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Game Master Tips With Matt Mercer – Table Setting and Etiquette

Everyone runs RPGs differently, but all players and GMs should be treated with respect. Nothing kills a gaming group faster than misunderstandings, rudeness, and poor communication. Here are some tips to make sure you and your players get along through good times and bad.

  1. Make it clear what your campaign is about. Communicate your GMing style to your players: do you love tactical combat? Are you really a storyteller at heart? Or do you find a happy medium between wargamer and thespian? What genres do you like? Some players may be a little leery of you mixing Lovecraftian eldritch horror with traditional heroic fantasy.
  2. Find out what your players want. It’s not your job to pander to your players, but the goal of the game is for everyone to have fun. Find a middle ground between self-indulgence and bending over backward.
  3. Be respectful and appreciative of your players.
    • Without your players, there is no game, just a novel you’re writing in your head.
    • Give every player equal time to shine. Playing favorites leads to people feeling left out, and those people go back home and play video games instead.
    • Don’t be a tyrant. You may be the Game Master, but you’re not infallible. Be open to constructive criticism and corrections from your players.
  4. To all the players reading, be respectful and appreciative of the GM and your fellow players, too.
    • Your GM spends a lot of their free time creating games for you. Do unto your GM as you would have your GM do unto you.
    • Listen to your GM! If they make a ruling that isn’t 100% correct, you can point it out to them, but understand they’re the referee. It’s their job to make sure the game keeps a steady pace and doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae. The D&D motto is “rulings, not rules,” and the GM is, above all else, master of rulings.
    • Share the spotlight. No one likes a glory hog, and both the GM and the other players will resent you if you steal the show too often. Relish in the spotlight when you have it, and relinquish it gracefully when it’s someone else’s time to shine.

Of course these are just the basic tips written out in a handy list format. If you need more detail, check out the video above with Critical Role’s illustrious DM, Matt Mercer. We’ll have more Game Master Tips every Friday, so stay tuned!!

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