Just recently, I’ve asked my players to submit a pros and cons analysis of how I run games. I’ve requested for them to be frank, as I’ll need honest feedback if I want to improve. Honest feedback will result in actionable changes. The purpose of this exercise is to isolate any blind spots and weaknesses that I may have when I’m running a game and to hopefully be able to formulate a means to overcome these shortcomings.
For this article, I’ll be posting the responses I got back. Tomorrow, I’ll attempt to address each of the Cons presented and see if there are ways that I can come up with a specific and actionable method to correct them.
First up, Hikkikomori:
Others complain that your games are too heavy-handed with regards to consequences. Though personally, I feel that contains just the right amount of safeguards that restricts players from performing zany antics. Since pen & paper RPGs players are mostly composed of escapists, your style of gaming does not agree with those who want to be free from the constraints of reality.
Players cannot simply dish out vigilante justice upon a serial killer without a CCTV or passing bystander witnessing it. Though to some players (like myself) embrace this kind of escalation via consequences type of gameplay, it does not seem to agree with those who want to simply wish to play a laid back, black and white, nazi and goblin punching game.
Your forté is urban settings. When not based in a modern city, you are a fish out of water.
To be continued…
Campaigns stop at the middle for one reason or another. Either due to work-related or player-induced stress, the game escalating to unmanageable/super-powered levels, or lack of interest.
Flaws are Non-Existent
Players who take a lot of Flaws in order to get more Advantages never feel the consequences of their purchases. Flaws are usually downplayed in Campaigns in lieu of being considerate to the Players.
GF Special Treatment
To stay in the good graces of your significant other, she gets a free pass on certain types of challenges that you know she does not want to deal with. Unlike the rest of the players who have to go through the 3 gauntlets of physical, mental, and social challenges.
From Silver Countess
I like how you take the effort to make it personal for our characters. You remember details, you bring in hooks and you’re a big believer of “Actions Come With Consequences”. As a player, I enjoy making decisions that will affect the world I live in and not just to my character.
You don’t do well to GMing with big groups or with players who don’t mesh with your style of GMing. Your games though tend to be heavy, as fun as it is, it can get exhausting after a while.
- Definitive Plot Progression – Its not from the top of a foggy head, its logical and planned. Players are also often given options to incorporate plot points into the game proper via request.
- Realism – Speaks for itself. Has a tendency to overdo this element though, to the point that it reaches simulation-level, but I still think its a positive thing.
- Setting Details – Even foreign settings comes alive; sometimes overdone too (enhancing exoticism) but more often than not, it actually fleshes out the world.
- Break the Player – Tests the moral and mental endurance of the players with problems that do not often crop up in an RPG game. I’ve yet to experience this in full, actually–since most of my characters are Compassion 1 characters.
- Takes the game seriously – Even has a serious blog. Also very self-critical on the GMing style.
- Unpredictability – Yep, plot twists.
- Genre Savvy: Politics – Knows politics. And not gamey-politics, but realistic cutthroat politics.Might require some more backdrop on the political set and clime, however, for those who want to do manipulations and indepth Xanatos planning.
- Genre Savvy: Horror – Good horror imagery. Dang good horror imagery. (Just keep chickens and jellos away, and its gold.)
- Consequences – Remember you left the stove open in the first session? Yup, BOOM. Can also be overdone (see Cons)
- Adjustable – Consults players; adjusts the game when necessary
- Too Serious – I don’t think I’ve ever met a jolly character in a Jay game. The games also tend to divert into serious territory regardless of genre. Might be a World of Darkness influence. has a tendency to make games a mite depressing. (Some players actually like seriousness, so this is a personal thing)
- Tropefied NPCs – The NPCs tend to have very few (if any) unique, personal quirks; their characteristics are often shaped by their alignment, abilities (supernatural or otherwise) and their occupation. I haven’t yet had a solid emotional attachment to any of the NPCs in the game.
- GM Defenses up! – Has a tendency to subconsciously block massive successes by players. This is a more reactive incarnation of the “Keep the Players in Line” GM trait.
- GM Stress Level – is high.
- Mistake-Consequence Grid – Small mistakes are often paid out into a massive, painful, world shaking consequence. Also an element of setting “Realism,” but sometimes the grid is way too uneven.
- Anathema to Player X – Some players are incompatible to the GM’s mindset, to the point that fun becomes a thrice-killed victim for the player in question. I think this stems from some massive “player-expectations” that the other party cannot satisfy.
Admittedly, this was quite an eye opener for me. There are a few things mentioned here that I was blissfully unaware of, and I may have to take a bit of time and effort to retrain myself to avoid some of these habits. I’ll be revisiting this list tomorrow, and I’ll be working on ways that I could use to overcome the shortcomings that have been presented here today.