Things that I need to work on as a Savage Worlds GM

After hearing from the player that quit the Deadlands Noir game that I am running, the players that were available and I had a discussion before we started the next session.

Now I know there are things that I need to work on, and since this is the longest I have run a game in close to five years, and I never really got used to running Savage Worlds games (this might be the longest I have run a Savage Worlds game ever, or at least it soon will be) there is a lot of rust and even older bad practices to work on.

The reasons why the one player quit were valid, I did do the things he was upset about, and they are in the list of things that I need to work on. So here are the items that I intend to work on, and what I plan to try to do to get better about them.

  1. I need to work harder at making the player characters the stars of the story. I have had cases were the non-player characters have shown them up for no reason other than the dice roll was really good.
  2. There was the feeling that I was overly protective of the non-player characters in general.
  3. There was some concern about my denial of resources to the characters.
  4. There was discussion about the number of bennies that I give out during a session.
  5. Some of the monsters that I had used were overly powerful/impossible for the players to deal with/defeat.
  6. The same rules didn’t always apply for the non-player characters as the player characters.

Those were the big things that came out, there were probably other things that I am forgetting right now, but I also have a plan to help deal with anything that I might be missing. Now I do admit that I am guilty of all the things that were brought up as issues and that they are problems, and since I want to be a better Game Master, that is why I want to work on them.

So these are the things that I am going to try to do or continue to do improve.

  1. I am going to continue to let the players lead where things go, to choose the tasks that they pick up and the order that they are going to deal with them. I am going to continue to minimize the number of dice rolls that I do and I am going to work at giving each of the players more of an opportunity to shine by encouraging them to make use of their specialties (Patent Scientists use of their Weird Science skill, the stealth characters stealth rolls, the private detectives investigation skill, etc.)
  2. This was really three different issues, and while I did do things that made it look like this was more of an issue than I hope it really is, I still need to work on them. The first part was a lack of explicitly alerting the players when they wound and a wild card soaks the damage, so I am going to work towards making sure that the players fully understand what is going on. The second issue was me actually being guilty of this at least occasionally, so I need to work to make sure that I don’t do this without at least awarding bennies. The third one is to make sure that we are all clear on the rounds and to make sure that we all are following the same rules.
  3. This will hopefully be mitigated by my explicit statements on how I am going to deal with resources from now on in this game. I know that I am not the best at giving out money in the game, because I just don’t find the tracking of money as interesting. I also though don’t want the players worrying about not having bullets for their guns or any other low-cost items like that.
  4. This is going to be the hardest thing for me to improve on. When I started with roll-playing games, there was nothing like bennies to give out. In addition, most of my experience playing Savage Worlds before this group didn’t hand out bennies during the session. My intention on this has always been to follow a lot of the concepts of Fate Core’s Fate Points, but I keep forgetting to do this, so I am going to try to pay more attention to this and hopefully also get help from the players to do better about this.
  5. I have a large number of Savage Worlds settings and there are some creatures in various books that I just find cool and want to use. One example of this was the Living House in The Lost Sons. The issue with this is that some of the settings have dramatically different power levels, and this is without including Savage Rifts. So I need to be much more diligent and critical about evaluating the monsters that are being used.
  6. For this item, I am going to rely on the players to call me on it when it happens (I am pretty sure it will even though I want to minimize it). I hope that I get better about this and hopefully I be better about it.

The last thing I intend to do from now on is to implement a little bit of agile retrospective feedback by putting together some index cards with three questions on them. I am not entirely sure on the questions, but let the players answer any or all of the questions and give them back to me to review and use to improve my skills. The questions that I am currently considering are:
1. What was your favorite thing that happened?
2. What would make the game more fun?
3. What would you like to learn more about in the game?

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Author: Hours without Sleep

I am a professional software tester, who has an interest in programming, computers, role-playing games, history, and reading in general. This is my third attempt at keeping a blog, and I am going to try putting all of my thoughts in one place, and see how it goes.

3 thoughts on “Things that I need to work on as a Savage Worlds GM”

  1. You’re doing it from an agile retrospective feedback approach…noooo!!!! 🙂

    I think it is interesting that you got some of this feedback from the player who quit, but why did they let it get to the point where they quit rather than raise the issues with you in the first place? That’s really unfortunately.

    On #5 in particular, though, back in the stone ages when I ran AD&D (1st edition – yes, I’m nearly a relic), I made it clear that “random encounters” in the wilderness were exactly that – random. They needed to judge whether or not they could take down the creature on their own – I did NOT hand choose their encounter to match their levels. I think, for your adventures, that the opposition (be it encounters or traps) needs to have multiple ways to overcome them. The players need to learn that fighting EVERYTHING is bad and discretion is the better part of valor. If every encounter is a Leeroy Jenkins moment, they should expect to get their noses bloodied more often than not….

    Just my two cents.

    1. Well you do what you know I guess, though I don’t know that I have ever seen it work well, maybe this will be that time. 😉

      I learned during those times as well, and I went into the most unbalanced conflict without any particular way for them to handle it in mind. They did choose the escape instead of fight option which was good because fight really wasn’t much of an option. It wasn’t until later that I remembered that they had the ingredients and skills needed to make a bomb instead of using brute force and a battering ram to escape. Hindsight and all that I guess.

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