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Thread: GM Convention: Biggest Mistake

  1. #1
    The Great Matt Richard
    Join Date
    February 2002

    Smile GM Convention: Biggest Mistake

    I will start asking quesitons to all GM's to share. Hopefully, this will be a way for new GM's to gain advice, or for older, more experienced GM's to get new ideas. They will be titled: GM Convention.:p

    The first question:
    What is the biggest mistake you as a GM have made?

    My response to this question is when I was playing D6 rules. Being an impatient GM, I quickly scanned the rules, missing a lot of them. There were a lot of times when the players would roll more dice than they should have, and things really got unbalanced. Then, when I re-read the rules, I started doing things right, and we had more fun .

    Again: What is the biggest mistake you as a GM have made?
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  2. #2
    Intergalactic Man Of Mystery
    Join Date
    October 2001
    Canberra, Australia


    Its hard to know EVERYTHING as GM.

    Often .. stuff is missed. Well .. I made a bit of a mistake:

    I was not doing my roll checks properly.

    This kinda allowed the PCs in the game to be very successful, where I wanted them to be challenged (and fail one or two times).

    Anyway, after reading up a bit more, I know what difficulties to set now. Heh. I cant be too lenient.
    "This adventure sucks. Darth Max? Come on, Francis."
    "HEY! You can't insult the games master like that."
    "Read my lips. This .... adventure ... sucks!"
    "Right! That tears it. You're encased in carbonite." *roll*

  3. #3
    D6 Forever!
    Join Date
    April 2000
    the great western state of Montana!


    My biggest mistake was taking on too many players in a game session. I used to be able to not tell people "No".
    So I ended up running a game (not Star Wars, but still a RPG) with 12 players!

    As a word of advice to new GMs, don't be afraid to tell people "Sorry, I can't handle that many players, you'll have to wait until next time." If you don't, you'll get overwhelmed very quickly with players, and may pick up a fear of running games. Stick with what feels comfortable to you, be it two, four or six players.
    Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.
    facta, non verba

  4. #4
    Time-displaced Jedi and retainer of the Seven Jedi Holocrons.
    Join Date
    October 2001
    If there is a bright center of the universe, I'm on the planet that is farthest from it.


    My biggest mistake was not knowing when enough is enough or not nowing when to say NO.

    Early off as a GM I let things get way too out of hand.
    Don't ever let a Book of Life into a game!!!!!!!!!
    Be like water.
    Let no form be your form.
    Let no limitation be your limitation. - Bruce Lee

  5. #5
    Webmaster: SWRPGNetwork Submissions
    Kwisatz Haderach

    Join Date
    November 2000
    Oklahoma City


    Actually, I think my primary mistake was in overestimating the players. For some absurd reason, I keep expecting them to be subtle and they never are...

    I wholeheartedly understand Grimace's point and have actually had to state several times recently that two of the new players WILL NOT be able to play in my upcoming game. When they ask why, I simply inform them that I have no intention of running a group with 9 people in it. Seven is pushing it for me...

    Overpreparation is another of my problems. I can be very...retentive when it comes to adventures (although I've got a player who puts me to shame.) And then, of course, you get angry 'cause they decide that they'd rather watch the pretty Twi'lek dancing girl instead of go get into a fight...
    Palpatine/Vader '08
    "Why vote for a lesser evil?"

    cędite eos. novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

  6. #6
    Veteran Player
    Join Date
    January 2001
    San Antonio Tx


    One big mistake I made once was not letting a party get killed by there own stupid mistake.
    I had even warned them...
    Of course, it would have wiped out the whole party....

    I really hate games where the party does not have choices, and they get cattle prodded into action, almost rendering them npcs.
    That causes me to sometimes give my party TOO many options, and no clear direction.

    I am working on it.
    I think there is a fine line.

    Dave Pakalnis - Actor, Gamer, Corporate Nerd
    SW Page -
    comedy page -

  7. #7
    Ewok Warrior
    Join Date
    May 2000
    MN, USA


    Originally posted by Grimace

    So I ended up running a game (not Star Wars, but still a RPG) with 12 players!

    Holy McChrist Man!! I have problems getting two players to show up for a game, and it seems you guys got 'em coming out of the woodwork.

  8. #8
    Keeper of The Sacred Jelly Donut
    Join Date
    November 2001
    Naperville, Ill


    My biggest mistake was more a series of the same mistakes.

    I gave the PCs too much cool stuff. I didn't have a head for game balance yet, and before I knew it the trigger happy blaster man had a personal weapon that could punch holes in starfighters....

    Yeah, we had to get rid of that!

    After a while it became apparent that things were amuck, so we put those characters on the shelf into semi-retirement and started over. That was easier than trying to undo all the damage that was already done.

    The second run at it was much more successful.
    Galactic Weekly NewsStack
    Banned by the Empire and Loving Every Minute of It!

    36.61 Sector Moff mutters insults behind Lord Vader's back; is demoted to corpse almost instantly. "That Vader, he kills us," say Imperial Personnel officers. DataPage 24722


  9. #9


    Being too lenient caused troubles in the few games that I GM'd. Questions such as "Do I have to use the Medpac now?" got "No, but he won't live without assistance in the next few minutes."
    They always put it off until just after that last minute. Alternatively, "So what if we go the other way?" "All your friends will die, but you get a million credits." led to way too many deaths. You need to have solid repurcussions that keep the PCs in line.

    Another friend of mine got a little petty, and "... all of a sudden two guys with bandoliers full of thermal detonators appear..." He wasn't the most popular GM we've had.

  10. #10
    Dark Master of the Game
    Join Date
    August 2001
    A mountainside obsidian citadel overlooking a dead alkaline sea on some long forgotten grey world.

    Default The devil's in the details

    I'd say I have problems in keeping things moving especially when rules questions are brought up. As a player I always hated GMs summarily barring actions before listening to the description of how they could work. So as a GM I discuss rules interpretation too long sometimes in an effort to appear fair. This slows down games considerably.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    March 2001
    Toronto, ON


    My biggest mistake has been in not keeping the characters "hungry". Giving away too much money or making too much riches available, leads the characters to have too much stuff and then they start expecting more and more payment each time they take on a mission. Money loses its meaning once you give them too much of it.

    I stun the Wookiee!

  12. #12


    The first question: What is the biggest mistake you as a GM have made?
    Well, that is easy...having a time travel adventure. By the time we got through half of it, it was so confusing that we all sat down for 4 hours just to think of a way out..let alone stopping the Empire. It is a bag of worms that I will never open again.

    Also, I have learned to be cautious as to what I allow players to have. Ten years ago I told a player he could not make a double-bladed lightsaber since they aren't in star wars. Now I will never hear the end of it.
    "Someday I will become the most powerful Jedi ever." ~ Anakin Skywalker

  13. #13
    Experienced Player
    Join Date
    November 2001
    Upstate NY


    My biggest problem as GM is by far expecting the players to react in the same manner as I would, they rarely do. Instead they do something comepletely off the wall and it leaves running things more off the cuff then I want. In turn they then get away with stuff they shouldn't. Example: just recently I had the entire party trap inside a detention center with twenty troops and eventaly 40 zero-g troopers who happened to be in the area. All this was brought on because instead off being rather subtle and sneaking out of this mine encampment which was rather small, they started some strong arm tactics such as bar fights and security guard shooting. Being a small totally enclosed facility, it wasn't long before more capable authorities arrived. It went in a downward spiral tell the only reasonable thing to do was kill the entire party. The only thing that save them was a force adept used illision with the assistance of calling on the darkside (illision itself doesn't give a DSP but to pull something like this off I needed some penalty) So they got out of this situation they had no right getting out of. (they still aren't completely out of it cause they are still trapped in this encampment with no way out cause it is under lock down)

    But my point being I didn't apply party thinking to the situation but my own. If I had I could have cut the progression off sooner and not let it get to far gone (of course this party has a deathwish so may I couldn't have) or at least had more prepared in this direction so I could have really socked it to them.
    Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

    Foolproof: Proof against fools or proof of a fool?

  14. #14
    Absent Old-Timer
    Join Date
    July 2001
    P-Town, OR


    Wel l also have made the mistake of expecting characters to think like me. In the past few years I have added mysteries and crime drama's to my library of interest, and they have inpired me to make my advetures more mystereous. What I learned was that even when I was using classic cliche's I had problems getting the players to follow the line of clues that I had hidden for them. I had one instance when I was playing James Bond (by Victory Games) where the player found himself in a bar. Well I figured he would do the cliche thing and sit at the bar and chat up the bar tender, so that was the only way I planned for the reveal of key information. He however did just about everything you can do in a bar besides chat up the staff, and I ended up have to drop the information uncerimoniously in his lap.

    I was not his fault it was mine. I learned that I need to provide a looser frame work for the players to move through. Now I basically write a GM outline of the relevant information with plot and progression points, and a list of the key NPC's (though this is flexable) and let the players figure it out in the style that suits them.
    Dr. Worm
    (I'm not a real Doctor, but I am a real worm.)

    "Oh, would you stop. Luke Skywalker this, Luke Skywalker that. I am sick of hearing about that little fruit!" Red Foreman- "That 70's Show"

  15. #15
    Worst usertext customization... ever.
    Join Date
    January 2002
    Wauconda, Illinois


    The biggest mistake I've made as a GM was rewarding my players with cool stuff and then taking it away the next session. It was justified in my mind to do that because they were only in need of it for the one instance, but I should handled it differently, by making it a one shot item, or handing it out in the form of a loaner, what have you. I've learned since then, and now it's onwards and upwards to even more spectacular blunders!

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