Tuesday, 30 March 2021


Sometimes the big picture is about the little things. As I am a GM at the moment I am constantly reminded there are those ever present gripes that are still pursuing me for which I have come to develop a thick skin but never really turned and faced. That is not to say that I am exactly the same when I am playing of course but the familiar tweets of "surely we would have known this" or "we would have packed this item" or "we wouldn't have done that" still drift across the table. There are many GMs that take a hard line on this sort of back talk but I think these are fair questions to a degree in general, but when there is a critical event or a plot turning point then it can be an awkward moment for a GM particularly if one has to revise a round or briefly step back in time. For my part I tend to play it by ear which is what most GMs do I think but there is a slippery slope.

Just like spoilt children , if a culture of presumption becomes engrained then you start to get asked questions like "why aren't we doing max damage?",  "how did he know that ?" "that's not possible". This is more of the point of the article as some players who know a system very well will naturally have an instinct to police the GM but if you add this to a personality that has tended to whine until they get what they want then things can get out of hand pretty quickly although I have only really encountered this with teenagers. It can help to respond as neutrally as possible I think such as "I cannot answer that question" or "who are you directing you question to ?" which is a very gentle reminder that players have crossed a line from in game to out of game questions.

Broadly speaking there is the unwritten contract of social norms and I certainly don't mind perspectives from a characters point of view but the first signs of nit picking must be clamped down on but equally it will be useful for the GM to throw out the odd bone in an even handed context such as the discovery that the party is being spied on, or the party's weapons have been interfered with etc etc. To be fair to the players if they have been used to hack and slay adventures for too long then the intrigue of a city environment may be lost on them. Its also worth noting that players can put both of their feet in their mouths on occasion as if they are not consistent with NPC interaction and they quickly forget what they may have said then there can be consequences- basically if you are going to arrest your players in the game the read them their rights first.

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