One of the topics that deserves more airtime would be the obligations that GMs have to their players. Given that GMs tend to be more vocal about their games than players do, it’s easy to get side-tracked into taking a solid GM stance, without taking the time to look at what we’re doing before blaming someone else.
As fellow participants in a communal activity, Players have every right to have fun in a game as GMs do. Furthermore, they also deserve the same kind of respect that we demand from them as well. Players are an integral part of the whole RPG equation, without players, then the GM is without a game.
So let’s go back to the basic assumptions. Players and GMs are both participants of the same communal activity. “Game Master” and “Player” are labels, not ranks. Nobody is inherently more priviledged than the other, at least in the context of playing the game.
Sure GMs are often the people with the only copy of the book. Sure we spend a lot of time plotting and planning and running scenarios in our heads and agonizing over whether or not the players will like it. But the fact of the matter is that GMs will do this because they want to, not because they’re some higher authority.
So now that we’ve gotten that over and done with, let’s go back and take a look at the people we run games for. Take a moment to consider your responsibilities as a GM and ask the following questions:
- Am I being considerate of their fun, or is this game merely an exercise for my own amusement?
- Do they have enough opportunities and sufficient encouragement to provide feedback to improve the game?
- Am I being passive-aggressive or mean-spirited when I run a game in order to “get back” at a player that has managed to spoil my plans?
Sometimes a little introspection is a good thing. I’ll freely admit that I do tend to fall into bad GM behavior at times, and I’m thankful for my players who let me still run despite falling into bad habits.