For the last two months, I’ve been working on BITS, giving first the mechanics. That work continues this month today as we delve into the role of the Game Moderator (GM) that aids other players in using BITS! 😃
The GM is meant to be an educated player of any BITS game, possibly the most educated, as they are charged with reading at least the player guide and the GM guide.
With that knowledge, if any decision about rules, questions on play, or disputes arise from other players, the GM ultimately makes the final decision. Whatever the outcome, the GM is required to communicate their reasoning to the players. Decisions though ought to come from the place of responsibility of the GM.
Designer’s note: GMs control all fictional creatures the players do not. A GM only roll dice (2d6) when the only creatures involved in the roll are in the GM’s control. Otherwise, the player whose being is involved handles the rolling to prevent an action from happening to their being.
Out of all the things the GM does, there are four “pure” things the GM is relied on to do:
- Ensure the quality of the game.
- Describe the fictional environment, actions, and outcomes of the game in detail.
- Determine when players need to roll and by how much they must roll.
- Ask other players, “What are you doing now?”
The first point, quality, is the most important part of the game. If the game isn’t of quality, changes must happen between the GM, the game, and the other players – life is too short to be volunteering to have a bad time!
There are various methods to help ensure quality described in the WIP GM guide. The same goes for the other points above, such as including as many of the senses as possible to expand the level of detail being described.
GMs are also required to dole out reward for the game’s accomplishments, whether that be XP, treasure, or some other means of tracking progress.
Finally, GMs are given the option to include “incentive” before an adventure gets under way. Incentive is a token given to every player. Any player with a token may give that token to the GM to help another player to succeed on a roll, save themselves from danger, or other boon to encourage cooperation between players.
With the help of many reviewers, GMs also have ten rules to game by. In a quick summary:
- Rule of Ask
- Rule of Boundaries
- Rule of Consistency
- Rule of Cool
- Rule of Fun
- Rule of Know
- Rule of Now
- Rule of Reveal
- Rule of Trust
- Rule of Yes
Yes, that’s pretty vague – just know that be it respecting boundaries, deferring to the cooler option, or being fair and consistent, BITS aims to support all players as much as possible in play, including the GM.
Thus, the GM is also encouraged to check out other tips, tricks, and games that could improve how the GM plays their role. Over a dozen tips are included in the guide (#1 is “Add EXPLOSIONS!” 💥) to get a GM started on thinking about how to ensure the quality of the game.
I’m still not sure if the GM guide is the correct place to put “beings”, any fictional actor in a game. The plan right now is to keep any being in the adventures they show up in…
Potato potato 🥔 you didn’t come here for formatting details 😁
The GM must keep track of the beings involved in the game, the position of beings around the players, any communication the beings have with each other or the players, and the fighting ability of a being.
All that note taking and roleplay is a lot of work – thus, back to the designer’s note above, the GM rolls very little if at all! 🎲🎲
Everything else the GM might do the GM is only encouraged to do – read ahead in adventures, prepare content before play, create their own content, etc. Thus, BITS remains flexible no matter the game for a GM 😊
And that’s the Game Moderator! BITS is continuing to come along, changing and growing as it receives feedback and limited playtesting continues. That said, BITS is “alive” and changes happen all the time.
To capture those thoughts, I’ve started on a design guide for BITS games, each alternate mechanic getting in-depth commentary of what it is meant to do and why. This includes GM-less play (a beast of a task unto itself, though Ironsworn may provide a way ⚔).
Anyway, stay safe, y’all. Best to you and yours and your own goals. See you next week! Cheers ~
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