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The GMing FAQ

This page is obviously being constantly worked on. These are the questions and comments from folks that we've gotten so far. If you can think of something else you believe should go into this GMing FAQ, please email us -- we'd like to make this as helpful a set of pages as possible. Thanks!

A FAQ is a page or set of pages of Frequently Asked Questions on a particular subject -- in this case, GMing. If you are worried about your ability to run a fun, good game, there are suggestions here which might help.

Before Running the Game

Starting a Game

During the Game

Before Running the Game

Q: What's a Realm? How do I request one?

A: A realm is the section on the Reality Fault server (and on the web pages here) dedicated to a particular game. Realms also come with some useful software for GMs to use.

As an example, the "Indigo" game has its own "rooms" and cambot for playing on the server. It also has its own web pages for distributing information and displaying logs of the game, as well as a mailing list for the GM and players to use for whatever they wish, be it in game or not.

Requesting a realm is the first step to GMing on Reality Fault. You'll need to send email requesting your realm to Reality Fault's administration. For complete information on how to do this, go to the "How do I request a realm?" page.

Q: How do I start up a game?

A: Here are some suggestions on how to handle a few of the issues new GMs often face.

Q: Which gaming system or rules should I use?

A: You can use whichever gaming system you are most comfortable and familiar with. The "official" system here is the Hero System Rules, although we have a little (non-official, anecdotal) information about BESM and In Nomine. We also have had many other systems being used as well, including 3rd ed. D&D, GURPS, and "home-brew" versions of various systems.

While no one's tried it yet, we've also had FUDGE recommended to us as a potential on line rules system. Incidentally, if you decide you want to try FUDGE, let us know what you think of it, please!

We feel a gaming mechanics system is an extremely important and necessary part of good role-playing games. We do not encourage or allow pure gaming by assertion games here.

Q: How do I find players?

A: Ask! You can email everyone on the Reality Fault mailing list, or you can ask people you know who aren't on Reality Fault to join Reality Fault so as to play in your game. We always like to see new players! We have a few other suggestions on how to find players that you might find useful, too. GMs that already have all the players they need can use these suggestions also, to get their game rolling.

Starting a Game

Q: This is a lot of work! Can I get help?

A: Some games have run very successfully by bringing a second person in to assist the GM. We have some information on what makes a good co-GM.

Q: What attracts good players?

A: Rich and interesting plots, which involve the players and encourage them to move forward from their own personal motivation, often attract good players. Offer a game that motivates the PC, and good players will want to play.

Being interesting yourself attracts good players. The best way to get people curious and wanting to game with you is to talk to them, either on the mailing lists, through direct e-mail, or by logging into Reality Fault with your OOC character, and getting to know folks. Remember, it's always more fun to deal with someone you know, than someone you don't.

That's the simple part. We also have more suggestions to consider.

Q: How do I deal with problem players?

A: Firmly and politely. Don't let any one player run roughshod over you, or ruin the game for others. However, as this is a complex topic, there is much more to be said.

Q: How do I run combat?

A: We have more extensive information handy on how to keep combat fun for everyone. However, here's the short list:

  • KNOW your mechanics system. This will be especially important when you run combat. Know the combat system, practice it off-line, and teach it to your players OOCly.

  • Be organized before the game. Have all the relevant character and NPC data easily to hand. Have any notes on what's going to happen in tonight's game easily visible. Have your rules book within arm's reach. Don't have distracting stuff on screen or lying around on your desk.

  • Make sure all the player character sheets are up-to-date. Get your players to help when running -- have them look up numbers on their sheets for you, if you need them.

Q: What if my players do something I'm not ready for?

A: This is a complex enough subject to have a whole page of its own. However, you can always take a peek at the Three Rules of GMing which we list at the end of this document. If none of those quite answer your needs, and you're really floored as to how to proceed, you can always call a ten minute break in the game, to give yourself time to consider what to do next.

Remember too, if worst comes to worst, you can always politely explain to your players that you're completely unprepared for the turn they're taking the game, and will need to stop the game here, to give you a week to consider what happens next. Good players will understand and appreciate your honesty.

Q: Who handles the log files?

A: Before the first game, the GM should decide who will be editing and posting the logs for their game to their game's Reality Fault log pages. The GM can do it themselves, or they can get help from a player or players. It's important to stay on top of this and to do it every game -- getting behind is annoying.

Q: What should I pursue, to be a good GM?

A: Avoid distractions during the game. Playing when you're feeling ill, bored, or tired, is also a bad idea. Try not to take the course the game goes personally, and don't try to force your players. We have a few more details you might consider as well.

During the Game

Q: What if one of my players quits the game?

A: It's unfortunate, but people leave games all the time. Here's a quickie synopsized list, which is more fully developed here:

  • Consider ahead of time what you will do.
  • Try to leave the character in a good "at rest" spot.
  • Don't play the departing player's character.
  • Don't kill off the PC for petty revenge.
  • Keep your game running!

Q: What if I have to start a new player in my game?

A: First, check and be sure everyone's comfortable with everyone else in the game -- player squabbles are no fun. Then find a way to work the new character into the game, to meet the other characters. Most importantly, have fun! Sometimes working in new folks can be tricky or takes a little doing, but something can usually be worked out, especially if your players help you accomplish this.

Q: How do I make my game last?

A: This deserves a page of suggestions on its own also. However, for now we'll just put up this short list:

  • Plan more than one story for the game
  • Play with all your players
  • Use more than one story type
  • Be plot-flexible

Q: The Three Rules of GMing

A: Here are the three (only semi-humorous!) rules of GMing, according to the Amazing Dr. Bob:

  • So, who do you ask?

    This may be the most important rule -- don't let your players demand OOC information from you to use IC! The "who" that any question is asked of is vitally important, not only to make your players stay IC, but also to let you know what spin to put on your answers. Remember, the king isn't going to give the same answer, nor have the same motivations, as the peasant in the field.

  • That's a very interesting abuse- er, use of your abilities. Roll three dice to see if it works.

    Yes, players are incessantly inventive. Sometimes it's startling, sometimes a joy, and sometimes it's just confusing... but it's not something you really want to quash usually.

    Who knows? That peculiar idea your most free-wheeling player just came up with might lead to some interesting in-game repercussions. Rolling dice means you put a small element of randomicity into their suggestion... could be something good, could be something bad!

  • That's a very interesting abuse- er, use of your abilities. Congratulations! Not in my game, though.

    Okay, sometimes those incessantly inventive ideas are just wrong for your game. In cases like that, remember -- YOU are the GM, and you have final veto. If it's really a bad idea... just (politely) say no.

And finally, the all-important addendum: If it's not fun... why are you doing it? ;)

Last modified: 2002-Mar-17 18:06:08

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