PLAY SORCERER 44: The Role of the Game Master

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All the players at the table playing Sorcerer are playing together.

This is why the Sorcerer rulebook opens up with the analogy of Sorcerer play being like member of a band making music together. The analogy is not just about the fact that a group of people are gathered to create together. It is more specifically there to point out how the people gathered are there to work together while creating, even as they are fulfilling distinct roles in the creative activity. Just as member of a band play different instruments, and each of these instruments have different effects and functions in the making of music, so the players at a session of Sorcerer have different roles—with unique functions—in the making of story.

One of these roles is the Game Master.

To make explicit: Even though the Game Master is not in the same role as the Players, he is not opposed to the Players. There is no antagonism between the Game Master and the Players. He is not there to trip the Players up.

Nor is he an impartial referee in the creation of the story, simply adjudicating events take place around the Characters like a judge during a trial. Like the Players, he is very invested the creation of story. Also like the Players, he is very invested in the Characters. Giving the Players of the Characters material to work with so they can reveal the Characters through action and behavior is one of the Game Master’s most significant duties.

The Game Master doesn’t get to drive the story—that’s what the Players do with their Characters. The Game Master seldom gets to be the center of attention of the biggest, most dramatic moments of play—the stories are about the Characters, so those moments will usually belong to them. The Game Master doesn’t get to decide which of the many characters he portrays during play will be most important to the Characters or interesting to the Players, which of his many characters will be a valuable nemesis or minor character, which of his characters—no matter how beloved—will get as much “screen time” as he would like.

What, then, does the Sorcerer Game Master do? What the functions of a Game Master in Sorcerer and what are the rewards?

In the following pages I’ll cover how I play the role of Sorcerer Game Master and what I get from the experience.

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