If I haven’t been posting lately it’s for two reasons. Firstly, I’m not actively GMing right now. The other reason is that I’ve been reading Gnome Stew and that has satisfied my need for GM blogging. I’d like to draw your attention to today’s Gnome Stew article, Mayhem, Squared Circle Style. (As noted in the GS comments) for years I’ve been claiming that everything I know about GMing I learned from pro wrestling. I’ve been trying to sum this up in a post here, but it never goes right and I scrap the post. Gnome Stew made the post for me so now I don’t have to.
The one thing I’d like to add about the WWE school of GMing is that it’s not just about putting on a series of matches to make an awesome show. For me, it’s all about planning for that big show two months from now. When you finally go toe to toe against the big bad evil guy that’s been the cause of all your problems, it shouldn’t be just another fight – it should be the main event at Wrestlemania. And to make this epic finale into your main event, you need to establish the guy you’re fighting as a total badass. To use a wrestling term, you need to “put over” the opponent before the players get a shot at him.
The most effective method I’ve found for this is with an ally who betrays the group. You get a chance to show the ally’s prowess when he’s on the players side. Be wary of showing off too much, the players should still be the stars of the show. But you could throw a combat at them that’s way out of the PCs league, only to have their buddy run in and save them. This establishes that he’s more powerful than the group. They’ll respect him. Then when he turns on them, with a steel folding chair to the face or otherwise, not only do they know he’s the better fighter, they hate him for it too. This respectful hate is a great thing to shoot for in your villains. It’s too easy to dismiss someone who is monstrously evil. But someone who swayed from the path ever so slightly, or had just a little too much conviction makes for a far more interesting character.