It has been a while personally since I last ran a campaign, I have run a few games for family and friends over the last few years… Some 4e. A bit of The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men. And more than a few board and card games. Unfortunately nothing really epic.
That said, I have played in games run by a few GMs here in Colorado that have rekindled my love for gaming after not playing for a few years down in Arizona. And one thing they all have in common is a love for story.
Whether the stories are intimate or epic, they have weight. What do I mean by “weight”? Choices matter from the perspective of the PCs. Everything from choices in personality or character construction to more tactical decisions to simply choosing where to go next.
Ultimately the GM is there to set the stage and offer interactions with the secondary characters. So things like describing the setting and NPCs, setting events in motion before, during, and after the PCs get involved, and keeping the wheels turning like a well oiled machine are important. All the planning and scheming takes time and energy, as does taking on all those NPC roles. Though I have sometimes found my PCs with more in common with the NPCs than the other PCs in the group, I have great appreciation for deep histories and philosophical discussions as well as creative combats and skill challenges.
It’s all important. But where’s the epic-ness of it all?
For me it boils down to scope. In a campaign my friend Mike ran in a magic-infused ancient Rome we came to a crossroads and found an army of spirits waiting on the other side to cause trouble. Of course, the campaign ended prematurely and we never figured out what exactly those ghosts wanted. But the potential was there to get into a whole new level of crazy.
In the two 4e campaigns I’m playing in now, Jason is running the Zeitgeist Adventure Path from EN World and Mark is running a homebrew campaign known as “Bloodrune”. Both have thrown us into the thick of things with trying to save the world. Our entertaining groups of characters with their quirks are being relied on to stop cataclysms. And that’s just awesome.
So though I hope to get back to GMing at some point, I want to thank my recent GMs for raising the epic bar in the campaigns I’ve had the pleasure of playing in over the last few years. Many thanks and I hope things continue until my characters die horrible deaths.
For more about Epic GMing, be sure to check out the kickoff post over at Kobold Enterprise. Plenty more epic-ness in store!
And be sure to check out the GM’s Day Sale going on over at RPGNow before it ends!