What makes a "bad GM" or a "bad player"?

Reynard

Legend
This came up in another thread and I thought it was worth discussing in its own thread.

What do you consider to be a "bad GM"? What do you consider to be a "bad player"?

I want to avoid focusing too much on the "just not a good fit" GMs and players. That happens a lot, even if those GMs and players are "good." For the purposes of this discussion I am more interested in what sorts of traits make someone actually bad at GMing or playing.

As an addendum, how can those GMs and players improve, and hw can we help that process.

That said, I also don't think we need to turn this into r/rpghorrorstories. Let's not get too bogged down in recounting tales of the bad GMs and players in our experience. I'd rather focus on identifying the "bad" and talking about solutions, where possible.
 

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prabe

Tension, apprension, and dissension have begun
Supporter
My inclination is to point in the direction of inability--or maybe worse unwillingness--to adapt or adjust or whatever to the people at the table with you. That potentially includes an unwillingness to leave if the fit is bad enough and you cannot or will not adjust what you're doing. That is, I think, somewhere past "just not a good fit," though I'm willing to be told I'm wrong.
 
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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Okay, back. Really, apart for truly terrible actions or personalities that would make you put "bad" before any noun describing a person, I think it all comes down to how well someone gells with the rest of the group. It is more helpful to think of it in terms of what makes a bad GM or bad player for most groups. But then again, that tends to lead into discussions about hygiene, narcissistic personalities, abusive behavior and other traits that are not gaming specific. I do think that some of these traits may become more obvious in an activity as collaborative, and which requires as much buy in, as playing a TTRPG.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
My inclination is so point in the direction of inability--or maybe worse--unwillingness to adapt or adjust or whatever to the people at the table with you. That potentially includes an unwillingness to leave if the fit is bad enough and you cannot or will not adjust what you're doing. That is, I think, somewhere past "just not a good fit," though I'm willing to be told I'm wrong.
I think I understand what you are getting at. Some people can't read the room or are self-centered enough to think the issue is with everyone else. Some people can't accept that they are not a good fit for a group and take it very personally.
 

Reynard

Legend
My inclination is so point in the direction of inability--or maybe worse unwillingness--to adapt or adjust or whatever to the people at the table with you. That potentially includes an unwillingness to leave if the fit is bad enough and you cannot or will not adjust what you're doing. That is, I think, somewhere past "just not a good fit," though I'm willing to be told I'm wrong.
I definitely think that for GMs especially, but to some degree for players, the inability to "read the table" is a sign of being "bad."

I think that is correctable, though. You can learn to put your story aside and pay attention to what is happening around you. You can learn to acknowledge the ensemble nature of the form. You can be taught to actively understand "spotlight time" and it's distribution.
 



MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Bad players and GMs are, in essence, those who play in bad faith. They can socialize well, be otherwise a good fit for the table, but if they play in bad faith (or outright cheat) then they're bad players/GMs.
Discussing "cheating" GMs opens up the whole "is it okay for the GM to fudge dice rolls" can of worms. I'm in the camp of not minding if GMs do it as long as they are clear that they might. When I GM, I don't. And I roll in the open. That is large part of the fun of the game for me--let the dice fall where they may. Beyond fudging dice rolls, however, I'm not sure how a DM could "cheat" at D&D.
 


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