‘How To Be A Good GM’ — A Bigger Question Than It Looks

Oh, no! Gaming philosophy time!

You know, a ton of stuff has been written about ‘How to be a Good Gamemaster.” Such advice usually takes the form of, ‘Do X, Y, and Z.’

That only helps as long as your players and your campaign presents you with situations to do X, Y, and Z. Trying to be a creative GM, and/or having creative players, almost guarantees that you will run into situations A, B, and C pretty soon, in which case, you’re lost.

That’s how to do good GMing. It doesn’t help you be that good GM.

It’s not too helpful, either, to provide a checklist: ‘A good GM decision is one that fulfills criteria X, Y, and Z’. This basically guarantees the fledgling GM will be paralyzed with indecision as they run every possible answer through this internal checklist, to see if it matches up to the ‘agenda’ or the ‘principles’ or whatever.

Again, that’s the difference between doing and being. I warned you there was going to be philosophy here!

I’d argue that good GMing starts when you’re far away from the game table, not even thinking about it. Public speaking. Learning how things work. Learning how people work. Learning how stories are written. Learn to do improv. Learning what makes a good game, and a bad one. You need to internalize all this stuff, form a coherent whole out of it, and contextualize what you know for each new situation you encounter, with confidence and, dare I say it, panache.

Of course, no one got rich writing books saying, ‘What you want to do is very difficult if you want to really excel, and I can’t tell you everything you need to know here.’ ?

I don’t post this to discourage! What you need to realize is that ‘How to be a Good GM’ is like ‘How to be a Good Cook’ or ‘How to be a Good Teacher’ — it’s actually an entire suite of skills, and there’s always room for improvement in each area. Heck, after 30+ years of gaming, I know I still have my weak areas. But that study away from the gaming table, is really cemented with the practice you get when you come back to the table and run the game. So go to it! Start practicing! And ask yourself, what can I do away from the gaming table to do this better?

I might come back to this later, break down some of those requisite skills, and talk about how I’ve managed over the years to improve each one.

Last Side Note: Simple games are all the rage these days. Heck, i’d say that for me, Metagene has been my best-seller for awhile now, which is gratifying enough. But there seems to be this impression that simpler games are easier to GM well. I’d argue (from my admittedly limited experience) that they are easier to GM poorly, but no easier to GM well. No matter what, you’re gonna get out of it what you put in, and what you put in is who you are.

That’s it for now. Go Forth and Game Well!

Cosmic Cutthroats now on Itch.Io — And on Winter Sale!

Picture of a heckin good doggerel in the heckin good snow. Girl.
I was joking. Don’t tattoo your dog’s head. I mean, look at this beast. He isn’t going to put up with that kinda nonsense. I mean, I’m scared just looking at this guy. Dogs deserve our respect and love, folks. And tasty treats. But you don’t have to let them pee on the carpet. Let them pee in the snow. That’s where the huskies go, after all.

Imperfekt Gammes has joined itch.io!

To celebrate, get Cosmic Cutthroats 50% off until 1/4!

Tell your friends! Tell your dog! Tattoo it on your dog’s forehead! Get a dog, if you don’t have one! Rent a dog, or just buy a share in one! What was I talking about!


Infinite Adventures Await!

A Cutthroat Cornucopia

If you’ve purchased Cosmic Cutthroats, please allow me to remind you that in the document on the right, labeled Links and Errata, you can get the current playtest version of the Cutthroat Codex (or you can click here!).

  • Over 200 pages and growing!
  • New LS/RM, Power, and Occupation Packages!
  • Three complete campaign settings for your Cutthroats campaigns!
  • Dishes belonging to each of the major species in both books, that your Cutthroat might somehow be able to stomach!
  • More Gear!
  • More GMing advice for Cutthroats!
  • More Optional Rules!
  • More Triumph and Mishap examples!
  • Lots more NPCs and critters to meet, befriend, battle, and cheat with at cards!

Check it out!

Cosmic Creatives

If you want to create something for Cosmic Cutthroats … nothing is stopping you!

The sections of Cosmic Cutthroats that contain only game mechanical material are released under the Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license.

What does this mean? It means you are free to create your own material using the R.E.C.I.P.E. game engine! Create new Realms, NPCs, and Adventures, and share them with others, even for sale!

The specific terms are in Section 1.3 of Cosmic Cutthroats, but the short version is: (1) You can use the game mechanics of Cosmic Cutthroats, but no Realms, settings, or named Characters in the game or any later supplements, (2) you do not have license from me to use any of the art in Cosmic Cutthroats, (3) please credit Cosmic Cutthroats as the original ruleset, and me as its author.

For more details on this Creative Commons license:


I have the utmost faith in the game community not to use these game materials for hate speech, bigotry, or discrimination of any kind. Please don’t let me down!

With that in mind, go for it, and let’s see what amazing worlds you create!

First Review

The first review of Cosmic Cutthroats is in, from the owner of the It Came From The Bookshelf Blog. They seemed to rather like it, and gave it a B+.

A few choice bits:

  • Rules:
    • Cosmic Cutthroats is, in fact, an ordinary game, but it does ordinary pretty well.”
    • ” Its system for critical effects is elegant …”
    • “… Mathematical complexity is almost never going to be an issue.”
  • Setting:
    • “The setting of Cosmic Cutthroats is kitchen-sink gibberish, but the good kind of kitchen-sink gibberish.”
    • “The whole thing is total nonsense and I love it.”
    • “It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but my tastes run to the eclectic, so I think it’s great.”

Read it here!

Cosmic Cutthroats now available in print!

The final version of Cosmic Cutthroats is now available in print on Lulu.com!


The price for is USD $45.15 for a 440-page hardback with matte color cover and nice paper stock. Lulu is currently (23 June 2020) running a coupon for 10% off of print orders (code CREATE10), so that will help, too! If you miss that code, keep your eyes open, Lulu always has one deal or another running.

Thank you all for your patience while I got this lined up, folks! The plan is that the book will be available on Amazon and other bookstores, too, but that will take several weeks, at least. So if you want that sweet Prime shipping discount, just hang on, it’ll happen!

Cutthroat Videos

Here are a few Youtube videos that might provide some inspiration for your Cosmic Cutthroats games.

The first is on the scientific and mathematical underpinnings of other dimensions, and the theories behind dimension travel. This is part of why Cutthroats is called a psychedelic RPG … If your PCs are students at the Academia Esoterica or Proto Kyoto Academy, this is what their homework is like.

Here is the Epic of Gilgamesh, sung in (what we think is close to) the original Sumerian.  This is a sample of what PCs might hear wandering through the Ziggurat District, the capitol of Uru Ulan.

A couple of more suggestions for in-game tunes. This one is a personal favorite, since it literally is in-game tunes. Something here for every occasion.

Finally, a suitably operatic, epic album perfect for when you want something sweeping and majestic. Closing in for the last battle with that Sanguine Totality anti-paladin warlord? Here you go!

That’s all for now!

Charity Bundles and Print Update

Howdy folks! A couple of quick updates.

This is an important moment, not just because of Covid-19. Creative folks are coming together everywhere to support racial justice and equality in law enforcement.

Metagene RPG is part of DriveThruRPG’s charity bundles. This particular one benefits the NAACP, and we’re so glad to help even just in this small way.


There’s also this fantastic bundle on itch.io to that also goes to the NAACP and the Community Bail Fund. I don’t have anything in this one, but it’s still awesome, and for a vital cause!


Please go check these out, and purchase one or both. Get some great games and help make the world a better place.

For those who’ve asked about print versions of Cosmic Cutthroats, I’ve ordered a test print copy from Lulu, and taken the initial steps to set up POD on DriveThruRPG itself. There are massive delays on both sites, and POD setup takes time. There may be unforeseen issues with either or both. We’re getting it done, though! Keep an eye on this space for updates!

If you have questions or possible errata about the game, please remember to check the errata list in the link to the right. If you find something that’s not on that list, please feel free to email me at jkubli@imperfekt-industrees.com with any questions or issue.

Stay safe and well! Thanks!