Trust me with your goals… I promise that you’ll get your shot

Posted: October 6, 2011 by pointyman2000 in Advice, Articles, Roleplaying Games

Whenever I think about the topic of trust in the context of RPGs as a social activity, the above statement always pops up.  As a GM, my job is to deliver a satisfying scenario where your characters get to do impressive feats while overcoming appropriately significant opposition.  As such, I find it difficult at times to manage players who play their cards close to their chest.  I understand the amusement factor of being able to pull one over the GM, but sometimes if you won’t tell me what it is you’re really after, I won’t be able to give you the opportunities you need to grab it.

Take for example, a player that wishes to become the next Emperor in a Legend of the Five Rings game, but never mentions it at all to the GM.  The GM, feeling that he is running a decent game, keeps the scale of the campaign strictly to one city, or a single province even.  While the game is fun, the player in question feels frustrated because they aren’t being given the opportunities to pursue this goal.  The GM, on the other hand is blissfully unaware, and will continue to keep things at this scale and level because people seem to be enjoying the game.

And this is where it becomes crucial for the player to tell the GM about it.  Let’s be honest, the GM has absolutely no means of determining this unless you tell him.  Communication is key to any social activity, and so it shouldn’t hurt a player’s pride to go ahead and tell the GM what they want.  They can even do this off the table, via email or over coffee.  The GM is your ally in making a great spin for your characters, so keep him in the loop and who knows, he might even find ways to make your plans become even more interesting.

I think it’s about time we put the whole GM vs Player thing to rest, honestly.  I’ve run enough games as an ally to my Players, looking for ways to make their characters truly epic that I think I know what I’m talking about.  Trust your GM, and reap the rewards.  They won’t be easy, but they’ll be possible, which is more than what you can normally say than when the GM is absolutely clueless.

  1. Kaiju says:

    Great post. Trust is a huge issue at the table, although I’m not sure if it’s all about trust. I get the sense sometimes that if players have to ask for something in the game, then they don’t feel it is earned or not “real”, even if they need to overcome obstacles and opposition to get it. I don’t know how else the intended outcome would happen without the player and the GM honestly communicating about it and doing that planning.

    • Hikkikomori says:

      That’s my concern as well.

      When you voice your plans, the a considerate GM would take effort to steer the game in order to be in line with your goal, but then if not done right, it would seem artificial and forced – and ultimately, will leave players unfulfilled.

  2. Anthony says:

    This falls under my general rule of “if you don’t tell me, assume I don’t know.” It works for problems (how can I fix it if no one is telling me it is a problem?) and for character goals (as you explained above.) The first step in any resolution method is to recognize what needs to be resolved. Only then can work be done on it.

  3. Von says:

    “I think it’s about time we put the whole GM vs Player thing to rest, honestly.”

    Gods yes. I’m not even sure where the hell it came from.

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