Gaming My Way

20 Oct

How to Motivate Yourself to Run a Roleplaying Game

Different things make different people tick, so it’s hard to tell just what might motivate you to run your own roleplaying game. However, there are some common motivations many people have, and latching onto one of these just might be enough.

1) You have a story to tell, and need a way to tell it. This is usually my biggest motivator. Perhaps it’s a bit selfish in the context of an rpg, but the game master is supposed to have fun too. While I’m not a bad writer, I’m also not up for penning a five hundred page epic in order to get my story out. There are some aspects of writing a good story I have a hard time with, and as such, a roleplaying gaming system is my best option to get my story out to other people. The creative input of my players usually ends up allowing the story to be far more entertaining than it would be if done by a single person as well. If you already have a story in mind, let the desire to have other people hear your story be the motivation for running your game. Just don’t get too attached to specifics, since railroading isn’t always fun for the players, and they might not be willing to fill in all the roles you would like to see filled. They also might want to fill a role you never expected to show up.

2) The enjoyment of your players. Some people just like to entertain other people. If so, GMing is the job for you. After all, you set up a world, get to have a prime role in spinning a good yarn, and make sure everyone has a way to enjoy themselves through your game. There’s nothing quite like having a player tell you they can’t wait for next week, or how that battle you just ran was the most intense they’ve ever been through in an rpg.

3) A game of skill. Sometimes, it’s fun to oppose the players within a certain framework. Perhaps make it a goal to outsmart the players with fewer resources than they have access to. See how far you can make a “weak” enemy such as Tucker’s Kobolds, or a low income enemy, go against the players in your game. Do so within the rules of the game, without giving the low powered character special advantages. I once had a party of level 15 characters chasing down one level 5 rogue for about half a session. They kept getting closer as time went on, and it was inevitable they would eventually catch him, but it was fun seeing just how long I could keep him alive before the players found a way to home in on him. Of course, if you do this, you do have to be reasonable, and remember to keep the spirit of cooperation in the game. If the players do something reasonable that will nab your character, let them do it. After all, it’s no fun if your special challenge survives by fiat, especially for the players. Knowing you’ll be testing yourself like this can be motivating just for the challenge of it, and might keep you looking forward to the next game. Just make sure the players face appropriately challenging encounters as well as these low level encounters.

4) Your favorite book, anime, or music group. This goes along the lines of having a story you want to tell, except the thought here is “I want to make something like that!” Lately for me, it’s been The Coldfire Trilogy, Naruto, and Rhapsody that provide the most inspiration and motivation from those three groups, but it will likely vary wildly from person to person. It’s generally best to pick your favorite genre, whether that be fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, or something else entirely, though some ideas work perfectly fine cross-genre.   Pick your favorite work, and then think how awesome it would be to make something that cool. Then create your own original work in the form of a roleplaying game using the drive generated from how awesome it would be to make something that cool.

5) Watching everything unfold. It’s always cool to watch as your players discover more and more things about your world. Knowing this is going to happen can be incredibly motivating. Sure, they might not find everything, but every extra detail they do find is one more thing they can use to figure out how the world works. Moreover, it gives them more insight into the plot, and it’s fun to see how they lay things out as they get more and more information. It’s also fun to see where they’re on the mark and where they’ve missed some things, and how they’re views change as they’re exposed to more and more information. It’s especially cool if they manage to eventually unravel everything, because it means your players put in the effort to do so. Since they put in the effort, they obviously enjoyed the campaign enough to uncover those mysteries in your game. It also means they get to see the world you envisioned in character, which is a very cool feeling.

Hopefully these thoughts will be enough to help you gather your motivation for gaming and get back to any cool plans you had by the wayside for awhile. If you have your own motivational tips, let me know in the comments.

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