Marking Mark: Assigning my GM Badges

Aug 22, 2011
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I like fun and friendly bandwagons I can hop on. Stuart posted a series of GM Merit Badges on Strange Magic. The goal is to visually identify the philosophic approach a GM takes within games. As with all categorizations, the badges paint a broad stroke. They do not offer a precise definition of a particular game but rather a generalized approach which may waver on occasion.

So what does it all mean? From the top left, working counter clockwise, here are the stock definitions:

  1. My games are more of the Social, Fun and “Beer & Pretzels” style
  2. Players characters Death is a likely event in my games
  3. My games rely on a lot of Improvisation rather than pre scripted content
  4. The GM is In Charge in my games and “rule-zero” is in effect
  5. I will Mirror back player ideas I think are interesting in the game
  6. My games focuses on Exploration & Mystery
  7. There will be Player vs Player combat allowed in my games
  8. Players in my game should be prepared to Run when the odds are against them
  9. My game has Shared GMing responsibility with the other players
  10. My game focuses on Player Skill rather than character abilities

Ten badges may be a bit excessive. I picked the ones I agreed with based on my initial reaction. I waffled on Shared Responsibility. I count on my players to drive games where they want them to go rather than me herding them along. I still remain in charge so Mirror might be sufficient. Personally, I think Mirror and Shared can blend nicely.

I also waffled on Player Skill. My players know the systems we play very well. They could choose paths of optimization but generally don’t. Thus, I rely on them to pick what they want to play and they in turn expect me to recognize their choices. Shades of Shared come into play here as well.

As far as Player vs. Player, I neither encourage nor discourage it. If it happens and the actions are within character, I have no issue with it. Intra party violence happens when you live in the cold brutal world of adventuring. Generalized pvp isn’t my preference but I allow people to play individuals with conflicting goals.

The other badges pretty well define my general style. I venture out of that zone on occasion but the majority of my games fall within those criteria, from my perspective. The old guys group may disagree on a few. I leave it to them.


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