used three: adventurer, problem-solver, and roleplayer. Over the years I’ve seen other player types (the most recent of which being Robin’s Laws of Good Gamemastering, revised in 3.5’s Dungeon Masters Guide II).

 

 

Still, while I’ve seen quite a few player type lists over the years, I’ve rarely seen one for GMs. That’s understandable, it can be tough to pigeon-hole GMs with all of the factors involved in designing and running campaigns. Heck, I run two games at the moment, and I’m a very different GM in one than in the other. Also, there’s a lot of room for overlap. As with player types an individual GM is going to have aspects of multiple categories.

 

 

Why do I think this is important? For years, I’ve found player-typing to be useful in designing the best campaigns that I can for my players. It’s a great tool to have in your head (“okay, I’ve got enough for the Butt-Kicker, but my Method Actor needs something; maybe I can throw in a moral dilemma here”). Similarly, acknowledging your own GM-type may help raise red flags before they become problems. If there’s a Power Gamer in your group and you know that you are a Romantic, then there’s a red flag that warns you of possible rules system exploitation.

 

 

Now, how do I go about this? I decided to approach these types as “GM type when running system X”). In other words, rather than thinking about Gina the GM as a Creator, we’d look at it as Gina is a Creator when running her D&D campaigns, but she is a Fanatic when running her Star Trek campaigns. I’ve also listed the pros and cons of each type when dealing with players.

 

 

So without further ado, here are the following types of GM:

 

 

The Creator

The Creator wants to design a setting and watch the players enjoy the fruits of her labor. The Creator is rarely satisfied with an established setting; she’ll want to homebrew her own or at least put as much of her own efforts into an established setting as possible.

 

 

Pros: The Creator provides a richly detailed setting that has an air of mystery about it. Players never know quite what to expect in the Creator’s campaigns, as she rarely uses anything straight out of the book. The Creator often adds touches to her campaign that the players enjoy, as she is an artist and wants to please her audience.

 

 

Cons: The Creator can get carried away with “originality.” A new race may be very similar to an old one except for name and appearance, or the players may be forced to learn a glossary of terms for their PCs to function in the new world. Also, some Creators spend too much time on the minutiae of their setting rather than the practical aspects, including the adventure itself.

 

The Director

The Director runs campaigns with strong themes and tight plots. She expects the players to understand the themes and roleplay their characters accordingly. The Director often shapes the rules according to these themes (“grim and gritty,” “street-level superheroes”) and is very involved in PC generation.

 

 

Pros: The Director keeps things moving and never lets the players spin their wheels; she is the ultimate convention GM. A good Director knows how to build an adventure and provide enough hooks that the PCs will want to see it through.

 

 

Con: The Director sometimes encroaches in areas where players normally feel empowered to make their own decisions. Directors can fall prey to railroading when their efforts to keep the plot moving forward runs against what the players actually want to do.

 

The Fanatic

The Fanatic runs campaigns because of an obsessive love of a setting or theme. He owns everything ever produced for the Forgotten Realms, has an intricate knowledge of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, or speaks tlhIngan Hol fluently. The Fanatic ensures that the PCs always interact with or are affected by the coolest elements of his fanaticism.

 

 

Pros: The Fanatic’s encyclopedic knowledge of the setting ensures that scenes are colorful and vibrant, with interesting encounters with NPCs all along the way. PCs are seamlessly integrated into the setting and their actions often have a visible impact on the greater metaplots.

 

 

Cons: The Fanatic can become a slave to his own canon and has trouble dealing with PCs that muck around with it (or players that don’t understand all of it). When not running his ideal setting, the Fanatic tends to incorporate his favorite elements anyway, which could taint the verisimilitude of the setting (the classic example being faux-Jedi Orders in the World of Greyhawk, complete with the Force).

 

The Manager

The Manager primarily concerns herself with how the game is played. Do the PCs cover all of the bases that they need to cover and is each competent in the role he fills? Are the challenges properly balanced? Are the rules properly being implemented? Managers tend to manifest most often when the GM is running an adventure or campaign that’s been designed by someone other than herself (such as a published adventure path).

 

 

Pros: Managers carefully read the rules and are often the first to spot and fix something that’s broken. If a Manager disallows something in her campaign then there is often good reason for it. Players usually don’t have to worry about impossible challenges when playing under a Manager.

 

 

Cons: Managers are less likely to add new elements to the game that might disturb rules balance (while this could also be a Pro, it’s definitely a Con for a player that wants to try a new supplement). Managers also tend to play to the group, not the individual, so players looking for intricate personal subplots might not find a manager’s game to their tastes.

 

 

The Opponent

The Opponent sees the game as a challenge for the PCs to overcome. He expects the players to use all of the tools at their disposal and to work hard to reach their goals. The Opponent doesn’t suffer fools gladly; sloppy players in combat-intensive campaigns will be generating new PCs on a regular basis while PCs in mystery games will watch their reputations suffer and the body count rise as they continue to miss crucial clues.

 

 

Pros: Unlike the Manager, the Opponent isn’t worried as much about balance; smart PCs know when to retreat or seek assistance. Players feel a real sense of accomplishment when they successfully finish one of the Opponent’s adventures.

 

 

Cons: Campaigns run by an Opponent can often feel more like a chess match between the players and the GM. Character development is less important and players need to make tactical decisions when improving their PCs.

 

The Player

The Player would rather be playing, but she has taken the Chair due to necessity. Perhaps she wanted to play in a superhero campaign but none of the other GMs wanted to run one; perhaps she was the only one willing to take the Chair, and if she didn’t the group would have fallen apart. What Players want most is for someone else to take the reins, but they will fill in until that happens.

 

 

Pros: The Player’s greatest asset is the most obvious; she thinks like a player. She is the most in-tune to the group’s needs and desires and usually offers meaningful rewards for their actions (ironically, this makes the Player an asset as a GM and makes it less likely that the Player will get someone else to take over).

 

 

Cons: Since the Player’s greatest desire is to play, she’ll often settle for the next best thing, a GMPC. This GMPC will be treated like every other PC, expecting an equal share of the loot (and special magic items or other bennies specifically designed for the GMPC will be sprinkled amongst the treasures) and often arguing with the other PCs over the proper course of action (never mind that the GMPC is prescient). Players also have a tendency for Monty Haulism, ramping up the campaign’s power level and granting the PCs big bennies before their time.

 

The Romantic

The Romantic cares little for rules and plots; he’s more interested in developing the PCs’ personalities and personal lives. The Romantic lives by the mantra of “never let the dice get in the way of roleplay” and often runs sessions where the dice are never rolled. PCs in a superhero campaign will spend far more time in their secret identities than combating supervillains (in some cases, they are more likely to find themselves bedding the supervillains than fighting them). A fantasy campaign is more likely to revolve around a single manor then delving into dungeons all over the continent.

 

 

Pros: With his laissez-faire approach to the rules, the Romantic is more likely to indulge players with interesting character concepts, balance be damned. PCs are three-dimensional characters with fully-developed back stories and contacts. The setting is likely to feel more real and personal than those run by other GMs. NPCs are rarely faceless and often memorable.

 

 

Cons: Even the simplest adventure plots can become long meandering affairs under a Romantic’s watch. Something as simple as bluffing past a guard could take up half a session; players often forget what they were supposed to be accomplishing at various points during the adventure. Power gamers thrive under the Romantic; there is little incentive to design balanced characters when roleplay can trump social skills.

 

So there you have it, my list of GM types. Did I leave out an important type? Which one(s) do you identify with the most?

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.




41 Comments (Open | Close)

41 Comments To "What Type of GM Are You?"

#1 Comment By Ameron On March 30, 2009 @ 7:36 am

I’m definitely a “Fanatic” DM with some “Opponent thrown in for good measure. In the end the most important thing about being a DM is making sure that the players have fun.

You’ve done a great job exploring the different ways to classify a DM and a DMing style, but have you ever wondered What Alignment Is Your Dungeon Master?

#2 Comment By lyle.spade On March 30, 2009 @ 7:47 am

3 parts Creator, 1 part fanatic, 1 part romantic. I create my plots and NPCs, and try to create around them as much of a sandbox as possible. I try to make the world come alive as much as possible, as separate from the PCs — things happen when they’re not around. I also try to get the players on board with the oveall vision for the world and story, and try to get them to build it with me. Finally, I much prefer the ROLE over the ROLL.

#3 Comment By DNAphil On March 30, 2009 @ 8:46 am

Fantastic article! For me, I would say that I am mostly a Romantic and Director. The Director in me loves to craft a good story, with a complex plot, but at the same time, the Romantic knows when to ease off my notes to let my players take the spotlight.

I have a bit of creator in me as well, but to a lesser extent. I am not as interested in building a complete world, as much as I like to take the ideas and concepts for a game, and build on to them to make it “my own”. I shy away from settings that contain too much published material, like Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance, but prefer something less heavily worked.

#4 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On March 30, 2009 @ 8:49 am

As a Libra (like that matters), I’d like to claim that I’m a balanced GM.

The sordid truth is that I’m probably a Regional Assistant Romantic Managing Director…

#5 Comment By deadlytoque On March 30, 2009 @ 10:11 am

I’m something of an “Arbitrator/Improvisor”. I tend to create very vague skeletons of game-worlds and then let the players fill in the details.

Taking John Wick’s approach from Houses of the Blooded I let players decide what they see with perception rolls and know with knowledges. If it’s something everyone might have a shot at, I let them add details one at a time, with the best roll getting two details (or if I’m actually running HotB I just use the mechanic as presented).

Then I figure out what the players want, and I give it to them… with one little catch. And then keep stringing them along until something that looks like a climax happens. I listen to everything the players think is going on, and -surprise-, whichever theory they have that is the most compelling tends to be the closest to the “truth”.

My job as I see it is to make sure the characters are challenged, but not overwhelmed, and to make sure that the players are all having a good time. I don’t -make- the world, I just -run- it.

#6 Comment By raistlin50201 On March 30, 2009 @ 10:12 am

Mostly a Creator myself, but add in some Opponent for flavor every now and then. I generally just make up whatever will make the game fun at the time, but try and make the occasional challenge for the players to really overcome and feel proud about.
I could probably add a bit of Director in, but only for the start of a campaign. Once I have my hooks in the players, I rely on my creativity to make them want to see the adventure though.

#7 Comment By Kameron On March 30, 2009 @ 10:24 am

I’m definitely a Creator/Director, with an emerging Manager aspect now that I seem to run published adventures and DM for events rather than a regular gaming group.

#8 Comment By Volcarthe On March 30, 2009 @ 10:25 am

man, there’s never been a breakdown that i didn’t solidly fall into one category until now.

i’m a little bit of everything on that list and bend depending on players, setting, and story. some games need romance, some need direction, etc etc.

good list, though.

#9 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On March 30, 2009 @ 10:45 am

@Ameron – thanks for the link! One of my first attempts to map GM types also used the alignment wheel, but I could never settle on the axes or make it work for me. Your linked article does a pretty good job.

@Deadlytoque – If I had to pick, I’d say you’re definitely in the Manager camp.

@Kameron – I’m in the same boat. I became a Manager when I started running D&D again.

@Volcarthe – Your explanation is exactly why I went with the “within the context of the campaign” model. I currently run two campaigns; I’d designate myself as a Manager for one and a Romantic for the other.

#10 Comment By dmmagic On March 30, 2009 @ 10:46 am

I am completely an opponent *embarrassed*

I’m only what earlier editions of D&D made me, though! I was only following orders!

But seriously, 4th ed. is changing all that. I’m trying really hard to develop a more balanced campaign that is focused on storytelling rather than challenging the PCs to think about everything. I want them to feel accomplished, but also like we’re on the same side. It’s a complete shift for me.

“As a DM, you’re a player too.”

#11 Comment By Lee Hanna On March 30, 2009 @ 10:58 am

I’m all over the place on this one, but Creator is probably the smallest chunk, with Director & Manager nearby.

Fanatic and Player go together, when I have to run a setting that no one else will touch (Twilight:2000, Star Trek, anything not D&D, really).

Opponent is, of course, left over from Ye Olde Days, but as my wife put it, “If you make the players tense, that’s much better than a TPK.”

Romantic is latent, and has only broken out once or twice, when I can sense that the players are having a good time with their characters, and how they are developing.

#12 Comment By Elora On March 30, 2009 @ 11:11 am

Oh, this was easy. Definitely a Director when running DnD in general, with a heavy dose of Romantic when I run play-by-post games. Of course, Director is a necessity in that kind of game if you want to get through a round of combat in less than a week…lol.

#13 Comment By hattymchappy On March 30, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

I’m mostly a Creator, but I definitely have Director in me too. I used to be mostly the Con of Director, always railroading to what I wanted. But since reading Gnome Stew I have slowly been going away from that. I definitely still railroad from time to time, but in a much more subtle way.

Also, I haven’t been a player in so long, and just a few weeks back I started getting the Player bug again. I love GMing but I am also the only one who will do it among our group. My friend is thinking of starting a D&D 4e campaign soon, so hopefully that will fix that. If it hasn’t already, I’m sure the Player will start coming through more in my GMing. That being said, I personally don’t like running GMPC’s. So hopefully I’m putting all the Pro’s from the Player type into my style.

#14 Comment By Scott Martin On March 30, 2009 @ 12:23 pm

I vary tremendously based on the game, but even more over time. My creator instincts have dwindled terribly over the last dozen years, with almost everything coming to focus on experienced gameplay instead of coherent source material. It’s interesting to mentally map my GMing arcs…

The only two I haven’t been much are opponent and fanatic. Though there were individual sessions where I thought through the opposition like an opponent, and I do love some expansion flavor text…

#15 Comment By BryanB On March 30, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

I have no idea what I am. Scott? :)

#16 Comment By Tommi On March 30, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

I almost always GM homebrewed or historical settings, so I may be a creator, yet I don’t typically put much detail in the setting before play begins, so the profile doesn’t fit.

I may be a creator because I do like strong themes in games, yet I don’t do plotting, so the profile doesn’t fit.

The others don’t really fit very well, either.

Facilitator: Helps players take the game to the direction they want, but not without complications along the way.

#17 Comment By Eliza On March 30, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

You know, I tend to do a lot of everything, but yet slightly off from all of that. The director may be closest, but it still doesn’t quite ring true.

For starters, I’m a fantasy novelist who also GMs. I like my stories/games to be filled with lots of character driven plot. I’ve no interest in running a game for players who can’t think about their characters, or motivations. I’ll give you plot hooks and put you in difficult situations, but it’s your job to come up with personality and motivations. And I’ll give you too many. You can’t take every road at once.

Characters without either are difficult to work with, especially since I prefer conspiracies and intrigue to dungeon crawls. That said, I hate railroading. Give me a character that can make their own choices or think outside of the box. It’s more challenging that way.

The biggest con to my approach, though, is that I have to be very picky about players. I need good, dedicated heavy role-players for it to work, and I can’t run anything worthwhile without them.

#18 Comment By Tony Graham On March 30, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

I would guess Director/Romantic?

I tend to design scenarios around NPCs already pursuing their own agendas (complete with timeline), and then introduce the characters and see if/how badly they can twist events to their own goals and mess up the NPCs. This sometimes results in some confusion – “What do you mean events happen without us?” The real fun is when the players jump in and defy expectations. Predictable players are frequently boring players.

Listening to players – what they’re interested in, books or stories they like, who their character is – almost always spurs some thoughts. Not so much a case of give them what they want as give ‘em what’s going to push their buttons. Occasionally this approach really backfires.

I frequently design an adventure based around some minor event in an earlier scenario that players had a freakishly strong reaction to. “I know he’s not important, but I hate that guy!” – just screams for an adventure starring the “guy” somewhere down the road.

Lack of time & scheduling issues have made me forego big-world-design games and run small scale adventures – short stories over novels. I tend to focus on save the girl/child/treasure over save the city/kingdom/world.

But an evening spent without rolling dice can often put me to sleep. I needs my action fix. What does this make me (beyond screwed up)?

#19 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On March 30, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

@ Tommi – Based on your comment, I was thinking “Player.” Your suggestion of Facilitator is a good one, although I’m not sure if it stands on its own or would fall under “Creator.” It’s definitely worth consideration.

@ Eliza – I think you’d fall squarely under Romantic (and on a separate note, I’d love to read your novels!).

#20 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On March 30, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

@ Tony Graham – you sound like a classic Romantic to me.

#21 Comment By cooperflood On March 30, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

I see myself as being 3 parts Manager, 1 part Opponent, and 1 part Player. I started DMing because no one else in our group was willing to do it and continued to DM because I (and the group) just wasn’t having as much fun when others DMed. Everything you said about the Manager applies to me. Balance is one of my primary concerns and I achieve that by both helping underperforming members and by controlling what options I allow in a game. I also try to run challenging encounters, but unlike traditional OD&D DMs I have no interest in forcing players to poke every square with a stick and basically fear the worst at every moment. Yet anyone who has played with me knows that almost every session will have one encounter that has a 50-50 chance of killing at least one character. Nor will I pull any punches if the group does something foolhardy and stupid. All that being said the DM type I would most like to add to my tool box is the Director. I know I have no problem running a series of combat encounters, but I often feel that my theme and plot hooks are weak. Web sites like this have been great in helping me with all sorts of tips and ideas.

If you were playing in a campaign, what kind of DM would you most love/hate to have running it?

For me I would love to play with a Creator. I read all these stories about great DMs that can pull this off and it just makes me flush with envy. At the same time my worst nightmare would be a Romantic, but I guess that’s just the power gamer and tactician in me.

#22 Comment By Karizma On March 30, 2009 @ 11:55 pm

I’m sure someone has already commented in this fashion (I’ll go back and read the comments when it’s not so late), but I feel a funny mix.

I am a Creator that wants to be a Director that ends up being a Romantic.

I wrote up six pages on how magic works in my setting, because that’s really fun for me. I love thinking about “How will it work?” But as a Gamemaster, I know my players don’t care about the War of Elves and Men in my Generic But Still Personal setting. They want to have fun and I want to give them that, I want to give them something fun *for them*. I had my fun already, it’s their turn.

But when the dice need to be rolled and I have to add up the numbers, I huff and ignore the rules to be arbitrary and really just base the result on the players’ reactions. I think I’m too nice actually.

#23 Comment By deadlytoque On March 31, 2009 @ 9:14 am

@Walt Ciechanowski

If I’m a Manager I’m an outlier. In fact, I think I am the polar opposite of a Manager.

The Manager

The Manager primarily concerns herself with how the game is played. (Nope, my primary concern is “is everybody having fun?”)

Do the PCs cover all of the bases that they need to cover and is each competent in the role he fills? (Don’t care at all. I actually really like it when there’s some overlap because it leads to gentle intra-party conflict.)

Are the challenges properly balanced? (I am renowned for throwing imbalanced encounters at my parties, just to watch them squirm and make them think on their feet. It’s my old-schooler tendencies bubbling to the surface. Also Gandalf + hobbits vs. Balrog isn’t fair to -anybody-, but it’s still awesome. I like to keep the players -engaged- with fair challenges, but I am not afraid to wipe a party if it’s dramatically right.)

Are the rules properly being implemented? (I like games with loose rules and lots of improvisation.)

Managers tend to manifest most often when the GM is running an adventure or campaign that’s been designed by someone other than herself (such as a published adventure path). (I HATE published adventure paths; you could argue that letting the players colour the setting is similar to running someone else’s adventure, but I’m still coming up with the details — I’m just giving the players the freedom to make sure they are fighting for what they want, not what some arbitrary plot hook tells them to want.)

#24 Comment By deadlytoque On March 31, 2009 @ 9:26 am

I think there’s enough posts here suggesting that the GM models you’ve laid out don’t fit them that perhaps a few refinements are in order.

My first suggestion is that you seem to be coming at your model from a very “modernist” approach. You’re taking into account the default modes of GMing from the major players (the different approaches to D&D and White Wolf games) but not really taking into account old-school or postmodern GM approaches.

Old-schooling, at least as it’s being defined by the revisionist camp, is somewhere between Creator and Opponent, but with a lot of flexibility and a great sense of whimsy inherent (and I would argue Directorial tendencies, since they tend to like improvisation, but not enough to shoehorn reluctant players into roles). They like rules-light systems, making things up on the fly, but lots and lots of prepwork. They want everyone to feel harried and tormented, but they want players to cheer when the adventure is over, because they’ve had just that much fun. These are the guys like Jeff Rients of <a href=”http://jrients.blogspot.com”Jeff’s Game Blog who don’t like to get bogged down in huge stat sheets, but like to do semi-meaningless dungeon crawls.

Then there’s the postmodern approach, which I guess is somewhere between Director and Romantic. These are people who dig on improvisation, rules that feed into themes, and games that are “about” something in more than a superficial sense. This is the Forge crowd. I would bet anything that Vincent Baker, Luke Crane, and John Wyck are in this camp. They want their games to be fun, but have some kind of meaning. They want players to leave the game feeling like they’ve -experienced- something. They might not go so far as to compare games to literature (with the power to -change- people), but they are definitely heading in that direction.

And there’s some kind of middle-ground, too, although I don’t know what to label it. Rients, above, would probably call it “Retro-Pretentious”, and I am OK with that. I would proudly call myself a Retro-Pretentious GM.

#25 Comment By Virgil Vansant On March 31, 2009 @ 9:48 am

Interesting list! I’d put myself as two parts Creator, two parts Director, and one part Romantic. Although the Romantic in me definitely like three-dimensional characters and encourages it in my players, the Director’s plot and style tends to take the reins. And sitting in the background the whole time is the Creator’s custom world.

#26 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On March 31, 2009 @ 10:50 am

@ Deadlytoque – When I’m armchair pigeon-holing I can only go by what you’ve written. :)

“My job as I see it is to make sure the characters are challenged, but not overwhelmed, and to make sure that the players are all having a good time. I don’t -make- the world, I just -run- it.”

I’d hope that every GM has “to make sure that the players are all having a good time” at the top of his or her list. That leaves us with “make sure the characters are challenged, but not overwhelmed” and “I don’t -make- the world, I just -run- it,” both of which sounds like the Manager.

As far as my GMing experience goes, I’ve run a lot more systems than D&D (and I’ve LARPed more White Wolf than table-topped it), so I hope that my categories reflect that (My Creator was primarily influenced by my GURPS experience, while the Romantic was inspired by my 7th Sea, Victoriana, and Witchcraft campaigns (as well as various superhero games). A lot of the Director came from my Call of Cthulhu campaigns and my Victoriana con game).

I think “old school” falls primarily into Opponent territory (of course it has aspects of others; like player types, no GM will be exclusively of one type, even within the scope of a single campaign). The postmodern approach, as you describe it, sounds Romantic to me.

I agree with your assessment that I may need to loosen up the scope of my categories; I think they’re a bit more expansive in my mind than what I put on paper.

I got all long-winded there! Thanks for your comments and input, Deadlytoque!

#27 Comment By BrokenAngel On March 31, 2009 @ 10:59 am

I’m definitely a Romantic with some Creator thrown in >.> Who needs dice when you have roleplay?

#28 Comment By deadlytoque On March 31, 2009 @ 11:31 am

@Walt Ciechanowski – Any time ;)

I’m just glad I didn’t burn any bridges with my long-winded rant. It is my constant fear.

I think you’re onto a good track here, but I suspect the problem is that, as you’ve said, the roles are a lot more expansive than can be expressed, and that’s an issue caused by the nature of a gamemaster, not a flaw with the theory.

A gamemaster has to try and be everything to everybody, every time the group sits down at the table. You’re like the mother of the group (in the sense that you are counsellor, role model, activity planner, nurse, and often provider of food).

#29 Comment By Tommi On March 31, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

Walt;

I don’t get to play much, and further I am pretty bad at it. GMing is fun almost always, while playing only situationally. I really don’t know what and how the players think.

#30 Comment By BryanB On March 31, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

After discussing this with Scott Martin, I have decided that I can not be cast into one mold.

I am probably like a lot of GMs; I am never one pure form of the article’s types.

I am a Director, a Manager, a Fanatic (at least in Star Wars games), and I have some doses of Romantic as well.

My GM type might even vary somewhat, depending on the game that is being played.

#31 Comment By Matthew J. Neagley On March 31, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

It occurs to me that in some sense, “What type of GM are you?” is a question best answered not by us, but by our players.

#32 Comment By Omnus On April 2, 2009 @ 9:22 am

I agree with Matt above. I also think a blend of the types is healthy; few people are strictly one or another. I identified with all of them at one time or another.

#33 Comment By The Stray7 On April 2, 2009 @ 10:58 am

I see myself as a Creator and Director. In the past, when I had a smaller group, I was also prone to being a Romantic, but these days i find myself putting on the Manager’s hat more and more.

#34 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On April 2, 2009 @ 11:14 am

Now that the commentary is winding down I thought I’d make a few general observations.

First, no one will ever fit into any category 100%. The types were designed to track the dominant driving force behind a particular GM (and yes, there will be GMs that take exception to that too, claiming equal parts x, y, and z; thus is the nature of the beast).

Second, GMs are affected by the particular campaign and composition of the gaming group. While I run as a Romantic a lot, I don’t approach my bi-monthly D&D game that way (the last time I ran D&D games as a Romantic there was an “A” in front of D&D). When I run con games and playtests I’m a Director.

Still, I think most of us probably trend in a certain direction, even if we deviate on occasion. I suppose a good question would be “if you could only run as one of the types for the rest of your GMing career, what would it be?”

#35 Comment By Lunatyk On April 6, 2009 @ 3:02 am

Thinking about those types… I’d put myself as The Creator (while I don’t make my own settings, I love to expand and add little touches to existing one), The Director (I just can’t help comming up with intricate and complex plots), The Opponent (same plots are geared towards giving players a challenge to overcome!) and The Romantic (characters are people!)

#36 Comment By GiacomoArt On April 10, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

I agree with the observation that our players could peg us more objectively, but I don’t see anything I consider a really good fit for me here. I can see aspects of most of these archetypes in myself, but along the lines of a fortuneteller’s spiel: generic enough to see most anyone in a given reading if that’s what you set out to do.

My own overriding goal as a GM is to make sure everyone has fun, and to that end, I employ entertainers’ tricks gleaned from all over the map, without ever forgetting that role-playing is its own unique form of entertainment with its own unique give-and-take of what works and what doesn’t. I’m part storyteller, part magician, part mathematician, part scholar, part psychologist, part artist, part diplomat, part tour guide…

I’ve been playing and GM-ing for over thirty years now, and I went through various phases as a GM, but my current philosophy dates back to my college days, when – despairing of ever being able to connect with a girl who wasn’t into the (then) heavily male-dominated hobby – I became obsessed with getting girls not only to give role-playing a try, but getting them good and hooked on it. It worked, too, because even though I wasn’t the one who introduced my wife to role-playing, I met her through the girls that I did introduce to it.

Long after that particular mission was accomplished, I still judge the success of every game session purely on how eager the players are to come back for more. So what type of GM does that make me?

#37 Comment By Lunatyk On April 11, 2009 @ 6:30 am

@GiacomoArt: the best there is!

#38 Comment By Walt Ciechanowski On April 11, 2009 @ 8:10 am

@GiacomoArt: You raise a few interesting points here.

First, remember that these categories don’t peg a GM’s overall style; they just peg a GM’s style within the context of a particular campaign. It’s a rare GM that largely fits into one category for every campaign or RPG.

Second, what’s missing from your post is your technique, which is critical to figuring out where you fit. At one point, you were trying to attract girls (I’m not laughing; I met my wife at a LARP); what approach did you take in developing a campaign that appealed to them?

Today, you work to ensure that your players have fun and want to come back for more (something I’d hope EVERY GM aspires to do). But again, you haven’t told me anything about your approach beyond that, so it’s difficult for me to answer your question.

#39 Pingback By System Matters − Episode 49 – Spielleitertypen On February 23, 2011 @ 3:48 am

[…] What Type of GM Are You? […]

#40 Comment By ClemLOR On March 6, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

Hello.

I toyed around with your categories … And although I am neither a real friend nor a fan of such categories, I thought about those types by simply deleting passages of and in two or three cases slightly rephrasing some of your “definitions”. In the end I am more of a “The Creator” kind GM … If you are interested, you may read on the details of my evaluation on the PS.

Best wishes.
ClemLOR

P.S.:
The Creator
The Creator wants to design a setting and watch the players enjoy the fruits of her labor.
The Creator is rarely satisfied with an established setting; she’ll want put as much of her own efforts into an established setting as possible.
The Creator provides a richly detailed setting.
Players never know quite what to expect in the Creator’s campaigns, as she uses things out of the book.
The Creator often adds touches to her campaign that the players enjoy.
Also, some Creators sometimes spend too much time on the minutiae of their setting rather than the practical aspects, including the adventure itself.

The Opponent
The Opponent sees the game as a challenge for the PCs to overcome.
He expects the players to use all of the tools at their disposal and to work hard to reach their goals.
The Opponent doesn’t suffer fools gladly; sloppy players in combat-intensive campaigns will be generating new PCs on a regular basis while PCs in mystery games will watch their reputations suffer.
Unlike the Manager, the Opponent isn’t worried as much about balance; smart PCs know when to retreat or seek assistance.

The Director
The Director runs campaigns with strong themes and tight plots.
She expects the players to understand the themes.
The Director is sometimes involved in PC generation.
The Director keeps things moving

The Manager
Are the rules properly being implemented?
Managers carefully read the rules and are often the first to spot and fix something that’s broken. If a Manager disallows something in her campaign then there is often good reason for it.
Managers also tend to play to the group.

The Romantic
The Romantic is more likely to indulge players with interesting character concepts
NPCs are rarely faceless and often memorable.
Even the simplest adventure plots can become long meandering affairs under a Romantic’s watch.
Players often forget what they were supposed to be accomplishing at various points during the adventure.

The Fanatic
The Fanatic’s encyclopedic knowledge of the setting ensures that scenes are colorful and vibrant, with interesting encounters with NPCs all along the way.
PCs are seamlessly integrated into the setting and their actions often have a visible impact on the greater metaplots.

#41 Pingback By Der Vorstellungsraum (2) – Aufbau der Gedankenwelt « RPGnosis On October 2, 2014 @ 6:47 am

[…] von Spielern bieten könnte, die im Gegensatz zu Laws Spielertypen oder den Spielleitertypen bei Gnome Stew (oder deutsch bei Georgios) nicht nur deskriptiv bis tautologisch sind (“der Butt-Kicker will […]


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