[Confession Time] Guys… Your GM is a Softie

Posted: May 27, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Roleplaying Games

Remember those days when your parents would punish you and say something like, “This hurts me for than it hurts you?”  Well, as a GM, I am admittedly quite familiar with that feeling.  As funny as it sounds, there is nobody in the entire group which will know your character as well as I do by the time the campaign ends.  This is because no matter how many other players there are in the campaign, ultimately I am your most constant audience.

As a GM, I don’t just bother with making a plot and running you through it.  I have to pay attention, to listen, to give you every ounce of my awareness because I have to react to your decisions.  I spend time planning out your obstacles, fleshing out your opponents and presenting your characters with conflict.  Ultimately, I am the one that celebrates and cheers your victories, and mourns your defeats.

Perhaps that is the reason why I don’t understand the “Antagonist GM” mindset.  I’m here to oppose you, yes, much in the same way that boxers oppose each other in the ring.  No punches are pulled, violence is mandatory, maybe someone bleeds, maybe someone goes down cold… but after all of that, they know that it’s still a sport.

I am not a man without empathy.  In fact, I use this empathy when I run my games.  I use it to think of situations that will really force you guys to think about your situations, to contemplate the possible consequences of your actions.  It also comes in handy when I’m trying to gauge if you’re having fun or getting fed up or frustrated with the things I’m throwing at you.

So yeah, your GM is a softie… I tend to think in terms of emotion and internal conflict more than I do about Charm Combos or stacking bonuses.  I probably won’t be able to change that, so I hope you’re happy with that you’re getting.

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Comments
  1. Hikkikomori says:

    Chewy on the outside, gooey on the inside. Caramelized with a thick coat of melted marshmallow.

  2. Well I’m very happy with the games you run, and this is more than just blind girlfriend devotion here. I’m as picky as they get and given my age, I’ve come to learn to be comfortable with a certain gaming style and niche that I’m lucky enough that you provide.

    I have no complaints and given I’ve played under you for almost 10+ years, I’d like to think we’re comfortable enough with each other that I can trust you with any game or system you decide to run. 🙂

  3. Von says:

    Empathy is a vitally important skill even for the game style that’s more about crunching numbers and build optimisations than internal conflict and character development; as you say, you need at the very least to tell whether the players are having fun or not, to read the signals and work out who’s disengaged, and why.

    Also, in a rare (I hope) attack of Smug Mode – I think one of the things that makes me a good GM is the ability to think in terms of internal conflicts *and* bonus stacking. Makes up for the fact that I have to ask people why they’re bored and have a lot of structured conversations before, during and after play to work out whether I’m doing the job right or not. Useful, but I’d like to be a little more intuitive.

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