Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 92: GM-Centric Design

Main Topic

We will be talking about two styles of design in this show and the next. So what do we mean by GM-centric Design? It feels like this style of design is about you as the GM having a sharp and clear picture of the story you want to tell. This doesn’t mean that you are laying out the railroad tracks. What it means is that you have the story you want to tell and the characters are another tool that you will need to think about as you go forward. Do they fit into the story or are they going to be the catalyst that is going to change what you have? Neither is wrong as they still give the players the amount of agency that they need to grow the characters they are playing. 

With this way of designing you will need to keep a few things in mind. What can the PC’s change? What can they not change no matter what? Are there story elements that can change and if so how much can they change them? If you are working to make a big campaign you will need to let your players know these things that you don’t want to change.

I notice that the GM’s that do this sort of design have it baked into the setting they are running. It might even be in the choice they made for the ruleset to use. 

One of the best ways to tell this story, is to look back on your themes you have already identified. Players ought to have agency, and so the question of what they can change is the paramount item to identify! Put the players in the position to make a choice and to make a change that helps effect the end result of the story that you want to tell.  

Stat Blocks

Zendead- Spigira

Sure you have heard of the famous ones, who hasn’t. Godzilla, Mothra, you know them but what about the ones that no one has made a movie about. Also you need to remember those movies are not real. While the first wave of Kaiju were attacking coastal cities we were trying to find a way to combat them. The early days saw hunters that had figured out the pattern for the migration and killed them anyway they could. Then a coalition of German and Japanese engineering created the first Mecha. They were not much more then powered armor. But then the next wave increased the mass of them to something bigger. 

Then the latest wave of Kaiju started showing up. Not sure where they were coming from but they were here and they were big. Spigira was topping out at 345 ft or 105 m That is when you include the spiral horn that makes up its head. Spigira has been seen in a few places. From the Philippines to Guam to West Papua, Indonisia are its hunting grounds. It seems to super heat the water around it and spray it from the spiral as it attacks. Given that this one stays in the open water more than most it seems like it might be a trophy worth hunting down. 

How to use Spigira in a game: Ok so if you need a crazy myth about a sea monster here you go. What about having an actual Kaiju? Aside from the 2 details you have some room to fit this creature in your games from fantasy to Sci-fi. You can give it more abilities and powers as you need them.  Enjoy. 

Guard-a-Manger – Grace Hilmot’s Will

Sometimes, the most successful company is simply the one that produces the best products and services.  Often times, however, it is more like MegaMagnaMonda Corp. Triple M clawed its way to the top at the expense of the morals and soul of the C.E.O., Grace Hilmot.  She did not hesitate to make ruthless moves to establish superiority, or undercut competitors, etiquette, niceties, and legalities be damned. The entire corporate balance sheets could have been printed in red from the blood than ran to propel MMM to the top.  

This isn’t to say that everyone turned a blind eye to what was happening – members of the Board and whistleblowers had certainly tried to stop her before . . . to no avail.  Something had left Grace able to stay one step ahead of all her competitors and establish MMM’s supremacy in multiple markets, and even multiple planets if you happen to play in that sphere.  Perhaps that uncanny ability is why her untimely and accidental death seems so shocking. Who could have foreseen a skiing accident on the exact day that a blizzard would stop any ability to transport her out for life saving treatment? 

It is time to settle her estate … and the biggest question is who will be the new C.E.O. once her ownership is passed.  The doors to her office won’t open for anyone else since then and nobody has dared try to break in – does the secret to her ability to stay one step ahead lie in that room?  Or did I mean lay in that room?

How to use Grace Hilmot’s Will in a game:  This is a macguffin pure and simple. The mystery behind Grace’s aptitude need not be answered in the room, or perhaps there is nothing special about it.  It is more importantly an entry way to a load of potential mysteries that the Players could either solve or be a cat’s paw for one of the other stakeholders – that is up to you.  


Littoral  adjective lit·​to·​ral | \ ˈli-tə-rəl  ; ˌli-tə-ˈral, -ˈräl \

Definition of littoral (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, or situated or growing on or near a shore especially of the sea

littoral waters

littoral noun

Definition of littoral (Entry 2 of 2)

: a coastal region

especially : the shore zone between high tide and low tide points

First Known Use of littoral


circa 1656, in the meaning defined above


1828, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for littoral

Adjective and Noun

Latin litoralis, from litor-, litus seashore

Look-up Popularity

Bottom 50% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead- Jericho 

I just jumped in where my wife was watching it and I had so many ideas for running a game set  right after the bombs have dropped. Do I want to run this yes but do I want to do a TMNT version or a Fate version? I am not sure the ideas are fun and the area to place in is so wide open. 

Guard-a-Manger- The Orestia.  Its my favorite story framework to drop players into the middle of like these GM Centric stories. It is a classic Greek tragedy trilogy focused on the House of Atreus.  How revenge can turn into justice and what it means to live in a civilized world are the themes that it seeks to explore through the House of Atreus and its curse in Agamemnon with the titular character’s death and the cycle of revenge through the creation of the Eumenides from the Furies in The Eumenides.   

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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