If there ever was a university course for Game Mastering, I would probably find Engine Publishing’s Odyssey in the list of textbooks.
The fourth of their series of books to help GMs run better games, Odyssey joins Never Unprepared in taking a look at a facet of the hobby that is often unaddressed in the industry: that of game (and people) management.
It’s not surprising that our hobby is a social one, and it is inevitable that the GM, often the de facto head of the group has to exercise a form of leadership and management to keep the group running. It’s not enough that the game itself is good, but there are steps taken outside of session prep and running the game that makes up for a large part of the enjoyment and experience as well.
This is where Odyssey steps in.
Odyssey is an honestly written book that looks at the real-life issues of managing a group of people to show up and commit to a game. It looks at campaigns from the very start, from concepts and frameworks, and into the management of players, story, people, risk and change. Finally it wraps up with a discussion of ending Campaigns, with a refreshingly frank take on how to end Campaigns in a manner to avoid a “bad” campaign end where players feel unsatisfied and upset.
The book is very well illustrated and laid out, with interesting art pieces that break up the discussion and augment the text. Short fiction pieces help illustrate how games go well (and badly.)
I loathe to pull specific quotes from the book because it’s very, very good. It’s clear that the authors are veterans who have given more than a fair share amount of thought and work into the book. The advice they share is meant to help people, and it shows. There’s a solid sense of “I’ve done screwed up this way before, and here’s what I think can help you avoid making the same mistake.” going on in the book, and it’s a kind of sincerity that I certainly appreciate.
Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management lives up to its name. There’s a lot to learn, and the book makes it easy. I would certainly recommend this book to any GM, and if you’re a player, do your GM a favor and buy this for him. It’ll do him (and your games) a world of good.
Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management is available from DriveThruRPG for $11.95 or roughly Php 514.00