It is your job to make sure that you do everything you can to create an atmosphere in which people can have fun, and maintain that atmosphere despite player sabotage.
Before the Game
1. Love the Scenario: You as the GM need to be enthusiastic about the scenario, or the players will notice and develop a hostile attitude toward you and the scenario, which is no fun for anyone.
a. Clarify: If you see something that doesn’t make sense and annoys you, try and get clarification from the author (if possible), other judges, or the event coordinator. Oftentimes such annoyances are easily remedied.
b. Fix the Scenario: If there are things you can’t abide by in the scenario, fix them. This is much harder to do in Living events, as there is an importance attached to running them the same for each group, but as long as you have the players’ best interest in mind, you should fix things.
c. Reject the Scenario: If the scenario is just too awful, and you can’t stand the thought of running it, reject it. Only do this as a last resort.
i. Do this ASAP: Don’t wait until the week before the con to declare the scenario trash. You need to sign up to judge early enough to make this decision without compromising the convention.
2. Love the Setting: If you can’t stand Greyhawk, or Living City, why are you running it?
a. Let it Die: You aren’t doing anyone a favor by running something you hate. If you dislike it that much, let it die!
b. Polish the Gems: Every setting has things about it that make it great. Find them, and present them to your players with relish.
3. Find Your Comfort Zone: Find a style, a setting, and a rules system that you can love, and run it.
a. Learn Something New: Don’t forget to try new things on a regular basis so that you can find your new love!
b. Don’t Be Guilt Tripped: Don’t volunteer to run something you don’t like just because the con needs judges for it. Find something you do like and volunteer to run that instead.
i. Player Exception: If you are an avid player in a Living campaign, you have an obligation to run it, in exchange for others running it for you on an ongoing basis. If you can’t stand to run it, but you love to play it, are you part of the problem?
4. Be Passionate: If you are passionate about the game, the setting, and the scenario, that will come across to the players!
5. Don’t be a Prima Donna: Don’t make others suffer for your preferences and attitude.
a. Be Honest: If you don’t like running something, tell the coordinator. Better they find out before the players come griping to them. Make sure the coordinator understands your preferences, so that they don’t stick you with something you end up hating them for.
b. Keep Bargaining to a Minimum: Don’t come to the coordinator with devilish bargains about trading playing for judging. It just pisses them off in the long run. Tell them exactly what you’d love to run, and if they offer you something in return, accept graciously.
During the Game
1. Don’t Slam the Scenario: Whatever you do, do not sit down and proclaim that this is the worst scenario you have ever read. If you feel that way, you should have either fixed it or rejected it (see above).
2. Maintain a Positive Attitude: Keep up the attitude during the game by embracing and feeding off of the fun your players are having.
a. Grab on to the Good Stuff: Find the players who are having fun within the context of the game, and encourage them. Their enthusiasm combined with yours will be infectious.
b. Nip the Bad Stuff Fast: Don’t let players bitch for more than one or two exchanges.
i. Gloss Over It: Sometimes players are just grumpy. Turn their grumpiness into a joke, and move on.
ii. Look for the Source: Why are they bringing the game down?
1. Is it You: Are you annoying them? If so, can you change?
2. Jerks: Are they just jerks? You need to take a firm hand.
iii. Don’t Punish the PC of an Annoying Player: It always comes back poorly on you in the end. Tell the player straight that they are being annoying, and what they can do to fix it.
3. Take Breaks if you Need To: No one is happy when they are starving or have to pee.
4. Read the Players: Keep your finger on the pulse of the players. It is your responsibility to spice up a flagging game, or cool off heated tempers. Give them what they want.
After The Game
1. Leave a Good Impression: Most players will remember the last 30 minutes of the game more than any other part. Make them enjoyable.
a. Don’t Rush: If time is running out, don’t rush the players.
i. Clip: Cut something out, and play the end whole.
ii. Summarize: You can summarize things like combat, especially if the outcome is clear. Don’t be anal about finishing a long combat, unless the players are super gung-ho.
iii. Leave Time for Paperwork: Make sure you leave plenty of time to fill out any required paperwork.
2. Give Good Feedback: Tell the players and the GM how much fun you had, what things were great, and how things could be even better next time.