In this post, I will give a few reasons to encourage players to participate as GMs, and answer a few questions they may have about it.
As I started writing for this blog, I noticed several patterns in my campaigns. First, I saw how I viewed the world by the way I reacted to the players actions, or the people by the way I interpreted many of the NPC's. Furthermore, I saw a common story that seemed to repeat itself in every single one of my campaigns. That realization made me feel exposed by the amount of personal information I was sharing.
As I talked to my playing group about it, I noticed that several of them were more than happy to share with the group in the same manner, but were unwilling to GM because of a few misconceptions about the role. Most of those misconceptions came from fear and misunderstanding of the skills necessary to GM. Some players were fearful of their ability to improvise during play, others were not comfortable leading the group, and finally some had thought that only those who knew a game system backwards and forwards could GM.
A lot of those questions were the same ones I had when I first started GMing, so they were easy to explain. To the first one, I related to the players that at first, I was not good at improvising. That fact really showed itself in my very first campaign. In it, everything was scripted and I had a lot of trouble with normal player behavior. But as I continued GMing, dealing with the unexpected became easier and easier. I learned it was not necessary to prepare myself for every situation in the game. All I need were a few tools, such as random tables, and some hands on experience.
Leadership was another skill that required several sessions before I was comfortable with it. There were times I had to calm down a player, bring the group focus back to the game, or even assert my role during rules related discussions. Aside from experience, the only tool available to the GM is understanding his players and preparing himself for their behaviors.
Some of those behaviors are dictated by the environment that is created around a Roleplaying game. That environment consists of a guide, a game system, and one or more people interested in a few hours of fun. Those hours are filled with adventure in many different scenarios. Those scenarios are described by the guide, experienced by the players and resolved by the game system.
In the scenarios above, the game system is only one small piece of the entire roleplaying environment. The rest of the pieces are provided by the GM and by the players. The system is molded around these larger pieces to fit in whatever adventure they are interested in. If only a small subset of the rules are used during play, and that set provides everything the GM needs, there is no problem in excluding the superfluous bits.
Those were the reasons together with a few answers to the questions I heard about GMing. I hope I was able to demystify the role of a GM. Showing that a little experience is all most people need to share their unique world with others.