GM Advice: How to handle “GM’s block”

GM’s block is a problem you’ve probably experienced yourself in the past. It is the inability to run or prepare roleplaying sessions due to lack of creativity or inspiration. I have had that problem several times in the past, especially when I was in stress. There are a few methods that can help you to get out of this crisis.

  • Ask someone else to be GM
    Ok, that’s the cop-out. But it could help to be in the players’ shoes for some while to give you new energy for running your own adventures again. But don’t stress yourself. Perhaps the new GM is enjoying his new position and wants to run a campaign. So lean back and enjoy the game!
     
  • Use a pre-written adventure
    If you don’t have any ideas of your own, don’t hesitate to pick up an adventure written by someone else. If finding ideas for your own stories is your problem, just run some else’s adventure. If there are no adventures for your game available for sale (or for free over the internet), take an adventure from another game and make it fit.
     
  • Don’t be perfectionistic
    Sometimes the problem is not that you don’t have any ideas but you have to many ideas. And on your quest to create the perfect world, campaign, adventure you just can’t stop. But sometimes you have to accept some flaws to get things done.
     
  • Do one-shot adventures
    Sometimes it’s easier to just run one-shot adventures instead of coming up with a full-blown campaign. If you start to feel overwhelmed focus on shorter adventures instead of trying to run the “epic-campaign-that-will-end-all-campaigns”.
     
  • Change to another game/genre
    You just can’t come up with another adventure for your current game? Try a different game/genre instead. Most game masters have lots of roleplaying rules and settings lying around, so why not try that Shadowrun game you picked up at the last con or the new D&D 4E you read so much about?
     
  • Talk to your players about it
    Don’t be shy and talk with your group about your problem. That’s much better than rescheduling the game “to next week” forever. Perhaps a player has an idea or ask them what they would like their characters to do next. Perhaps turning the whole campaign into a “sandbox campaign” could be the solution. Sometimes improvising during the session is much easier than planning the game beforehand (don’t ask me why), so why not concentrate on improvisation while the players drive the story?
These are some strategies that helped me overcome “GM’s block”. What do you do to fight that problem? Or is this phenomenon totally unknown to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Dungeoncraft: Secrets!

Secrets are what makes a campaign setting more interesting and deep. The old man sitting on the bench under the big tree in the village is not very interesting. But if he’s – unbeknownst to everyone in the village – a former mercenary and adventurer, it suddenly becomes something greater. But as with all good things you have to make sure you don’t overdo it. In this episode of Dungeoncraft I want to talk about some of the secrets of my campaign world “Asecia”. If you are part of my gaming group, please read no further (Warning! Spoilers ahead!)
Continue reading Dungeoncraft: Secrets!

Roleplaying music – Bioshock

The award-winning computer game Bioshock takes place in an underwater city called Rapture, where the dream of scientists and artists turned into nightmare. The soundtrack of Bioshock not only featured songs form the 40s and 50s but twelve original orchestrated pieces composed by Garry Schyman. The score (without the licensed songs) has been released for free shortly after the game came out.
In my opinion the Bioshock score is perfectly suited for horror campaigns set in the  first half of the 20th century. I think I will make use of it the next time we play Call of Cthulhu.

You can download the Bioshock soundtrack here (ZIP file; 21.7 MByte).
There’s also a review of the score and an interview with the composer at Tracksounds.com!

Bioshock – Main Theme “The Ocean on His Shoulders”

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