I talked about our three golden rules recently, in the context of hosting Cafe Casablanca. However, there were two other rules that I use as a GM or host:
First, if possible, always answer a query by sending a player to another player. ( I believe that it’s more fun if the players interact with each other than spend all their time with the host.)
So in Death on the Gambia, for example, if a player asks you a question that another character could answer (such as the Captain), then direct them to the Captain and get them to ask.
Even if the Captain doesn’t know (and has to come and ask you), that’s much better than just answering the player directly. If you do just answer the player, then the Captain doesn’t know that you’ve told them – and it’s something he might choose to withhold.
Second, when running a rock-paper-scissors challenge, I try to determine what each outcome (win/lose/tie) means before starting the challenge, rather than try and figure out what happens afterwards.
The problem with rock-paper-scissors isn’t usually success or failure, as it’s often fairly obvious what happens in those situations. The problem is to create an interesting result for a tie – repeating the challenge is pretty dull.
So I try to make sure that I clearly state what the outcome of the challenge will be before we do the challenge. And if I can’t think of an interesting result for a tie, then I’ve found that the players are often more than willing to help me think of something.