Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When The GM Becomes The Player

This Friday, I get to take a step back from my normal role of Game Master and actually just play. One of the guys in our group is running the Tri-Tac Games classic Stalking The Night Fantastic (1st ed, I believe). Augmented with plenty of extra charts and tables to roll some entertaining background notes and aspects on, character creation was a hoot.

I have more often than not been in the position, as I am sure many of you out there can sympathize on, of being the only one to ever take a turn at Game Master. Happily, our most recent gaming group has been far more egalitarian.

I admit, I’m really looking forward to a few sessions on the other side of the GM screen. I look at it not only as a) time to work on my next campaign or b) a nice break from the extensive GM prep I usually do, but also a chance to remember what it’s like to be a player. It’s nice to be just a player, sometimes, and see how GM decisions or styles can affect the mood or energy at the table. Plus, it’s always nice to see different styles at play.

The biggest thing to remember, of course, is that you are no longer the GM. You don’t adjudicate, you don’t hand down rulings, and it isn’t your game, at least in the more traditional, authoritarian models of RPGing. No Game Master needs the last Game Master hovering about like a ghost, warning about pitfalls or perils while they’re trying to run the game.

So, Friday we’ll see if I’m still any good at being a player. Aside from a few demos and one-shots at Gen Con, it’s been a couple of years for me. And rolling those dice in the open seems so foreign a concept…


PatrickWR said...

Hey Zach, I've got a sample question for your Open Friday series. It's something I've been grappling with: Would you cancel a game because too many players RSVPed?

I ask because I was trying to schedule a game session in our regular campaign. It's a troupe-style campaign... we have about 12 irregular players, so the idea is that we grab a small handful each time and play.

Only this time, 7 guys RSVPed, which is way outside my GM comfort zone, so I canceled the game. Eek! I feel guilty, but dammit I'm a player too, and I deserve to have some fun. Trying to wrangle 7 (maybe 8) players all night sounds like a nightmare.

Eric Wilde said...

I'm a terrible player. My characters are invariably killed at about the same rate as NPCs. Still, I'd love for one of the players in our group to step up every now and then.

Greyaxe said...

I have been a GM for nearly 20 years but not exclusivly. Braden GM's rifts and I do MERP/Rolemaster. It works well.

Zachary The First said...

@Patrick: Man, what a problem to have! I think we'll try to cover the Friday after this!

Personally, I'd try to work them in, as a torchbearer if nothing else, or look to a co-GM, if that would work.

Likely, I'd try to get through it, then set limits the next week--first come, first serve, likely. First 8, then you're a torchbearer. :)

@Eric: I sure hope I do ok! It's been a long time, relatively speaking!

@Greyaxe: Lucky!