Best GMing Advice you've ever gotten

What's the best GM advice you've ever gotten

  • It's a social interaction first. You're friends. Be friendly

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • You are the referee and story teller, it is not GM vs Player.

    Votes: 10 21.3%
  • Be fair and transparent. Players know if you fudge dice to keep your personal fav NPC alive

    Votes: 7 14.9%
  • Don't worry about memorizing the rules. Make a ruling to keep the game going and look it up later

    Votes: 12 25.5%
  • It's your game world. Work with the players when possible, but don't let your fun be overridden

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • Let the players form the game world

    Votes: 5 10.6%
  • No reasonable request should ever be unreasonably declined.

    Votes: 3 6.4%
  • Session 0 isn't just to make PCs. Set the ground rules and identify players who might not be a fit

    Votes: 14 29.8%
  • Keep your campaign outline form only (simple). Too complex, and you risk railroading YOUR story

    Votes: 6 12.8%
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes

    Votes: 7 14.9%
  • Show, don't tell ("a pool of ebony viscous liquid" vs "there's a black pudding there")

    Votes: 9 19.1%
  • All challenges must have risk. A risk-free challenge should be narrated.

    Votes: 6 12.8%
  • GM because YOU want to, not because everyone else does

    Votes: 10 21.3%
  • If you're changing a rule, get table agreement

    Votes: 3 6.4%
  • Other

    Votes: 9 19.1%


What's some of the best GM advice you've ever gotten? I'm putting a poll with things I've learned myself over the decades, but I'm sure there are others as well. Multiple options available naturally. And some of these may seem contradictory to each other, but that's because we have different preferences.

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The game is about the actions and choices of the PCs. The players are not there to be spectators.

Failure has to be always an option for the players. Allow the players to make mistakes and fail.

As long as the players are talking about the game among each other, let them keep talking. Wait until they have questions for you and answer them.


"Stop bludgeoning your players with that spiked club"

Honestly, it was that I should realize not all of my players enjoy the same things and I should learn to incorporate as much of their varying play styles into my adventures as possible. Some like roleplaying or others like rolling dice to kill things, for example. Sometimes using the spiked club is easier. ;)
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B/X Known World
Player agency is king, never violate it.

You are the referee, a neutral arbiter or the world and rules, not the storyteller.

Whatever story happens as a result of the players’ choices, the roll of the dice, and any rules used is the only story the game has.

Play worlds, not rules.

Play to find out what happens.

Verisimilitude is more important than the rules.

If there is no risk or challenge, there’s no point.

It all comes down to a target number and some dice. Consider the circumstances, pick a reasonable number, and roll. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Winning all the time is just as boring as losing all the time.

A few spring to mind.

1) Everyone's first game is awful. Don't sweat it.

2) Have fun. If everyone at the table is having fun, don't sweat it. Maybe you're ignoring a rule from the book. Maybe you've added in something you saw online or in a magazine. If everyone is having fun, then don't worry. For every piece of good gaming advice, there is a game, probably with people you know, that will be ruined by it.

3) Your (the GM) fun is just as important as the players.

Committed Hero

Runner up: The GM's job is to create situations, and the players' job is to have their characters figure them out.

Winner: If there is a problem, talk about it at the table. There are no awards out for most in-character performance at a gaming session.

aramis erak

"Get a table agreement"?! Ha!! We can't even agree on a start time!

The best GM advice I've ever gotten was from Wil Wheaton: "Don't be a dick." I wish that option had been added to the list.
I got it from Luke Crane, rather than Wil Wheaton. It usually works quite well...

However... sometimes one needs to be in character as an asinine NPC...

Makes me think of Kenny Rogers' The Gamler...


Victoria Rules
The best DO advice:

"Be fair and neutral in setting up situations and then let the dice fall where they may."
"If they want to spend time playing through minutae or chasing red herrings, let them. There's no rush."
"If they want to fight each other, let them - as long as it stays in-character."
"Never interrupt an in-character conversation unless the game state forces you to."
"Learn how to hit the curveballs they'll throw."
"Adhere to precedent."
"Make the setting believable, lasting, and consistent with itself as a real place the characters inhabit."

The best DON'T advice:

"Don't show favouritism to any player or character."
"Don't complain when the players throw you a curveball, as their doing so shows engagement."
"Don't make a ruling you're not prepared to live with for the duration of the campaign."
"Don't lock in your story or prep, keep it malleable to account for what happens in play."

Epic Threats

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