Different GM-ing Styles

I am a bit of a minimalist in almost everything I do. Below is a picture of my gaming table.

The RolemasterBlog gaming table
The RolemasterBlog gaming table

At this end of  the table you can see the adventure, one set of dice, a notepad, tablet PC for the PDF rules and shades. What else does the modern GM need? Tea, but you can see liberal cups of tea around the table so that is sorted as well. (Actually through the tea is in Brian’s honour as that is what he thinks British roleplayers only drink!)

(The creatures & treasures on the table is not mine, the cleric is into summoning beasties to fight for him.)

You can also see the post-it notes on the players character sheets that I wrote about recently. I really do not like having to rummage through rule books, companions and supplements while I am playing because if I am doing that then I am not playing. The game has to stop while I try and find the answer the players  asked for.

I am not the only GM in our group and bearing in mind that both of us had to ship our games half way across the UK to get to the hosts home this is what GM#2 brought as a minimum….

The Sorcerous GM's game notes.
The Sorcerous GM’s game notes.

The most amusing thing here are the ring binders on the left. They are the RMC PDF rules! The blue clipboards are our character sheets and everything in between is either companions or plot notes.

The only way I can get away with my ultra light gaming is in the pregame preparation. It doesn’t really take that long to make sure that each character has their spell lists printed out with their character sheet. I also try and preempt and rule questions. I look up the rules and the copy and paste the actual wording into a Word document. I then have a single compendium of the rules at hand with the book and page numbers in case we want to look further. In this game there was a risk of characterskills falling, drowning and being poisoned so I had all those rules to hand.

I also maintain a pdf of the charts and tables I use the most. This takes the place of the GM’s screen. I have found that there is one chart that I had not added to it that we have used twice recently so I have updated my PDF to include it.

None of these things take very long. I am pretty sure every GM reads through their game notes before a session and at that time to just check any rules that you cannot remember takes but a moment. What it saves though is at least an hour of lost game time when you add it all up over three days of gaming.

Another plus point is that combat runs really quickly now. In a RM game I played in for 15 years or so each combat round used to take up to 45minutes and we were not a massive party. In one day my players had seven combats and fought 18 creatures ranging from a couple of osquips through half a dozen  skeletons and an 8th level Hook Horror.

A hook horror
A hook horror

I know my game is combat heavy, it is a consequence of playing so infrequently, but there is no way we could have done so much in a single day running from the crate of dead tree.

But then that is just how I am happiest doing things.

2 Replies to “Different GM-ing Styles”

  1. I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on the efficacy of putting all the charts and docs on a tablet/ipad. I’ve got every RM product on my ipad but its a little slow switching between files (it’s a ipad 2 which might be part of the problem). Right now I’m creating smaller files to speed things up. I have the weapon tables for the players in one pdf–it’s only 9 pages. That combined with a custom tri-fold GM screen I have very little hard copy material.

    1. What I have done is take all the charts I actually use and extracted them to create a single document. I agree searching a mass of PDFs is slow so I made a simpler document I could just flick through.

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