For those of you with community activist groups seeking to abolish role-playing games, don’t link to this post! This is not a very favorable look at role-playing games and their game masters, because it exposes the one kind of person who makes the best GM. That kind of person is a liar.
Successful liars and GMs share many of the same character traits. After all, fantasy is fantasy, whether you are creating a world of elves, trolls and magic or coming up with a story about where you just spent the last four hours. I am not suggesting that every marginal GM go out and start lying for practice, but maybe by watching a few less than honest people, you might pick up a few pointers. Let's do just that:
A good liar/GM has to be able to tell a story. Facial gestures (especially eyes) are extremely important. Tone fluctuations can also serve to make the story more entertaining and thus keep the listener from concentrating too much on the subject matter. Actors tell lousy stories, because they include too much detail. Liars, know just the right amount of detail to include to make the story pass inspection without raising suspicions. It is the level of detail and generalization that makes a great story.
Lying is an important part of GMing. How often has an inexperienced GM rolled to see if a thief can sneak-up on a party, only to alert them that something was amiss? Good liar/GMs roll often behind their screens and convince the party to be on their toes at all times. GMs also need to lie to the players to prevent their characters from knowing too much. Even if it is as simple as not telling them when they did not detect a secret door, poker-faced GMing is vital.