What a CM can learn from a Game Master

is the title Jan Steurs gave the linkedin discussion about some thoughts of him.

Read that! After that come back and continue reading here 😉

I totally agree with him on the points he mentioned but I’d like to extend the thoughts a little.

Know the rules (and the grey areas)

Each game has it’s rules and so does community. And you really need to know them. And you need to know them by heart. You can’t manage a community with rules you don’t know about or even worse – with rules you don’t agree on.

Pen&Paper does know something very cool: house/table rules. These are rules that apply only to one group or even only one session. That is something I’d really recommend in communities as well.

There are situations in which a rule needs to be disregarded, e.g, to prevent character death in an unhappy situation. You’ll need to make clear that these are outstanding situations and that only you (and your team) can make this decision. It’s a very small line and easily becomes a habit.

Level up!

When a Game Master gives his players experience points, he rewards them for: difficult fights, story progess, fullfilled quests.

In a community you have things like fights and a story (product timeline) progress as well. And with that comes more experience. Not only for you, but for your community as well!

Let them know when you have leveled up, e.g. you can tell them “I used to think that […] but I’ve learned that […]” when you change the your approach with something.

The might share the same with you in return.

Here be Monsters


(Picture taken from: http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Mind_flayer)

Every P&P group faces them: evil creatures that are crawling out of the wildernes’ caves, that ascend from the nine hells. From the dragons to the mind flayers they’ll beat the hell out of your group and make them walking blood cakes in armory.

In a community you need to keep the monsters away as good as possible because being a walking blood cake in armory should not be part of communit experience. Sometimes they’ll nonetheless come at you and your community. Don’t be afraid! Face them! It’ll help nothing to ignore them or cut their ways in off, they’ll return and lay a dark shadow on your community. (You might want to get a glimpse at my guide for approbiate troll feeding)

Focus on the adventure

Similar to a group of players your community contains of, surprise!, human beings that have interests aside from your product/story. Don’t let them talk about those during your game session or in your community. Give them a break once a while, e.g. for a forum community with an Off-Topic Forum but don’t let the other interest swap over to all of your channels. And don’t expect them to have only your product / game in mind all day long. Your story/product is part of their lives. Engage them to share this experience with their friends, spread the word of how amazing your product is, but don’t let them come to your communication channels bearing only other things in mind (and remember to break this rule once in a while).


When a P&P party is on an adventure they’ll find treasures. Hide some for your community as well! That can be a code, a cool picture, an honest word in a bad situation, whatever fits for your product. Looting is one of the best feelings.

Tell them what they mean to you

It’s Valentines Day and so I’d like to end with the advice: tell your community how you feel about them, what you love, what you like about them and how great it is to have them.


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