How many terms for "games master" are there?

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How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:40 pm

I played D&D first, so heard the term "Dungeon Master", but because TSR claimed DM as a trademark, I saw the generic term "games master" being used for other RPGs. (In fact we used to have a magazine called "Games Master International" in the UK.)

I later heard that Judges Guild uses the term "judge", for their products.

I think I've heard people using something like "keeper".

What other alternative names have you seen used for people who run RPGs?

Is this all about companies wanting to claim terms as trademarks, or are there actually some games where people run the game in a different enough way that one of these alternative terms to "GM" actually makes more sense?

TERMS GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO RUN TABLETOP RPGS:
  • Administrator - used in Top Secret/ Top Secret SI.
  • Animator - used in TOON.
  • Arbiter - used by Blood & Bone.
  • Bartender - used in Tales of the Floating Vagapond.
  • Castle Keeper - used in Castles & Crusades products.
  • Director - used in Cinematic Unisystem (Angel, Buffy, Ghosts of Albion), High Plains Samurai, and Night's Black Agents
  • Dragonmaster (DM) - used in Epyllion.
  • Dungeon Master (DM) - claimed by TSR/WotC as a Dungeons & Dragons trademark.
  • Gamekeeper - used in OneDice.
  • Gamesmaster or Games Master (GM) - generic term used by many RPG publishers.
  • Game Moderator (GM) - used in Over the Edge.
  • Guide - used in No Thank You, Evil!
  • Hollyhock God - used in Nobilis products.
  • Judge - used by Judges Guild and Dungeon Crawl Classics.
  • Keeper - used in Call of Cthulhu.
  • Narrator - used in Dragonlance SAGA, Blue Rose (both editions), True20, Faery's Tale, and Lone Wolf Adventure Game
  • Mutant Lord - used in Mutant Future.
  • Mythguide - used in Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth.
  • Referee - used in World of Calidar and Traveller.
  • Storyteller - used in the Storyteller System/World of Darkness.
  • Watcher - used in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.
  • Zero Meister (ZM) - used in Spaceship Zero.
EDIT: List of terms added to top post.
Last edited by Big Mac on Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by night_druid » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:01 pm

Castles & Crusades uses the term Castle Keeper.

Alternity & Hackmaster uses Gamemaster

I'm sure there are others.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by FaerieGodfather » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:11 pm

Well, "Dungeon Master" and "Game Master" are out of the way, as are "Judge", "Referee", and "Keeper".

The Storyteller System (White Wolf) fittingly uses "Storyteller".

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying uses "Watcher". I don't remember what other Cortex games use.

I have a friend who is fond of "Game Operations Director", which makes me have seizures like an old Japanese cartoon.

There's a game that actually uses "Hollyhock God", but that supposedly makes sense for the game.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Boneguard » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:29 am

Call of Cthulhu uses Keeper
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:41 am

FaerieGodfather wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:11 pm
There's a game that actually uses "Hollyhock God", but that supposedly makes sense for the game.
This is Nobilis, by the way.

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by timemrick » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:01 am

Game Master (GM) is the most common one I've seen. (I've also seen it as "gamemaster" [Fate, d20 Call of Cthulhu] but never "games master".)

Others used in games I own (or have owned):

Animator: TOON.
Director: Cinematic Unisystem (Angel, Buffy, Ghosts of Albion).
Dragonmaster (DM): Epyllion.
Gamekeeper: OneDice.
Game Moderator (GM): Over the Edge.
Keeper: Call of Cthulhu.
Narrator: Blue Rose (both editions), True20, Faery's Tale.
Storyteller: World of Darkness.
Zero Meister (ZM): Spaceship Zero

And I've only played it once, but IIRC, Paranoia used "The Computer".
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Havard » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:35 am

Tales of the Floating Vagapond refers to the GM as "Bartender". There was even a Bartender's Screen. :lol:

Dragonlance SAGA uses "Narrator".

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:15 am

Thanks for all the suggestions.

I've edited all of them, except "The Computer" into the top post. Can anyone confirm that?
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:35 am

Dungeon Crawl Classics also uses "judge."

No Thank You, Evil! uses the term "Guide."
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:37 am

High Plains Samurai uses the term "Director."
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Sturm » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:12 am

Calidar uses Referee, probably not the only one to have used this term.

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by zontoxira » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:05 pm

2d20 Conan uses the term gamemaster, I guess to separate itself from the generic Game Master (with a space). FFG's Star Wars also uses the generic term, while Blood & Bone has Arbiter. Lone Wolf Adventure Game makes use of Narrator, just like Blue Rose.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Coronoides » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:05 pm

Sucker used when you think the GM can’t hear you.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Bloodsucker » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:21 pm

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Dread Delgath » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:24 pm

Administrator or Admin for Top Secret, & Referee for pre-80's war-games & early D&D. "The Computer" was not the preferred nomenclature for the game master in Paranoia - it is "Game Master" for that game. :)
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by RobJN » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:50 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:24 pm
Administrator or Admin for Top Secret, & Referee for pre-80's war-games & early D&D. "The Computer" was not the preferred nomenclature for the game master in Paranoia - it is "Game Master" for that game. :)
The Computer is your friend. The Game Master? Probably not much more than any of the other players ;)
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:32 pm

The Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth roleplaying game calls the gamemaster the Mythguide.

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by agathokles » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:40 pm

Director is also used in Pelgrane Press' Night's Black Agents.

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by RobJN » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:02 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:32 pm
The Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth roleplaying game calls the gamemaster the Mythguide.
So, does that make the players.... mythguided? :cool:
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by BlackBat242 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:42 pm

Sturm wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:12 am
Calidar uses Referee, probably not the only one to have used this term.
Traveller (1977+) used/uses Referee as well.

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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:41 pm

zontoxira wrote:
Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:05 pm
2d20 Conan uses the term gamemaster, I guess to separate itself from the generic Game Master (with a space).
That's just a compound noun, really.

We start with a pair of nouns, like game master or role playing.

Then a hyphen gets used to join them, like game-master or role-playing.

Finally people drop the hyphen and treat it as one word, like gamemaster or roleplaying.

If you keep an eye on various dictionaries, you can get an idea about how popular a particular noun-pair is becoming by seeing if they acknowledge the compound noun, the hypenated version of the version with the two words next to each other.

(Fictional compound nouns are also a good way of "selling" something as "normal" in a science fiction RPG or story. If you write about a "hovercar" people will probably subconsciously assume it is much more widespread, because the word is more "officially" adopted. :) )
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:46 pm

Thanks for the additional information. I've edited the top post.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Tim Baker » Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:20 am

Adventures in Middle-earth has the Loremaster.
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by Ashtagon » Wed Jul 04, 2018 7:57 am

One that I feel should be used more often is MC (Master of Ceremonies).
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Re: How many terms for "games master" are there?

Post by shesheyan » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:16 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Wed Jul 04, 2018 5:20 am
Adventures in Middle-earth has the Loremaster.
My favorite term for a fantasy campaign.

Dragon Quest 2E by SPI (1982) «Gamesmaster» with an «s».

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