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What's your favorite GM advice Cliché


Unabashed optimist
RPGnet Member
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From Apocalypse World (all the GM advice is excellent and often very pithy) "Look at everything through crosshairs". Be prepared to kill, demolish and bury in the poisoned ground any part of the world. Have no NPC, storyline or other thing that you are not prepared to demolish if it makes the game work better.


Validated User
My favorite is "read the room." Yes its dead on right, but also really difficult. Its just short hand for a whole set of communication skills and emotional intelligence skills. The type that corporations spend millions training people on year-in and year-out.

Good advice but probably a master class on its own.


Registered User
Validated User
Apocalypse World again, "respond with fuckery and intermittent reward."


Registered User
Validated User
I can't remember if I read it or someone said it to me, or if I've just picked it up over the years, but...

Players always come up with more interesting things to do than gms


Electronic Thing
Validated User
"Listen to the players, and steal their ideas."

So at the end of a boss fight, if one of the players says, "Hmm... that was easy. Too easy. Think it was just a Doombot?" Then, yes. Yes, it was just a Doombot.

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
"Sex, in a roleplaying context at least, just isn't funny enough. Even if you are wearing a clown suit at the time.

"Now frustration....that's funny." -- Teenagers from Outer Space, 2nd Edition

It may not be the best or most broadly useful bit of advice in GMing, but it sums up my philosophy perfectly.


Registered User
Validated User
"Say yes". I THINK I first saw something like this in Nobilis 2nd edition, but definitely in Dogs in the Vineyard and Burning Wheel. Essentially, unless there's some good reason, say yes to whatever the player is describing. If not, then roll dice/engage mechanics or say no. But don't just use mechanics to use mechanics. If nothing important is at stake, say yes.
Let it roll, from Burning Wheel. Don't just keep asking the players to reroll stealth or climbing tests or whatever just because there's some minor new complication, this simply guarantees eventual failure (or eventual success). Roll once and make it count for the rest of the sequence.
These are two of my favorites and I feel that they really go hand-in-hand.


Resplendent and Coniferous
Validated User
"Prep situations, not plots."

I almost can't believe it hasn't been mentioned already!


Statistical out-liar
Validated User
"The heroic saviors of the land are kleptomaniacs. They will steal anything that isn't nailed down. They'll use a crowbar for anything that is."

"Players are use to conservation of detail. If you described it, then it must be important."

We seriously spent an hour of real time with them tapping every tile in a room, prying them up, checking for traps, rearranging, etc. because I said as a throw away description "The tiles in this room are one foot squares arranged in a checker pattern."


Can I be your familiar?
Validated User
I don't know if it's my favorite, but one that I've heard bandied about here on RPG.net (not sure of its original provenance) goes something like "the character sheets are the GM's guide to what the game is supposed to be about."
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