Is the DM the most important person at the table

And yet the question is Is the DM the most important person at the table not Is the DM more important than all the players. Out of those 5 people at the table, who can you not do without? Pick one.
And I said five players is not manifestly different than one player, so, while trying not to appear ill mannered, I'll just throw the question back at you: with one player and one GM, which can you not do without? Pick one.
 
I believe @MGibster answers this upthread
Sure, and that's a valid answer. But it's an answer to a specific interpretation of the question.

But, let's look at the OP again and see if this is what he had in mind:

Another thread has me thinking about this. On one hand the DM tends to be the person who arranges the game and puts in the most work. He plans things and runs the game. On the other hand everyone is there to have fun and most times these people are your friends and family. Everyone is giving up time to play and social norms tend to make things 'fair' to everyone.

I tend to think that everyone needs to be having fun at the table. I also think that the table needs to be a partner in making the fun. This means that players should help the DM and play PCs that are part of the campaign that the DM is making. Nobody wants to play with the player that is trying to disrupt the game and derail the plot. Now if that person is your brother or best friend, things become harder.

Not sure if you all are going to have vastly different opinions, but thank you.
It seems focused on all the people present having fun, and the social aspect of the game. The cooperative element of a shared group activity.

When looked at it that way, I don't know if a question of a specific game is what was intended with the OP.

Conversations move on and evolve, and everyone is going to have their interpretation of what "most important person at the table" even means. So I agree with @MGibster in the point that he's making. But it was a different point than mine.
 

Hussar

Legend
Depends. Now we're getting into the issue of player motivations. Some people play d&d exactly for the reason that they can practically turn their brain off and just relax or they're only interested in one part like combat or such. There's nothing inherently wrong with any reason why somebody might want to play the game but it's important to know what these motivations are to make sure that everybody's overlaps a little bit an individual gaming environment. Most tables have a range of player motivations to consider and fluctuate gameplay 2 cover as many of them as possible. Sometimes they can put too much to nobody's fault but it happened. What's important is knowing how to recognize that and address it.
Most of the games that I run call for very deep player /character engagement and development. I also run a bi-weekly beer and pretzel game for the players who just want to show up roll dice and blow off steam.
Same system two entirely different games.
QFT.

Yeah, I'm probably letting this bug me way more than it should. It's just something that came up kinda sorta recently in our group and it's been bugging me ever since.

If you (generic you, not YOU you) are contributing to the game, then I'm 100% happy. I'm just SO sick and tired of the player who shows up week after week, their character is little more than a name on a piece of paper, refuses to do anything proactive, refuses to learn anything about the setting, refuses to engage with anything and insists that the DM must roll up the plot wagon, week after week after week and dance for their entertainment.

Heh. Maybe that rant is a bit unfair. :D It's possible. But, I do feel a LOT better for letting it out so thanks forks for letting me rant.
 
Whereas I have no problem with most players like that. Sure, if you had a table of nothing but passive players it might be a problem. I've never actually seen that happen, but it's probably happened to someone, somewhere.

I've had many passive players over the years and I've rarely found any of them to suck the energy away. They don't tend to drive the game much, if at all, but they're happy to participate, cheer on the party, and follow along with whatever cockamamie scheme the more active players have devised. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, to some extent you need that. Too many strong egos at the table can grind the game to a halt while they debate their next course of action (sometimes for hours).

I can only think of one time when a passive player actually caused a problem at the table, and it was because that player wasn't so much interested in playing as hooking up with another player. That, I'll admit, can be an issue: when you're at the table for reasons other than to have fun gaming.

Overall, however, I have nothing against passive players. IMO, it takes all kinds of different personality types and gaming styles to make up the ideal group.
you know, your really demontrates just how extremely more vital the dm is than other players.

single player is passive: generally not a disaster.

dm is passive: though not a guarantee the whole game may be DOA. very likely a disaster.
 

Sadras

Hero
And I said five players is not manifestly different than one player, so, while trying not to appear ill mannered, I'll just throw the question back at you: with one player and one GM, which can you not do without? Pick one.
Not ill-mannered at all ;) .
To answer your question they are equally important in that scenario, hence my simple equation upthread.
The DM > than x players, where (x+1) players are the players required for the game at the table.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
And I said five players is not manifestly different than one player, so, while trying not to appear ill mannered, I'll just throw the question back at you: with one player and one GM, which can you not do without? Pick one.
The player is most expendible. Players are easy to acquire. The pool of potentials is much deeper.
 
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And I said five players is not manifestly different than one player, so, while trying not to appear ill mannered, I'll just throw the question back at you: with one player and one GM, which can you not do without? Pick one.
You have answered the question quite spectacularly. If five players is not manifestly different than one player but you have five players then four of your players are surplus to requirements and hence unimportant. You are saying that the GM is as important as the five players combined in your analogy. Which is a rather more extreme statement than merely saying that the GM is the single most important individual. You have four spare players but a grand total of zero spare GMs.

Me, I think it seriously overrates the importance of the GM to say they are as important as all the plyers combined. And a big part depends which game you are playing.
 
Not ill-mannered at all ;) .
To answer your question they are equally important in that scenario, hence my simple equation upthread.
The DM > than x players, where (x+1) players are the players required for the game at the table.
Hmm, while I don't disagree strenuously with your math, I think that my example is perhaps the one that bears most directly on the OP. Boiled down to bare essence, we're talking about GM/player where player might, but cannot be assumed to equal more than one. You can subtract from 4 down to one and still have a RPG, but not so one to none.

Nor, to address @Nagrol , does specificity help us here. You certainly can do without a particular player, and I've said something that sounds very much like your post more than once. However, we aren't talking about the specific, but rather the general. In order to have an RPG (other than edge case solo adventures) you need at least two people, one GM and one player and you cannot play without either. How do you define importance when both parties are indispensable?
 
You have answered the question quite spectacularly. If five players is not manifestly different than one player but you have five players then four of your players are surplus to requirements and hence unimportant. You are saying that the GM is as important as the five players combined in your analogy. Which is a rather more extreme statement than merely saying that the GM is the single most important individual. You have four spare players but a grand total of zero spare GMs.

Me, I think it seriously overrates the importance of the GM to say they are as important as all the plyers combined. And a big part depends which game you are playing.
a better way to put it is this and i think this is honestly pretty close to the truth. the dm is as important to have as it is to have the one minimum non dm player and the importance of the dm rises by increments that could be applied to a curve the more players you have along a curve as you approach four non dms. the importance of the dm continues to rise the more players you have than four but now at a decreasing curve of incremental increase. a little like a bell curve with a left side as high as the importance of the minimum one non player dm. the curve is not importance of the dm just to reiterate. its the curve of how much the importance of the dm increases PER PLAYER.

generally regardless of player quantities the dm is not more important than all players combined. its always a minimum of being as important as a player (only the case at the minimum one non dm player plot point) and always less important than the group combined. BUT at certain quantities it is almost as important as all players combined. and it is certainly always significantly more important than any one single player except at the one non dm player minimum.
 
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You have answered the question quite spectacularly. If five players is not manifestly different than one player but you have five players then four of your players are surplus to requirements and hence unimportant. You are saying that the GM is as important as the five players combined in your analogy. Which is a rather more extreme statement than merely saying that the GM is the single most important individual. You have four spare players but a grand total of zero spare GMs.

Me, I think it seriously overrates the importance of the GM to say they are as important as all the plyers combined. And a big part depends which game you are playing.
Yeah, that's not really what I said at all. What I said was that RPG gaming has two indispensable roles - GM and player. There was no math implied beyond that at all, nor an implied value judgement of either role. I was certainly not suggesting that four of five players are somehow dispensable and I think it's vaguely disingenuous to suggest that I was. I think it's pretty meaningless to try and ascribe importance beyond that (1-1) given the vast potential differences in systems and tables that we are trying to describe.
 
Yeah, that's not really what I said at all. What I said was that RPG gaming has two indispensable roles - GM and player. There was no math implied beyond that at all, nor an implied value judgement of either role. I was certainly not suggesting that four of five players are somehow dispensable and I think it's vaguely disingenuous to suggest that I was. I think it's pretty meaningless to try and ascribe importance beyond that (1-1) given the vast potential differences in systems and tables that we are trying to describe.
What you said was that RPG gaming had two indispensible roles. (Not quite true as Fiasco demonstrates but I'll grant it). But you also said that "five players is not manifestly different than one player" - meaning that there is no need for there to be more than one player in your scale. How important does that make players 2-5? If they are "not manifestly different" then not at all. Now I consider this ridiculous (and I think so do you) - but it is where your logic in the attempt to claim parity leads.

Does this mean that the role of DM is more important than the role of player? No. But you have spares of one and no spares of the other meaning that only one person at the table is critical. @Son of the Serpent tried to give some sort of ratio above.
 
The example of one DM and four players misses the point IMO. Setting aside solo play for the moment, the basic, simplest unit of 'play' for almost any RPG is GM/player - you need one of each. Sure, you can add more players but that doesn't change the dualistic nature of the basic unit of exchange. So if the basic unit is 1-1 I think it's tough to make an argument that one in more important than the other.

Obviously you can get immensely granular about the difference between the two roles, and spend a lot of time talking about the compared difficulty or workload, but neither of those really addresses the issue of importance. It doesn't even matter what system we're talking about, since that indexes difficulty, not importance. I would agree that DMing is, in many cases, more work that playing, at least when it comes to prep and time spent, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to 'importance'.
I'm not sure I agree. I've played solo games where I wasn't feeling well and the DM did the lion's share of the talking. If the situation had been reversed, I can't imagine we would have even played.

Admittedly though, without a player there is no game. However, the player can be fairly passive and you still have a game. I can't imagine how you'd have much of a game if the GM is passive. If the GM isn't feeling well enough to run, we generally just do something other than game.
 
Far be it for me to talk any of you out of thinking the GM is more important than the players. You need both, and beyond that I think it's enormously unimportant to try and rate the importance of who's at the table.
 

Sadras

Hero
hawkeyefan said:
Conversations move on and evolve, and everyone is going to have their interpretation of what "most important person at the table" even means.
I think this is the heart of it which makes it another pointless thread, since their are so many wildly differing interpretations.

Where some decided to analyse the words most, important & table and even analysed inserted words such as game/s & roles, some of us defined the question by the word person. Now ofcourse the OP elaborates more on the question of the thread, but IMO confuses the issue further. While he speaks about everyone having a good time, he does drill down to A player derailing the plot.

Anyways I don't disagree with @Fenris-77's position of indespensible roles but that is not the position I was debating from.
 
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I think this is the heart of it which makes it another pointless thread, since their are so many wildly differing interpretations.

Where some decided to analyse the words most, important & table and even analysed inserted words such as game/s & roles, some of us defined the question by the word person. Now ofcourse the OP elaborates more on the question of the thread, but IMO confuses the issue further. While he speaks about everyone having a good time, he does drill down to A player derailing the plot.

Anyways I don't disagree with @Fenris-77's position of indespensible roles but that is not the position I was debating from.
Pointless? It’s a discussion. We don’t all need to agree, and a definitive answer isn’t needed for the discussion to have value.
 

MGibster

Adventurer
Conversations move on and evolve, and everyone is going to have their interpretation of what "most important person at the table" even means. So I agree with @MGibster in the point that he's making. But it was a different point than mine.
I think we can all agree that the best interpretation of this thread is that MGibster is awesome and the most important person in this thread.
 
So I was DM for 3 players over the weekend.

There was a spurt where the players were doing a few things the day before they were going to go out on an adventure. One PC is sleeping, 2 of the PC's prank each other a bit. A guard gets involved. One player decides to prank the guard and for the next 30 minutes proceeds to be the only player interacting in the game trying to annoy the guards. I attempted everything I could think of to move the scene forward to the next morning but he wasn't having any of it.

Finally one of the other players has their PC go get his and lead him away from the guards and we cut to the next morning. That player was more important to the game than me.
 

macd21

Explorer
So I was DM for 3 players over the weekend.

There was a spurt where the players were doing a few things the day before they were going to go out on an adventure. One PC is sleeping, 2 of the PC's prank each other a bit. A guard gets involved. One player decides to prank the guard and for the next 30 minutes proceeds to be the only player interacting in the game trying to annoy the guards. I attempted everything I could think of to move the scene forward to the next morning but he wasn't having any of it.

Finally one of the other players has their PC go get his and lead him away from the guards and we cut to the next morning. That player was more important to the game than me.
No, they weren’t. They helped push forward to the next scene, but without you there wouldn’t have been any scenes.
 
So I was DM for 3 players over the weekend.

There was a spurt where the players were doing a few things the day before they were going to go out on an adventure. One PC is sleeping, 2 of the PC's prank each other a bit. A guard gets involved. One player decides to prank the guard and for the next 30 minutes proceeds to be the only player interacting in the game trying to annoy the guards. I attempted everything I could think of to move the scene forward to the next morning but he wasn't having any of it.

Finally one of the other players has their PC go get his and lead him away from the guards and we cut to the next morning. That player was more important to the game than me.
That one seems rather easy IMO. If you want to advance the scene you say something like, "You utterly confound the guards with your pranks, leading them on a wild goose chase for hours. The next day..." Sum up and move to the next scene. The DM has that power. The most a player can say is that they're done with the scene and are ready to move on, but it is the DM that makes that call. They can choose to summarize a scene that a player is engaging with to move it along, or introduce new elements to extend the scene beyond the point where the players would have otherwise ended the scene (the BBEG shows up as the player finishes pranking the guards, for example).
 

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