Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review: How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss (Kort'thalis Publishing, 2015)

Google Image Search didn't bring up a good clear cover image,
so here I am being a goof with my copy.
Being the best game master I can be is a point of pride for me.  I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by excellent game masters when I was in college, even living in close quarters with several of them, and I took every opportunity to study their styles and dissect what they did that I liked and figure out how to incorporate what I liked into my own style.  It sounds kind of creepy when I say it out loud, actually.  In addition, I've read every "Dungeon Master's Guide" I've been able to get my hands on, as well as the advice offered in a half-dozen other role-playing games.  I'm constantly on the look out for ways to improve my delivery at the table to provide the best game I can, every time.

In short, game mastery is something of an obsession of mine.

That being said, Venger Satanis has thoroughly impressed me with his wonderfully lurid "How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss." Much like the rest of his work (My hand to Crom, I am not writing these reviews to kiss his ass or because I got freebie review copies and don't understand how payola works and why it's wrong.  I just really dig his stuff), HtGMLaFB is as much a toolkit as it is anything else, with random charts and blank dungeon maps included in addition to columns of advice organized seemingly by what order the ideas occurred to him in.

Much of it is advice I've never seen in other books - and it's really solid stuff.  Things that shouldn't need to be said, like "dress comfortably, but nicely, in clean clothes without holes in them" -- but given that conventions I've been to lately have had to include GM protocols that said, "take a shower, if your players complain about your BO we will ask you to leave," clearly it does need to be said.

There's certainly a level of idiosyncrasy - advice on using matching dice, for example, or refusing the shorten "Game Master" to GM - but overall the themes of self-respect, respecting the players, taking the time to get organized, understanding what you want and what your players want, and putting in an appropriate level of effort are all things that any game master worth his salt should know and take to heart.

In keeping with Venger's style of doing things, the index comes in the front of the book, taking the place of a table of contents.  Most of the column headings are easy enough to figure out what they're talking about to making finding specific information you want an easy enough task.

At this point, How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss is probably the second most referenced book at my table, right after the Swords & Wizardry core book.  And that's high praise indeed.

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled upon this review while googling another HtGMlaFB review. Fantastic! Yes, that is high praise. I'm am flattered. Thank you.

    Let Crom kill 'em all!

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