Game Rescue is when a GM takes on the "Head GM Position" of a game that they were not previously running. This can happen for several reasons, including disappearance or declared burnout. Regardless of the why, some or all of the players have decided they are interested in continuing the game but are seeking a new GM to replace the old one.
Generally, this is done by players requesting a GM on the Game Planning Forum
Game Rescue is not recommended for new GMs. Players are likely to have certain expectations that a first-time/new PbP GM may have difficulty with. As such, having at least one successful PbP game under your belt is highly recommended before attempting a game rescue. It is also highly recommended you review the GM GUIDE in full.
Requesting a Game Rescue
If you are a player interested in requesting a GM Game Rescue, post a new thread in the Game Planning sub board of Games and Ads.
Include the following information:
- Gaming System in Use
- Gaming Setting in Use - if homebrew, mention this as well
- A listing of all the books/sources in use
- A brief description of the game (keep between 3-8 sentences)
- A Link to the Game Profile
- How long the game has been running
- Group size and posting habits
It's also a good idea to post a link to this thread in your orphaned game's OOC thread, so all the players can monitor it easily.
Offering a Game Rescue
If you are interested in GMing a game that is requesting a rescue, find them in the Game Planning Forum. Post your interest with all of the following:
- Links to at least one of your previous or existing games as a sample of your GMing style. The players will want to know what sort of GM you are, and the best way is to read for themselves.
- As much of an explanation of your GMing preferences as you can give without writing a novel for them. Keep it to a paragraph or two about how you operate, noting such things as how you like to handle lapses in posting, how much of a stickler you are for mechanical details and similar subjects.
- Any concerns or questions you may have about the game. If you have some ideas about the direction the game could go in that are radically different from the original premise, talk about them and find out if the players want that.
Performing a Game Rescue
Taking over an existing game has the distinct advantage of already having players who you know are dedicated to the game. It may seem daunting to take over someone else's work at first, but so long as they kept good notes, it's not as hard as it looks. When setting information hasn't been kept well, you can always impose your own information over it and just carry on, rather than worrying about adhering to everything that was laid down before.
I'm a Rescue GM, Now What?
If you are accepted by the players of the game, you will need the current GM to transfer the head GM position to you. If this is not possible you will need to contact an administrator.
Once you have been accepted by the players, read every single thread in the game and review all character sheets. If you can, also read through the original ad for the game. Get through this as quickly as possible to get the game going as quickly as possible. If you're crunched for time and the game has been going for a while, start with the current game thread and leave archived threads for later reading. Don't be afraid to ask the players for an outline of events so far.
Take notes as you read the game, of anything that seems important to you. Maybe there are plot hooks the PCs ignored previously that you can reuse or extrapolate the effect of. Named NPCs deserve notation, as do places the PCs have been. Major events should also be noted so you don't contradict the. And so on. If it seems like it should affect the future of the game, make a note of it.
Talk extensively with the players, see what they liked and didn't like about the game so far and want to see and don't want to see in the future. Encourage them to be candid in this regard. Opening a thread to discuss this in the game board is recommended, as well as communicating to each player privately about their character.
Planning and Consistency
Plan the future of the campaign, at least in broad strokes. Be consistent with the game world thus far and include as many previously generated plot hooks and threads as you can. For more information, see Writing Campaigns, Adventures and Encounters.
The unique challenge here is to successfully incorporate the existing plot into the continuation of the game while honoring existing campaign arcs. It may be simplest to throw the PCs into a short side adventure while you get up to speed and solidify your plans, or it may be easier to continue whatever they were in the middle of. Don't discount rewinding or skipping ahead a little - with the players' permission - if that makes the most sense.
Once you have prepared sufficiently and completed the prior steps, be sure to alert all players that the game will be starting up again shortly. Include a PM to each player as well as an in-game announcement.