Apprentice GM Checklist (Updated Feb 2019)

How to become a PbF GM and set up a Play-by-Forum game.

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Apprentice GM Checklist (Updated Feb 2019)

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 14 Feb 2019, 19:04

Apprentice GM Checklist
At PlayDip, we have a sort of training / mentorship program for aspiring PbF GMs. If you would like to be able to run games on the forum (and on Discord), we ask that you first contact the "PbFDip GMs" group via private message to make your intention known. At that point, one of the current GMs will act as your Mentor and walk you through the process.

The Guide for Aspiring PbF GMs subforum contains several posts about this process. The purpose of this particular post is to consolidate the prep work required to start an apprenticeship into a single checklist.

The First game
The biggest piece of the GM training process is a GM's first game. We HIGHLY recommend that your first game be a relatively simple variant with a small number of players (no more than 7). Here is a list of example variants. You are not limited to these, but we highly recommend choosing something with very near-vanilla rules.

You can get special permission to run a playtest of a brand new variant with more complex rules, but you must set it up with a short defined length (typically 4 years). Please consult the current GMs for more information. Again, this is not recommended.

Things to do Before Recruiting for your First game
  1. Play on the Forum
    1. On occasion, we will have an aspiring GM who has never actually played a forum game with us before.
    2. If this is the case, we ask that you join a forum game and (reliably) play several turns before posting for recruitment. This can be done while you work on the other steps in this checklist.
  2. Art & Cartography
    1. Familiarize yourself with an art program that supports layers.
    2. Examples include GIMP,, and Inkscape.
    3. If running a variant that has been run before on the forum (which you can check in the Variant & game Archive), ask the GMs to see if existing art files are available for it.
    4. Build or obtain a variant map that can be easily edited to show updates in the game-state, particular unit locations, SC ownership, and territory labels.
    5. Make sure that the end result is relatively easy to read and interpret, even if it's a bit rough aesthetically.
  3. BBCode
    1. BBCode is the markup language used to format text in the forums.
    2. A little formatting can make a huge difference in the readability of anything you post, particularly your rules or House Rules (below).
    3. If you see a forum post or message that uses formatting that you want to replicate, you can use the "quote" button to have a look at the code for it inside the message editing interface.
  4. House Rules
    1. They don't need to be complicated, but you need to write them.
    2. How will you handle scheduling? Orders submission? Draw votes? Incorrect orders? Power selection?
    3. It's okay to copy another GM's House Rules as a starting point.
    4. Write & format what will be your House Rules forum post here in the PM interface, and send it to your designated Mentor GM for review and constructive feedback.
    5. When it's time to recruit, these will need to be posted or linked to in the recruitment thread. I recommend making them a second post in the same thread to distinguish them from your main post.
  5. Discord
    1. This is optional, but it is recommended to provide a Discord server for player communication, reminders, and/or orders submission.
    2. If you've never managed a Discord server before, it can take a bit of practice to get the channels and roles set up correctly.
    3. Check with your mentor GM for more information.
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