How to ref

How to be a Successful GameMaster

Probably the only reason you’d be reading this!

2 Rules:
Play to your strengths: 

When Ref’ing, do what you feel comfortable with!  Of course, throughout this blog I will be offering tips on how to find that, ways to stretch what you find comfortable, and when (and if) you should break the first rule…

If you prefer stories that are rapid fire, action after action, flying through space, you will be less successful if you ref an epic saga of a single character, lost in the enchanted forest.  There are ways to temper that, and to fool players, but in a lot of cases, if you are doing those things, you are not enjoying GMing as much as you could be. And, here is a KEY CONCEPT: The game doesn’t get played without a ref!  So, if you get burned out, or are not enjoying yourself, then the players won’t have much fun.

Play what your players want:

This is the age old rule of presenting…Know your audience.  Sometimes this is very easy, as you game with friends.  But, say you are reffing for a new group. You don’;t know what they want, so how can you play to it.  Not true!  If you tell the players what you are playing, they will come play if they are interested.  You may not know favorite colors or flavors of pizza, but you know they are interested in playing a particular genre, and using a specific rule set.  (subject for a later article: House rules!!!!!)  

One of the things we used to do, was the “Scare the Gamers Away” Speech,  (So called by MLW).  In that, we invited prospective gamers over for dinner, and then talked with them about our expectations, and what we get out of game, and what we wanted from our gamers.  This allowed us to listen to how they talked about their previous games, and characters and learn if they would fit in our game.  A bit extreme, maybe, because lots of gamers did not get invited back.

Most of the time, the people you are gaming with, you will know something about.  And, to fill in your gaps, try the revolutionary concept of: Asking!

 

A few other things, that all pale from the TWO RULES.

–  Know your game system.  The better you know the rules, the smoother the play.  If it is a game you have read the rules once a year ago..well…it gets kinda rough.  (Another subject for several entries)  

 – Decide if you need or want any special props or settings, such as player hand outs, background music, or puzzles.  

 – Table rules!  What is off limits at your table, are there any expectations?  These can make or break a group!  Who brings the munchies?  Is dice touching strictly off limits?  What about cross adding (reading you neighbors dice and adding, subtracting or otherwise determining the outcome)?  Sex? Drugs? Rock and Roll?  Some games, because of the ref or the players, must have these subjects, and others will bring a smooth game to a screeching halt if not handled correctly.  (Do two players go off to a room and come back relaxed, or should it be graphic?)

Well…that wraps up the simple overview of How to ref!  Don’t worry.  I will be touching on just about everything here and dissecting some things in multiple ways.

 

Any comments? Critiques? Criticism?

That’s my story…take it or leave it.  My trucker buddies, they believe it!

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4 thoughts on “How to ref

  1. striker2054 says:

    The “pre-game meet and greet” is always a good idea when setting up a group. I did find a really interesting tactic that worked. The Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS) near me has Pathfinder Society Organized Play. I got into a few games there with the group and basically scouted for talent. Worked to get me a few good players.

    • Very true. Using that, you find people who play like you, AND that you can get along with. And very low key way of weeding out those you don’t! Good point, Thanks!

  2. striker2054 says:

    On the “Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll” side of things, certain genres are more conducive to them than others. The Cyberpunk Genre, for instance, is filled with that kind of thing.

  3. Cyberpunk is one of those genres that almost by default must be R rated. From my understanding Dieselpunk is similar. (Never played any!) However Steampunk tends to be run in a much lighter vein. Either way, it is vitally important that everyone understand the table boundries. During our meets, we always warn everyone that we basically run an R rated table…but that things can get darker.

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