The GM is Not There to Entertain You

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
That's basically what I mean. The rules are designed to emulate the genre, and so the GM is restricted in how to adjucate situations ("scene framing", to use a term I've seen you use often). I generally want my sim to be process as opposed to genre.

I mean the GM is always restricted in how to adjudicate, but yeah the restrictions are different in AW then they are in something like D&D. You don't usually get to decide what success looks like, but an AW GM has pretty broad powers in adjudicating what failure looks like. A lot of the stuff a GM is expected to do in Apocalypse World would be unacceptable in a typical D&D game. Still, you pretty much have the right of it.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The DM puts in 99% of the work. It’s their game. But they set it up for the players to have fun. The DM should be entertaining, but the DM is absolutely not responsible for the players’ fun or entertainment.

The DM sets up the world and situations and the players control their characters and make decisions. If the results and outcomes of those decisions are fun and entertaining, great. If they’re not, too bad. The DM is under no obligation to change the world or bend over backwards to deliver personalized fun to each player in a box with a bow on a silver platter. The DM is not a storyteller nor is the DM an organ grinder.
The DM does generally put in the Lion's share of the work. Take @Campbell. Even if he only puts only 25% of the work, if he has 5 players they are putting in around 15% each, so he's putting in more than any player is. However, the DM is not there to be the entertainment for the players. It's not the DM's job to do voices and put on a show. That said, fun is the goal of the game, so the DM is responsible to provide a fun game(even if some moments are not fun, like the death or capture of a PC). So are the players, though. They are also individually responsible to provide a fun game experience by not being asshats or Leroy Jenkinsing monsters(unless the group enjoys that). As a group fun is our responsibility to one another.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
As a DM, I don't even try in the slightest to make the game fun. I make the game interesting. Then the players bring the fun.
I would argue that interesting = fun. You provide fun by making it interesting. The players provide fun by interacting with the game world that interests them. Fun is a full group effort.
 




Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Perhaps everyone is responsible for their own fun, and to not create an unfun experience for others.
Not unfun =/= fun, though. The responsibility goes a bit further than that since fun is the ultimate goal of the game. You can have a game that isn't unfun, but is meh and not fun.
 

MGibster

Legend
Are they?
I think so. A GM is generally expected to follow the rules though it's their prerogative to break them when necessary. But the GM needs to have a good reason for breaking the rules. I know I've misinterpreted rules and ended up apologizing to players later because I had prevented them from doing something they should have been able to do.
 

Reynard

Legend
I think so. A GM is generally expected to follow the rules though it's their prerogative to break them when necessary. But the GM needs to have a good reason for breaking the rules. I know I've misinterpreted rules and ended up apologizing to players later because I had prevented them from doing something they should have been able to do.
Emphasis mine.

That takes out the "always" part, which was the primary element I was questioning.
 




hawkeyefan

Legend
I suppose it's true that the GM can do whatever they want, but we all know that's not how a game typically goes, nor do I think it's what most folks expect to happen.

Like, if the ogre has a 15 AC and I roll a 19, I expect the GM to tell me I hit and to roll damage. If he instead tells me I missed, with nothing more than his authority as a GM to back up that decision, then I'd say that's poor GMing.

So I do think GMs are always constrained. Yes, they may have the ability to ignore constraints, but I think such is expected to be held for rulings on edge cases and the like rather than simply as a matter of course.
 

Reynard

Legend
I suppose it's true that the GM can do whatever they want, but we all know that's not how a game typically goes, nor do I think it's what most folks expect to happen.

Like, if the ogre has a 15 AC and I roll a 19, I expect the GM to tell me I hit and to roll damage. If he instead tells me I missed, with nothing more than his authority as a GM to back up that decision, then I'd say that's poor GMing.

So I do think GMs are always constrained. Yes, they may have the ability to ignore constraints, but I think such is expected to be held for rulings on edge cases and the like rather than simply as a matter of course.
I agree with all this, which is one of the reasons I don't understand the need for or like the PbtA method of GM constraint. It is unnecessary and limiting for no benefit. Some folks argue it isn't limiting and only articulates things that were always true anyway, in which case I say that means it is also pointless.
 

hawkeyefan

Legend
I agree with all this, which is one of the reasons I don't understand the need for or like the PbtA method of GM constraint. It is unnecessary and limiting for no benefit. Some folks argue it isn't limiting and only articulates things that were always true anyway, in which case I say that means it is also pointless.

I don't agree with that. It just makes the GM perform their duties in a principled manner. It provides clear expectations to all participants about who has which responsibilities.

Let's just imagine that the 5e PHB or DMG specifically described the process of play as "Before any ability checks are made, the DM must always announce the target DC for the roll, no matter what". This creates specific guidance on how the DM is expected to behave. Is it limiting? Sure, in that the DM can not keep the DC hidden (or in doing so, he's specifically going against the rules as described, which likely will require some form of house rule agreement or something). Is it pointless? No, now the players will always know their chances before they roll. I value my players making informed decisions, so I view this as a benefit.

Thats just one small example. Many PbtA games, and Apocalypse World in particular, care very much about these kinds of clear and specific directions for the processes of play.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
There are all sorts of constraints that apply to the GM of a trad game that do not apply to the MC in Apocalypse World. Examples include freedom of exploration for player characters, not engaging much in the way of hard framing, being very careful about direct action taken against the player characters, neutrally describing the scene, letting everyone act, not putting direct pressure on one particular player, not adjudicating anything psychosocial for the player characters. If I ran 5e in the someway as I run Apocalypse World the players would rightfully freak out. Like as a hard move for a player character pulling a gun on the leader of the territory they are in who fails their go aggro roll I can precede right to the next scene of them being interrogated, surrounding by that leader's men.

Do something like that in D&D and most players would flip out. I know because I have done it and seen the response.

We just do not tend to see the constraints we are used to as real constraints.
 
Last edited:

Reynard

Legend
I don't agree with that. It just makes the GM perform their duties in a principled manner. It provides clear expectations to all participants about who has which responsibilities.

Let's just imagine that the 5e PHB or DMG specifically described the process of play as "Before any ability checks are made, the DM must always announce the target DC for the roll, no matter what". This creates specific guidance on how the DM is expected to behave. Is it limiting? Sure, in that the DM can not keep the DC hidden (or in doing so, he's specifically going against the rules as described, which likely will require some form of house rule agreement or something). Is it pointless? No, now the players will always know their chances before they roll. I value my players making informed decisions, so I view this as a benefit.

Thats just one small example. Many PbtA games, and Apocalypse World in particular, care very much about these kinds of clear and specific directions for the processes of play.
I understand where they come from, I just don't think they are necessary. Systemic attempts to bind the GM to a prescribed set of outcomes feel like either trying to turn the GM into a processor, or trying to defend the players against some mythical viking hat bad GM. I get that people like PbtA games, but I can't abide the basic design goals as you articulated them.
 

Reynard

Legend
There are all sorts of constraints that apply to the GM of a trad game that do not apply to the MC in Apocalypse World. Examples include freedom of exploration for player characters
How is this a GM constraint?
, not engaging much in the way of hard framing,
I'm not sure what you mean, or how this would be a constraint.
being very careful about direct action taken against the player characters,
This isn't a thing in a system, it is a table thing.
neutrally describing the scene,
?
letting everyone act,
Again, how is this a constraint?
not putting direct pressure on one particular player,
I am not sure what you mean.
not adjudicating anything psychosocial for the player characters.
Do you mean telling the player how their character feels? I'll give you that one: the GM should not tell the player how to play their character. A system may define how a character feels though (fear mechanics, vices and virtues, etc).
If I ran 5e in the someway as I run Apocalypse World the players would rightfully freak out.
How do you mean? What things happen in a PbtA game that would make 5E players "freak out"? Moreover, whoa re these "5E players" you are speaking of?
Like as a hard move for a player character pulling a gun on the leader of the territory they are in who fails their go aggro roll I can precede right to the next scene of them being interrogated, surrounding by that leader's men. Do something like that in D&D and most players would flip out.
I am not sure why you think a successful intimidation check leading to an interrogation in 5E would make 5E players flip out.
We just do not tend to see the constraints we are used to as real constraints.
I disagree on your use of "constraint" in almost every example above.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I suppose it's true that the GM can do whatever they want, but we all know that's not how a game typically goes, nor do I think it's what most folks expect to happen.

Like, if the ogre has a 15 AC and I roll a 19, I expect the GM to tell me I hit and to roll damage. If he instead tells me I missed, with nothing more than his authority as a GM to back up that decision, then I'd say that's poor GMing.

So I do think GMs are always constrained. Yes, they may have the ability to ignore constraints, but I think such is expected to be held for rulings on edge cases and the like rather than simply as a matter of course.

I think there's a problem here, and it has to do with how groups define "edge cases" and your use of "matter of course".

The problem is that in many groups, no one but the GM is assumed to be able to define what an "edge case" is. As such, the places it happens are fundamentally arbitrary. As such while it may not be done as a "matter of course", but there's no predicting when the GM will decide to do it so any theoretical binding of his choices is vague at best and more in gestalt than in the moment.

(This is not helped by the fact there's a strong current in trad game culture to consider challenging a GM on things like this a faux pas) .
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top