[GMing] In Defense of the Formal Pitch

Posted: January 4, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Advice, Articles, Roleplaying Games
Tags: , ,

Lately some lively discussion in the local RPG group in G+ has prompted some interesting points of view of how GMs go about pitching a game to their players.

One of the interesting observations to come from this is that some GMs don’t bother with pitches at all. Instead they gather their players and they discuss what they want to play next, effectively creating a “group pitch” and then go from there.

While that is a perfectly good methodology, I seem to be coming from a slightly different perspective. Like the others, I also gather my group together and discuss which game they’d like to play. Once that’s set, I go back to my creative space and start thinking of a Campaign Pitch.

Which brings me to asking myself, “Why do I bother with a formal pitch?”

The question that pops up in my head is simple, “Because I want solid player buy-in when it comes to the specific campaign I have in mind.”

Pitching in my head isn’t “Okay, so D&D next week? Cool.” Instead, it’s a rather lengthy process of thinking (and overthinking) involving generating themes and coming up with a tone for the game that is both fun and appealing to multiple layers of fun.

A game can be enteraining and still preserve some form of (here I go) Literary worth. The players might not necessarily see or appreciate the little details that I’ve slipped in but I know it’s there. Much like a carpenter that pays attention to the parts of furniture that most people wouldn’t see in their lives, there are GMs who approach campaign creation with the same pride of craftsmanship.

By working on a formal pitch, the GM manages to put together essential elements that are then presented to the players. In essence, your pitch is your campiagn in a nutshell. It banishes vague generalities, and confirms expectations. By being upfront, your players will then understand what you’re going for and will be more willing to work with you to come up with stories and characters that fit that mold.

Of course the pitch isn’t the holy writ. The players are free to nitpick and suggest in order to improve it. In fact, I want this kind of feedback, as it improves the “ownership” of the campaign to the players. It’s no longer my pitch alone, but rather a product of collaboration.

My purpose in creating a pitch is to advertise to the players that, “Hey, this is what I’m okay to run with. This is what I think I can do with it. Do you like it?”

And that is why I go for a formal pitch.

  1. Hikkikomori says:

    A pitch is essentially the GM’s summary of the group’s input.

    A GM who force-feeds his own Game won’t have any Players.
    And Player/s who insist on their Game won’t have a GM.

  2. Tim K. says:

    I generally write up several pitches, and share them with my group.

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