Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Followup: From Game Master To Player

As/ I've mentioned before, I've been taking a bit of a break from most of my face-to-face GMing, focusing instead on playing in my buddy's Pathfinder campaign. It's been a welcome break, and I think it's benefiting me enormously.

Behind the screen, it's easy to forget at times that your mental processes aren't the only ones going; every player out there is processing information, trying to play a character, and working towards a goal (even if it's just to hang around and have fun). I think in several of my past few forays as GM, I set back a little too complacently, waiting for the players to entertain me or pick up on things. That works both ways; if the players are in the doldrums, as GM, I need to see if I can't pick things up a bit at times.

It's been very fun to watch someone else run these guys through a campaign; the current GM and I have different ways of dealing with conflict and different personalities, but I know next time I GM, I'm going to have a few new insights on how to challenge and react to those players.

I enjoy Pathfinder, and for the most part our group doesn't fiddle around for 15 minutes every turn in combat, but I'm also convinced that when I'm up again, it's going to be running a much lighter system.  I wince when I think of giving up the critical tables of Rolemaster, but maybe I don't need to leave those behind; I've adapted them before, and can again.  Still, right now, Shadow, Sword, & Spell, Mini Six, or possibly one of the retro-clones have to be my first picks for next time out.


Consonant Dude said...

This speaks a lot to me. I remember going through a streak of 6-7 years as GM-only. I was really comfortable in that role, although I missed being a player. When the opportunity came for me to finally play, I was thrilled. But the best way for me to put the first few sessions in perspective is that I felt like I was a guest at a friend's house for a week, with everything being strangely unfamiliar and having to find my way around for things.

I was particularly shocked the first session. The GM was an occasional player, we were using the same system (GURPS) and our campaign was a genre we had explored together, epic fantasy. Should be familiar, right? But it really wasn't. I've learned a lot from that experience and decided never again I'd be on the same side of the screen for so long.

This is one of the ways to recharge your batteries. I sometimes wonder if I'd still be playing today without this because I realize I was slowly burning out.

Enjoy the ride :)

Barking Alien said...

I've been gaming for 33 years and I am not exaggerating when I say that 95% of that time has been spent as GM. I actually don't like to 'play' very much.

The main reason being its hard for me to think down to one characters story again and again. I need diversity to prevent myself from getting bored. Its easier for me to think of a cast or a world than one character.

Zachary Houghton said...

@CD: It's fun for me, to be on the other screen, to process things as a player instead. I really am enjoying it!

@BA: Don't get me wrong, I think I'll always primarily be a GM, but I welcome and value the change of scenery.

Emmett said...

We switch up periodically. At first the two players that have GMed were nervous because I got them into gaming. But I really tried to sit back and never correct them on rules or story. That's helped them to be more confident and now they're getting used to being in control. They tend to worry that their stories aren't "good enough" but they do fine. They had me stumped a bunch of times so I felt good about it.