DriveThruRPG.com
Browse Categories













Back
The Game Master: A Guide to the Art and Theory of Roleplaying (digital only)

This product is no longer available from DriveThruRPG.com

Average Rating:4.7 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
2 3
1 1
0 0
0 0
0 0
The Game Master: A Guide to the Art and Theory of Roleplaying (digital only)
Click to view
You must be logged in to rate this
The Game Master: A Guide to the Art and Theory of Roleplaying (digital only)
Publisher: Tobiah Panshin
by Guntis V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/10/2014 11:46:18

I love this book! It showed me a couple of serious mistakes I was gonna put in my present work, a DIY-TTRPG book with adventure set in 16th century Courland.

I'm a gamer with a history of couple dozens of games, half of them as a GM. And with thousands of interesting PDF's on my PC (most of them from DriveThru). I've read a lot more than played till now, but it is changing.

I've studied Jamison's Gamemastering, and Vecchione's Never Unprepared. That said, this book still gave me a new perspective.

Gamemastering gave me first insight of how to do the job. I like Never Unprepared for it's exact perspective of GMing, from project management viewpoint. But the book under review shows me a lot of why's and how's. It explained me tangibly more on player psychology (after all, the GMing is revolving around it inevitably!).

And I'm grateful for PWYW option. Next time I make a purchase, I'll certainly add a fiver to the author!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Game Master: A Guide to the Art and Theory of Roleplaying (digital only)
Publisher: Tobiah Panshin
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 15:15:46

Awesome!

This is probably the best GM advice book I've ever read, and I have quite a few in my collection. There are just a few niggles with it, like a few grammatical and spelling errors, but the writing is solid, easy to read, and spot on.

My only regret is I didn't read this sooner.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Game Master: A Guide to the Art and Theory of Roleplaying (digital only)
Publisher: Tobiah Panshin
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2013 00:37:18

Tobiah Q. Panshin's The Game Master is an interesting book from front to back, one which is both wonderful and cringe-worthy at the same time. Of all things, perhaps its worst is its inconsistency; verging from academic-styled formal writing to wonderfully light informal prose, it does few things explicitly wrong but doesn't seem to know where it is. Nonetheless, it's something that I would recommend, with a caveat.

The Game Master, for instance, is aimed at novices, and while it's not terribly difficult to read and does a decent job at explaining its terminology (sometimes after using it nonchalantly), it has some things that are both not terribly applicable to a new player or GM, and can potentially cause more harm than good. While it's generally thoughtful, there are several instances of hyperbole (for instance, the statement that a freshly created vampire in Vampire: the Masquerade can shrug off machine gun fire) and it tends to do an odd mix of advanced theoretical work and some really weak practical examples.

Perhaps my favorite part of the whole book is its dissertations on narrative; while not a focus of the piece it has some things that would have helped many of the novice GM's I know incredibly. Is it the best source for this? I'm not entirely sure. The book does a good job of discussing the role of group narrative but often leaves bits and pieces that I'd like to see out, something that doesn't do too much harm to the general point of the book as an introduction to gaming but hinders it in its value. Still, the sections on narrative are well-made and I'd recommend them to anyone either as a refresher or an eye-opener. Unfortunately, some of the more game-related things do not fall into the category of being so wholly beneficial. While it's clear that Tobiah has a great understanding of roleplaying as a hobby and a great conceptualization of various games within the context of the whole canon of gaming, the writing within has the unfortunate effect of transferring very little of it to the reader. There are footnotes that are assertively unhelpful (one, for instance, points out the meaning of the term "min-max" the page after a prior footnote uses it), and a lot of blanket assessments that are just not accurate, though they may be true in a handful of cases. The actual game advice is much less helpful than the deconstruction of narrative forms that create a satisfying table experience. A lot of this may be my own personal opinion, of course, since as Panshin recognizes much of gaming revolves around having fun, and different people will have different definitions and sources of fun.

All-in-all, The Game Master is not a conclusive resource for advice on running a game, nor is it the first thing I'd hand a prospective player or game master and tell them to read through it and gain some sort of inviolate knowledge of gaming. Of course, such a thing will probably never be written-such is the nuanced nature of gaming. I'd place it in the mid-range; something for someone who's run a few games and formed their own opinions on how things work, or who already has a basic knowledge of how things work-it's a wonderful contribution to the theory of gaming and play but not necessarily a solution to the ills of a novice.

It's available on a pay-what-you-want basis, and despite my harsh criticisms and the general fluctuating quality, I'd give The Game Master a 4/5, and actually recommend that anyone reads it, at least a little, because there are valuable perspectives to be had here.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Game Master: A Guide to the Art and Theory of Roleplaying (digital only)
Publisher: Tobiah Panshin
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/26/2013 09:40:27

This is an excellent analysis of what goes towards creating a memorable campaign. Many game systems have, in the core rulebook or maybe a GM guide, some advice towards running that system well. Of these, the remarks are often useful for general application, not just to the ruleset in question. But here is an entire discourse on the subject...

After an initial discussion that cuts to the chase - what is this role-playing thing anyway? And just why can a good game be a memory that can live forever? - the work is divided into two parts. The first looks at creating characters, the second part is about developing effective campaigns and the third about actually running it.

There is a lot here, and it all repays careful study. (As in, I may be back with a more detailed review after I've had more time to chew on it!) In essence though, GMs should get actively involved in character creation, helping the players build a group that both works together well AND is fitted to whatever adventures are in store for them. Moreover, the characters should also be appropriate to the group of players and their style, and for the game system that you are going to use. Useful tools here are goal setting and group identification. Some of this may seem a bit basic and obvious, but even if it is something you have thought about before, having it distilled out and described so clearly and coherently is a real treat.

The character creation discussion also involves things like different character races or species, stereotypes, using characters 'borrowed' from fiction, the need to create a genuine ensemble rather than have any one character pivotal to your plot, and the development of backgrounds... and much, much more. Certainly up to here, this book is as informative to the PLAYER who wants to know what he is doing as it is to a GM. Indeed, despite its title, it is going to be useful to anyone wishing to improve the standard of their gaming - and remember that most people sometimes play and sometimes GM, it is a rare group in which one person GMs all the time, even if it takes a change in game system to replace whoever is behind the screen!

The second part is aimed at the GM more directly (although the discussion in the first part, albeit about character creation, is directed at how the GM should organise his players and orchestrate their character generation process). Its primary purpose is to provide guidance on campaign creation, but starts with a really important point: The GM and the players must communicate with each other about the game (that is, out of character) as an ongoing process throughout the course of the campaign.

Start with some idea of what you want to do: a campaign outline. This should be approached as if you are writing the pitch for a TV show... (as a part of the management of the Living Force campaign, I actually had to do that for one plot arc, even if it was to send to the powers-that-be for licencing reasons, and it did help... so do the same even if it is for your eyes only). There are a vast range of tools and ideas provided to help you work through - with appropriate player input - deciding on not just game system but the whole mood and theme of the game being planned. Some of the major considerations are combat, morality, social interaction, scale, power level, as well as overall theme. Each of these is discussed in detail.

In deciding on a setting there is the option of using a published game setting, adapting a fictional setting (from books, TV or film) or creating your own. Each has advantages and disadvantages which are gone in to in detail, although most attention is paid to homebrew settings. Well - there are whole books devoted to world design, aimed at gamers and fiction authors... but what is here is a good starting point, and you can delve as deeply into the theory as you like.

Next the discussion moves on to game system. Most people choose which one to used based on player familiarity with it and whither they own a copy of the rules. It's worthy of a bit more thought (and maybe a browse of DriveThru/RPGNow to see what's available, if not make a purchase or two) than that, and the discussion here should help you decide what is going to suit your plot and setting needs best.

On to part three, about running the game. This begins with the all-important first session. If that doesn't get off to an effective start the whole campaign may flounder before it has begun. This is followed by a section on writing adventures. Wait up - we've done the campaign already, yes? But that was the broad outline, not - if you think in terms of a TV show with an overarching plot - what happens in each episode.

Then come some excellent examples of what NOT to do when running a game: and if you are honest with yourself, you will probably find things you've done in the past there. Fortunately this progresses speedily to how to do it right (and most of us can now console ourselves with the things we've done right in the past!).

Finally comes a section entitled Advanced Game Mastery. This looks at all the different things you have to do (and do well) to make that epic campaign happen. It's a bit scary on one level, but the advice is sound and practical and achievable if you give it all some thought and are willing to put in the time to prepare.

Oh, there's far more than this, but the upshot is: all GMs and prospective GMs really ought to read this book. It's that thought-provoking.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Displaying 1 to 4 (of 4 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back
0 items
 Gift Certificates