Kobold Press

The Lost GM Scrolls: James Jacobs on His First, Worst, and Funniest!

Lost ScrollsBack in the fall of 2009, Chris Dinkins and I interviewed a host of game designers and novelists who were also experienced game masters. We sent around too many questions to too many GMs and received far too much material for one article to hold. As a result, a lot of great material got scrapped. Fortunately, gaming wisdom ages well. I recently discovered a folder full of all that cut material (anecdotes, advice, and miscellany), which we will be presenting, here, in the Lost GM Scrolls. Enjoy!
—JLCJ

James Jacobs is the Creative Director at Paizo Publishing and one driving forces behind the Pathfinder RPG, contributing to and authoring a variety of Pathfinder materials. Below, the veteran designer and GM reflects on his first, worst, and funniest gaming experiences.

James Jacobs: My first GM experience was running Caves of Chaos for my mom, dad, two sisters, and best friend. They went in to fight the kobolds, and one of the players managed to baffle the kobold chieftain by running up and kissing him. That gave the rest of the group an advantage as the kobolds didn’t know how to react, and much blood and mayhem resulted.

My second experience was with my dad and sister; dad was playing a halfling and my sister was picking on him for being short so my dad pushed my sister’s character down a well . . . which happened to have a colony of yellow mold at the bottom! Good times.

My worst GM experience was probably the time back in college when one player mocked and picked on another player (and attacked his character) enough to cause the other player to break down in tears. This caused the game session to crash to a halt and damaged some friendships as a result. No fun at all.

My funniest GM experience was the time I was running Gates of Firestorm Peak. The party had clambered into a mine cart and were hurtling down a track after a long battle against duergars, and there were all sorts of movie-quality stunts and mayhem with folks jumping from cart to cart. One guy got separated from the rest; his cart was hurtling out of control and as he shot through all these encounter areas, I described them very fast in three or four words each, with each encounter he shot by being more and more bizarre and outlandish. He was already laughing because of the circumstances that led his PC to land in the out-of-control mine cart, and each of the crazier and crazier encounters he shot through were making him laugh harder and harder.

Near the end, as I described him shooting through a room with two cats boxing or something similarly ridiculous, he exploded out of his chair, falling backward from the table and laughing the whole time. It was the only time I made someone crumple to the ground in tears of laughter during a game, and it stands as a personal triumph.

So, what is your first, worst, and funniest GM experience? Describe them in the comments field if you want to share!

2 Replies to "The Lost GM Scrolls: James Jacobs on His First, Worst, and Funniest!"

Curn Bounder

May 21, 2012 at 9:56am

Fun to read.

My first: Was on a road trip with my family. I had the “magenta box” or whatever is was and was learning the game, having them help me as we went along. I think it went pretty well (I think I was 9 at the time). The only thing was my father was the cleric and said that he wanted to spray mace at a goblin. I had to tell him that a mace was more like a club. He was saddened and had to rethink his character.

Charles Carrier

May 22, 2012 at 12:23pm

There have been so many over the last 30+ years, how can I choose only one?

Actually, I did post something in the forums last year that fits today’s topic: http://www.koboldquarterly.com/kqforums/viewtopic.php?t=2036&highlight=

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