In the world of pen and paper roleplaying games, there’s always a shortage of decent game masters. Everyone wants to play as heroes, but very few want to take the responsibility of telling a story. Of those who aspire to be a game master, fewer yet know how to do it well without their ego getting in the way of high adventure and great storytelling. However, some people just have that mystical “it” that lets them entice a group of people and make them forget they’re sitting around a table, and transport them to a different world. What is that “it”? No one can tell for sure. It’s not like there are rules and standards for being a good storyteller, or a scale you could measure up to.

But there are ways of finding out if you have it in you or not. A high school friend of mine, who introduced me to the arcane world of pen and paper roleplaying called it the trial of fire.

“You’ll know if you can be a game master if you pass this simple test. Forget about rulebooks, props, dice, and soundtracks. Take your friends camping, so it’s just you, them, and the fire. Tell them a story right there and then, without all the extra fluff. If you succeed in making them listen, you will be a great game master. If you can’t make people listen, no amount of props will ever help you. You either have it, or you don’t.”

So, let me ask you. Can you tell stories that make the room go quiet because everyone wants to listen in? Can you make people laugh? Can you make them stop laughing and consider something serious?

I don’t believe in such things as talent, to me it’s hard work all the way through. But we all have different predispositions that come from the way we were raised, the things we did when we were younger, or the kind of environment we grew up in.

So, do you think you could pass a trial of fire? Because if you’re not sure, you may be wasting your time trying to be a storyteller.

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