As a GM I’ve got a lot of games that I want to run and my time is pretty much limited. If I ever won the Lottery, I’d likely spend my time running or preparing games for my various gaming groups. The biggest frustration is often finding players for them – I’d love to run Cthulhutech, Shadows of Esteren, and the new RPG from Wildfire, The Void. However way you look at it, Pathfinder and D&D are usually the first RPGs that many new tabletop RPGers play. Consequently that’s what they want to play. Pathfinder and D&D are a staple (or junk food to carry the metaphor), and they often feel they encourage the “munchkin” perspective of players. We have a generation of players who have “grown up” killing other PCs online and taking their gear. As a result, many new players can often become adversarial with a GM (particularly when the GM pulls a surprise twist that the rules don’t cater for). It’s also all to easy for some new players to forget that there are others in the game, and sometimes they are indulged by new GMs (who perhaps fail to notice that no else in the group has had a chance to get a word in edgeways for the last half hour). My advice is to make sure everyone has a chance to speak, perhaps even asking more loud-mouthed players to shut the hell up (or words to that effect) so that your GM can hear…

Anyway… I’ve noticed that there are fewer GMs running basic entry level games like Pathfinder and D&D. I kicked off a thread on the ORC Edinburgh forum (you’ll need to register to see it), and we’ve pretty much come up with a few reasons why. One is GMs don’t want to run Pathfinder or D&D – they’ve moved onto other systems, and have their own RPG likes. Another is a lack of experience among those who would like to run games but up until now haven’t had the chance to play (as a GM or player). A lack of venue or players is another. Timing can be tricky, players can be fickle as well. Also a campaign is very hard work, even if it is a published one – there’s still a fair bit of work for a GM!

With that in mind, I’ve considered what might help us at ORC Edinburgh. My idea is to become a ronin GM (or roaming GM anyway). I run a few games of Pathfinder and D&D hopefully with those wanting to go on to running the games, possibly sort of mini-campaign or something from one of the Adventure Paths. They get a bit of experience playing an RPG, then I move on – “My work here is done” – starting again with a new group. Hopefully I’d be leaving some new GMs behind to continue with that group. Like the D&D Encounters series, but with a view to passing on GM skills and to give confidence to new GMs. It might also help new groups to form as a result.

This will be an interesting experiment to say the least, and would likely help the community to grow as a result. I’ll see how it goes.

Published by Bill Heron

Wannabe game designer and would-be author. I've been playing RPGs for over 25 years and have recently started creating my own RPG called Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom. I also run a number of RPGs: Cthulhutech, Call of Cthulhu, WFRP, and D&D. I'm active in the Edinburgh RPG community at and regularly play RPGs.