Every now and then a book comes along that encapsulates a subject, a general history or study of a subject that provides something for both beginners and experts. In the hobby of roleplaying, there aren’t a lot of these books. The first one that springs to mind is the classic, Role-Playing Mastery by Gary Gygax. That’s an essential book that is sadly out of print. Probably the first book about the “art” of roleplaying rather than the rules, Gygax offers timeless advice for both players and game-masters. Experienced GMs and players will likely consider some of it “old hat,” but I find it refreshing to re-read sections of the book. It often reorders my thinking about something when GMing, and occasionally even lightens my attitude toward other players. Gygax does not focus on any particular system since roleplaying itself is essentially “systemless,” he does include examples or anecdotes from both Chainmail and Dungeons & Dragons. Despite it being written in the dark ages Before GURPS, this is a book I recommend highly to many people, especially GURPS GMs.
How to Be a GURPS GM is one of those essential tomes for those who want to run a GURPS game or campaign. Written by Warren “Mook” Wilson and populated by advice from Sean “Kromm” Punch (the GURPS line editor and pretty much final authority when it comes to GURPS canon and rules arbitration).
I know Mook personally, and consider him a friend. Mook is a fine human being and a great GM, very player-oriented and focused on providing entertaining challenges in his games. People line up for his games at Strategicon. The roster fills up before the con begins. He explores far and wide in search not only of story or creature ideas for his games but also rules and procedures that other systems or GMs employ. On his website he discusses a lot of these explorations, and also provides play reports on his convention games. Mook is simply one of the best “human resources” that GURPS and GURPS GMs have at this time. GMing is hard work and Mook breaks it down. He really knows the job and this book makes him a verifiable expert in the field.
When Steve jackson announced their Dungeon Fantasy Kickstarter, it was good to see that Mook’s book would be one of the items awarded to backers. It was further pleasing to hear that the company would be placing the book in their print-on-demand titles. The book is simply a must have for any GURPS GM, regardless of experience. New GMs will appreciate the advice on running a table; experienced GMs may gain something from Mook’s advice on player management, particularly guiding new players through character creation. As a longtime follower of Mook’s blog, I can say that his insights on players have helped me considerably over the years. Awareness and consideration of his “player-positive” attitude has helped shape me into a better GM.
With all these things in mind, I don’t understand why anyone who runs GURPS games doesn’t have this book in their collection. More than one person when asked has retorted, “I’ve been GMing for years; I think I know how.” Maybe they should write a book. I’ve been GMing for decades, and I found the book very useful and insightful.
If you want to be a GURPS GM, buy this book and read it twice before you run a game. If you’re already a GURPS GM, buy this book and read it once before you run another session. If you don’t want to be a GURPS GM, you’re sanity is questionable because you read this far. If you skipped ahead to the end, pat yourself on the back, cheater.