Why am I scared of being a game master?

In last week’s post, I wrote about my struggle to find a unifying theme for my diverse skills (voice work, process documentation, presentation) and the end of that struggle when I realised I’ve had one for years: Being a game master of tabletop RPGs.

And there was a bit of swearing.

Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is somewhat odd. Shouldn’t finding your life’s thing be cause for celebration? Especially when it’s something that’s straight-up geeky?

Well, as an author I enjoy once wrote, “Jesus was half-right: First, the truth shalt piss you off.” For starters, freedom is great, but terrifying; for seconds, ponder a moment on the concurrent discovery that you’ve been living with at least one lie up until now, that you’ve even been telling the lie to yourself. That’s not happy-making news.

Then there’s the new struggle of embracing that theme. Why is that scary?

Let me break it down:

Scary: Having A Direction

I’ve spent years trying to run away from the RPG hobby. Like I wrote in the last post, I’ve had a hefty RPG collection that I’ve whittled down over the years due to depression-based attempts to quit. In part, moving to Cairns had its root in the same thing – when I moved here in 2005, there were no FLGSes in Cairns, no comic book shops, no Games Workshop store.

Having this brain wave earlier would have made the various “Live Your Legend” work books I’ve downloaded (and my brief flirtation with the Puttytribe) make a lot more sense.

And here’s the tough one: The real fun of roleplaying games doesn’t come from the books, dice and assorted other products I can buy, it’s from getting a group of people together for a four-hour session every week/fortnight/month, and the real life shenanigans that prevent that from happening really frustrate the control freak in me.

Scarier: The Marketing Umbrealla

Finding a unifying theme isn’t just about discovering a sense of self: it’s about presenting yourself to people who need waht you have to offer and are willing to pay your rate. On the face of it, marketing my vocal, writing, hosting, procedure wrangling and content producing skills under this umbrella of being a game master of tabletop roleplaying games to folks who not only might not be looking for one but also not know what a game master is seems a rather silly marketing move.

Also, letting my geek flag fly, even in this time when the geeks are seemingly ruling the world, is still an uncertain endeavour, especially for someone who struggles with a fear of not being liked.

Scariest: Serving Folks

I mentioned being a control freak earlier on, and the scariest part about offering yourself out to help people beans being willing to serve others’ needs, and when you still struggle a little with knowing what you want it can be hard to see just how what you love doing can genuinely help others.

Plus, when you commit to serve, it means you really have to give of yourself, more than you maty be ready for.

Still, I have this crazy idea that being a game master isn’t just about hamming it up, obsessing over systems and adapting frantically to the crazed imaginations of three to five other folks – that, just maybe, game mastering a group of people for a tabletop roleplaying can help.

That letting people try on being heroes (or, at least, out of the ordinary characters), practice facing insurmountable challenges with minimal real-world consequence if they fail, can help them take on the challenges in their own lives – and see failure as just another learning experience.

And that imagining yourself as an adventurer braving the unknown and facing down impossible odds is… well, let me borrow the words of someone who’s gone all in on his creativity as he describes the arc of a character in his comic book:

The memories you make in (roleplaying) games at some point will become as real as your real memories. The longer you have a memory, the farther you get from the actual event, the more polished it gets… you forget details, some details get embellished, others get dropped… As years and decades go down the line, your real memories are almost as made-up as your made-up memories.

That’s exciting to (Val) because her memory of when she was a dwarf is as real as her memory of being picked on in school. She’d rather remember – believe that she was a badass dwarf than the girl that was picked on in school. She wants to game a lot because in games, she can makes memories that she really appreciates and better define her.

Val’s story is about the time you spend with your friends and the memories you make when you’re gaming.

– Scott Kurtz, Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast (Season 16 Episode 01)

I’d love to help folks create memories for themselves and their friends that better define them than the memories of lives they’ve been born into and circumstances that seemingly conspire to beat them down. And that kind of responsibility is damned scary.


Happy Jacks RPG Podcast

Table Titans

Featured image sourced from ComicBooked.com



2 thoughts on “Why am I scared of being a game master?

  1. Pingback: Well, Shit. I Guess I AM A Fucking Game Master, Aren't I? - Rob Farquhar - Game Master

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