Gamemaster’s Guidepost – Framing Your Preferences, Part III

Wrapping up my posts on framing a campaign, today I talk about putting it all together. Know that you know what your players want for their characters and the campaign itself it’s time for the linchpin: What the GM wants. I see so many campaigns flame out fast because the GM and players were simply not on the same page. Moreover, I’ve seen campaigns drag on toward the inexorable conclusion of a flame out because the GM wasn’t fully on board with the conceits and tropes his players wanted. While you don’t need to be fully committed to an RPG to have fun, you have to be able to at least enjoy parts of it.

So now that you have all of this information how does the GM’s desires play into it? Well first off, if the numbers and indicated choices are not something you want to GM… don’t. Tell the players that your expectations have been mixed up in a way that won’t permit a compromise or offer them a compromise. For example, if the players really want a lot of combat, but want it to be tactical based, a GM may decide he’s better at abstract combat and offer to run a tactical battle every 3 combats.

The key to a good campaign is compromise. If one (or more) of your players is over the moon happy and one (or more) is not then you’ve likely got a problem with mixed expectations. A good compromise leaves no one over the moon, but also no one sad. It’s the best of all worlds and (theoretically) should be enjoyable by everyone. Remember to include the GM in this! The GM is as much a participant in the campaign as the players are.

After you’ve got the numbers and results, get your players together for a prep session and talk about how everyone voted. Explain how you feel about certain things and make sure your players do as well. It’s perfectly fine to move the results about during this period. Perhaps a player didn’t fully understand what he wanted or changed his mind. Really, the numbers don’t matter. What matters is the GM and his players are having a conversation. It’s the conversation that’s important. It’s the conversation that can help you create a game that lasts. And its the numbers that help you start that conversation.

Picking Over the Bones
And that’s it. I hope folks found this tidbit useful (and not just for GURPS gamers!). Like I said above, it’s a starting point for a campaign. A way to get the ball rolling.

Posted in Gamemaster's Guidepost and tagged , , .


  1. Tried this out on the potential group today. Basic game concept was post apocalyptic, just after the fall, zombie survival/supers game. The EVENT changes 99% of people to living zombies, 1% live, 1% of those get 50 point psi. What was interesting about framing was an interest by the players in investigation. I did not expect this. Now I'm wracking my brain (in a good way) to come up with investigations that will be interesting and fun; I'm thinking big arc is "what was the event" and shorter arcs on "Where's the good loot at" or "I need 23grams of palladium 214 to make this gizmo". Not sure if there's going to be interest in sad "how Jimmy died" investigation, though. Anyhow, thanks for the posts, they brought some things to light that I didn't plan for or expect.

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