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The Douchey DM » Advice, Alternate Views, Inspiration » JiB on GM’ing 3: Don’t Panic!!!

JiB on GM’ing 3: Don’t Panic!!!

I had actually planned to address this topic a bit later in the series. Not that there was really a plan to begin with but anyway a conversation I had with another GM tonight got me to thinking. I’m not going to single anyone out, but tell me if this sounds like anyone you know or maybe someone you see in the mirror in the morning.

So, I’ve started writing a game that I think sounds interesting and like it will be lots of fun to play. Then, excited by my idea I talk it up to some players. They sound excited so great off we go. But wait before I even get done the doubts start. Nobody will really come to play. If they do they won’t really like it. If they like it I’ll screw it up and it will fall flat on its face and I’ll end up looking like a big doofus.

Sound like anybody you know? Stork made a side comment just before OrcCon in one of the casts that really struck a chord with me. He was talking about his Traveller game and expressed concern that nobody would come to play. As if any sane gamer would pass up that opportunity willingly. But the reason it struck me was that he was echoing my own fears. I was panic stricken that nobody would want to come play, or that if they did they wouldn’t enjoy it and all the work I’d done would be for nothing and I’d come off looking like an idiot. Ok I can manage to look like an idiot without help I promise but I hope you see what I’m driving at.

We all have fear. As a GM when we run a game we’re putting ourselves out in front of people and exposing ourselves to ridicule and mockery. At the very least we’re setting ourselves up with a huge potential for things to fall flat.

Want to know a secret? Sometimes games fall flat without us screwing anything up. Sometimes they fly in spite of us screwing up. Sometimes (maybe rarely) there is magic made and in those moments the hobby that we share comes to life. Those are the moments as a gamer that I live for.

The thing that I think we sometimes forget is that what we do is fun, that’s why we do it. It’s fun to sit around a table and bash monsters or blast star ships or fight radioactive cheerleaders or be an 8 year old in a really messed up version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It’s FUN to play and to role play and to cut loose. So quit stressing about it, write it, run it see what happens if it crashes and burns shake it off and learn from it and try to remember why it turfed in, but don’t worry about it.


In other words, don’t believe everything you think.




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Software developer, gamer, ice hockey player, sometime musician.

Filed under: Advice, Alternate Views, Inspiration · Tags: , , ,

5 Responses to "JiB on GM’ing 3: Don’t Panic!!!"

  1. MattNo Gravatar says:

    I totally felt that way with all three of the con games I ran, and co-ran. Normally I don’t feel that way when I have a gaming group though. I think it’s because it’s talked about and agreed upon what game is going to be happening. with a con game it another story, I think because you don’t know for sure if anyone will show up. I don’t think it’s that big of deal with the Happy Jacks crowd because we are all fans of each other and look forward to being in a game with another Happy Jacks peoples. For a non-Happy Jacks con game though I would totally expect to have that feeling of ‘will anyone play with me’ be stronger.

  2. JazzIsBluesNo Gravatar says:

    It’s easier when you know the people involved a bit. There’s a a relationship that helps to ease those feelings because it builds trust and familiarity. I know exactly how you feel though. I think we all feel that way.


  3. SirGuidoNo Gravatar says:

    Stop talking about me behind my back. =) I think it’s something any “‘artist” goes through. Anyone who creates something wants other people to like it and has a sort of immediate fear that no one will. On top of that there is this feeling that creating this thing was kind of easy for you so why would anyone think it was cool or interesting? At least… that’s my thought process anyway.

  4. JazzIsBluesNo Gravatar says:

    I swear to God it wasn’t you Guido. It was in fact a guy I ran into on the Hero chat boards. I agree completely that every artist experiences these same feelings. We all do no matter how long we’ve been doing it, no matter how many times it’s worked right when we put ourselves out in front of people there’s going to be some anxiety. That was the whole point. Even Stu and Stork have those feelings. So us mere mortals shouldn’t panic when we have them.

  5. UndeadRadscorpionNo Gravatar says:

    Your article actually made me think about how I do this in my own life and why I do it. I completely understand this particular fear. As has already been mentioned, I think that this is almost a universal fear with regards to any kind of art. As an amateur writer I often get well into writing something before I stop and worry that nobody gives a crap about it and that nobody will ever bother to read it in the first place. The only way to get past it is to press on and put it out there, and see what comes of it.

    Love the last line!

    – The Undead Radscorpion

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