Basic tips for a new GM 

1) Know your rules – You need to have a firm understanding of the games mechianics before you begin play. How do the characters win a fist fight, climb in a window, crack a safe, drive a car, win a drinking game or seduce an NPC? If you cant answer any of the above STOP NOW!

2) Know the characters – What are the player characters capable of, any special rules or abilities, their back ground and finally how will they all come together. This way you can better tailor your game to fit the characters.

3) Know your setting – Is there magic in the world? Is there a tavern in the town? Are vampires attacking? You must know all of these things in order for your game to come across as coherent. If you know the setting well it will be easier during those times when the players do something unexpected and you have to fly by the seat of your pants!

4) Preparation – Have something planned for the game, there is nothing worse for a player than sitting there cringing as your GM dies on his ass. Even if it's just a rough outline it is already much better than nothing at all. The more preparation the better however beware of falling foul of our next point.

5) The rail road – Subtle railroading is part of most games. As a GM you will want players to meet certain NPC’s or to travel to certain places. You may have even drawn your own maps and designed your own dungeons, all of this is great stuff. However if you don’t allow the players some freedom they will just be sat listening to you telling them a story. Make sure there are part of your game let the players feel they have a real choice in what they do, let them feel like their characters decisions really matter.

6) Know your enemy – Know how strong or wise the characters so that you can come up with appropriate challenges. There is no point having a 1st level Ranger fighting a 10th level dragon early on in the game! Know the relevant stats of your villains, especially recurring villains, you should know these NPC’s almost as well as the player characters.

7) I WANNA BE EPIC!!!!!! – OK we all want our games to be epic but if you start a game too big there can often be nowhere left to go. There is nothing wrong with stopping a gang of goblins stealing a bag of corn in the first game. A characters early stuggles often define him and when the goblin king appears to get revenge many games latter it will mean something to the players. It is the rise of the heroes that makes the story epic.

8) Rewards – Whether it is items, spells, money or technology BE CAREFUL! It is often better to award too little then too much. Once you have given a player an item it can be hard to take it away from them without causing resentment. Rewards should not over shadow the players own abilities as characters should be more than just a collection of weapons and armour.

9) Fairness – GM’s are usually judge and jury in the games they are running. Apply the same rules to yourself as you do the players e.g. If your players assassin needs to make a skill roll to ambush an NPC then your NPC should make a skill roll to ambush the players assassin. Cheating is something a GM should NEVER need to do.

10) The players – listen to them! If the players enjoy being in town don’t move them on too soon let them look for trouble in the inn or barter with shop keepers. If they want a change of scenery have the next quest take them to a different area. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback at the end of a game, this will help you to improve your game no end as you will get a feel for what your players find exciting and what they don’t.