The ramblings of a newbie GM

By on 8 April 2011

Recently I’ve been running my first ever full length campaign on the Savage Worlds system. I sold it to the players as a fully free roam world where you have to think in character about what they would know about the world and populate it with villages and people the characters would know with quests made up on the fly, using a custom setting! I thought at first it was very ambitious for me but strangely enough it worked; I had been taught by the best. The reason I think it worked was because the people who I had been running the game for were also new players and they had no idea at the deranged mutation of Forgotten Realms I was using to add more life to the world. Throughout running it so far I’ve not only added distorted lore from the Forgotten Realms but I’ve found my experience with video games has also assisted the creative process. You see I’m running this game for hard-core game fans, these guys has been born in the age where Nintendo reigned supreme over the gaming market for nearly 20 years and from there, their love for gaming has become more than a hobby to them. Adding in video game elements like the Monster Hunter as a profession, from Capcom’s big hit on the PSP and Nintendo Wii, and using the ideas for colossi, from Team Ico’s “Shadow of the Colossus”, to enrich their realm has really helped me introduce these two new players to traditional Role Playing.

I think as a GM it has also been a learning experience with trying to understand the key elements of a games system and world building within the constraints of what it will allow. I’ve referred to the rule book for Savage Worlds more times than I can imagine. So much in fact that one of the newcomers purchased an additional copy for the sake of reference and is already talking to me about running a campaign himself. One thing I found with new players is they always say the same thing “I’ll sit and watch” “I don’t have the imagination for it” these same players end up making very complex and fun characters with rich back stories and taking to player to player interaction by just making the characters personality similar to his own. One player who I ran a few test games for invented a new race with a colourful history. A friend I’m also talking with about playing had the same reaction and after some encouragement, invented a new perk, sub-race, named an island on the world map and designed a culture for the island. I’ve found that all people need sometimes is a little encouragement and the ideas presented to them in an understandable medium. New players always worry about learning new things such as systems, I was the same when I started and it seems we grow up with this similar attitude that if you’re new to it people will make fun of you but in Role Playing communities I found that veteran players were friendly, welcoming and more than happy to have the patience to teach you.

Role Playing communities are one of the best communities I’ve encountered online and in reality and it has been an enjoyable experience learning from veteran players because they made it fun to learn. Since the advent of running this game for these two new players one of them thanked me for introducing him to the hobby and it is something he holds very dear to himself. The other said it had awakened an imagination in him that he never knew he had and after playing video games for so long it was a refreshing hobby to take up.

In closure, my group and myself have learned a lot once again from Role Playing myself in terms of getting to know a system in more depth, creating a world I can share and present to my friends and introducing gamers to a new way to get their gaming fix and also my players who have loved everything I’ve thrown at them so far.

Until next time adventurers, have a good April!

About James Grimes

James is writer from Derbyshire and when he's not running games he's writing them. He has spent 3 years running games trying to perfect his craft. Like a reluctant hipster he supports indie games and new systems that people haven't probably heard of but that doesn't jade his opinion of the classics and greats.

4 Comments

  1. Spawn696969

    8 April 2011 at 5:30 pm

    What are your new players comming up with with a video game back ground there bound to want to ether mess with the game world or just kill everything and as new players do you believe they could run a full game on there own

  2. James Grimes

    8 April 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Not entirely true, Role Playing has taught them the important pinciple of how a good plot is driven by actions and interaction more than violence.

    In fact the player interested in making his own campaign was basing it in a fallout 3 setting but in the UK the key element to the first part of his campaign was primarily based on aquiring parts for transport to the main continent and finding a safe haven in UN territory. This gave me a lot of faith in his ideas and i’ve been working with him on factions and key elements such as linguistics and european history through the 1950’s.

    It’s never a good thing to label “typical gamers” as mindless shooting machines who cannot and will not accept any form of plotline beyond “here are some people, lets shoot them!” don’t Judge them lest you be judged mate.

  3. Ooooshie

    10 April 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Hi James
    Thank you for posting your ‘Ramblings’.
    I am a relatively new player and although I really enjoy gaming I do not have a great deal of confidence that I will be able to be a GM but I am being encouraged by my peers tp have a go, after reading how well you have managed it I may have a try! x

  4. James Grimes

    16 April 2011 at 4:24 pm

    @Ooooshie:
    Thankyou for reading and i’m very happy you feel more encouraged to give it a go, confidence is usually a big issue and around new people running a game is sometimes nerve racking, but if you know the players and they really want you to give it a go, I think you won’t have any problems! They sound like they support you and it’s always good fun to try it!

    I hope it all goes really well for you and i’d love to hear what happened.

    Throw me a message at james_grimes@live.co.uk

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