A Gamemaster by Any Other Name: What to Call “That Guy” in tremulus?

Today, we’re going to get into the realm of semantics. Hold on tight. And, yes, you may provide feedback. You may always comment. You know that. Just give me a moment.

I’ve been wrestling with what to call the GM in tremulus. Do I label him GM? That sounds a bit generic for me, for this. Do I label him Keeper? That sounds good and I’m still up in the air about this. It’s certainly proven and familiar in the genre. I’ve tossed about other names, such as Narrator, and have settled upon Doomsayer (at least for the moment). Why?

Let’s look at the definition (as defined by Merriam Webster Online) of doomsayer: one given to forebodings and predictions of impending calamity.

That fits what I see as the role of the GM in this particular instance, and we have the nice abbreviation of the DS to boot (with a little creative license).

I posted this up on Twitter today and it was batted back and forth. Some folks weren’t really down with it right away until I expanded it. Sometimes, contextualizing things really helps everybody. For me, it forced an idea to become an IDEA. More concrete. I needed to provide this lone, little word some backup. So I did.

I can see something like the following go into the Doomsayer’s Section of the Book

As the Doomsayer you should give portents and drench the scenes with strangeness and weirdness whenever possible. Paint the canvas with horrible imagery and look at the world through a cracked lens smeared with ichor.

After I posted this, someone said players might question it. They reminded me of the old adage regarding “ignore the doomsayers“. Fair enough, I thought. The Player’s Section could have something like this in it.

Ignore the Doomsayer at Your Own Peril

While the name might suggest he is out to get you, he is there to present the world in all its horrifying truth. Heed his words. Act as you will.

So, while I didn’t plan to step so heavily into this space today, the conversation was both intriguing and enlightening and, yes, even helpful . Maybe there is something to this Open Design business after all?

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!





12 Notes on, A Gamemaster by Any Other Name: What to Call “That Guy” in tremulus?

  1. I have to admit that Doomsayer is growing on me.

  2. Hmmm, this might sound silly but I think doombringer might be better. Doomsayer sounds like the story is already made up and immutable. Doombringer sounds like doom is coming and you better get ready. Anyway, that’s my two bits.

  3. I am partial to the work Harbinger or Augur (even though and augur uses flights of birds for their predictions)

  4. I like Doomsayer more than Doombringer.

    Doombringer (in my mind) really evokes a “GM vs Players” sort of dynamic, which I don’t think is what is desired in this style of game.

  5. @Matthew – I already suggested Augur to Sean over Twitter. He shot it down. It reminds him of a tool for digging holes. Harbinger is a good one, however.

    I also like Doombringer.

    I also suggested “Herald” as a possible name.

  6. How about considering an unreal word that still sees lots of use: “Doomspeaker”

    “The players writhed in their seats, shuddering with the horrors inflicted upon their minds by the heretical Doomspeaker”.

  7. Doomspeaker had crossed our minds…however…Doomsayer will be a hard one for us to move from…nothing in stone yet. :)

  8. Oracle. I like Harbinger, too.

  9. Until you gave me the definition, I found Doomsayer cheesy. After the definition, I can see where you’re coming from, but I still find it a little bit cheesy. Sorry – there’s a whiff of Python-esqe melodrama about it to me, and this is supposed to be scary not black-funny, right? First impressions tend to stick…
    Of the other suggestions, I don’t mind Harbinger, but to be honest, the fact that I can’t think of anything better than Keeper off of the top of my head means that I’m sticking with tradition for now.

  10. Hello all,

    I appreciate all the responses and they will be evaluated into the final process. We don’t want to have it to break the mood, so may well go with something in a more traditional vein (i.e. Keeper). That’s what I had been using in my drafts of this from the beginning. Just wanted to explore the possibility of something more fitting.

    Thanks for feedback, one and all.


  11. Something a little closer to ‘Keeper’ but maintaining the dire feel you’re shooting for could be ‘Bearer of Bad Tidings’ (shortening to ‘Bearer’ ).

    Just a thought.

  12. Well, I have to admit that Doomsayer does sound a bit better than “dude in the funny tentacle hat.”

    Has the title “Weaver” come up at all? It reeks of dank caves and spider webs brushing across faces in the dark.

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