This post from Martin Ralya briefly touches on the concept of who “owns” the campaign? Is it the players? the group? the GM? I’m of the opinion that it’s the GM’s campaign since he puts in the most work, but it’s something to share and enjoy with other people. If a GM wants a story that no one else can impact, then he should write a book, not run a campaign.
The bonemaster has a good post about problem players and dealing with with. There are all sorts of problem players, and his post just touches on a single issue, but it’s a good read to see how to handle problem players of all sorts.
Here’s the flip-side of the coin from PatrickWR over at RPG Diehard… the bad GM. The example he gives echoes my point on if a GM wants to tell a story that’s all his, he should avoid a group endeavor like role playing. The main reason I’m linking to his story is that I was totally astonished at the GM at his table. I would have been one of the players that walked away immediately… immediately after beating the GM senseless with his own rule books.
Last weekend, I ran a one-shot Paranoia game. I needed Yax’s advice, but it came a few days too late for me to learn from. I think my one-shot went fairly well, but I could have done better with the advice he gives out. If you’re planning on a one-shot adventure for your group, check out what Yax has to say on the Dungeon Mastering web site.
How does your group build a party of characters? Is it GM guided? Is it a free-for-all on who picks a class first so no one is stranded being the cleric? Does the resulting group form a cohesive party? Lots of questions here, and there are lots of options for how to build out a group. My personal favorite way is for the GM to explain the world/environment and the goals/styles of the game, and then let the players start picking their character traits with a little guidance on how to go about doing it. This guidance is especially vital in a skill-based game system like GURPS or Hero where missing a few key skills the GM expects you to have will be disastrous to the party. Case in point: I ran a modern GURPS game where one of the players chose to be a “thief like person”, but in the end, she only had 2 of the approximately 10 skills that I thought a thief should have. Every time I asked her to make a particular skill roll for picking a lock, sneaking or climbing, I’d get a blank look. Had I advised her more during character creation we wouldn’t have had these problems. Then again, there are a handful of players and only one GM. The GM can only go so far in hand-holding.