NaNewGaMo: Gathering Your Gear

It’s the final week of National New Gamemaster Month. Just a few more things to cover before you’re ready to run your game!

In NaNewGaMo we’re helping players who feel the urge to run an RPG—to become a GM for the first time—take the plunge. Whether you’re new to gaming or a long-time player who’s never happened to take the GM’s seat, we’re making the process of running your first adventure an easy one. If you’re just joining us, start with the first installment. Then join us every Tuesday and Thursday throughout January, and by the end of the month you’ll be a GM too!

You’re almost a full-fledged GM. Basic training is about over, so this time we’re going to focus on honing the skills we’ve already discussed. Before we do, though:

What Do You Need?

Let’s talk about what you’ll need on the fateful evening (or afternoon, or, I suppose, morning) of your game. So far we’ve been talking mostly about skills and confidence, but this is about the actual, physical stuff.

The short answer is: You don’t need much. You’ll want the Numenera corebook, of course, and you need a copy of your adventure (but since The Beale of Boregal is in the corebook, that’s already taken care of). If you’ve jotted down any notes over the course of this program and you’d like to have them along, well, bring those. Here are a few other things you’ll need around the table:

  • Numenera uses mainly a d20, but you’ll also need a d6 and percentile dice. (We make nifty dice specifically for Numenera, but your own dice will also do nicely.)
  • Some paper and a pencil, so you can jot down notes or maybe whip up a quick map to lay the scene out for the players.
  • Blank character sheets for the players (generally only necessary for your first session, when the players are making their characters). You can download these for free and print them out, or buy very lovely full-color ones.
  • Drinks and snacks. Not strictly necessary for play, but almost always welcome.
  • Additional copies of the corebook and/or the Numenera Player’s Guide are handy, so you don’t have to keep passing your only copy back and forth. Hopefully one or more of your players will bring these.

Here are some other things that some folk like to have, but are not by any means necessary. In fact, you may want to wait until you’ve run a couple of sessions to decide which, if any of these things, fit your GMing style:

  • Handouts, show ’em illos, or other tangible details you’ve prepared, if you’re the sort of GM who likes to prepare such things.
  • A GM screen, which compiles a lot of the game rules’ most useful data into one handy place while simultaneously keeping your notes away from prying eyes. Alternatively, we also make a very nice playmat that’s great at the gaming table.
  • A vinyl mat and some wet-erase markers. Many GMs like to use these to draw maps out for their players, particularly if they use miniatures. Which brings us to:
  • Numenera is not really a minis-oriented game, but many GMs like to use them to visually illustrate where characters and creatures are in relation to one another.
  • Some tokens are handy for tracking XP. We make an XP Deck to serve this purpose, but you can use anything you like. (I sometimes use glass beads, and Monte has been known to use M&Ms—but that raises the danger of people eating their XP.) Since XP comes and goes during the game, it’s handy to use tokens rather than constantly changing your total on your character sheet.
  • Other game accessories and texts. If I had to name one that was the handiest for Numenera, I’d say the Intrusion Deck—it’s great for spur-of-the-moment intrusions, or when your player rolls a surprise 1. The Cypher Deck is also a great time-saver. Books like The Ninth World Bestiary and Technology Compendium are handy for creating your own content—whether that’s adding an encounter or two to a published adventure or putting together your own.

NUM Intrusion Deck Cards

That may seem like a lot, but it’s a fairly exhaustive list, and nothing on that second section is at all necessary. (And I really mean nothing—do not sweat it if you don’t have that sort of stuff. Like I said, it’s probably best not to even decide whether you want it until you’ve run a few sessions and have a good idea which of these will work for you.)

Step Seven

Two activities this time. First, collect the items we talked about just above.

Second, I have a bit more reading for you. This stuff is general GMing advice from Monte, who, in addition to having written Numenera, is an incredibly good GM with many, many years of experience.

Read these sections of the Numenera corebook:

  • Chapter 21: Pages 320-339 (That’s the whole chapter.)
  • Chapter 22: Pages 340-345 (Stop when you get to the Preparing for the Game Session header, since what follows focuses on homemade adventures.)

That’s it! If you run into any questions, or would like to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you on the NaNewGaMo forum. Thursday is our last post, and then you’ll be ready to go!

Charles Ryan
Charles Ryan

Charles M. Ryan has written or contributed to titles in nearly every class of tabletop game—board games, card games, trading card games, miniature games, and roleplaying games—over a 25-year career in the game industry. He has also served as the global brand manager for Dungeons & Dragons and headed up the marketing department at the UK’s Esdevium Games, one of the world’s largest game distributors. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Monte Cook Games.