GMing is like hosting a potluck

I've thought this for a while and then I wrote about it on the NSR discord and people really liked it so I thought maybe I'd share it in a blog post.

My first time playing, I GMed. It didn't go great, but it never occurred to me that there was some kind of special person needed to GM. I assumed it would just be whoever was most motivated to make the game happen. It's not until I started spending a lot more time online talking about playing that I ever doubted my GMing abilities - not because I think I'm naturally amazing or anything, but because it never occurred to me that it was some kind of skill you can rank yourself in. I actually think my original attitude was correct.

GMing is like hosting a potluck.

It is possible for hosting a potluck to go horribly wrong. It's possible for that to be, in part, your fault - maybe something catches fire, maybe you invite two mortal enemies and the night ends with everyone mad at each other. But despite that, I think anyone should be able to do it.

You can go online and find a lot of people who will really stress you out about the whole idea of having some friends over. You can get into a state of mind where you have to spend hours preparing to make your house spotless, or you start obsessing over obscure pieces of etiquette. You can read forums where people recount disastrous social events that they organized. You can follow professional event planners online and feel like you can never measure up. But really, having a bunch of friends over is fine actually and they probably want to hang out with you. And what's most important is what your particular group of friends want, not what someone on the Internet says.

As a host, you have some special responsibilities. But it's also other people's responsibility to bring something to the table as well.

And if something goes wrong, you don't conclude that you're just inherently bad at organizing a potluck, you just learn from it for next time.

In this analogy, safety tools are like checking for allergies or dietary requirements.

Written March 19 2024