In Control - The Penultimate Guide to Being a GM

Dean A. Gordon


INTRODUCTION

BECOMING A GM

WHAT'S A GOOD GM?
WHO OWNS THE GAME?
GM RESOURCES
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE GM

STEP 1 - CREATING A GAME

FINDING A JUDGE
OVERVIEW
GAME CREATION COMMANDS
GAME CREATION
GLOBAL GAME SETTINGS
PRESS SETTINGS
DEADLINE SETTINGS
COMMENT SETTINGS
A NOTE ABOUT HALL OF FAME ELIGIBILITY

STEP 2 - GETTING PLAYERS

LISTING THE GAME
THE DIPLOMATIC POUCH GAME QUEUE
MASTERING FROM THE DIPLOMACY PUCH GAME QUEUE

STEP 3 - THINGS A GM HAS TO DO AND KNOW

COMMANDS A GM SHOULD KNOW
GRANTING PLAYER EXTENSIONS
REPLACEMENT PLAYERS
PLAYER-GM DISSENTION
PLAYER POLLS
A WORD ABOUT GM WRITING PRESS
A WORD ABOUT SUBMITTING ORDERS FOR PLAYERS
PLAYER DEDICATION ADJUSTMENTS
A WORD ABOUT GUNBOAT VIOLATIONS
PLAYER REPRIMANDS
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE JUDGE DIES
A NOTE ABOUT BOARDMAN AND MILLER NUMBERS
A WORD ABOUT JKs
DRAWS AND THE THREE-YEAR RULE

CONCLUSION

APPENDIX A - GENERAL GM ADVICE (FROM FELLOW GMs)

 

INTRODUCTION

This is the penultimate guide to being a GM - gamesmaster - because there will always be somebody brighter with better ideas to come along and make this guide look like the scribbling of a raving lunatic.

Why a guide to being a GM? Well, for a couple reasons. First and foremost is that when I first started being a GM a year ago, the resources available were hard to understand and tough to follow. The only guide to being a GM was written by Daniel Loeb in 1991, and while an excellent resource, it does not cover a lot of Judge specific items.

What this guide will do is set up an actual game, step by step, allowing potential GMs to see just how easy it is to set up a game, and then pre-empt any questions that may arise along the way.

Many thanks should go out to those cool GM dudes at RCCHAT and my fellow GMs who volunteered to proofread the drafts. Without their suggestions, guidance and knowledge this guide would not have been possible.

Of course special mention should go to my dog Skippy.

 

BECOMING A GM

Why do you want to be a GM? If your answer is to help out the Diplomacy community, then you be a winner. Without people wanting to be GMs there would be no games for people to play.

With that in mind it must be noted that GMing is not for everyone. The best advice is to try one game and if you like it and feel comfortable then try another. Is there a limit as to how many games a person can GM? Yes, but we are all different. To some GMing three or four games is too many or just right while to others it is a walk in the park on a midsummer's day. You know yourself better than anyone - give yourself a realistic limit as to how many games you can GM not only based on your present situation, but also for the next six months.

If you find that being a GM fulfills a nurturing side of you that you were unaware of, by all means go ahead and create some more. A word of advice is to spread your games around to different judges. That way, if a judge crashes your headaches are limited to only one game or a handful rather than all of your games.

 

WHAT'S A GOOD GM?

There is a plethora of opinions as to what constitutes a "good" GM. Some prefer activist GMs who monitor the game closely, prompting late players and answering all questions put to them and in short guiding the game like a protective mother. Other GMs take a more detached view to the game, setting them up and making sure they run all right, but generally not prompting players and the like. Some GMs are quite strict about language use and decorum while others run games that would make a bartender blush.

Perhaps the simplest answer is that a good GM is one who is fully versed in all the rules and can answer and help out his players when they have non-strategic problems.

The best way to find out what kind of GM you want to be is to think back to a game you played where the GM did a good job in your opinion. Use that as a template to finding your own style. The only advice I could give in this regard is to be flexible enough to change and grow as a GM.

 

WHO OWNS THE GAME?

The most important question you have to ask yourself as a GM is who owns the game? Whose priorities should be placed first and foremost, the players or the GM? I believe that a game belongs to the players and that I am there merely to help them play a game. If I can stand on my soapbox for a second, as a GM and as a player, I would prefer that you choose a different avenue than Diplomacy if you have to work out any delusions of grandeur or aspirations to Godhood.

 

GM RESOURCES

If you have any questions as a new GM, ask a GM in one of your games or one that you respect. In most cases, they are more than happy to pass down accumulated years of wisdom. Another good idea is to subscribe to a GM discussion group. The only current one that I am aware of at the moment is RCCHAT at rcchat@uib.no. To subscribe, send a message to majordomo@uib.no with text of "subscribe rcchat". All subsequent correspondence is then sent to rcchat@uib.no as regular email. The group is diverse enough to have a wide range of opinions, allowing you as the new GM to find what is right for you. Chances are that your fellow GMs have solved any problem you have. They are your greatest strength and resource.

There are a few non-human resources you'll need as well. The most important are the EP House Rules and the Rules Exceptions and Interpretations. They are as sacrosanct as anything handed down from The Mount. You will also need the Command Index, a comprehensive guide to all the commands accepted by the judge. As a GM, your players will most likely ask you technical questions. The files Help Information, Syntax for Orders, Press, Deadlines and Draws should be handy to refer to them when a player asks you what the syntax for retreating is or how to setup an account.

All these files can be retrieved from the judge using the GET command (GET DRAWS, GET DEADLINES, etc) or can be downloaded from the Diplomatic Pouch. In fact, a good strategy is to bookmark the site, as you will be referring to it often in the course of your GM life. Players will ask you how to register, where to get maps, strategy advice and a million other questions, all of which can be answered at the Diplomatic Pouch.

Note1: as mentioned, RCCHAT is the only current GM discussions group that I am aware of. There is the GMS-Mailing List at gms@diplom.org but it is not active.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE GM

The EP House Rules lists three main responsibilities of the GM. They are important enough to repeat here. Consider them carved in stone. They should never, ever be broken.

  1. GMs are to remain scrupulously impartial in all matters
  2. GMs should not change the parameters of the game after players start signing up for the game unless the players unanimously vote to do so. This includes changing the deadline calculation, victory conditions, press flags, etc.
  3. GMs may not play in their own game.

 

STEP 1 - CREATING A GAME

FINDING A JUDGE

Lots of judges to choose from. Mail the JudgeKeeper - JK - a note asking him if its all right to set up a game on his judge. In most cases they will say sure, but it is still polite to ask first. If you are unsure of what judge to use, a list of all the judges is available at the Diplomatic Pouch.

In setting up your first game, a good strategy is to find a game that you liked as a player and reproduce it. Get a listing of the game and reproduce the game using the format that I've outlined below. This is how I setup my first game as a GM.

 

OVERVIEW

Let's setup a game called Express1 on the USIN judge. When we are done the game will look like this:

: Judge: USIN Game: Express1 Variant: Standard Gunboat
: Deadline: S1901M Wed Dec 31 1969 18:00:00 CST
Game 'express1' hasn't started up yet.
You'll be notified when 1 more people sign on.
Game 'express1' is waiting for 1 more player to sign on.
The parameters for 'express1' are as follows:
Move clock 1410 min 12.00 next 72.00 grace 48.00 delay 0.50 days -mTWTF-
Retreat clock -1 min 0.00 next 23.00 grace 48.00 delay 0.50 days -mTWTF-
Adjust clock -1 min 0.00 next 23.00 grace 48.00 delay 0.50 days -mTWTF-
Access: Different-site, Level: Any, Moderated, Dedication: 100.
Variant: Standard, Gunboat.
Flags: NoNMR, NoProxy, DIAS.
Press: Grey, No Partial (except to Master).
Winning Centers: 18.
Index: 0
This game is a 72hour grey press no partial standard gunboat game for
experienced players. It will be interesting to see if experienced players
can coerce, manipulate and otherwise control and dominate other experienced
players the way they do some hapless newbie. The dedication floor is set at
100 but can be lowered upon request.
If this were a newbie game there'd be rules aplenty here. It's not so the
only rules are common sense and courtesy. I plan to be as invisible as possible.
Dean the GM

The following players are signed up for game 'express1':
Master deanandlea@lynx.bc.ca

 

GAME CREATION COMMANDS

The game was setup by sending the judge the following list of commands, all of which will be explained in detail in the next section:

create ?express1 password standard gunboat
become master
set nolist
set noproxy
set nonmr
set dias
set press grey no partial
set nofake
set centers 18
set dedication 100
set level any
set access different
set moderate
set reveal
set moves next 72.0 grace 48.0 delay 0.5 days -mTWTF-
set retreat next 23.0 grace 48.0 delay 0.5 days -mTWTF-
set adjust next 23.0 grace 48.0 delay 0.5 days -mTWTF-
SET COMMENT This is a 72hour GP-NP standard gunboat game for experienced players
SET COMMENT BEGIN
This game is a 72hour grey press no partial standard gunboat game for experienced players. It will be interesting to see if experienced players can coerce, manipulate and otherwise control and dominate other experienced players the way they do some hapless newbie. The dedication floor is set at 100 but can be lowered upon request.
If this were a newbie game there'd be rules aplenty here. It's not so the only rules are common sense and courtesy. I plan to be as invisible as possible.
Dean the GM
signoff

 

GAME CREATION

Let's go line-by-line as to how the game Express1 was setup.

create ?express1 password standard gunboat
become master
set nolist

The first line in the game creation is the command line and lists the game title, your password and the variant info of the game. There are a lot of variants to choose from, so choose a variant you are familiar with.

REMEMBER YOUR PASSWORD. If you forget your password you will have to write the JK and sheepishly ask him to send it to you.

When you create a game you have to include the ? at the front of the game name, much like signing on, as you have not become the master of the game yet. On the second line you become the master of the game. The third line SET NOLIST is important as it keeps the game off of the openings list until you are finished setting it up.

Note 1: Remember to SET LIST after you are finished setting the game up and the judge has confirmed the game creation.

Note 2: Changing your password as a GM is the same as changing it as a player.

Note 3: You can change the variant of the game but you can only do so BEFORE the powers have been assigned and the requisite number of players for the new variant type have signed on by using the command SET VARIANT [variant and options]. For example, you can change a Modern game (10 players) to a Standard Game if an eighth player has not yet signed on.

Note 4: If you hate the game that you have setup and wish to terminate it before players signon, send the JK a note asking him to kill the game. DO NOT send the command TERMINATE or RESIGN. Note that any parameter including the variant info can be changed prior to game start.

Note 5: When naming the game try to avoid using common names or Dip-related expressions. Having ten games named "Gandalf" or "Express" is just silly and complicated.

GLOBAL GAME SETTINGS

The next commands we are going to setup are the global game parameters.

Note1: The descriptions of each command can be also read in the MASTER Command Index or the Command INDEX.

Note2: Many of the commands listed below do not need to be sent (you will see a "This is the default setting"). I have included them in setting up Epress2 for the sake of showing you all the possible options when setting up a game.

set noproxy
This command sets or clears the flag which allows one player to give control of one or more of his units to another player. This is the default setting.

set nonmr
No orders can be processed unless all powers have submitted complete and error free orders. This is the default setting.

set dias
Enables the requirement that any Draws must Include All Survivors. This is the default setting

Note: All three of these commands can be also set PROXY, NMR and NODIAS, but since we are setting up Express1, they are set to NOPROXY, NONMR and DIAS. A lot of players refuse to play NMR games as they are ineligible for HOF points and statistical comparisons, so I prefer as a GM to set all my games as NONMR.

set moderate
Tells the judge that yes, you will be GMing this game. This flag is set automatically when you send the become master command.

set reveal
By setting this the player list will be revealed in the summary listing after the game is over. SET NOREVEAL is useful in tournament situations where players are in multiple games and who played which power should not be revealed until all games are over. REVEAL is the default setting.

set centers 18
This sets the number of centers required to win the game. This flag defaults to the standard number of winning centers for the variation.

set dedication 100
Restricts access to the game to those players who have a dedication level above the dedication level you have set as the floor. Note: the level you set can not be higher than your own. You may get player requests asking to be let into the game but their dedication level is too low. If you decide to take pity on these poor unfortunate wretches, you can lower the dedication floor by sending the SET DEDICATION command. After everyone is signed on you can raise it back. The default is -10.

set level any
This restricts access to the game to a particular level of player. When registering for a judge you are asked to choose a level that you think you are at - novice, amateur (allows novice or intermediate), intermediate, advanced (allows intermediate or advanced) or expert. As of this writing there is no deity or god level yet. Setting the level any means that any player - hence the term "any" - can play in this game. This usually ensures a good mix of veteran players and victims, er, rookies. Players can change their classification by re-registering with the judge. The default setting is any.

set access different
This is the default setting on the judge. You could also have set it ANY or SAME.

 

PRESS SETTINGS

Make sure you have read and fully understand the judge file PRESS. It will explain in detail all the myriad press options available to you as a GM. Best advice is to pick those options which you as a player liked the most and recreate them. For Express1 the options I chose were:

set press grey no partial
set nofake

Note: I could have also included the line SET ALL PRESS which allows me to read all partial press in the game. The default setting for the GM is normal press, meaning that only game results, press sent to the GM and broadcast press is sent to you. Setting the game all press is a good way of seeing strategy from another's point of view and an excellent way to improve as a player. Why did I not set all press for Express1? Good question. At the time I was really, really busy as a player and life kept intruding on my fun.

Note2: To turn ALL PRESS off, send the command SET NORMAL PRESS. Do not send SET NO PRESS as that will turn off all the press in a game.

 

DEADLINE SETTINGS

Make sure you have read and fully understand the judge file DEADLINES.

set moves next 72.0 grace 48.0 delay 0.5 days -mTWTF-
set retreat next 23.0 grace 48.0 delay 0.5 days -mTWTF-
set adjust next 23.0 grace 48.0 delay 0.5 days -mTWTF-

Moves controls the deadlines regarding movements phases, retreats for retreats phases and adjust for adjustment phases. Next controls the time between moves, grace controls the grace and delay refers to the minimum time between the last error-free and complete move being submitted and the judge processing the moves - the default is 0.5, which is half an hour (30 minutes).

Days controls which days of the week deadlines will fall on. A dash [-] gives the command that no deadlines will occur on that day. A lower case letter [m] gives the command that deadlines will not happen before noon on that day.

When setting your grace periods take into account that judge outages do occur. No bigger headache for both the GM and the JK than having to deal with five abandonments because the judge crashed and your game only had 24hour grace periods. Making your grace periods 48hours or even 72hours will eliminate this headache in case of short judge outages.

Another parameter GMs can control is what time a deadline will be set, represented in minutes past midnight. The default is 1410, which is 11:30pm LOCAL JUDGE TIME. Retreats and adjustments have a default time setting of -1 which means that deadlines can fall at any time. To change the time deadlines fall on the command CLOCK is used: SET MOVES CLOCK 600 for example sets a deadline of 10am.

As setup, Express1 is a 72hour game with a 48hour grace, weekday deadlines only.

Note: In setting up deadlines for your game, use the deadlines in your favorite game as a player and substitute them in. Sometimes you will notice that deadlines are set to one hour less than a full day, i.e., 23, 47 or 71hours. The reasoning for this is that the delay parameter and other normal judge delays may cause the move to be processed a little after the deadline. If this happens, the deadline may actually be one extra day due to the CLOCK parameter.

 

COMMENT SETTINGS

These commands control what a player will see when the game is listed.

SET COMMENT This is a 72hour GP-NP standard gunboat game for experienced players
This command will set the comment that appears in the brief listing. Anything after the SET COMMENT up to 60 characters will be included. The command is terminated by pressing [RET].

SET COMMENT BEGIN
This game is a 72hour grey press no partial standard gunboat game for experienced players. It will be interesting to see if experienced players can coerce, manipulate and otherwise control and dominate other experienced players the way they do some hapless newbie. The dedication floor is set at 100 but can be lowered upon request.
If this were a newbie game there'd be rules aplenty here. It's not so the only rules are common sense and courtesy. I plan to be as invisible as possible.
Dean the GM
Signoff

This command will set the comment that appears in the full listing of the game. The full comment will include anything on the next line after the SET COMMENT BEGIN command up to the SIGNOFF command. Therefore SIGNOFF is the last command you send.

Note: Use the Comment section to list your house-rule or any special information that prospective players should know. It will avoid problems that will occur later on.

 

A NOTE ABOUT HALL OF FAME ELIGIBILITY

A lot of gamers like playing games that will be eligible for Hall Of Fame points. Some don't care about the HOF at all. A good strategy for a first game, as you are an unknown as a rookie GM, is to make your games appeal to the widest possible audience. I try to ensure that all my games are HOF eligible. There are many conditions that cause games to be ineligible for HOF points. Letting Jeff and his Mom play in the same game or playing in your own game will cause Nick Fitzpatrick the HOF Keeper to punt the game. The most common reasons for game ineligibility are NMR games, games with one player playing multiple powers and same-site or any-site games where many of the players are from the same location. More information about the HOF and HOF eligibility is available at http://www.sentex.ca/~nfitz/HoF/.

 

STEP 2 - GETTING PLAYERS

LISTING THE GAME

When you are happy with the game you have set up, send it off to the judge. Wait a bit and then the judge will send you confirmation that the game has been created. Check over all the parameters of the game carefully - a good way to do this is to LIST the game. If you are not satisfied with something change it. If you are satisfied and everything is hunky-dory, send the command SET LIST and wait for players to signon to your game.

Congratulations! You have just setup your first game as a GM.

 

THE DIPLOMATIC POUCH GAME QUEUE

Sometimes a game does not fill up as fast as you want. There are two great resources for prospective GMs to troll for players. First is posting a message at the rec.games.diplomacy newsgroup. A much better way to get players is to go to the DP Game Queue at http://devel.diplom.org/DP-cgi/setqueue. There you can request as many names of players who want to get in a game as you think you will need to fill your game.

 

MASTERING FROM THE DIPLOMATIC POUCH GAME QUEUE

Rather than creating a game from scratch there is a way to jump into the GMing word without too much fuss and muss. Access the DP Game Queue system at http://www.diplom.org/DP-cgi/setqueue. From there you can join the Master's List and start a generic game - six categories to choose from - immediately or join the GM line and a generic game will be created for you automatically when there are enough players and when your turn comes up.

 

STEP 3 - THINGS A GM HAS TO DO AND KNOW

Allrighty then. You are a new GM. Now what?

Well, each game experience is different. Some games flow smoothly and some are bitter nightmares that shake your whole core belief in humanity as a kind and compassionate race and changes it to one of a firm belief that Thomas Hobbes was right and that the best thing mankind could do is nuke itself. Not that I'm bitter about a game or two or anything.

COMMANDS A GM SHOULD KNOW

There are a few commands you should know.

Note: All these commands and many more can be found in the Command INDEX file.

clear

This command clears any phased orders. It is a good idea to inform all replacement players to clear any orders the previous occupant of the office left behind.

set deadline

Changes the deadline of the current phase. You will be asked to do this a lot. To change the deadline send the command SET DEADLINE MAR 31. The deadline will now be March 31.

set grace

Similar but different to the set deadline. It changes the grace of the current phase.

set wait

By setting this command you are ensuring that the turn will not process until the deadline.

iamalso

Registers a new email address. This is a judge-wide command which affects all the game the player is in.

summary

This will give you a report on the game including the complete listing of who is participating in the game. You must signon as master to see the complete GM listing. Otherwise you will see the generic game summary the same as the players.

whois [user]

Retrieves registration information for a particular player.

whogame

Retrieves registration information on every player in the game.

whogame full

Retrieves registration information on every player and observer in the game.

history

Retrieves the history of the game for the specified time period.

Example: history express1 from Jan 1 1997 lines 500000000

become [power]

This allows you to submit orders for a power who can not submit them do so themselves for some reason or another. In my opinion it is more trouble than it is worth. It is much simpler to just extend the deadline a day or so until the player can get his orders in. If you really want to do this for a player, pick up the judge file MASTER which has a lengthy explanation as to how to submit orders for wayward players. You may have to use this command if forced to use the ROLLBACK command (see below).

process [phase]

The process command forces the judge to process orders immediately. This is most useful when combined with the ROLLBACK command.

rollback [turn]

This command allows you to rollback the game to a specified turn in case the judge hiccuped or some other act of god screwed the game up.

Note: For a detailed explanation of both the PROCESS and ROLLBACK commands see the MASTER file. To this date I have been extremely fortunate to not have dealt with the headaches caused by using either command. If for some reason you have to process or rollback a game, ask around from other GMs for help or as a last resort ask your JK for advice.

Note2: I would also make sure you read and re-read the DRAW file until you know it cold You will be asked about it in a game. Most likely several times.

Note3: Use the BECOME command when a player has lost or forgotten his password. Signon as master and do a BECOME command. The judge will send you his password and send the player a copy as well.

 

GRANTING PLAYER EXTENSIONS

As a GM this will be your most frequent exercise. Players will ask you for extensions. If they are for a short period of time, grant them. If a player continually asks for deadlines, then use your judgement as to whether it would be more preferable to seek a replacement player (see General Rule #6 in the EP House Rules). I often ask players to submit phased orders if possible. I tend to frown on granting extensions over ten days. If the player has to leave the game for a few weeks, then asking him to find his own replacement who will play in his absence is a good idea. That way, the original player can retake the position when he returns. If this does happen, you should inform your players of the situation.

 

REPLACEMENT PLAYERS

Unless you are very fortunate, you will have to deal with abandonment or a player who has to leave your game. Finding a replacement is easy. The Judge does it for you. As long as the LIST flag is enabled, the game will be listed in the Judge Openings List. If the flag is disabled, then SET LIST will enable it.

In Loeb's 1991 guide he writes, "although it is preferable to get new people as backup players, it is permissible to have a player that has been eliminated return as a backup player". I disagree. Loeb's guide predates the EP House Rules regarding Player Replacement, which states that:

"players may not reenter a game as a different power under any conditions".

The demand for games far exceeds the supply giving no reason to allow a player to play multiple powers. You may have to wait a day or so, but you will find a replacement.

When a power goes abandoned without warning, write a letter to the player asking him what's happening. Chances are the player either has ISP [Internet Service Provider] problems or the deadline slipped his mind. Disable the list flag by sending the command SET NOLIST and give the old player a few days to respond to your personal email. Tell the other players in the game what is happening. If after an adequate waiting period the player has not responded to your personal email then declare the position open and enable the list flag by sending the command SET LIST. If a replacement signs on while you are waiting for the old player, SET WAIT and make sure the old player has a chance to respond to you. If no response is forthcoming, then let the replacement player take over the position.

Note: If the player continually goes abandoned then you should consider replacing him out of fairness to the rest of the players.

If the player you replaced comes back and wants to get back into the game, generally it should be granted provided that the position has not changed much and that the replacement player has not invested a significant amount of time. Write both players and explain the situation. Of course each situation is different and the ultimate decision is yours as GM.

Loeb's 1991 Guide mentions that GMs should replace players who are no longer following the game. I disagree. It is not the job of a GM to arbitrarily decide who is playing the game properly and who is playing the game improperly. If a player submits ludicrous orders, that is his right. The game belongs to the players.

There is one additional reason why a GM should replace a player other than connectivity problems or extended absence from the game and it pertains to the General Rules in the EP House Rules:

4) Players are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect. Abusive language or behavior is frowned on, unless clearly in character in a roleplayed game.

 

PLAYER-GM DISSENTION

Sometimes players will not agree with your decisions. As a player, the decision of the GM is final in all cases except one. If all the players unanimously agree they can overrule the GM. After all, it is their game. If this is the case, then the GM should contact the JK to step in and make a decision regarding the situation. If the JK votes in favor of the players, the GM should acquiesce to the majority. If this is the case the GM is under no obligation to continue running the game and a replacement GM can be sought out.

 

PLAYER POLLS

A word from Loeb's 1991 Guide is worth mentioning here:

"Note that the GM never gives the players a chance to vote. While voting for house rules is allowed BEFORE the game begins questions and proposed changes are not allowed to be voted [on]. The job of the GM is to decide. Not to take opinion polls. Otherwise, one can imagine that a losing alliance might enact rule changes to achieve a victory that would otherwise be impossible".

I agree that polls should not be done on contentious issues such as player behavior and the like. There is only one situation where a GM is obliged to poll his players about proposed changes and this pertains to the GM Rules in the EP House Rules:

2) GMs should not change the parameters of the game after players start signing up for the game unless the players unanimously vote to do so. This includes changing the deadline calculation, victory conditions, press flags, etc.

 

A WORD ABOUT GM WRITING PRESS

Don't.

In Loeb's 1991 GM Guide he wrote "in theory, the GM can also write press". I disagree. As Loeb points out, it is unlikely or nearly impossible for a GM to write press that is not biased. You may also inadvertently release information about another player's moves. It is simply not worth the risk. If you really have a need to write press, than I suggest finding another press game to satisfy that itch.

 

A WORD ABOUT SUBMITTING ORDERS FOR PLAYERS

Don't.

As noted above in the BECOME command explanation, it is simply not worth the trouble in case you make a mistake. If a player is experiencing email or connection problems, then extend the deadline a day or so. If that player's problems are ongoing, then replacing that player may be the solution. Entering a player's orders gets you way too involved in a game. It also opens up a Pandora's box of questions regarding impartiality.

 

PLAYER DEDICATION ADJUSTMENTS

Occasionally, a player will ask you to adjust his dedication rating. Maybe his server died and he went abandoned or something along those lines. What you should do is send a WHOIS [PLAYER NAME] to the judge to get the player's ID number. Then send a note to the JK telling him the ID that needs adjusting and by how much.

 

A WORD ABOUT GUNBOAT VIOLATIONS

The EP House Rules state that:

3) Players may not communicate with each other directly (ie, through a mechanism other than the judge) in games where the identity of other players is concealed, or at all in games where communication is barred. The potential for this arises if they guess at another player's identity or if the player's identity is accidentally revealed.

3a) Players in gunboat games may not make any claim, true or false, as to their real identities.

If a player willingly violates gunboat rules he or she should be removed from the game. If a player contacts another player outside the judge in a gunboat game that player should be removed.

The only time a gunboat violation should not result in an expulsion from the game is when it is clear that it was an accident. In that case, the GM has to decide whether to replace the player or not. If the accidental broadcast resulted in minimal possible damage to both sides, then the player should stay. A note to all parties concerned not to send press to each other outside the judge mechanism and to ignore the accident should also be delivered. Obviously all cases will be different. That is why you are sitting in the big chair.

 

PLAYER REPRIMANDS

Occasionally there will be a crisis that demands your swift attention. If the game is a press game, take the matter off the board. Handle it privately between yourself and the player(s) involved. If any player intentionally - note the word intentionally - violates the rules and/or the spirit of the game and you are notified about it from a player who has a concern, then it is up to you whether to reprimand that player IN PRIVATE, or to ask for his resignation if the matter so warrants. Reprimands should NOT be aired in an open forum

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE JUDGE DIES

A GM's worst nightmare is when the judge his game is on crashes and is unrecoverable. Ugh. That means that you as the GM have to move the game or convince a JK to help you recreate the game on a new judge. This is not a regular experience, but a good GM is like a Boy Scout - be prepared for anything. In that regard, you should keep a copy of the list of players and all the results of the game. A JK will need this information to recreate the game.

 

A NOTE ABOUT BOARDMAN AND MILLER NUMBERS

If you GM a newbie game, you will be asked about them. Nick Fitzpatrick sets both numbers. You do not have to worry about them. If a player asks about them tell them not to worry and ignore it. That's what I always do. If they are still curious, have them check out the E-mail MNC Home Page at http://www.sentex.ca/~nfitz/mnc.html.

 

A WORD ABOUT JKs

As a GM you are going to be talking to the JK a lot more than you were as a player. Unless you know him personally, write to the JK using the official JK addresses. Keep in mind that these individuals devote a lot of their time to running their Judge and have a lot of GMs to deal with. So if they do not respond to your letter immediately don't send another letter reminding them. Wait a while. They will get around to it when they can.

 

DRAWS AND THE THREE-YEAR RULE

In the EP House Rules regarding Draws and Concessions it states that

4) The GM reserves the right to terminate a game in a draw involving all the remaining powers if it is clear that the position on the board has reached a stalemate (determined by no changes to province ownership for the last three game-years). The GM must announce their decision to start the three game-year clock one season prior to doing to. If a player objects to the termination and can convince the GM that there is still play in the game then the game will continue.

Two things must be noted. First, the clock has to be announced ahead of time. Second, it is up to the GM to decide if and when the clock is to be started. GMs are not required to start the clock if a player requests it nor are they required to withdraw the clock if a player objects. It is your decision and yours alone. If the situation warrants it, you may solicit opinions from the players in order to make your decision, but it is your decision.

You are also under no obligation to announce draw proposals.

 

CONCLUSION

There you have it. If you follow this guide you should have no problem in joining the illustrious ranks of Diplomacy Gamemasters. Enjoy being a GM and remember that the more good GMs there are the more good games are available for people to play.

If you have any questions, comments, criticisms or feedback feel free to pester me.

Bon chance, mes amis.

Dean Gordon

deanandlea@lynx.bc.ca

Last Revised June 1997.

 

APPENDIX A - GENERAL GM ADVICE (FROM FELLOW GMs)

Dean A. Gordon
(deanandlea@lynx.bc.ca)

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