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System matters and free kriegsspiel

S'mon

Legend
I suspect that's because you haven't been exposed to environments where there's a sharply limited amount of GMs, and as such, the ones present can get away with things that wouldn't fly where its easier to shop for a better GM.
Hm, yes I'm most familiar with the London D&D Meetup, and my own Meetup I ran for a few years. Lots of GMs & lots of players, but number of GMs always the limiting factor. Certainly weaker GMs can struggle to keep a steady group in that environment.

Edit: Do you think bad/untrustworthy GMs are more common than bad/untrustworthy players? While I won't play with most GMs, I've always taken the view that's because my standards are unreasonable, not that most GMs are objectively terrible. :)
 

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Hm, yes I'm most familiar with the London D&D Meetup, and my own Meetup I ran for a few years. Lots of GMs & lots of players, but number of GMs always the limiting factor. Certainly weaker GMs can struggle to keep a steady group in that environment.

Edit: Do you think bad/untrustworthy GMs are more common than bad/untrustworthy players? While I won't play with most GMs, I've always taken the view that's because my standards are unreasonable, not that most GMs are objectively terrible. :)

I don't have any sense they're more common than bad players, just that they're able to get by longer because in many places the GM/player ratio is such people will put up with problems with a GM where a player, barring specifics of the social setup (someone's relative or the person who supplies the play location) would be more likely to get the boot.

If you think about it, there's no particular reason the willingness to GM is going to make one less likely to have problems (though it might select for different ones or where they express themselves in different kinds of ways.)
 


We were talking about the frequency of GMs having problems...with players. So, you know, kinda relevant.

No, I wasn't. I was responding to S'mon's ratio question statement and disagreeing that there's any intrinsically better issue with random players or random GMs. How easy or not it is to dump players could not be less relevant to that.
 

Hm, yes I'm most familiar with the London D&D Meetup, and my own Meetup I ran for a few years. Lots of GMs & lots of players, but number of GMs always the limiting factor. Certainly weaker GMs can struggle to keep a steady group in that environment.

Edit: Do you think bad/untrustworthy GMs are more common than bad/untrustworthy players? While I won't play with most GMs, I've always taken the view that's because my standards are unreasonable, not that most GMs are objectively terrible. :)
With GM's, I think bad due to inexperience is VERY common, and bad due to general maleficence/misanthropy is fairly rare (maybe 1 in 30?)... I've played under less than 20 GM's...
3 sucked from inexperience. Not counting them in the other categories
2 had story train syndrome, with the story on rails outside organized play.
2 arbitrarily changed rules on a whim. Some don't consider that an issue, it was the issue I walked over.
1 was out to kill all the PCs while running rules as written and restricted himself to balanced encounters. I hated it. Mostly minis play.
1 was upset I was dragged along; player hadn't cleared it with him. He made his displeasure clear... and added my character naked and strapped to a carry pole. (I've wound up working for him and with him down the road... I'll never again belly up to a table he's running, tho. I'd rather have been told "No" than what happened.)
3 were competent and fun.
4 more were playable and sorta-fun.
1 was annoyingly monty-haul...
 

With GM's, I think bad due to inexperience is VERY common, and bad due to general maleficence/misanthropy is fairly rare (maybe 1 in 30?)... I've played under less than 20 GM's...

There's a third case: lacks talent for the job but insists on doing it anyway. Less malevolence (and experience doesn't always help; Dunning-Kruger is a thing) than just not knowing when to quit.
 

There's a third case: lacks talent for the job but insists on doing it anyway. Less malevolence (and experience doesn't always help; Dunning-Kruger is a thing) than just not knowing when to quit.
There are different areas of incompetence. It only takes one area to grind a game to a halt.
 

pemerton

Legend
My impression of GMs is that many are not as good as they think they are! (I'll leave others to judge that in my case.)

The biggest issues I've encountered are (i) a carelessness about rules in circumstances where other people at the table care, and (ii) weak dramatic imagination. Practice is the cure for both, I think, but there has to be some diligence to the practice. Just repeating one's bad habits won't lead to improvement!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I can't really speak for the open game experience. All my gaming has pretty much been within social groups because I pretty much only feel comfortable gaming with people I enjoy spending time with. If I would not want to chill with you we're not gaming. I haven't really experienced in GMs or players I would consider bad. Plenty of people who wanted different things out of the experience, but no one I would call bad.

I can't imagine gaming with people I did not have great relationships actually. It sounds awful.
 



Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
While your gig is your gig, I have to suggest some pretty big parts of the hobby game with people they do not know outside of gaming.

I meet people through gaming. It's just usually through some larger social group. Either from a LARP or some other sort of gaming community. I'm part of a couple gaming clubs here in Denver. That's usually where I pull players from. Just did a meet and greet with some lovely people today from a Discord server for local gamers.

I like to mostly stay within communities and peer groups because we can set standards for behavior.

I believe most poor social behavior tends to stem from a lack of accountability. It's why I don't play Magic anymore.

I definitely understand my experiences are pretty far from normative. I try to always make sure that I only speak for myself, but I know I slip up sometimes.
 

I meet people through gaming. It's just usually through some larger social group. Either from a LARP or some other sort of gaming community. I'm part of a couple gaming clubs here in Denver. That's usually where I pull players from. Just did a meet and greet with some lovely people today from a Discord server for local gamers.

I've met gamers through gaming communities, but, honestly, that didn't make me better connected with them than if I'd picked them up from an ad at a game store.

I definitely understand my experiences are pretty far from normative. I try to always make sure that I only speak for myself, but I know I slip up sometimes.

Its a thing.
 

I have a bit of a unique experience when it comes to GM data.

I've done nothing but run games since I was 7 except in 3 instances; 2 * Pawn Stance D&D and 1 * CoC. Both of those GMs were very good (the 2 * Pawn Stance D&D was the same GM and the CoC was someone else) at the game they were GMing.

Outside of those 2 GMs, my access to GMing was as follows:

* 5 GMs (from ages 13 to 27) granted me access to their games (GM prep, GM table handling/behind the screen, and sit in on their games) for a few sessions when I was very young (7-10 years old for me). This was all D&D.

* From age 16 - 33 I was granted access to 20+ other GMed games from variations of D&D to Traveller to d6 Star Wars to VtM. Like above, I discussed the GMs' prep, sat with them and watched them GM, talked to their players after the games.


Out of those 25 + that I sat with and talked to their players, these were the notable features:

- The Traveller GM was trivially the best...but that game was brutal in its pacing and banality. The GM followed the rules, functionally exploited their prep, and the game held together. But it was rough to sit through, the cognitive workload the GM gleefully took on was crazytown, and the players were just north of tolerating the game.

- As for the rest of them? To a GM, they all used Force, overwhelmingly covertly. They fudged dice, they ignored rules/made them up, changed rules at their discretion. The results at the table were basically Ouija Board play with the players putting their hands on the planchette but the GM being the volitional force that actually moved the planchette (BUT WE'RE TALKING TO GHOSTS MAN!). About 1/3 of the players knew it and hated it, about 1/3 knew it and didn't care (or expected it because that was all they knew), and about 1/3 were passive and oblivious.

- About 1/2 of the games were brutally paced, got bogged down in this or that (from rules referencing - that was mostly irrelevant because the GM would just ignore a result at their leisure...to catastrophically long exposition dumps by the GM and GM : GM conversation where the NPCs would banter...to filtering every bit of "would my character know this" through the GM) and the imposition of story was not for the betterment of play!

- The bulk of the tables featured 1 or 2 players (sometimes more) who were well south of "happy to be there." They either couldn't find another game/GM or were held hostage by being friends/relations with the GM or some other connection (game is hosted at their house and why not play?).

- There was an overwhelming feeling of hostility and dysfunctional adversarial relationships at the table. The GM thought the players were gaming the system, weren't following their carefully placed bread crumbs/plot hooks, intentionally breaking their settings, and generally not engaging in good faith. This was absolutely true some of the time. The players that weren't passive often (though not always) had a similar sense of hostility with the GM (born of either bad experiences under this GM or being haunted by GMs they had been under in the past).

- The GMs overwhelmingly had no clue just how poor the dynamic was at their tables. They thought they were much better GMs than they actually were, they though their players were absolutely enjoying their games, they had no clue about the simmering bad blood beneath the surface of their game sessions.

Oh, and they nearly all thought that "players (and their bad tendencies and negative impact on play) are obstacles to be overcome!" I thought it was a pretty miserable outlook when I was extremely young, thought it was a miserable outlook in my 20s and 30s, and, at 44, I feel much like I did when I was 7! "Why would you subject yourself to some thing and some people that you are clearly conflicted about (at best)! If players are obstacles to be overcome...you probably need to do something else with your time!"

EDIT - Oh, quick thought. And the bulk of those later GMs thought my Pawn Stance D&D (they never played under me...we merely had conversations about my games when I was in my teens and early 20s) was "roll-playing...not roleplaying." I got that a lot back then!
 
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I disagree. If the person is unwilling to learn, and isn't mentally disabled, that's within malevolance as far as I'm concerned.

I think you're being extremely uncharitable to suggest that "incapable" is only possible with mental disablement. Most people have blindspots, and many never manage to overcome them. In some cases with GMing it requires developing skills they simply have no aptitude for. Even with the best of intentions, all they'll do is minimize the problem areas.
 

I think you're being extremely uncharitable to suggest that "incapable" is only possible with mental disablement. Most people have blindspots, and many never manage to overcome them. In some cases with GMing it requires developing skills they simply have no aptitude for. Even with the best of intentions, all they'll do is minimize the problem areas.
I disagree, obviously. I'll admit that's a little bit hyperbollic; I'd say that those blindnesses you mention are mental disabilities, tho'.
 


pemerton

Legend
I can't imagine gaming with people I did not have great relationships actually. It sounds awful.
Well it's like turning up to a chess club, I guess. It's fine if you're happy to hack your way through a standard D&D-ish or even CoC-ish module. But it's certainly handle-with-care if you're going to play anything at all which involves revealing or risking onseself.
 

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