top of page

Book Review: So you want to be a Game Master?

Title: So You Want to be a Game Master

Author: Justin Alexander

Read by: Shawn Compton

Audiobook Length: 17 hours 42 minutes

Spec Spot

Spec Spot

I could theorize about why table top RPGs (Role Playing Games) are becoming more popular, but I'll just go with: All the cool kids are doing it now!

So You Want to be a Game Master offers a course for those hoping to graduate from being a playable character in games such as Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), Pathfinder and other systems, and become the Game Master (don't forget to use the big booming voice for that title. You've earned it...or are about to). In this book, you'll explore how to be flexible (which you'll need to) how to navigate a world in which there are few rules, how to design campaigns and dungeons and how to run them with your favorite players. While this book primarily seems to lean toward DnD, the book helps game master of a number of table top RPG players become the game master they were destined to be.

Other Thoughts

First of all, I have to confess that I don't think I was the intended audience for this particular guide book. That's because I happily dived into this book after learning that I would have the opportunity to play DnD with my husband and some of his closest friends and as excited as I was, I knew very little about DnD and how to play it. When I realized (early on) that this book was not written to teach me how to play, but teach me how to be a game master, I decided to keep listening to the remaining 16+ hours because I was bound to learn something about how to actually play the game, right?

Well, I did, I can't deny that but there was a lot of info that I didn't need to consume at that time that is now in my head...most of it hidden in file cabinets that I can't access, but it's there. So, please, keep this all in mind as I tell you my thoughts on this book.

With that said, I learned a lot about how to play and what things could look like to our DM who is also learning how to be a DM (and he's doing really well, honestly) I even learned some tips that I never would have thought of to use during play, and some suggestions for things that I wouldn't have done yet, but eventually would have learned to do, like gathering information and how to do so. I also found myself really over whelmed by the assumption that I knew the rules and how to play a game I most certainly didn't and with all of the information I didn't need. (While I love storytelling and thought I'd jump to game master soon, I'm terrified of it now) and, probably because I didn't need to know how to run the game rather, how to play the game, there were times when I just felt like the book went on and on and was never ending. the end, I knew I had come out of it with more then I went in and I came to a few tips I knew I wanted to share with you guys.

  1. If you are using this for actually running your own game, skip the audiobook and grab the physical copy. This is for a few reasons, but for the purpose of point number one,I'm sticking with the fact that the print and digital copies have visual aids and maps that can be used to actually run your campaigns. They even offer a campaign that you can play or build from. The audiobook just talks about it and refers you to pages you can't actually see...becuase you're listening to the audiobook.

  2. Don't feel obligated to read the entire book as a whole. You may very well not need all of this information at first. That's not saying that the information isn't valuable. It is! But, for instance, if you're new to being a Game Master and you're not creating your own maps because they came with the campaign you're running, you don't need to devour the sections that tell how to create (home brew) a map or dungeon. Consuming all 500+ pages can be very over whelming, why turn something that should be fun into something stressful. You can always come back to those sections when you're ready to use that information.

  3. I'm not a huge annotator, but this book made me question my ways (and that takes a lot), I'd recommend going into this one with the intention to either annotate or take notes, including ideas that are inspired while reading. Those may include to look further into a monster, or an idea you want to play with while creating a dungeon map or nonplayable character. You'll also want to keep track of terminology (especially if you're newer like me) and some of the general rules they use to help ensure that what needs to go a certain way does.

  4. Mark the pages that are currently relevant to you. For me, this usually means post-it notes and page markers (like the baby post-it notes shaped like arrows and such). That way, you can easily find the sections that you are using at that time and you can check the examples to help guide you as you work, or confirm that you are doing it the way it was suggested.

  5. I know that I love previously loved books, but this is one I'd suggest you hold on to, even after you've read it. I feel like this is one of those books that would be helpful in a number of situations and to go back to if you take a long break or find that you're just not feeling as satisfied with your work as a DM. That doesn't mean you're not a great DM, it might just mean you need to do some tweaking. Go back to basics, if you will.

  6. Don't be afraid of the amount of information collected inside these pages. Especially if you follow some of my tips above. Trust me. You can do this. Take a deep breath. Have fun and take it piece by piece.

I'm not sad that this was my first resource for learning DnD. While I agree, I should have started with the gamer guide. I did learn a lot and I've even considered getting a physical copy for some people in my life who have talked about wanting to try their hand at Dming. I may also get a physical copy when I decide to throw my hat in the ring and DM. I just know I'm not there yet.

I rate this book a


out of

10 D20s

But that's just what I thought. What did you think? Did this answer all of the questions you were dying to know, or did it fall short? Did it make you want to rethink being a DM, or confirm that that's exactly the path for you? Let us know in the comments.

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page