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Women as GM's [Apr. 23rd, 2004|09:37 pm]
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Short exposition: I GM. Not often, but I do. None of them other women I game with are even remotely interested. My SO works with a woman running a D&D campaign. When he told me this, I was annoyed when I realised I was surprised to hear this... What gives?

Original Responses
posted 02/12/02

Note: This response doesn't even MENTION gender; this is advice for any beginning GM. But I think it's advice that most female GMs don't get, so maybe it qualifies.

Sister Ananke wrote::
"I'm not sure whether I'm a really crap DM, the offending/offensive PCs ruined it, or what, but because of this I've lost a lot of faith in the ability of not only myself to DM, but the ability of most of the gaming public of roleplay."
see post from 8/8/01 below

I'm copying Sister Ananke on this, because it was something she said that called to me.

(And firstly... the majority of the gaming public are not the best roleplayers - you have to be picky about who you game with, if you want consistent, high quality roleplaying)

The first person I ever really apprenticed as a GM said something almost identical to Sister Ananke's quote above. I've apprenticed a few GMs since then, and they also went through something similar.

I told them all, essentially:

1) Your first time will stink. GMing is not easy. It is a skill like any other, and you almost have to have a bad game before you can have a good game.

2) Experience trumps talent. Talent trumps a lack of talent. Having talent is good regardless, of course, and is almost a prerequisite to being a Truly Great GM... but talent without experience will tend to result in wildly variable story quality, with great, inspired games mixed in with the daily grind of second-drip coffee. Experience (and working on improving your game) will eventually result in consistent high quality regardless of initial talent.

3) You have to keep trying. But stack the deck in your favor. GM a smaller, more intimate group of hand picked players. Tell them ahead of time, "look, I want to try something with a fair amount of roleplaying, and I'm just starting out as a GM, so I need some support; that's why I asked you". The first few games still won't meet your expectations, but they'll improve rapidly.

4) In competitive martial arts, there is something called "the wall". It's when you go into a fight for the first time, and your head is full of how things are supposed to work, and then you get your ass handed to you, because theory isn't practice. The idea is, once you've hit the wall, you can get scared and stay in Theory Land... or you can find a way past it into The Land of Practice. And sometimes you have to run into it a few more times before you find a way past.

-a little fish in a big pond (thomas weigel)

posted 10/19/01

There are many more points that I haven't touched on but below are the main ones with are also interlinked to each other.


My experience as an unpopular individual who didn't conform to the standards set by the in crowd made me realize that the reason for the taunts/degradation and the like was b/c of a lack of confidence by the other individuals both male and female was b/c they needed something or someone to step on so that they could look good. Being different in this life no matter where you are in the world can make this trait in school dangerous. Thus most girls especially those going through puberty, (and not use to the attention that that they are getting) don’t want to become social misfits/outcasts by doing something that could brand them as strangely different.

It is easier to mock something that you don't understand rather than to try and understand it or even experience it and draw your own conclusions. Having attended a Private CO-ed Catholic School and being a RP'er my group experienced the wrath of the Female Zealots who lead the rest to Beating on the Class room door each lunchtime screaming/ chanting for our so called Satanic, baby killing, Devil Worshiping Hides (did I leave anything out?). I have to say that of our group myself and another individual may have been the least nerd like, but only branded by association. I didn't care what the masses thought. (The other person was one of the other players younger brother)

Bad Press,

Lets face it the press use D&D as a Catch Cry synonymous to Evil when it suits their whim. How often in the 70's & 80's & 90's did the media hype up the fact that a suicidal gun-wielding student was a Role Player who played D&D. Or some unstable individual who used to RP but later on in life went on a killing spree.....

mud, and the like, tends to stick)


Girls Spent more time on socially acceptable activities, which also encourage more people interaction. It is extremely rare to see a girl who leads or is a part of a "socially accepted" group also a part of a Role Playing Association and more importantly not worry about it getting out to the general schooling public. As previously mentioned they do other activities. Net Ball, get a part time job, study harder, go Shopping, or just hang with the "IN Group" dishing out hell as they see fit to the socially unacceptable misfits.


They don't see the reason for it. There is no justified motivation for them to attend unless it means that they have a chance of more exposure to the Guy of their desire which ='s a better chance of dating him outside the group. This is a stereotype I know and a bad one.

If it is fun then it needs to be demonstrated. As with any individual, something new introduced to a person (male, female, or Hermaphrodite) needs to be 'worth' their time. Otherwise the desire to continue is not there. Also a bad first experience does equal a large drop out rate. (not many people will continue with something if their first experience is a negative one.)


Role Playing Games are fun to play, it allows characterization, and escape, reason to be creative without judgment, a chance to explore other areas of your personality/ sexuality in an environment with your peers, to test leadership capabilities also to interact with others and develop social skills. If I am wrong in this then please point out where.


Yes Nerds with thick glasses are the going stereotypes, one that I don’t fit into (*damn shame that*) for this. Lets face it you don’t see many 'Jocks' participating in this pass time. Reasons vary according to the points already mentioned above.

When at school you can be branded by association this alone can be motivation enough not to try it.

Andrew McFayden

posted 8-8-01

I was a DM, but unfortunately I think I may have been one of the moxy-less. I started DMing because at our very first game session, the planned DM pulled out. I dmed for a group of guys (one is my boyfriend) whom I also hung out with (I'm also a computer gamer). I started with zero knowleadge, and my first attempt was pure hack'n'slash. For a while we let each of the group DM a session, all of which were hack'n'slash (with one fun campaign where the DM based it entirely on Planescape Tormant the computer game, and completely railroaded the pcs into numerous bad situations)

After complaints from one rather vocal gamer, I attempted more roleplay. My last ditch attempt at dming turned into a farce with two powergamers ruining gameplay for the rest (eg. "what's this, the servant slammed the door and won't talk to us?? Do we try to charm our way in, talk again, wait at the tavern? No we beat the door down and then eat the lord's food." then proceed to yell at DM about getting head kicked in by lord's guards) I've decided that if I ever game with the group again, it's as a PC. I've also decided that it will take a lot for me to play again (with them) so I'm attempting to get my girlfriends into it.

I'm not sure whether I'm a really crap DM, the offending/offensive PCs ruined it, or what, but because of this I've lost a lot of faith in the ability of not only myself to DM, but the ability of most of the gaming public of roleplay.

L (aka Sister Ananke )

posted 7-9-01

Here are my humble thoughts on the matter:

1. To start GMing, you either need a lot of moxy OR a lot of encouragement.
2. About half of all starting GMs have the talent and desire to continue Gming.
3. About 1 in 10 roleplayers has the moxy to try their hand at Gming.
4. About 1 in 5 males are encouraged to try their hand at GMing.
5. About 1 in 25 females are encouraged to try their hand at Gming.
6. Currently, there is about 1 female per 4 males in the hobby.

With 500 roleplayers (100 females, 400 male), the above premises will result in the following numbers:

# Males to Try: 120 (40 had moxy, 80 were encouraged)
# Males to Continue: 60
# Females to Try: 14 (10 had moxy, 4 were encouraged)
# Females to Continue: 7
The bias lies primarily in the encouragement prejudice. Even with equal numbers of men and women (100 and 100), you end up with twice as many male GMs (30 try, 15 continue).

-Thomas W.

Footnote- I asked Thomas where he'd gotten his numbers and this was his response:

Informal research, that is to say, personal observation over the past decade (I've been GMing longer than that, but I didn't pay sufficient attention until about the nineties).

The "1 in 10 moxy" number comes from direct experience, and is a rough guess. If I had to say, it probably errs on the generous. Very few people decide to GM without any encouragement at all.

The encouragement numbers are based mostly on anecdotes and stories from other groups, and observations of behavior when I've played in "outside groups". My own group is so far outside the norm that I can't really use it- I've had an even split of men and women since 1988, and I've encouraged / apprenticed two men and one woman to becoming excellent GMs.

The "females per male" number comes from guesstimate headcounts at conventions, and anecdotes and stories from other groups. It's probably the shakiest number, because I am making the generous assumption that all groups I know (including my own) constitute a reasonable statistical group (maybe 200 people all together), when I very well know that 200 people is barely sufficient for a test group :).

The final numbers seem to hold up pretty well under observation, however.

posted 6-25-01

I'm a female player. I've never GM'ed but I really want to! Right now the biggest road block is my lack of time, but before I got a job my biggest roadblock was lack of confidence in my rules knowledge and plot ability. I have since come to the conclusion that I don't need to memorize every rule (that's what the books are for, after all) and I can cut my teeth on less heroic games where the plots are relatively simple. I've never gamed under a female GM. I think that one of the reasons that there are so few female GMs is that there are fewer women gamers in general. An other reason is that many women might feel that they don't have enough support from their gaming groups to become GM. In my experience, most people get to be GM because of their charisma, seniority or bulk of knowledge; weather or not they can tell a story determines if they *stay* GM. I have yet to meet a women gamer who was the oldest, the most charismatic, or had the biggest RPG book collection in her gaming group. Without these status symbols, many young women feel that no one would want to game under them until they hear something like "Wow, you came up with a really good background story for your character, did you ever consider *running* a game?" It takes a really bold person to ask to be put in charge when they don't know if anyone respects their ability.


From: (Anonymous)
2007-01-17 05:27 pm (UTC)
My advice as a women gm to any young women trying to start out.

Gather 4-6 newbie to gm for and run a light simple hack-n-slash type campaign of about 12 games. You can build from there and those campaigns are hard to do badly. Your newbie players will have fun and will be happy to keep playing as you try other things.
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