**Make sure the players’ actions matter. ** They want to feel like they have a part in the story, and a major one at that. They want to feel like they made a difference. If you fall into the trap of knowing how you want the whole thing to go and not letting them take it in a different direction, they (and you) will feel sort of cheated.
My best friend has fallen victim to this a couple of times. He runs good, really imaginative games, but, since he wants to tell a great story, sometimes forgets that the players may want to tell it differently.
**Roll with what they do. ** As **jkusters ** suggests, when you throw a trap at them, you don’t have to know what the right solution is. In fact, sometimes having a solution in mind can be maddening, as the players just plain fail to see the obvious solution. If their plan is good, let it work.
**Give everyone a moment of their own. ** Try to find a way for each of the players, and each of the characters, to have a Shining Moment or a Time in the Spotlight. That’ll keep them (and you) coming back for more.
**Never let a player make a meaningless die roll in a critical situation. ** This means that, if the player is trying to do something like catch the fleeing Big Enemy, if they roll the dice, they should have a chance to succeed, and they should have some idea what that chance is. Otherwise, you’re rendering them powerless.
I’ve had GMs fall into this trap as well. The fight is over, the bad guy needs to get away (for plot purposes), but my hero gives chase. What should happen is something along the lines of “he disappears into the mist, leaving only mocking laughter behind,” which would make me feel like I tried. What happens instead is “okay, roll. Whoa, natural 20. Uh, he gets away anyway.” Don’t let it happen to you.
**The GM is not the enemy of the player. ** The world may be, the bad guys certainly are, but you, the GM, are not. Unless, of course, you are one of those “bring any character you want, I’ll find a way to kill it” GMs who lurk in the dark corners of Gen Con. Brrrrrr.
**Remember to have fun. ** This can be hard to do, but do remember to include yourself in the Shining Moment category as well.