Something, I think, Every GM/DM Should Read - Page 15
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  1. #141
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Reverse it around though. Given the benefit of the doubt, a mediocre player can do a reasonable job.
    Maybe we're using "benefit of the doubt" to mean different things here.

    In most games, a player advocates for his character. It is neither in his interest, or in the game's interest, that the player try to make things more difficult for himself.

    In most games, the GM tries to make things difficult for the PCs in such a way that the PCs can, through effort, triumph more often than not.

    IMHO, and IME, a mediocre player will attempt to advocate for his character through the application of the rules, i.e., will attempt to maximize effectiveness (potentially at the cost to other players). If you did not also experience this, your position on the Wizards and Warriors balance thread would be markedly different than it is.

    So, no, in terms of "what is allowed", the GM should be actively involved in ensuring that all players have a relatively level playing field before the dice hit the table, and that the characters chosen by one player do not damage the fun of the others unduly.

    Good players, IMHO and IME, do not have these problems. It is the GM's job, at least in part, to help a mediocre player become a good player.....just as it is the players' job, in part, to help a mediocre GM become a good one.

    OTOH, the GM is specifically in a role that requires that he provide opposition for the player characters, essentially in the role of supplying all of the sudden reversals, unexpected dangers, WTF moments, and villiany that players enjoy overcoming.

    If the players do not believe that challenges are there to make the game better, then these reversals do not seem like the GM doing his job, but rather like the GM being a wanker, the players lose motivation to overcome the reversals, causing them either to miss out on the payoff or causing the GM to just give the payout to them. In either of these last cases, the game spirals into a sink of diminishing returns and sooner or later folds.

    Given no benefit of the doubt, a great player will seem like a total wanker.
    This is true if, and only if, the GM thinks that the players' job is to stroke his ego or to lose. The GM must indeed give the players the "benefit of the doubt" that their attempts to overcome his opposition are in the best interests of the game, and the GM must also give the players the benefit of their efforts.

    The GM need not "give the benefit of the doubt" that Class X, Combo Y, or Build Z will be good for the game. But within the parameters of what the GM does allow, the GM must absolutely be willing to "lose" to the players. Each roadblock, each sudden reversal, each problem that the PCs face exists to enrich the game, and to be overcome in some manner chosen by the players.

    It's a two way street.
    In that both must believe that the others are there to make a fun game for all, I agree.

    See, I used to be a bit believer in the whole, "Trust Thy DM" creed that early games espoused. Then I got repeatedly bitten on the ass for it. So, no, my distrust of DM's came AFTER experience, not before.
    Well, I suppose we have to take your word for that, but I have to tell you that through repeated discussions I have gotten the definite impression that there is a Freudian slip in your statement (i.e., that you typed "bit" instead of "big"). I suspect that your repeated problems with various GMs has not been as one-sided as you would seem to be suggesting.

    But, I am certainly not putting words in your mouth!

    I am not claiming that you have said that your distrust has caused problems with various GMs (which would be putting words into your mouth). I am saying that your various statements imply something that you are not saying. Which is, actually, an extremely common state of affairs among human beings. I doubt any of us are immune.

    Another way to look at it:

    With my game philosophy, I can find a group anywhere to run any system I so choose. I can say, "You must trust me to run the best game I can", and I have to choose who cannot play because I simply don't have the time or energy to run games for all who would wish to.

    My games will certainly not be for everyone, but I have no fear of being able to game so long as I wish to, regardless of what happens with WotC or the D&D brand. It is not, has never been, and never shall be "Where can I get some players?" but always "How do I deal with so many who want to play?"

    With your game philosophy, can you say the same?


  2. #142
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Something I don't quite understand. RPG's are collaborative games. I think we all agree on that.

    How can something be collaborative if everyone's ideas are subordinate to one person?
    I would prefer to say "cooperative games", although certainly some games are more collaborative than others. There are rpgs, for instance, without a GM, and in those games everyone does equal work sharing the role of both player (advocate for character) and GM (supplier of problems for characters).

    The more these roles are shared, the more authority must be shared, and the more collaborative a game is.

    I believe that, after a certain point, there are diminishing returns on this collaboration for most games. I.e., if someone is asked to both advocate for his character, and to determine what happens/what complications occur, in the same scene, you can easily run into the same problem that "GM PCs" cause in a more traditional rpg format.

    I also believe that, after a certain point, stepping into the GM role diminishes the level of player immersion in the game, by removing the player (even temporarily) from full advocacy from his or her character.

    Obviously, my opinions here are based on my experience, and YMMV (and probably will, at least as much as your experiences vary).


  3. #143
    I have no real doubt that Hussar was bitten in the arse by bad GMs, Hell, the first time that ever I ran a game was because the group had booted a bad GM.

    For me the ratio has been around two good, five mediocre, two bad, and one 'dear god, let the pain stop' out of any ten. This does not count the 'just learning' GMs.

    I have seen a bad GM turn around - one of the most gratifying things that I have ever experienced. And he was one of the arbitrary GMs that so many of the folks on this thread have written about.

    His group was hemorrhaging players, and he would complain about subplots in my Spycraft 2.0 game. (Subplots are plots chosen by the players - he felt that they wasted time.)

    I was getting ready to give him a talking to, he was becoming a real nuisance in my game, but I guess some of the other players beat me to it. And he just plain stopped being a problem.

    First, he stopped complaining.

    Then he took a subplot, and, for a wonder, allowed himself to enjoy it. (That is harder than it sounds - he was very caught up in being right.)

    Then he started running a Spycraft 2.0 game, with a few of my players giving him a chance. Heck, I played in his game.

    And he was good. There was humor, some give and take between the players and the GM, and he was actually very good. (The scenario was 'One of Our Zambonis is Missing'. The campaign was O' Canada!) I had a blast.

    He now has no lack of players, and blames me for changing his play style, but really, he mostly just had to start listening to the players, both when he was running games and when he was playing.

    And he was willing to make the changes. He learned.

    The Auld Grump, rambling....
    Last edited by TheAuldGrump; Thursday, 28th April, 2011 at 02:19 PM.

  4. #144
    Quote Originally Posted by TheAuldGrump View Post
    I have no real doubt that RC was bitten in the arse by bad GMs

    Sure; but I didn't then generalize it to all GMs, and it didn't make me decide that the GM shouldn't have the authority to do his or her job.

  5. #145
    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bob View Post
    I'm not trying to change anybody's game. Lots of people play in a style that I wouldn't have in my game.


    They may throw lots of experience upon PCs, raising them up to 30th level and beyond and they may make sure that every gold piece and piece of treasure and every magic item is found in a dungeon before the PCs leave, cleaning it all up like D&D locusts.


    I posted that article for those who "get it" and understand that there is some valuable advice


    Hey, if you want to run around and roll play instead of role play, all the while min/max'ing your characters, I'm not here to tell you not to do that.

    I'm just saying that's not what I think of when I think of superior play.
    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bob View Post
    Your GM is more than just the "monster mover".You have to trust your GM because he's got to make calls that aren't in the book


    And, you have to give your GM room to be creative in order to make the game outstandingly fun for everybody. You can't argue with him because what he says is "not in the books."


    For you skeptics out there, try this:

    <details of experiment in GM-fiat play snipped>
    These posts don't give me the impression that you have a lot of familiarity with non-dungeon, non-PC-power-advancement based play. They also suggest that you're not that familiar with the stunt/improvisation rules from 4e (or other games). I also don't see the link between roleplaying and GM-fiat.

    I posted an actual play account of a new-school (4e) session, based on time travel and exploration of an abandoned magical school, here. Have a read of that and then explain to me in more detail what I would gain from abandoning my current approach to the game.

  6. #146
    Quote Originally Posted by TheAuldGrump View Post
    I have no real doubt that Hussar was bitten in the arse by bad GMs
    I have no doubt either; I am just not at all certain that the "bad GMs" were actually all bad GMs. At some point, attitude colours experience.


  7. #147
    Quote Originally Posted by Water Bob View Post

    For you skeptics out there, try this: Do a 3 or 4 session game. Everybody create brand new characters just for this short mini-campaign. In this experiment, everyone agree that the GM IS THE RULEBOOK, and that his word is law. Everyone agree not to argue even once with the GM.

    Then, run the 3-4 session mini-game.

    When you're done, if you didn't have a load of fun, go back to the way you were doing it before.

    But, be open while you're doing this experiement to completely trust the GM and allow him the creative room to make the calls as he sees fit.

    If you have a good GM, I guarrantee you this will be a hoot.
    OK, with your first paragraph here, I would be in trouble. I've been running games in both 3.5E and 4E for almost four years now. Other than the now married couple who can't game on Friday nights anymore, the group keeps coming back to my table. So, I guess I don't suck too badly at DMing.

    However, my word is never law at the table. If there is a rules question, we discuss the rule or rules in question like adults (most of the time) and then decide what fits best for that situation. If somebody wants to try something new/different and it's in the rules, I'm certainly not inclined to say, "Sorry, my word is law and your new move will ruin my super-duper BBEG, so I must say you can't do it."

    I've been playing D&D for over 30 years now and I certainly don't presume to know all the rules in any edition - so, unless the new/different move is a total weasel move, I would be inclined to allow it. The players in my group generally would also speak up if they knew of a rule that would disallow such a move as well.

    However, once we do decide on how to implement a rule, we do try to be consistent going forward. And, I do remind people of certain situations in game where certain moves/powers/spells would not be available to them, or might cause unexpected consequences.

  8. #148
    Quote Originally Posted by Raven Crowking View Post
    Sure; but I didn't then generalize it to all GMs, and it didn't make me decide that the GM shouldn't have the authority to do his or her job.
    Sorry, that was supposed to be Hussar, not RC - I corrected it while you were posting.

    The problem kicks in when a GM uses that authority to screw his players, and thereby screws up his job, then wonders why he has no players. Trust me, it happens. (I thank the gods that I have never screwed up my game like that.)

    There is a difference between authority and license - authority, in a game, should not equal autocracy. It does not need to be a dictatorship.

    I almost never have a problem with rules lawyers, and still play Spycraft 2.0, which imposes some real limits on GM power. I like having those limits.

    My other game is Pathfinder, which does not have those same, in built, limits, but, again, I do not face a barrage of rules lawyering and quibbles.

    But it really depends on the GM and the group. Some like a more authoritarian GM. But I neither want to play under an authoritarian GM nor to be one. The OP is welcome to like the simplicity of one man, one vote, ain't it great that I'm that man who gets the vote, at least if his players are also having a good time, but it just does not sound like fun to me.

    And if his players aren't having a good time then he may wonder where they all went.

    The Auld Grump

  9. #149
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheAuldGrump View Post
    But it really depends on the GM and the group. Some like a more authoritarian GM. But I neither want to play under an authoritarian GM nor to be one.
    Indeed. I disagree with the OP's suggestion that every DM should read this. If you and your group know how you (as a group) like to play, there's no need to get anyone else's opinion on how the game should be played.

  10. #150
    Quote Originally Posted by Raven Crowking View Post
    I have no doubt either; I am just not at all certain that the "bad GMs" were actually all bad GMs. At some point, attitude colours experience.

    This I will grant - but it is actually something that is liable to be affected by a positive feedback loop - if you get three bad GMs in a row you are less likely to be forgiving of #4.

    My problem is that I almost never play - so my view is biased by being a permanent GM. I don't really trust anyone else to do the job properly, at least at the beginning. I don't really trust GMs, and that includes me. I hate railroading, arbitrary decisions, and picking a fall guy for the group. I hate GMs who think that if a PC doesn't die every session then the game wasn't challenging enough. (Not joking - I had a GM who gave no experience unless a PC died.)

    It all comes down to being a control freak - a weakness for GMs, and one I guard myself against whenever I run games. If you are overly controlling then you can kill your game.

    I have had good GMs, and I have had some terrible GMs. But I have only had a very, very few GMs that I would call very good. (I also had one bi-polar GM, who was very good when he was up, and terrible when he was down. And he hated the treatment. He was also diabetic. A few years ago he allowed himself to be taken off dialysis and died.)

    Experience shapes perception, which can, in turn, shape experience.

    The Auld Grump

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