GM Resources

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I spent the summer of 2020 hyperfocusing on learning to be a GM. Here’s a growing list of useful links and books and videos I’ve collected.

Plotting Campaigns

Good summary that covers the five steps in a plot (arrive at plot, journey to plot, discover not plot, journey to new plot, kill plot and win) and touches briefly on Guy’s Villain Sentence: “someone wants something very badly and is having difficulty getting it.”


Cover of Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master

Sly Flourish’s Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master goes over what prep is actually necessary to run a competent and flexible adventure. The “Secrets and Clues” concept really affected how I think about giving players information.

This not very D&D centric, though does mostly cover fantasy adventure.

Running a Game

“Story-Driven” vs. “Character-Driven”

I loved A Definition Intermission: Story vs. Character Driven Games from the delightful TTRPG discussion podcast, Panda’s Talking Games. The hosts do a clear and insightful deep dive into “story-driven” (also “plot-driven”) play, which is mainly a GM driving the characters forward with an assigned mission, an obvious call-to-adventure, that sort of thing. They contrast this with “character-driven” play, which tends more towards players creating scenes and having their characters act on their own goals, which may-or-may-not conflict with each other.

They make it clear in the podcast that most games are a mix of the two styles, but finding the balance that both fits with the GM and what the players want is important.

I also appreciated thinking of these as two separate practices. I end up doing a lot of story-driven play, with character-driven coming up where it happens to fit in, but always feeling like I “owe” my players more of it. This episode validates that both are fine ways to play, and gets into ways to support each style.

Thinking of them separately will help me consicously emphasize them as appropriate and develop my skills in each of them independently.