Dear Rolling Boxcars…

Do you have a gaming or geek-related question? Do you need help with a situation? How about a recommendation? If so, submit your questions to “The Boxcars” and let us weigh in with our collective wisdom. Questions can be submitted on the Ask The Boxcars page.

Dear Rolling Boxcars,

“How do people overcome the fear over GM’ing for the first time?”



Dear ReusterG,

You have presented us with an interesting question; one that is not easily answered, but we’re going to try. We conversed and have compiled the following list of tips and tricks that you may want to employ. This is by no means an all-inclusive list.

1.) Be familiar with the rules of the game system you are going to run – This doesn’t mean you have to be a subject matter expert with these rules. An overarching basic understanding will suffice to get you started.

2.) Be upfront with your players, let them know you are both inexperienced with running games and theses rules specifically. Your players are more likely to that much more understanding when you need to look something up than if you try to come across as a know it all.

3.) Encourage your players, who may be equally as inexperienced with the rules, to ask questions about the rules. It will help put everyone on the same footing and learning the rules together.

4.) You may find it helpful to have at least one seasoned GM in your group. They can provide you with meaningful feedback privately after the session is over.

5.) Don’t psyche yourself out with defeatist thinking – You’re going to do just fine. Will you make some mistakes? Sure, we all have and continue to do so, but the important part is that you use it as a learning moment. If you do, you can grow both your confidence in GM’ing and the learning of the game system.

6.) Be ready to go at the start of the game – By this we mean, go the restroom beforehand, have a drink and or snacks nearby, and have all of your necessary game books and props handy. Try to avoid leaving your players hanging while you fetch something you forget.

7.) When GM’ing your first few games, don’t try to do everything by the rules. This is very important! If you forget how to rule or adjudicate something in accordance with the rules, mentally acknowledge it, and roll with it. On a break or after the game let you players know that you ruled on something incorrectly. Let them know that moving forward you will rule according to rules if and when that situation arises again.

8.) Relax! Gaming is all about having fun, so try to laugh at yourself a little when you think you’ve made a mistake. Chances are, it really wasn’t as big of a deal as you thought it was!

After you have GM’ed your first few sessions and feel like your starting to get a grasp of your new-found skills, have a look at 6 Tips To Make You A Better Gamemaster to grow your GM Toolbox.

~ The Boxcars

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Very well answered. Nicely done all!


    1. modoc31 says:

      Thank you kindly for submitting your question.

      Liked by 1 person

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