Gauntlet GMing Best Practices

I received very useful best practices from @edige23 and now I am preparing for my first Gauntlet game!

Still, I have a question for experienced Gauntlet GMs! If you could give just one advice to the yourself who you were before your first game ran at Gauntlet, what would it be?

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Ask questions to specific people-- don’t ask open questions to the table. Even if it is a question for the group, ping someone to answer first (“OK, where does the group go from here? Let’s start with Sherri, what do you think?”)

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Keep shifting the spotlight. I have a problem where I stick with a character too long, thankfully gracious players remind me.

Remember that the folks on Gauntlet are Polite As F*ck, and want you to succeed, so take it easy on yourself. :sunglasses:

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Don’t sweat it, you’ve got this. Trust that your fellow players want to have a great time and have good ideas, and keep things moving.

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Remember you have the same rights to a fun experience and the responsibility for making fun happen is shared by the entire table. This isn’t all on you, so relax.

I find s script/checklist that runs intro/my pronouns - CATS - safety tools - player intro/pronouns - character intro settles me at the start of a session … I usually have it written down on screen when I start. Last night I came straight from something else and didn’t have it in sight and I was all over the place. So work out your own settling ritual and write it down. It will become habit after a while but knowing it’s there helps me.

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I wrote an article on how to approach an online session as a facilitator as while back: https://alles-ist-zahl.blogspot.com/2019/02/sharing-coginitive-load.html

It also contains a link to a template to prepare and then guide you through the session.

But I wouldn’t sweat it too much. People want to have a good time. They don’t mind and will likely not even realise when you diverge from “best practice” or from the structure you had prepared for yourself. If there is something important for them, they will point it out.

A practical tip: invite players to do scenes just between them after they are set up. Say explicitly that you will lean back for this one. It gives you a moment of relaxation and joy while possibly being in too many roles (facilitator, spotlight share eye keeping, NPCs drives,…) most of the time.

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Yes! I used this template to keep it together for all my game so far.

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I guess most of the people are nervous before their first open game! Fortunately, I already over that. However, I want to step on the shoulder of giants and avoid the usual pitfalls :wink: Thank you for all the great insights!

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I’d tell myself to let players know up front what my GMing style is so that they can anticipate the flow of sessions. Admittedly, I’m sure myself before running games did not knows what my GMing style would be, but…

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Would you mind sharing that? This is exactly the kind of thing that settles me into convention GMing and giving presentations in general.

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I’ll share a few things.

  1. Perhaps more than anything else, the one statement that really made GMing snap into focus for me was @edige23 saying: “GMing is a combination of interviewing and meeting management.” Keep the questions coming and keep asking different people by name.

  2. Two tips on safety tools from @JimLikesGames (also, Jim is running a Gauntlet Facilitation Camp in June - new or prospective GMs should absolutely sign up for either his, Jammi’s, or @Alexi_Sarge’s. I’m running one as well):

Always do character introductions last, after safety tools. You want to keep players in their characters as much as possible - introducing characters, THEN doing safety tools pulls them out of their characters. Introduce and explain safety tools, THEN introducing characters is the better order.

Don’t read lines or veils on the recording. Explain what lines are, provide a common example (such as sexual assault), then explain what veils are (commonly, consensual sexual activity) and how they work. Reading all of the lines and veils out loud airs your players’ private business.

  1. You will rarely, if ever, deal with someone who behaves poorly if you make a mistake. It is virtually guaranteed that you will share your virtual table with people who want to have fun, want you to have fun, and are happy to help ensure everyone is having fun, so relax. As one example, players will often help you look up relevant stats or rules, especially if you’re having a problem finding it (as Lowell did to help me out last Tuesday). People with knowledge of the game are happy to pitch in, talk about the finer/more arcane points, etc. (@GerwynWalters literally spent something like three hours after a rough session of World Wide Wrestling I ran last year helping me through a few things I thought I understood and didn’t.)

You will share tables with some of the kindest and most gracious people you will ever meet. If you miss calling for a roll, someone will likely ask, not as a criticism but out of a genuine desire to make sure everyone has a good time and help you succeed.

So basically, my advice is simple: Relax and have fun with it. Easier said than done, but still :grin:

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  • GMing is a different – sometimes wildly – role depending on the game you play and what this group wants to do at this time. Don’t ask for, don’t accept, and don’t give generic advice. There are no universal best practices, anyone that claims otherwise is full of it. Ask and give advice related to a specific game.

  • Being a GM doesn’t make you a social arbiter and you’re not responsbile for people being upset or not having fun. You might be sort of an organizer, in this context with these people, but this expectation is not and should not come pre-packaged with the role.

  • You’re not in charge of safety and you’re not a therapist (unless you are). The group is in charge of safety, talk it out with them and figure out an approach.

  • You don’t have to develop your “GMing style” that then you apply acritically to any situation, you need to learn to be a GM (and a player as well) again for each game you play. Be open and flexible to learning.

  • You will most likely fuck something up. That’s completely fine, just take note of it, analyse what you did later, and learn.

  • If no-one else does, hold a debriefing session after the end of the game to discuss what went right or wrong and what each person could do differently next time.

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Here’s an example from a current series, @Deckard :


I don’t read all of it after session 1, I tend to just remind people if the safety tools, unless a new player joins.

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This is a killer post. Thank you, Froggy! Beautifully said.

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This is great! Makes things easier.