How to Teach a GM to be a Player? - Page 2
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  1. #11
    Chaotic Looseleaf
    Lama (Lvl 13)

    DMZ2112's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    SE PA, USA
    I'll take the opposite position of many of the commenters here: if a player can't handle a heckling dungeon master at his table then he has little business pursuing dungeon mastery at all. We've all had to suffer a bad dungeon master at one time or another. Why encourage more of them? Dungeon mastery is a skill, and like any other skill it has to be honed.

    The points in this article are perfectly valid -- if last-ditch -- weapons in the dungeon master's arsenal, although I would point out that they apply to any and all varieties of player entitlement, not just a "misbehaving" dungeon master.

  2. #12
    @amerigoV : Ha ha, I bet there's a pretty good story to that 'never trust an undead' bit.

    I think the idea about giving the GM some administrative tasks is great. I'll definitely pass that solution on to the DM who gave me the idea for the article. The DM in question has said I'm a royal pain as a player and that's something I can't totally disagree with. However, this idea is excellent. Thanks!

    @Phototoxin : I'm like that as well in spades. Also, as a GM I like to reward the players who contribute to the 'story' of the game even if they're a little loose with the rules and campaign setting when they do it. I guess that could just be my 'style' of game mastering. You're not alone, anyway.

    @Neonchameleon : You're bang on with this suggestion. I'm kind of kicking myself for missing this option. I think that's a great idea. I've been meaning to check out 13th Age for a while now anyway, maybe this is a good excuse to take the time to learn the system.

    I agree with you about the collaborative advantages of world-building, but in the position of the player in those games, I didn't feel it was my right to question the DM shutting my input down. That said, I can't exactly say I'm a basket of roses as a player either. Regardless, it's a great suggestion. Thank you.

    @Sir Knight : That's pretty cool. I think it would be really neat to game with a few players who'd all had some experience with game mastering. It's also neat you can all chat about mechanics and plot during the game. It sounds like you have a really cohesive group of fine players.

    I also agree that every game system and group of players is different. I'm sure I haven't covered all the solutions (or even the good ones!) I've just used what I felt was employed most often on the rare occasions when I've been a player instead of a GM. One of the players-turned-GM thinks that the situation is impossible, but I thought it would be neat to write an article about it and see the great solutions people came up with.

    In my particular case, we tend to play a lot of D&D and my own invented game systems. However, at some point or other I've forced most of my players to play just about every RPG I can get my hands on. Some of my fellow GMs tend just to prefer D&D.

    @Sword of Spirit : I totally agree with you. Thanks for the great suggestion about asking the GM what can be done to help out. The next time I'm a player, I think that's a fine thing for me to try out.

    I'm also a kindred spirit when it comes to problem solving. I also have a pretty hard time sitting quietly when the GM is distracted for what seems like half an hour. On one occasion, I was known to have created and played out a 15 minute subplot with another player while the GM was up to something else. When the GM found out what had happened, the GM wasn't terribly impressed. I still get ridiculed for that, and it was years and years ago.

    @Luce : Another great idea. Playing a different system sounds like it could work really well. Some players turned GMs have a favorite, but I think it would be something good to try out.

    @Orius : I tried. :P

    @Vyvyan Basterd : Kudos on that. I've been called a terrible player on more than one occasion, and sometimes by players who I really respect. I have to admit that I sometimes earn that title.

    As for attention span, I guess I've also had that problem. In one particular game, I actually became less and less engaged in the game until the point where I stopped reading (an unrelated book) and wandered off. It was actually kind of embarrassing seeing as I'd begged everyone to play, but I just couldn't keep my focus on the game.

    Throughout the 5 hour session, I was a 0-level farmer the entire game forced to be a servant to a crazy old wizard. Apart from failing miserably at the basest of tasks, I wasn't really allowed to do much. I guess you could say I was spoiled by playing 1st level heroes all the time, and that it was a great role-playing opportunity. However, there wasn't even a single battle in the entire time I was playing (and I'm still 0-level in that game as far as I know). The other players enjoyed themselves immensely so it must have been just me.

    Mishihari Lord: Kudos on trying not to be 'that guy'. I think most good GMs try to do the same, but it sounds like you've succeeded.

    I'm not sure I actually agree with the advice in the column, as most of it has basically been used to try to keep me in line as a player. However, thanks for saying some of it was helpful (if not the premise).

    @DMZ2112 :

    Well, I guess I agree and disagree.

    To some extent I agree that a GM needs to have a tough skin to do his job. Some of my players say they'll never GM me as a player, but that can make it hard for them to GM games. I know I might not be the best player, but if we work together (and not against each other) I think the only way to pull it off is to keep trying. If you just quit, you can never succeed.

    The part where I disagree is with the points in the article being perfectly valid. I know I'm the one who wrote it, but they were mostly tactics used on me by other GMs. I guess I may have come up with a few of them myself, and it's good to know they can be helpful. Also, it's interesting you should say they can be used against other kinds of player entitlement. I'd never thought of that, but it's quite true.


    Thanks for the great comments, everyone! I'll definitely be passing on this info to some players-turned-GMs. I really like the idea of giving the former GM administrative tasks in general whether playing NPCs, handling combat mechanics, or whatever. I do agree that part of the problem seems to lie in the massive shift of 'game-time' involved with turning from GM to player and administrating would be a great way to soften this major shift until the GM could adjust to his new role as a player.

    That said, I'm the GM, you got a problem with that?

    (Above sentence is a joke and should not be taken seriously).

  3. #13
    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

    Oryan77's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Fremont, California
    I'm not so sure that these issues are DM related issues any more than just being a "bad player" issue. Most of those examples reflect a guy that is simply a bad player and he could have easily never DMed a game in his life. Being an experienced DM or not is really not an excuse or a reason for him being a bad player under a new DM.

    The most common issues that I've seen from experienced DMs turned player is hogging the spotlight or rules lawyering. Although plenty of players do that, DMs seem to have a hard time adjusting to the game as a player by not doing that. Even so, dealing with him is no different than dealing with any other problem player. It could actually be easier after you've openly discussed it with him, because he can relate to the problems he's causing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neonchameleon View Post
    Or in short stop locking the game world down, stop being an entitled DM, and stop deciding it's your way or the highway. Your game will be richer, more detailed, and both easier and more satisfying for you if you make it more collaborative and use rather than try to fight the skills of everyone else at the table.
    That's your opinion and is in no way the truth. I've played in games where the DM gave absolutely no thought to his game world and simply relied on what the players would do during a session. Either because he thought he was being a better DM by running a "sandbox" game and expected us to help in world building. Or because he was just lazy and thought his game would flourish just fine for the simple fact that we have characters & want to adventure. In either case, these games are almost always a flop and extremely boring. I've yet to see one last long term. I'm not interested in world building as a player or creating adventures and plots for the DM. That's your job as DM as far as I'm concerned. All I ask in that regard is to let my in-game actions have an affect on the game-world.

    I'm kind of curious to know what you think being an "entitled DM" entails. Most players I've seen that have issues with a DM wanting to run his game world without players dictating to him what should or shouldn't happen/exist were "entitled players". I agree that collaborating can and does enrich a game. But a DM may have limits to that collaboration that are perfectly valid. The problem arises when players refuse to except that and can't let go of their own control or selfish wants. It's more likely that a player can still have just as much fun in that game than it is for a DM to have just as much fun DMing in a way that he doesn't want to.

    Collaboration for me is defined by me asking for PC backstories so I can get ideas to add in to the game. Or asking the players what sort of adventures they want to play in, what kind of locations they'd like to visit, or what kind of creatures they want to encounter.

    If I don't want the player to create a new god, or have his PC be the son of a god, it's perfectly fair. If I don't want the player to name his PC "Bud the Weiser" cause I want the game to be more serious than that, there is nothing wrong with that. If I say he can create a new town where his PC was born and raised, then great. If I don't like that, it's part of our right as DM to say, "Sorry, no." I see no harm at all if players ask for that sort of stuff. The harm comes from him complaining when the DM isn't digging it.

    Putting some limitations on player control doesn't mean the DM is "locking down his game world." It's a perfectly valid style of DMing and I've never had less fun as a player because of it. Provide me with some rules, give me a good adventure with roleplaying opportunities, and equip me with some cool loot and stuff to kill, and I'm good to go.

  4. #14
    Novice (Lvl 1)

    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Tangentially related to the last line in the OP we have a
    DM who still thinks she is a player.We all appreciate the hard work that goes into running a game because most of the players in our group are current or former DM's. We have the problem in that our DM constantly interjects her advice on what strategy to employ during the players turn.

    The fight scenes often become laborious as she seems to be trying to run both sides of the screen at once.

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