(Leader? I never asked to be the leader.) —Squall Leonhart, FINAL FANTASY VIII
Storyteller, referee, organizer—a good GM is all three, and more besides. It goes without saying that the Gamemaster’s role is the most challenging and rewarding one in the entire FFRPG. Where players take on the role of a single heroic character and explore that character in depth, the GM is responsible for literally everything else—allies, villains, supporting cast, monsters, and world design. This chapter covers the game as seen from the other side of the table, from the first adventure to the final battle. Offered along the way are tips, tools, rules, and advice—in short, something for every Gamemaster, regardless of experience.
Of course, this section is not meant to be the alpha and omega of gamemastering advice. Literally hundreds of guides have been written on the subject over the years, and many more are likely to follow in the years to come. More importantly, there is no such thing as a fail-safe guide. Each GM and every group have their own individual needs; inevitably, some are going to slip through the cracks. Many of the suggestions and ideas in this chapter are thus more advice than gospel—in the end, your own experiences will be what guides in you in running the game.
Previous chapter glossaries recapped the most important concepts introduced in that chapter for quick reference. As a change of pace, this glossary also includes a number of common gaming terms that you may encounter in your sessions. Some of these terms originated with pen-and-paper roleplayers, while others are a product of online gaming culture and have filtered back into the roleplayer vocabulary over time.
- Any effect that improves a character’s abilities or power, as with Status Conditions like Power Up.
- A premeditated design or template for a character, usually developed around a specific set of Advantages, Attributes, and Weapon.
- Any effect that reduces a character’s abilities or power. The Weaken Status Conditions are one example of this.
- Derived from the acronym DOT—‘Damage Over Time’. Effects such as Poison and Sap fall into this category.
- Ignoring the result of a roll and deciding what the outcome should be, even if it is different from what the roll would have normally produced. Generally done by the GM if the roll would cause serious problems for the game at hand, though some will use it to ‘cheat’ the players.
- Nickname for older, more conservative gamers who tend to be deeply involved in their hobby.
- House Rules
- Tweaks and changes made to a basic RPG ruleset.
- Key Item
- Item significant to the plot or adventure.
- The practice of juggling character Attributes, Skills and equipment for maximum effectiveness in combat.
- Monty Haul
- Derisive nickname for adventures that exist allow characters to acquire increasingly ludicrous levels of money and overpowered equipment for relatively little effort.
- Nickname for players preoccupied with finding ever more elaborate means of boosting their characters’ power to obscene levels. Munchkins may often take advantage of loopholes in the rules to do this; for this reason, the most effective munchkins will also be relentless Rules Lawyers.
- To deal a large amount of damage in a single attack. ‘Nukers’ usually tend to be Mage Jobs.
- Rules Lawyer
- Nickname for players with an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and habit of arguing their minutiae at every possible turn.
- Repetitive use of a single attack over and over.
- Job or character whose primary role in a battle is to fight on the frontline and absorb the bulk of the damage dealt. This role is usually filled by Warrior Jobs.
- Acronym for ‘Total Party Kill’—a disastrous event in which every PC dies.
- Over-describing trivial environmental details like wallpaper.