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How did you learn to GM?


First Post
I posted a question this morning on Treasure Tables, my weblog for GMs: how did you learn to GM?

My rambling answer is there, in the post ("How Did You Learn to GM?") -- and I'd love to hear how EN Worlders answer this question, here on EN World, over on TT (no account needed to post a comment), or both. :)

Edit: I have a hunch that there will be some correlation between when folks learned to GM, and what their answer is. For example: pre-Internet learning = a different experience than now.

If you don't mind, post when you started GMing -- for me, it was 1989. I added this bit after Vigwyn's post, #8.

Edit #2: I also posted this same question over on The Forge (link goes to the thread). The answers are similar, but also different in interesting ways.
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I honestly don't know. I just...jumped in and started doing it. The group needed someone to do it when we all first learned to play and I figured I'd give it a shot. Apparently, I did a good job because I'm still GMing all over the place. :)


First Post
Self taught. I had a friend who was in the army, came home on leave for two weeks, bought the books while he was here, and ran about 3 adventures for my ranger. When he left he gave me the books and I introduced it to some friends and since I was the only one who had ever played I god to GM. I learned a lot from my mistakes and still do. :)


First Post
I started young (read ~8 or 9) and not with D&D. I wanted to capture the fantasy that I got out of reading game books (Lone Wolf, amongst others) for others. So I started narrating interactive stuff to my friends (no dice either). Didn't know what the hell I was doing back then, as I really didn't know what an RPG was. All I know is that I was having fun making up stories.


Funny story, that. I first 'played' D&D at my next-door neighbor's when we were both 9 years-old. We had no idea what we were doing, and while it was fun at the time, it didn't take.

Fast-forward a couple years. A friend, a year older than me, shows me the Basic book, and I repsond, "Oh, hey, D&D, I've played that."

"Really? You wanna be the DM in a game for me and my freinds?"


Thankfully, he lent me the books, so I could actually learn how to play. I ended up DMing for a bunch of older kids, some of whom had played before, and it turned out not to bad.

And I've been the DM pretty much ever since.

But learning to DM well has been a never-ending process, that really accelerated with the introduction of the internet.


First Post
My classmates who bought the books and decided to learn the game, weren't great readers and the 1E DMG was... chunky. So, they gave it to me and told me to read it and be the DM when they played. They weren't my friends. Actually, they picked on me constantly, but were willing to stop if I would do this for them. For several days I wonder what the catch was... when they were going to spring the punchline of some cruel joke on me. It never came. We played one session on the front porch of one of their houses. Some of them stuck with the game for a while, others did not. I never gamed with them again after that, but soon found fellow geeks who played and began DM'ing as often as possible. I have only ever played maybe 20 sessions as a player (2 of those were since May this year).

I learned by trial and error. I read the books over and over again. I ofund the answers to my questions. When 3.x came out, I felt like I had to learn all over again and it seemed more difficult to grasp the new rules now that I am older and have less free time.



I started playing when I was pretty young with the Moldvay Basic set. My mother DM'ed the first game! :D She wasn't too into it so I took up the DM'ing thing so I could play. I wrote adventures, a campaign world the whole bit before I even really had a group to run through it all. I subscribed Dragon at the time and picked up what tips and tricks I could from there. Finally in high school it all paid off as I finally found a group to run through the world I had already created.


First Post
My first GM experiment was with my cousin, using the basic edition starter guide...I remember something involving bees and magic healing honey...I only played the one game though, as my cousin didn't like it (now I know that you really need more than one player to have a continous game... and my cousin had no imagination anyways).
I seriously started learning how to DM when a local game store manager started a beginner's group for 3e D&D. After a couple of months, he was looking for another DM and I felt I knew the rules well enough to do so. i DM occasionally now, but of the two groups I play in, one has a rotational DM position (anyone who wants to DM can) and one has a permanent DM (not me).

The Cardinal

First Post
the hard way: my first RPG experience ever was as a GM for a bunch of experienced players (in 1992) - they loved it, and I've never looked back :)


Also self-taught after sitting in on just one game... but since I started DMing around 1980 (and I was about 10 at the time), I'm just a liiiittle fuzzy on the details of those formative years. :p

Like anything, you learn by doing. I think if you have the opportunity to sit in on a number of different games and pick up on the tips and tricks of other DMs you'll "get it" a lot faster.



First Post
Self taught for the most part. I played for 2 years before just running a game for friends. That game lasted about a month before i ended up moving. now im back, and running again. Im not that great at running, but the players seem to like it. :) I prefer playing to running though.

haiiro said:
I posted a question this morning on Treasure Tables, my weblog for GMs: how did you learn to GM?

After the brutal and arbitrary death of my parents (Rocks fell, they died), I travelled the world, using my single-minded dedication and vast wealth to learn the secrets of NPC design, campaign structure, world building, pacing and improvisation. Finally I was contacted by an ancient secret society known as the League of Moderators and inducted into their mystical arts of creating mystery, fear, wonder and sadness.

Then, and only then, was I ready.


First Post
I was able to play in a group that featured two very good, but very different DM's. One was a master at weaving a story, the other a magician with the rules. After a year of watching them, I gave it a try, and I've been the DM ever since.


First Post
My friends and I started in Middle School, and sort of taught each other. Through college and afterwards I played in other campaigns and learned whatever I could from every DM I gamed with. There's always something to be learned from any DM you meet, although sometimes it's what NOT to do.


First Post
Same way I learned how to swim, I jumped in the deep end and just did it. It never occured to me it was supposed to be hard or challenging so without knowing anything I just read and ran games...did that for a few years. Then actually learned the rules and the games started to get even better. :D


First Post
I learned to DM pretty much by doing it. Most of my friends had played D&D, and rather then being DM for me so I could grasp the rules they decided I should try being DM. My dad had DMed a few times with 2nd edition, and due to my being new to 3rd edition I was constantly mixing the two rules. Eventually, I got better and even though my friends didn't DM for me to show me how it works I got a good grasp on the rules and am now considered the best DM (which is their way of saying that I am going to be DM forever :) .)


I say self-taught, trial and error, although I got to learn from several DMs along the way, good and bad. As another poster stated, I'm still learning and the net - EN World in particular it has to be said - has been very helpful (so, thank you).


First Post
I learned to GM almost entirely by trial and error, or rather, a lot of my friends and I learned by trial and error together. We had essentially the same gaming group as teenagers but different ones of us would run different campaigns for the same group of people. So, when a new device or idea hit one of us, it would run through all the campaigns. I especially remember when we were about 14 my friend Oscar realizing that dreams could be used as a device for hinting at the PCs. For the next three months, everybody was doing it.

Each of us had different insights and realizations about how to make RPG rules worked, based on our own individual talents so we learned faster than a single solitary GM would.

There were lots of mistakes, lots of longstanding misaapprehensions, lots of failed experiments. I loved them, for the most part.

Thanks for reminding me of those times; it's been enjoyable recalling how I learned.

Aust Diamondew

First Post
Practice. Like with everything else you just keep trying, which means you're going to screw up, fail and possibly suffer to at least some degree (usually quite a bit). I'm sure things I read online or in the DMG helped as well as my limited experiences of watching other people learning to GM helped. I'm good now, I'd like to be better.

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