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MoonHunter Sayeth 20180516

MoonHunter

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The Confidence Game

When a Grifter (or Con-Man) runs a confidence game, they scheme to gain someone’s trust in order to get what they want (usually cash). A GM needs to gain and hold the troupe's trust, to get what they want- A Good Game.

Game Mastering, like any type of performance, is all about The Right Confidence.


Too much confidence and things come off artificial and there is never any improvement. Too little confidence and no player follows along and it all comes crashing down. There is a golden sweet spot for a GM's (or performer's) Real and Right Confidence. That is where you want to be.

Just to clarify, Real Confidence is what the GM (or Performer) actually has. It is what they feel, allowing them to ignore fears and stresses. Right Confidence is the ideal amount of confidence that the GM (or performer) exudes during task at hand. You can have little to no real confidence, but still seem confident during the task at hand/ performance. ("That is why it is called Acting Mr Smith")

When "expert" Game Masters name the qualities of a good GM, they often cite confidence. I agree 100%. Well a qualified 100%.

Too much real confidence is a game killer. Some game masters boast unshakable confidence in their skill, even though their games only attract players because no one else wants the GM's spot. Confidence leaves these GMs blind to their flaws. Everything is perfect because they believe it is. They are confident in what they are doing is so perfect, that they ignore the evidence in front of them or rebuff comments by the other players. Thus the players are less and less thrilled with the game... and at its worse, will kill the game.

Too little real confidence is the real killer. To be honest, players with too little real confidence will seldom, if ever, game master. They don't have enough confidence to think they can "perform" in front of the group well; more tragically, they don't think they have the skills/ abilities to game master (as anyone can GM to some degree).

There should be balance in between. Okay, the balance should be on the high side. A little healthy doubt is important to a GM (or any writer or performer).

Doubt keeps you hungry. Doubt keeps you sharp. Doubt keeps you from going too far. Doubt keeps you in check.

Everyone's GMing skills can stand improvement. (Even mine.) However well the last session went, one can find ways to do better. When MoonHunter finishes running a game, he reflects back on the session. He look for ways to recreate moments that went well and fix any less perfect moments or better incorporate story telling elements. (Then blogs about it later....)

A lack of confidence makes me a better game master. (*1) Don’t tell the players. To them, the GM need to seem confident at all times.

If GM speaks of the setting and chronicle with confidence, players are more likely to believe them. The players trust a confident GM to present it properly and make sure that it will react in ways the make sense. When the GM seem uncertain about what happens in the chronicle, it yanks the players out of their imagination and reminds them that the GM is just making things up. So the GM needs to present the right confidence for the job of GMing.

GM's are often confident in their material (game rules and setting) because they know the material very well (get some flash cards and study up). This helps build real confidence.

Then it comes down to presentation. Confidence generates and holds attention.

One needs to be confident in presentation. One needs to speak strongly and clearly. One needs to be looking at the people you are talking too (and shifting who you are talking too in the group and try to look people in the eyes.) There are some additional things you can do to present a confident face at the table. @20180509

This all helps project The Right Confidence. You take in what the audience is going and responds to it.

Right Confidence helps you present information and the audience being confident that it is correct.

Right Confidence lets you make rulings with authority. (*2) When the players see the GM is unsure, it is blood in the water. They try to wheedle advantages as the game lurches along. Immersion requires a setting and mechanics that don’t change as the GM waffles. Listen to the players and what they need. Make a confident ruling that seems fun and fair. Then keep the game moving on.

Remember, no one (game master or writer or performer) is confident all the time. If they are, they have the wrong kind of confidence (and too much of it). You just need to pretend enough to show authority. No problem. Lucky for us gamers that we pretend and take on roles all the time.

The secret to projecting confidence at the table lies in role playing. Play the character of a confident, expert game master. You, the confident expert, know that ideal. You, the confident expert, can play that ideal until you are that ideal. You, the confident expert, can run a great game. The players will play their characters, roll some dice, and have fun. They want you to succeed just as much as you do, because it is a better game for all.

The practice of confidence will help the GM present a better game. You can build up from real confidence and present The Right Confidence at the table.


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*1) For game masters who sometimes lack confidence, this insight should feel encouraging.

*2) As a game master, one may worry that someone at the table will know the rules better than you do. Don’t let this shake your confidence (take on the role of the confident expert game master). Someone might actually know more, and that doesn’t matter. The GM is the person who prepares adventures, plans a campaign, and runs the monsters and NPCs.

As a GM, one needs to know enough of the rules to keep the game moving, but the GM does not need to match the rules lawyer. The GM can delegate mastery of the rules (or some sub section of the rules) to an aGM.
 
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