How flexible are you as player and as a GM?

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Over the years that I've been participating in on-line discussions about TTRPGs, there have been times where the discussions hit on participants' pet peeves where people will opine on how certain styles or certain rules would ruin the game for them. Some of the big contenders are open-world vs railroad, alignment, and enforcing resource management (tracking ammunition, spell components, encumbrance). But just about anything can trigger someone's gag reflex when it comes to gaming.

What I found is that even with those posters who have bluntly stated that certain ways I've run the game are awful and that they would hate to play in my games, I feel that we would have no problems if I were a player in their games.

Putting aside the almost academic-level of analysis we get into when discussing specific rules or play styles, how flexible are you as a player and as a GM?

I find that as a PLAYER, I am very flexible, especially with one-shots and mini-campaigns. I'll play almost anything. I can have fun with nearly any theme, setting, or GM style. Crunchy or thespian, sandbox or rail-road, ... whatever. Almost. My work limits the time I have to commit to play in multiple campaigns. That means, other than the campaign I'm running as GM, I mostly join one-shots. And I tend to look for one-shots that are very different than the D&D 5e campaign I run. If I were to commit to a long-term campaign that I had to schedule into my work and family life, I would have to be exceptionally fun for me to deal with the scheduling headaches. Still, I think the "exceptionally fun" part would be determined more by the group of players than the system or setting.

As a DM, I am moderately flexible. When we are close to wrapping up a campaign, I start discussing with them what kind of game we want to run next. But it needs to be something that I'll enjoy running. Currently, the means not involving a huge amount of work to prep, not overly complicated rules, and probably swords & sorcery fantasy. DnD 5e is the easy default because I'm quite familiar with the game and have a lifetime's worth of adventures, settings, and rules options. But I'm not hung up on an specific themes, settings, or rules options. I'll generally go with what the group is interested in.

How about you? Aside from abusive personalities or anti-social behavior, are there any rules, play-styles, themes, or venues that you would never DM or play in, no matter how much you like the people at the table?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I'm not a player, as a general rule.

As a GM, I am flexible within certain areas. I listen to my players' hopes and plans, and to their speculations. I use the reasonable bits of the former to guide the campaign or to crush their spirits, and steal ideas from the latter. I'm willing to tweak PC creation for roleplay purposes (but not for power acquisition).

But I don't compromise on GM'ing style. You don't like how I run my game, or what elements I insert or remove from a setting, there's the door.

I choose the game and setting I'm going to run, and seek players for it.

I won't run a D&D campaign under any of the existing rules. I might, might, run a Castles & Crusades campaign, but that's the only d20 I would consider, and its iffy at best. Never would run a supers campaign (really don't get the genre), or any system with powerful PCs. Never diceless, or GM doesn't roll dice.

As to players, I wouldn't keep a player who ran actively evil PCs. Or a player who couldn't keep his political views to himself (unless he agreed with mine). Players must run their own gender. Players who speak with accents in-character are generally warned, then booted; players with actual accents are OK. I only play on-line now, but in the days of F2F, hygiene was a critical issue. I don't keep players who feel the exclusive need for the spotlight. I won't keep habitually unpunctual players. Mainly, however, I want players who can work as a team, spare the spotlight, pay attention, are reliable, and pay attention.
 

As a player, I think am moderately flexible. Similar to your case, the flexibility is inversely proportional to the length of the game, but there is both rule sets (especially the very crunchy ones) and themes (more below) I am not interested in exploring in RPGs. Generally, for campaigns, I will only commit to something that I find interesting. I will stick around, though, even if I find the rules somewhat bothersome over time, as long as the group is nice and I have the feeling that other players are enjoying the game.

As a GM, I am less flexible. The pattern holds that I'm more flexible with shorter games, but generally I will only run things I like and find interesting, with the exception being good friends asking me to run a game I know well enough, at least as long as I don't strongly dislike it in the mean-time or find it too bothersome to get hold of the rules again.

Regarding the themes: in general, I prefer my games to be PEGI-12 to -16, so no explicit sex scenes, excessive description of gore and only limited amount of body horror. But even beyond that I don't have that much interest in games that fall too much outside the general adventure story genre (e.g. playing free traders in Traveller is perfectly fine, but I don't see myself playing Telenovela stories with Pasion de las Pasiones).
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I won’t play in curated, story-driven games anymore. The way I play just isn’t very compatible — it’s considered a type of bad player behavior by those who enjoy that style. It’s better to avoid the grief and focus on other games. I’m otherwise pretty flexible, but I do have some systems I’m not very interested in trying again (see below).

As a GM, I’m running my homebrew system now, and I expect that to be the case for the foreseeable future. We tend to do exploration-driven games, and it’s a good fit for that. If I were to try to do something else, I’m willing to give most systems a shot. We’ve certainly tried our share of games over the years (some going more smoothly than others). Most of the games on my “no” list (see below) I might be willing to run except for Pathfinder. That’s more on the “no” list from the perspective of the GM.

Actual systems I’m unlikely to return to playing or running include Pathfinder 1e and Torchbearer. PF1 has too much stuff for it, and I don’t really care to deal with it anymore (especially as a GM). There are some elements of Torchbearer I do like, but I’m put off by the conflict system, and I really dislike usage-based advancement of skills. Blades in the Dark is on my maybe list. I’d like to try it again after our current campaign ends, but if that game follows a similar pattern, it’s probably also going on my “no” list.
 

aco175

Legend
I'm generally very tolerant/flexible as a DM and player. For the last few years, I'm only playing with family members so we tend to have developed the same style and flavor we all like.

I did get to play a Spelljammer AL adventure at the local convention a few weeks ago that was not my taste, but it was nothing to walk away from. I think a campaign like that would not be my tastes. It involved a space band of blob-people needing to get to the ribbon like in that Star Trek movie. We ended up needing to jam out and feel the vibe to not be destroyed.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I really dislike usage-based advancement of skills.
What games use this and how do they work? I'm thinking of video games where the more you fight with two-handed weapons the quicker you level up your skill in two-handed weapons. Is it the same idea? What don't you like about it? Too fiddly? Too much record keeping?
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm generally very tolerant/flexible as a DM and player. For the last few years, I'm only playing with family members so we tend to have developed the same style and flavor we all like.

I did get to play a Spelljammer AL adventure at the local convention a few weeks ago that was not my taste, but it was nothing to walk away from. I think a campaign like that would not be my tastes. It involved a space band of blob-people needing to get to the ribbon like in that Star Trek movie. We ended up needing to jam out and feel the vibe to not be destroyed.
By "jam out", I'm guessing you mean musically. But since you mention "blob-people" I can't be certain you are not using the other meaning of "jam". :)
 

niklinna

satisfied?
What games use this and how do they work? I'm thinking of video games where the more you fight with two-handed weapons the quicker you level up your skill in two-handed weapons. Is it the same idea? What don't you like about it? Too fiddly? Too much record keeping?
Torchbearer 2 features a system whereby you track your successes and failures for every skill. Once you have enough of both, you bump the skill up a point. It's a fair bit of record-keeping, but the character sheet makes it easy enough. Some games use only successes, others use only failures. I actually like that approach, but it's prone to a variety of problems, which Torchbearer 2 mitigates in its own particular ways: Players are motivated to use their skills just in hopes of raising them, and the progression curves get wonky, to start. In Torchbearer 2, just using a skill is very costly, so spamming isn't an issue there, but there are obvious cheats in the progression system that allow a player to rank up their "untrained" skills.

Blades in the Dark, by contrast, has a system in which you mark XP for a given related family of skills when you make a test under desperate conditions (a formal aspect of the "skill" system in which consequences for failure are more severe). You also get freely-assignable XP for role-playing your character, and can spend downtime to train. This system can also be abused (in the sense anything can truly be abused in a game where everybody has some say on things), but I like the general idea of it.
 

niklinna

satisfied?
I'm very flexible with one-shots, since I know if it goes poorly I won't have to keep doing it! :-D Even then, I won't play a one-shot with a vague description, and if it has a good description, I will of course choose it only if it actually sounds like fun. But the game system used is a small part of that.

I'd say my biggest problem with ongoing games is that the most popular ones involve a heavy focus on tactical combat that drags on, and on. I really can't stand sitting around waiting on people who begin to consider their actions when their turn starts, don't know the rules, etc. etc., and then my turn comes up and I figured out during the waiting what I was going to do so I'm ready to go and I roll the die and...whiff, nothing happens. Oh, sure, sometimes I succeed and, what, do a few points of damage, or impose a minor condition. And then we spend minutes per player who start figuring out what to do when their turn begins.... I wish I were exaggerating, but such has been my experience. I'm on the verge of dropping out of a game I've been playing with some friends for a couple years because this has just gotten so tiresome, but, well, friends.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
As a player, I'm good with no rules on up to medium-crunch games. 5E is near the upper edge of the crunch I'm willing to deal with. Though my tolerance for that level of crunch is almost gone. I'm good with heavy role playing or RPG as board game. I prefer sandboxes, though I'm fine with linear adventures, but I have absolutely zero tolerance for railroading of any kind. It's anathema to RPGs as far as I'm concerned. If the referee needs to negate player choices to push a predefined story, they should go write a novel. I prefer one-shots or shorter campaigns, or if a longer campaign for there to be more episodic rather than serial adventures. Meaning one-shot adventures/modules strung together to form a campaign rather than a set adventure path from 1-20 or whatever. To me, the absolute worst of all possible games would be a heavy-crunch railroady megadungeon.

As a referee, I have a strong preference for rules light or rules ultra-light games. Immersion first. Play worlds, not rules. And open-world sandboxes. The referee plays the world, the players play their characters. The referee sets up the world, fills it with factions and NPCs, situations and hooks. The PCs react to those elements as they choose. And the referee reacts accordingly, the world changes and presents new elements to the PCs. The PCs react to those elements as they choose. Etc. The game just rolls from there. I'm quite flexible in that I'm not invested in the players doing this or that specific thing and will react to whatever they throw at me, but I'm quite inflexible in that my preferences are set and I've little interest in running games a different way.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top