Active from 2005 to 2007 and dedicated entirely to system-neutral GMing advice, Treasure Tables was one of the earliest RPG blogs. It was also the precursor to Gnome Stew, so we decided the best way to keep all of its content -- over 750 articles and more than 7,500 comments -- accessible to as many GMs as possible was to move it here, which we did in 2012. Comments are turned off, just they as were when Treasure Tables closed in 2007. The GMing material and discussion archived below was originally featured on TreasureTables.org. Enjoy! --Martin Ralya

A while back, I started a thread on the TT forums entitled Treasure Tables GMing Profiles. It was an invitation to write a little bit about yourself as a GM (the invitation is still open), and the initial flurry generated 36 profiles.

Apart from being interesting to read in their own right, I found the answers to one question in particular to be fascinating: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a GM?

The intriguing thing is that so many of the answers to that question were the same. Let’s look at the breakdown.

The Big Four

In first place, deal with player issues and kick out a player both had 6 responses each (17% apiece).

End a campaign was next, with 5 responses (14%).

Kill a PC came in third, with 3 responses (8%).

(Other, naturally, was the largest category with 16 responses (44%). Significantly, none of those responses overlapped — they were completely different.)

Solutions to Common Problems

For GMs who’ve struggled with kicking out a player (which is never going to be easy), you’re in luck. How to Kick Out a Player and Respect Yourself in the Morning covers this topic in detail, with simple, practical advice drawn from the experiences of the TT community. (This post grew out of Have You Ever Kicked Out a Player?.)

Fudging Die Rolls and Social Contracts for RPG Groups might both be useful if you’ve had difficulties when it comes to killing PCs (many GMs do). Neither addresses the topic directly, though.

I’ve ended many campaigns over the years, sometimes well and sometimes badly. Based on how often it popped up in these GMing profiles, I’ll probably tackle this topic in a future post (or possibly in the upcoming Treasure Tables book).

Dealing with player issues is something I haven’t covered on TT yet, and it’s a tricky one because it’s such a broad topic. If you’ve had a tough time with this topic, what specifically made it difficult?

And, more generally, what would your response to the opening question (What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a GM?) be? Whether here in the comments or in the form of your own GMing profile on the forums, I’d love to hear your take on this one.

About  Martin Ralya (TT)

"Martin Ralya (TT)" is two people: Martin Ralya, the administrator of and a contributor to Gnome Stew, and a time traveler from the years 2005-2007, when he published the Treasure Tables GMing blog (TT). Treasure Tables got started in the early days of RPG blogging, and when Martin burned out trying to run it solo he shut it down, recruited a team of authors, and started Gnome Stew in its place. We moved all TT posts and comments to Gnome Stew in 2012.



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2 Responses to Identifying the Tough Stuff

  1. How to End a Campaign: With a Bang - Treasure Tables

    […] Ending a campaign is rarely going to be easy, and it’s something a lot of GMs struggle with. In fact, it was one of the two most common answers to the question “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a GM?,” which was asked as part of our GMing profiles thread. […]

  2. How to End a Campaign: With a Whimper - Treasure Tables

    […] Ending a campaign is rarely going to be easy, and it’s something a lot of GMs struggle with. In fact, it was one of the two most common answers to the question “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a GM?,” which was asked as part of our GMing profiles thread. […]

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