The beginning of every year is a time for resolutions. Lose some weight. Quit a nasty habit or two. All of these things have something in common; doing something scary with the goal of improving life. The role of Dungeon Master (or for most games outside of Dungeons & Dragons, Game Master) is a lot of work and a little scary but when done right it can be just as satisfying as fitting into new jeans or never looking back at an old vice.
A quartet of tabletop game companies have come together to help out fledgling storytellers. Atlas Games, Chaosium, Monte Cook Games and Pelgrane Press have banded together to sponsor New Game Master Month with the goal of teaching the curious to be ready to run a brand new game by February.
Each January we run a month-long seminar in the form of twice-weekly posts. Each session will take you through a step or two in the process, with a brief lesson on an aspect of GMing followed by some quick, enjoyable activities that actually get you ready to run your first game.
Each of the companies is teaching one of their best games during the weekly posts.
An RPG of post-modern magic and surreal conspiracy. Unknown Armies encourages groups not just to make obsessive occultists seeking out hidden truths but also help the Game Master plot out strange cabals and other unique weirdness to investigate together. The schools of magic are structured around symbolic taboos that give wizards spell charges in exchange for weird, often self-destructive behavior. What if Breaking Bad was about spells instead of drugs?
A fantasy RPG set in an age of sail and swashbuckling. 7th Sea takes inspiration from The Sea Hawk, The Three Musketeers and Pirates of the Caribbean with a system that encourages witty banter, kinetic swordplay and dramatic sorcery. Players also plot out their general character arcs while encouraging Game Masters to twist, flip and turn the storyline to make the journey as exciting as the destination. If you’ve ever wanted to duel your rival, kiss your love and swing out of the window in the same turn, this is the game for you.
Numenera put Monte Cook Games on the map with by delving into the ancient wrecks of human civilizations billions of years old. Ancient technology becomes indistinguishable from magic to the citizens of the Ninth Age. The second edition opens up stories on the home front as well with players building settlements based on the mysterious loot brought back from the earlier ages.
Trail of Cthulhu
Pelgrane’s younger brother to Call of Cthulhu carried the banner of Mythos games forward by focusing on the investigative side while still keeping the horror shop. The tension in Trail of Cthulhu comes not in missing vital clues but knowing when to spend resources to help out investigators. Does the investigator have a copy of the translation back their shop? Does the cop on the occult murders case owe a favor? Will the doctor leave the investigators alone long enough to conduct the ritual?
The blog for the program is located here, though they encourage new GMs to also sign up for a Facebook group for up to the minute updates. Take a chance and tell some great stories with friends to usher in the new year.