The GM, or "Game Master", is one who controls the campaign of the game, the story, and the enemies and NPCs. The GM is practically the storyteller of the game, and helps ref the battles. But its also more than that; the GM creates the maps, the storyline, unit relationships (which can even affect the flow of a campaign if you want a dynamic ending based on the unit's actions!), and the environment for the players in the game.
Being a GM
It is a lot of responsibility being a Game Master. But dont let that scare you! Being a Game Master is a great opportunity to host your own game, tell your own story, and try out some of your own homemade game mechanics and expansions!
Taking the job of a GM means taking several responsibilities:
- Keeping track of units for all armies, including the enemy!
- Logging the story to keep gameplay fluent.
- Creation of battle maps.
- Careful play of NPCs and enemies.
- Good knowledge of the game rules to ref games.
Of course, the GM does not have to take all of these responsibilities at once; the GM can ask a friend for assistance, to be his/her map designer or story teller. Splitting up tasks can help remove the stress in the beginning stages of becoming a GM.
Playing the Enemy
Like many strategy games, its always about good vs. evil, with good prevailing in the end. But what is it like to play the enemy? What would it be like if the enemy won? That's your job as the GM. During the enemy phases or NPC (other) phases, you get to move the units. Remember that if there are other NPCs to control, you have to play both sides; you have to follow the orders of the player when moving NPC allies, or the own free will of the neutral NPCs based on their given personality. So, after moving your enemy units to attack the players, you'll have to switch sides and control their allies to attack your own enemy units.
Dont forget, there may be times when you have to change the attack style of the enemy. Losing units means they're gone forever; if a player's army gets too small, they can't go on as they'd be overwhelmed by future army sizes, and creating level 1 units would be too weak. However, unless if you find a way to get NPCs to join the player in future battles, you can also try changing who the enemies attack to save the player's army. For example, if the player already lost two units, and has a weakened Priest out in the open, have the enemies attack someone else. It'd be discouraging to the player if they lost many units in a single battle. Also, it can depend on how strict of gameplay your players want, or how much of a challenge they wish for. If they are new to the world of Fire Emblem, cut them some slack; dont attack weak units in the open, or "miscalculate" your enemy's strengths or defenses.
It's all up to you, and a little variation in the way enemies attack will keep your players in the game without becoming discouraged in any way.
No battle can take place without a map! As the GM, its your job to create the setting of the story. You could make simple battle maps for each battle, or even create a large world map to show where battles take place, add detail to the story, and also to help generate ideas for future maps. You could have maps of a large plains, or a forest area, or a grand castle, or a dirty dungeon, any place your heart desires. Just make sure it follows the flow of the story!
When making a map, it will be a good idea to leave no open space unreachable. You can do this once or twice, if you wish to make small towers in a castle map for archers or long-range mages, but try not to make it too much. Also, you could try including treasure, but a good idea for hiding these is to put them behind locked doors, and you can hide the room from sight until a player (or NPC) opens the door.
It may be good in an outside map to include a village or two, if you want to provide items for the players. However, they'll have to get the items before enemy bandits destroy the village! Villages are a good way to provide special items to players that are fortunate enough to reach them in time.
Also, choosing the winning/defeat conditions is important. Will the army have to defeat the commander of the enemy army? Will the army have to defend a location for an amount of turns? Will they have to seize the throne? What main characters will cause the army's defeat if they fall in battle? It's all your choice, just make sure the conditions are clear to the player(s) before the battle begins.
This is what can keep the players at the edge of their seats. If you have a full campaign planned out, that would be okay to use, but its good to add variation based on units you lose, or the method used to win certain battles. For example, a player has an encounter battle between one of his units and four or five enemies. From there, you could cause the story of the campaign to break off into two branches; the story can take one path if the unit can defeat all the enemies without a problem, or the other path if the unit falls in battle and friendly armies come in to defeat the enemy. Also, support conversations are a great way to affect the campaign, such as conflicting decisions on what actions to take (and is also a good way to add a little drama to the game, if your that type of person).
Know the Game
If you've played the console Fire Emblem games, you already know how to play Fire Emblem d20! All you need as a GM are the weapon/item tables as references, as well as the formulas. As long as you have that, you can ref any game. Also, your knowledge will help to create custom classes and weapons/items, maps with different conditions such as enemy routing and target seizing, support conversations, and any other piece of the game. In this game, your only bound by your imagination!