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Supporting New GMs
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taxboy



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 519

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:08 am    Post subject: Supporting New GMs Reply with quote

I am keen for a discussion to see how any new GMs in 09 felt theirs games and preparation etc went in the way Kapcon is currently run and how their experience may be improved to encourage more and more GMs to run each year.

I think we have had some discussions in past years but I think it is still a relevant topic.
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taxboy



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 10:36 am    Post subject: Me First! Reply with quote

And i will make the first post - Smile


The Good

a) The Kapcon website new game sign up and blurb process is really good

b) The community on these Boards are open to provide feedback of ideas etc

c) a number of players willing to take a chance on new GM's

The Areas for Development

Actual GM support is non-existent - in a perfect world this would include

a) Information of an assistance programme for New GMs
b) At least one experienced Kapcon player or GM making themselves availabe to sit in a play test
c) potentially a GM Mentor assigned to read the game, assist with brainstorming and feedback
d) a person on the Kapcon day assigned to the new GMs to help with logistics and worries etc
e) dedicated efforts by the organizers to make sure there are sufficient players in the new GMs game to enable them to run
f) feedback (scoring??) for all new GMs to help them for next time

I realise Kapcon is a voluntary event and I do not wish to belittle or criticise the huge effort that people put into each year but it does seem that we need to improve the way we grow our new Kapcon GM's as

1) we want new blood and recurring new blood to grow experienced Kapcon GMs
2) what happens if some of our awesome and prolific GMs die, can't make it , give up all at once.

I guess I am talking about succession planning to some degree.

Comments, thoughts and feedback welcome
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IdiotSavant



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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Location: Palmerston North (bugger)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:28 am    Post subject: Re: Me First! Reply with quote

This stems largely from the informal nature of KapCon. We want more GMs (broadening the pool is a key concern for us) - but at the same time we also want to avoid any further moves towards "professionalisation" of GMs and the wider seperation between GMs and players seen in other cons. So our efforts to support new GMs have mostly been informal and organised here or on LJ rather than through the con. But to address some specifics:

taxboy wrote:
b) At least one experienced Kapcon player or GM making themselves availabe to sit in a play test


They do; all you have to do is ask (I notice that you did, but I have no idea whether it happened in the end or not. Logistics can be a bitch sometimes, especially around xmas or at the last minute).

Sophie suggested a semi-formal pre-KapCon "playtest day", which I'd like to see happen, but for logistical reasons we'd want it run well back in December rather than in January.

Quote:
c) potentially a GM Mentor assigned to read the game, assist with brainstorming and feedback


I think the best way of doing this is to ask in public. Or enter it in the SDC.

Quote:
e) dedicated efforts by the organizers to make sure there are sufficient players in the new GMs game to enable them to run


I'll punt that one to the on-the-day staff, but note that we have been known to conspire to give people a "good group" (who have all volunteered specifically for the role) to ensure their game runs smoothly and they have a good GM experience.

Quote:
f) feedback (scoring??) for all new GMs to help them for next time


GMs and games are only scored if they want to be, and unless they played in the actual game, the KapCon admins hav eno idea how it went. Your best move is to ask your players informally during or post-con.
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Running: ArM5 - Fons Albae (rotating); The Laundry
Planning: KapCon XXI; The Devil's Brood (Chimera); Hydra (April 2012)
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MattCowens



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 654

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Me First! Reply with quote

Excellent feedback/suggestions. I'll jump into the discussion as an interested party:

taxboy wrote:
b) At least one experienced Kapcon player or GM making themselves availabe to sit in a play test


To help this I think an update on the Kapcon blog in September/October and here to let people know that playtesting is a good idea and arrangements can be made through NZRaG is a good idea.

taxboy wrote:
c) potentially a GM Mentor assigned to read the game, assist with brainstorming and feedback

idiot wrote:
I think the best way of doing this is to ask in public. Or enter it in the SDC.


Actually the feedback from the SDC doesn't get to GMs until the prizegiving ceremony - a little late to help them with running the game at the con. Having judged the SDC this year I'm happy to volunteer to look at people's notes for K19. I could probably look at 2 or 3 scenarios and offer feedback in Nov/Dec if GMs are interested.

I think it's a good time to be revisiting new GM support - the last big push was several years ago through WARGs. It wasn't hugely successful, but there may be better ideas or simply more willing new GMs in coming years Smile
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itowlson



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 276

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Sophie suggested a semi-formal pre-KapCon "playtest day", which I'd like to see happen, but for logistical reasons we'd want it run well back in December rather than in January.


I suggested something similar for Fright Night, but the way I envisaged it working was that somebody would pick an appropriate date using advanced "pulling out of backside" techniques, and announce it well in advance so GMs wanting playtesters and players wanting to get an extra game could keep the date free. (It would also serve as a handy hard deadline for pathological procrastinators like me *grin*.) But actually arranging the games would still be between the GM and the players, just like the way most people currently organise playtests. The main logistical impact on the convention organisers would be providing a way for GMs and players to link up, which could be nzrag.com or a mailing list. That could be set up way in advance so it isn't a burden during crunch time.

The alternative idea seems to be of something more formal, e.g. a pre-arranged venue and times/rounds -- almost a mini-Confusion or GoDcon. (At least that's the impression I have; I may have misunderstood.) Clearly that would require considerably more organisation and I can understand the reluctance to take it on on top of the real Kapcon! But an informal playtest day should help address taxboy's suggestion without all the admin overhead. Sophie/Idiot: how did you see the "semi-formal" approach working and is there any way it could be rejigged to reduce the logistical effort involved?
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IdiotSavant



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1046
Location: Palmerston North (bugger)

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

itowlson wrote:
I suggested something similar for Fright Night, but the way I envisaged it working was that somebody would pick an appropriate date using advanced "pulling out of backside" techniques, and announce it well in advance so GMs wanting playtesters and players wanting to get an extra game could keep the date free.


That's a pretty good idea, and the lowest-impact way of doing it.

Quote:
The alternative idea seems to be of something more formal, e.g. a pre-arranged venue and times/rounds -- almost a mini-Confusion or GoDcon. (At least that's the impression I have; I may have misunderstood.) Clearly that would require considerably more organisation and I can understand the reluctance to take it on on top of the real Kapcon! But an informal playtest day should help address taxboy's suggestion without all the admin overhead. Sophie/Idiot: how did you see the "semi-formal" approach working and is there any way it could be rejigged to reduce the logistical effort involved?


Well, one idea that was tossed around after one of Mash's playtests was that rather than getting one group together for one playtest in someone's lounge, we'd get two groups together, use another room, and do two sessions seperated by pizza. Which is more of a logistical hassle, but not frightfully so. OTOH, as its in someone's house, you still need to clear every attendee with the host. Alternatively, having wandered around VUW on a Sunday recently, there's plenty of scope to just borrow a venue...
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Playing: ArM5 - Fons Albae; Pendragon: Defenders of Sarum
Running: ArM5 - Fons Albae (rotating); The Laundry
Planning: KapCon XXI; The Devil's Brood (Chimera); Hydra (April 2012)
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Scott



Joined: 27 Jan 2006
Posts: 172

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey taxboy I will reply on the points I actually can here:

a, b, c. most of this sort of stuff comes out of NZRag and asking people on here, but Potentially we could ask Matt Cowens to take up a role as GM developer for Kapcon. Seeing as he has a lot of experience in Scenario design and was involved in many of the discussions we wused to have about GMing and also has a lot of respect within the community. Just have to ask him nicely Wink.

d) You can actually always approach me at the desk about this I'm not that scary. I usually have spare power cables, pens, paper, scissors, whiteboard markers, limited printing and so on, if you have forgotten anything.

e) We actually really try to first make sure everyone gets their first or second choice picks and also to make sure every game is full, with people coming and going, pulling out of games or deciding they want to take a round off this isn't always possible. But I do apologise, I hate not giving enough players to a GM who is trying to run a game.

f) There is actually a scoring system for GMs, but some like to be scored others don't, so you need to advise your players at the table. But a good place for feedback is things like tha Kapcon after party where you can corner your players in a social environment and interrogate them Wink
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taxboy



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 519

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks guys - all very helpful - I think the main thing is have an agreed system to address all these points and have it public or reiterated so newbies have something to follow and someone to help them (and know who that is) - at the moment it is ad hoc and pretty much figure it out yourself.

And i'm not shy but i still felt like it was hard work to try and get some help with what the heck was going on - the organizers are too busy on the day (please their cotton socks) but it would be cool to have a designated person for GM's new, newish and just shy to liaise with beforehand and on the day.

..and to be honest I was really gutted when I could not get the 4 players i needed on the 2nd day and it would be great to have someone at the Kon strong arming volunteers to contribute one sessions play to new GM's games.

in summary, it would cool to have a

1) procedure of help and support for new GM's
2) a GM liaison officer beforehand and on the days
3) some mechanism to ensure numbers

I'm happy to work with someone more experienced on the mechanic steps of this process.
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taxboy



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

..but having said that - I learned heaps from having to write, playtest (to death) and actually run a game at Kapcon.

Thanks to Luke for some initial advice btw.

..and i fully intend running again

as a further aside, if anyone on the Boards played in my two games could you PM me with feedback - good and constructive.

Cheers
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Esker



Joined: 22 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing I'd like to see changed re the scoring of GMs is to have it happen by default - i.e. the players should expect to fill out a scoring form for every game they play in. GMs who opt out can simply have their forms sent to the bin instead of being tallied.

Because honestly, saying to your players "I do/do not want to be scored" is hardly as high a priority as actually getting the game going. I don't think it was mentioned once to me by any GM I played with.
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Scott



Joined: 27 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This particular topic is one that comes up again and again and can be quite devisive. The GM scoring has been compulsory at times in the past as well. Some people like it and some people hate it. It is something we could always change again but we would have to get public feedback first.
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itowlson



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esker wrote:
One thing I'd like to see changed re the scoring of GMs is to have it happen by default - i.e. the players should expect to fill out a scoring form for every game they play in. GMs who opt out can simply have their forms sent to the bin instead of being tallied.


Please, no. This just ignores the feelings of GMs who dislike being scored, and makes unnecessary work for players (as a player, I don't want to have to agonise over a rating if I don't have to) and for the organisers (who have to filter out the unwanted forms). What problem are you trying to solve here?
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Esker



Joined: 22 Mar 2006
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

itowlson wrote:
Esker wrote:
One thing I'd like to see changed re the scoring of GMs is to have it happen by default - i.e. the players should expect to fill out a scoring form for every game they play in. GMs who opt out can simply have their forms sent to the bin instead of being tallied.


Please, no. This just ignores the feelings of GMs who dislike being scored, and makes unnecessary work for players (as a player, I don't want to have to agonise over a rating if I don't have to) and for the organisers (who have to filter out the unwanted forms). What problem are you trying to solve here?


How does it ignore the feelings of those who don't want to be scored? They never get to see the scores, and players are going to make judgements whether they write it down or not.
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taxboy



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

errr - new GM feedback and scoring could actually be different beasts - feedback can be more like questions answered and points to improve..


..and I would never be keen to force either on a GM thay did not want it or make things more complicated unless there was a beneficial outcome of some sort
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itowlson



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Esker wrote:
How does it ignore the feelings of those who don't want to be scored? They never get to see the scores, and players are going to make judgements whether they write it down or not.


Let me give you an analogy. Suppose someone proposed, "Players should be required to rate GMs on their looks. But GMs could opt to have their ratings thrown away." That would make my skin crawl. I don't care if I never get to see the scores. It's the *process* of being assessed that I don't care for.

And let's be honest, it doesn't have to be rational *grin*. The fact that some GMs opt out of being scored clearly indicates that some GMs do not wish to be scored. Some of them may have logical reasons, but some may just plain feel uncomfortable with it. For me, if a GM says, "I don't want to be scored," that's good enough. I'm not going to require them to justify that decision.

I'm still not sure what problem you're trying to solve or what benefit you're trying to create. Could you elaborate on what the problem is with only scoring games that the GM wants to be scored? Or what is the benefit of filling out forms that just get thrown away?
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