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Author Topic: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing  (Read 254 times)

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Offline persephone325Topic starter

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General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« on: November 19, 2017, 04:54:59 AM »
In my travels through the internet, and playing in various forums, I've been the GM of a few games. Now, I'm by no means an expert in running them. Over time, I've realized that there are general commonalities in each instance. So, I've decided to just put together a little post about how group games can be run smoothly (or as smoothly as possible) by at least two GMs.

These aren't "rules", necessarily. Maybe they're more common sense things, and general tips.

Personally, I see GMs and co-GMs a bit differently; but no less equal to each other. Let me see if I can explain this well enough. Although, this might be colored based on personal experiences.

The "main" GM, if you will, is the person who came up with the games idea, worked it from scratch, put time and effort into developing it and fleshing it out with care and attention to detail. If another person helped contribute to the game building process (before it was launched, I mean), then they can both be considered "main" GMs. My own personal preference for this, is if the other person contributed to the idea building around the 50% mark. Then, it really feels like they're involved and interested in the idea.

A co-GM is the person (or people) that may, or may not, have helped flesh out the idea, but they have a solid understanding of what the GM's plan for the game is. Perhaps they don't like the world building aspect of it, but want to help out regardless? That's totally fine. Don't take this as me crapping on these kinds of people. I, myself, have done this. Someone just wanted to throw ideas at me and get feedback on them from an outside view, and then they asked me to co-GM once the game was up and running. Some people are just really great at being idea "dart boards", if you will.

Now, on to the game stuff.

Communication is IMPERITAVE! I can't tell you how many times I've seen a game fall apart because the GMs didn't communicate well with each other. Or, one of them just disappeared when the game got busy. I've even seen GMs publicly insult each other in the game's chatting threads/shoutbox/Discord server. It's not a great atmosphere for the muse, or the player.

Be available! A subset of communication. If you volunteer to help GM, or accept the invite from the main GM, make yourself available as much as you can. Especially in the early stages, when games often get slammed with an influx of interested players and people submitting character sheets. Of course, things happen in real life that can throw a kink into the works. That's generally the exception to the rule. This point is more addressing the co-GMs that have a burst of activity in the beginning, and then just fade into the background with no explanation. Nobody likes to be left high and dry. Basically, know what you're getting into when you sign up for the co-GM job.

Stay active and engaged. I touched a bit on this in the above point. It can give off a negative impression when players see a GM not posting much, and not even really communicating with them anymore. It gives off the idea of "Well, if they don't wanna interact with their own players, why should I be a part of the game?"

Don't undermine each other. Another point that I've seen in the past. One GM will give something the OK, then the other GM will squash it. It reflects poor communication, but also looks like there's a power struggle going on behind the scenes. Players want to know that all GMs are on the same wave length with each other. That being said, there will be times where a situation will come up, and you both have differing opinions on how to handle it. I'll go into that more below.

Well, shit. You guys had a falling out over something. What now?

Don't panic, or freak out. It happens to everyone. Emotions are high, stress is reaching a boiling point... Take a breath before you say anything you can't take back. Now, I know that's probably easier said than done. But it's very true. One thing to remember, is that you guys will never 100% agree on everything when it comes to running a game.

First thing you might wanna do, is look at how the situation was handled; was there poor communication/a miscommunication? Did one of you assume something was the case, when it actually wasn't? Did one of you rush in to solve a problem, without consulting the other? Before you take the time to sit down and talk with your other GM, it might be worth taking some time to get your thoughts together and let the emotions cool down. This might take a few hours, or a few days. The important thing is to approach the other person with a cool, calm, collected, and level-headed attitude. That being said:

Don't cut off communication. Don't be "that" person that throws a hissy fit and blocks the person through whatever means of communication you guys had. It honestly just makes you look immature, like you don't know how to handle the situation.

It's OK to vent to your friends. Seriously, it is. Not necessarily going into the gory details about it, but if you have some pent up frustration about the issue then it's OK to just let it out to someone you trust. No one has any right to tell you who you can and can't talk to, and your feelings are 100% valid to you.
   If you'd rather not vent to your friends, then write everything down on a piece of paper and just burn it. It might sound silly, but there's something that feels good about it.

Now, things have cooled down and you guys are working through the problem. It probably feels a little weird and tense, and that's normal. As you guys talk through the issue, here are some things to remember:

Leave the past, in the fucking past. If you guys had a little squabble before, don't bring it up and try to use it against them; for whatever reason. Especially if you both agreed that it was water under the bridge.

Listen to each other. REALLY LISTEN! It's important for both sides to understand why the other side feels the way they do. Don't keep cramming your feelings down the other person's throat. You said your bit, let them respond.

Own up to your mistakes, and apologize. This is probably the hardest thing for a human being to do, because nobody likes to admit when they're wrong. There is rarely a case where it's all one person's fault. Both of you need to apologize to each other, and work to move past the issue. It shouldn't matter if you think the other person was 99.9999999999999999% responsible for what happened. It takes two to tango. Communication is a two way street. More often than not, the problem wouldn't have happened if the person was GMing by themselves. (If that makes sense?) Basically, what I'm saying is that blame cannot be fairly placed on one sole person.

Right. That's done. What next?

Are you guys able to continue GMing the game together? FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!! It's a great feeling to be able to work past something like that, and keep on working with each other. *applauds*

Did one of you step down? That's OK! That doesn't mean that either of you did anything wrong. Perhaps they decided that the stress was too much, and they just wanted to enjoy the game. Or, maybe they left the game altogether? That's fine, too. Everyone needs to do what's right for them.

If one of you stepped down/left the game on less-than-friendly terms:

Don't be an asshole. Straight up, don't. Don't bad mouth the GM you left behind. Don't tell your friends to not join that person's game. Don't convince people to leave with you. It's immature, rude, and shows what a petty person you are. I've had this happen to me a few times before, and it doesn't feel good to find out about it. Have I ever been this asshole? I sure have. But that was a long time ago, when I was a dumb teenager.

Don't manipulate things. I realize that's a little vague. However, it's a general statement to cover a number of things. For example, don't think that you'll be able to manipulate chat logs to send to staff to make it look like the other person did/said things that they really didn't. If you're still sorting things out with the other person, don't try and gaslight them. Or twist the definitions of things around to suit what you're trying to say in order to get them to do what you want. It makes you look like a bully. And nobody likes bullies.

So, that's all I have really. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time. However, as long as you both work with each other then things should run smoothly for the most part. It's just important to remember that disagreements will happen, but that shouldn't stop you guys from trying to work through things. After all, the game should be fun for the GMs too!

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Re: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2017, 10:55:37 AM »
This guide is an amazing read. :)

Offline persephone325Topic starter

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Re: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2017, 02:32:47 PM »
This guide is an amazing read. :)

Thanks. ^^ I sat on it for a while, wondering if I had touched on everything I wanted to. In the end, I was like "Well, I can always edit it later if I suddenly remembered something." lol

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Re: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2017, 02:37:57 PM »
Thanks. ^^ I sat on it for a while, wondering if I had touched on everything I wanted to. In the end, I was like "Well, I can always edit it later if I suddenly remembered something." lol

That's what I normally do too. :)

Offline InoshimaLance

Re: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2017, 08:08:24 AM »
Kinda wanted to say "Congrats on this nice work". Is a very nicely fleshed out tip-guide and actually could be applied to any sort of cooperative work. Thanks for it.

Offline persephone325Topic starter

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Re: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2017, 04:10:40 PM »
Kinda wanted to say "Congrats on this nice work". Is a very nicely fleshed out tip-guide and actually could be applied to any sort of cooperative work. Thanks for it.

Thank you! I hope it helps anyone who reads it. I was nervous to put it up because I don't have nearly as much GM/co-GM experience as most other people here. lol

Offline Jezabelle

Re: General Tips For Successful Co-GMing
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 07:15:36 PM »
Very good, I'm working on attracting Co-GMs at the moment and it's bringing about a lot of questions of how to potentially integrate them.  I'm flexible but have no experience doing it.

How do you feel about incentivizing Co-GMship through in-game rewards for their characters?  The way my game works they could be totally removed from anything they'd DM themselves but I still feel kinda funky about it, like it could lead people to feel I'm making compromised rulings.