As you may know already, Deck Quest makes use of a “gamemaster” (GM for short).
In case you’re not quite sure what a gamemaster is/does, here’s a quick description to give you a basic idea:
Provided by the great and powerful Wikipedia…
A gamemaster (GM; also known as game master, game manager, game moderator or referee) is a person who acts as an organizer, officiant for questions regarding rules, arbitrator, and moderator for a multiplayer role-playing game.
The role of a gamemaster in a traditional role-playing game is to weave the other participants’ player-character stories together, control the non-player aspects of the game, create environments in which the players can interact, and solve any player disputes. The basic role of the gamemaster is the same in almost all traditional role-playing games, although differing rule sets make the specific duties of the gamemaster unique to that system.
We recently conducted a playtesting/Kickstarter filming session with some people to get footage for our Kickstarter video and, of course, to gain more info about what people do and don’t like about our game.
You might know already, but we did another playtesting session a few months before this one as well. It went pretty smoothly–people seemed to enjoy the game, but also gave some really valuable feedback.
You can read more about how we used that feedback here.
Anyway, from both the last playtesting session we did and the one before it, we’ve learned a lot about how important having a decent gamemaster is, especially for Deck Quest.
Deck Quest is very open-ended. Because of that, it’s up to the gamemaster on how/where to add different amounts of structure to the game, and where not to.
Die rolls are one of the key mechanics of Deck Quest. Though the Deck Quest guidebook shows how different die rolls can be considered, it’s really up to the gamemaster to look at the players’ current situation and make the best decision for the game. This “best decision” can greatly change how fun or how boring a Deck Quest game can turn out.
So I just emphasized how important this so-called “best decision” can be.
But how do you even determine a “best decision” in the first place?
Well, to start, maybe “best decision” is a too strong of a term. Maybe “great decision” would be better.
You see, another thing we’ve learned from playtesting (and just simple speculation) is that, as a gamemaster, you need to be able to direct the game towards your players’ desires.
This may seem obvious, but it’s the key to getting that “great decision” and making the game fun for everyone.
For us at least, Deck Quest is a funny adventure game.
We like to laugh and goof around, so as gamemasters, AJ and I try to makeplayers face ridiculous and amusing situations when we can. Most of the time, this ends up making the game fun and enjoyable for everyone.
Someone else might go for a different sort of feel to the game–but either way, the point still stands: the gamemaster needs to be able to decide what will make the game more enjoyable for specifically his/her players. S/he can do this by considering die rolls, card draws, etc to cater towards a desired playstyle.
The good news is that doing this usually won’t be very hard. You’ll mostly be playing with friends/family/people you are relatively familiar with, and if not, the “funny” route seems like a safe one (especially for parties and stuff). In other words, you’ll usually know what type of feel you’ll want to go for with the game, and you’ll usually make relatively good decisions based on that knowledge.
And this is why I replace “best” with “great.” The gamemaster may not make the “best decision” 100% of the time, but can get pretty darn close by analyzing what, exactly, might make the players have the most fun with the game.
In essence, the key to having a great game is to have a great gamemaster.
And that’s about all for today!
I hope you’ve learned and/or pondered about a few things regarding being a GM-ing tabletop games (especially Deck Quest), and if you have, please feel free to leave a comment to share your thoughts!
See you next time!