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Author Topic: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions  (Read 56536 times)

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Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #400 on: April 06, 2012, 03:34:22 AM »
Indeed. that's why I am keeping NPCs out of each other's way because hopefully I'll gather enough players to require less than constant NPC input.

How do the multiple threads of a group game work?

Multiple threads can be a right pain, or can be a real boon depending on how you play it and the technical experience of the players.

I've joined group games where the action up to that point has been almost impossible to follow because no-one tags their posts when they move from thread to thread.

I'm sure Haibane will agree with me on this: one of the best ways is to get people to put a thread-jump hyperlink in their posts...

In the thread they are leaving:
Code: [Select]
Chrystal shrugged when her comment got no response and told the others, "Fine. I'll be outside." She turned and walked into [url=URL of the POST in the garden thread]the garden[/url].

And in the thread moved to:
Code: [Select]
Chrystal emerged from [url=URL of the POST in the thread they left]the lounge[/url] and took a deep breath of the cool evening air.

If done right, this can make it very easy to track the movements of each character through the game.

Funny to see you hear Chrystal! It was your game that inspired me to start a group game, I have decided this summer is the time to do it.

Which one? Always good to know that I'm an inspiration to others... ;)

No, that should definitely be a non-player character. What I'm warning against is the mentality of thinking of any one NPC as 'your PC' with a special out-of-game status attached to that which you don't regard any other NPC you play with.

Hmm, I can see where you are coming from on this, Glyph. But the fact remains that in nearly every RP the GM has a "player character" of their own who is the leader, ringleader, one in a position of power, whatever. I've come across games where the GM has had a normal "player character" and allowed a different player to take the "Key Role". They invariably run into problems if the player in that role proves unreliable, drops out, or is inexperienced - or if the player turns out to be a god-modder and/or lets the power go to his/her head.

I think that most GMs want to play in the game and interact with the other players as normal, as well as running things. That's why we create our own player characters.

I think that a good GM - no, make that a good role-player - should be able to resist the temptation to make their character more powerful that any other. One of the things about NPCs is that they are the characters that get killed off with no-one actually complaining. Can't kill off a PC while the player is still in the game - not in freeform anyway. So, the "other side" is invariably composed entirely of NPCs. In a "plot driven" game it is usually necessary to have the leader of the "good guys" - in quotes because I like playing the "bad guys" and it's all a matter of perspective anyway - as a player character controlled by the GM.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 03:35:51 AM by Chrystal »

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #401 on: April 06, 2012, 05:15:41 AM »
Funny to see you hear Chrystal! It was your game that inspired me to start a group game, I have decided this summer is the time to do it.

So if I ran a freeform game as I think is most likely, what is my check list so to speak of things I need to have ready.

I already presume, setting, plot, my character, other NPCs...
Surprising as it might be from a guy who has "freeform, unless for one-shots" in his "OFFs", I've actually played and ran freeform games. The change in GMing approach is zero, you just have to compensate for the minimalist, easily abusable system that people call freeform.
OTOH, "sandbox" is how I prefer to run, so maybe I could tell you a couple things.
First, let me join the chorus:
GMs are well-advised to not have a character they could call "theirs". However, sometimes that's not viable, as the GM wants to play as well, or there are few PCs - or the PCs simply hire some NPCs and take care of them! I've done it as well, without major problems.
My answer is to not have a full character. Have your guy be a more minor player character. If they're all veteran SEALs dealing with the supernatural, make him a soldier straight out of basic camp. If they're a group of veteran dungeon-delvers, have him be the guy that bears their torch and fights with a mace only if approached. Either of these might be talented, and will have time to interact with the others, and is trying to be helpful, but not succeeding often. In a way, he lets them be the stars of the show. Don't worry, you get to play everyone else.
Don't forget that as a GM, you know all the relevant info and all the solutions. The key to many problems would be to find the info and devise the solution, and that goes doubly with freeform. Need I explain how you might come off as coddling your character?
Also, make him the ally of the player characters. Best way never to test whether he can be killed without your agreement is to never have a PC wanting to kill him. Make him helpful and not a spotlight-stealer. I've had players voting for "my" character at the end of the session when we decide who gets an extra improvement, despite him not even having PC status. Guess they liked him ;D!
I didn't actually win the vote, but it wasn't too bad for someone who wasn't supposed to be a participant.

Second, that was enough on your character. If you want to run sandbox, put setting and NPCs before the plot! The players will change it anyway, if they're proactive, and they should be proactive for a sandbox to work! (A sandbox where nobody plays in the sand because everybody is waiting for someone to shift the sand for them is a sad picture indeed).
Actually, my absolutely best advice for a sandbox game. Put "looking for players that want to be proactive" in your game advertisement! That includes having goals and chasing said goals.
After you have the player characters, just present them to the setting, and give them NPCs to interact with. If they're proactive indeed, they'll start supplying you with new plot, simply by having goals and chasing them. In the effort, they should have to build alliances, create enemies - bingo, new motivations for your NPCs!
And of course, you might still have some events that are just going to happen. Although that also depends. An invasion from another dimension is one thing, but an invasion from the neighbouring country would logically have at least some signs. Let the players notice them, if nothing else. They might even warn the authorities, and make them listen. Or they might prepare a resistance movement in advance. Or they might sell off to the invaders.
After all, you may pre-determine the events, but the reaction to them is up to the players ;). Just go with the flow, and you'll find it doesn't mean losing control. It means remaining in control without struggling for dominance. Well, this might change for some naughty scenes, but I'm sure you get the idea >:)!

Anyway, it's almost time to run my weekly session. Hope that was helpful!

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #402 on: April 06, 2012, 08:48:28 AM »

Hmm, I can see where you are coming from on this, Glyph. But the fact remains that in nearly every RP the GM has a "player character" of their own who is the leader, ringleader, one in a position of power, whatever. I've come across games where the GM has had a normal "player character" and allowed a different player to take the "Key Role". They invariably run into problems if the player in that role proves unreliable, drops out, or is inexperienced - or if the player turns out to be a god-modder and/or lets the power go to his/her head.

I think that most GMs want to play in the game and interact with the other players as normal, as well as running things. That's why we create our own player characters.

I think that a good GM - no, make that a good role-player - should be able to resist the temptation to make their character more powerful that any other. One of the things about NPCs is that they are the characters that get killed off with no-one actually complaining. Can't kill off a PC while the player is still in the game - not in freeform anyway. So, the "other side" is invariably composed entirely of NPCs. In a "plot driven" game it is usually necessary to have the leader of the "good guys" - in quotes because I like playing the "bad guys" and it's all a matter of perspective anyway - as a player character controlled by the GM.

We may just be arguing terminology at this point, but I'm of the opinion that a good GM, by definition, cannot have a Player Character, because in their role as GM they are not a Player. Keeping key story roles like King, Captain, whatever in the GM's hands, but it's important to remember that they are still just NPCs and thus don't deserve a special designator to separate themselves from the other NPCs. While GMing, they are 'in the game' and interacting with the players as every NPC simultaneously anyways.

Now, it's easy to say 'Oh, a good GM/player wouldn't favor themselves or their character', but in practice it's not always that easy, particularly for system games when you're brand new to them. That's the foundation of my gaming experience, far more than freeform, and I can't name the number of stories I've seen or heard about with games ruined by GMPCs, often in the hands of people who were great RPers before they got the GM seat. It's such an insidious trap that a brand-new GM sometimes doesn't even see it coming. They'll build up a great backstory with plot hooks and everything...and then, when the party finishes their quest, decide - hey, my character's missing sister was kidnapped by orcs, let's have the next quest be rescuing her. Then, when they're rolling dice for monster attacks behind their screen and the fire troll decapitates 'their PC', it can be too tempting to 'fudge' the die and say it was only a bad hit instead of an instant-kill. Sometimes it's even unconscious, playing a warrior and always finding a more powerful magic sword in the treasure hoards that they can use. A Good GM's first priority is to make the game fun for their players...but when they are also one of the players, it becomes a potential conflict of interest.

And all of this can be cut off before it starts, particularly in a case when someone's never DMed a dice-based game in the first place, by simply keeping in mind that 'they' are all and none of the NPCs at once, not one in particular. Sorta like how when the Roman emperors rode through the city in parades, they had a slave whispering 'remember, you are a mortal' in their ear.

Offline LunarSage

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #403 on: April 06, 2012, 09:28:22 AM »
If I couldn't play a PC in the games I run, I would straight up -never- GM.

Offline BrokenCollar

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #404 on: April 06, 2012, 10:41:57 AM »
I am of a similar disposition. After the amount of effort I put into creating the world for players to explore, why shouldn't I join in the fun?

It was Chrystal's sci-fi group game, 'To the stars, the slow way', tha inspired me to try more groups games and that seemed to function very well even as the GM controlled a PC.

I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone for answering my questions so far and please keep the advice coming and I'll make sure to keep you informed of my progress.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #405 on: April 06, 2012, 02:07:34 PM »
Oh gees, I remember that one. I actually kept it going for a few weeks before it disintegrated into people dropping out and me ending up in a situation I didn't want to be in.

Hoo boy! Now if ever there was a RP that drives home the point that Glyph made it is that one!

For those that don't know, that was my first attempt at a sandbox type RP, except I had no real idea how to do a sandbox. I created an interstellar space craft that basically moved at just under the speed of light in accordance with Einsteinian physics. The theory behind this is that, because of time dilation caused by special relativity, any journey between two points any distance apart will last for almost exactly one year for the people on board the ship, regardless of the actual time taken.

(If you want the physics, I can go look for the OOC thread which actually has the science laid out under a "spoiler" and link it here).

Anyway, onto this space craft, I put a variety of characters. Things were going interestingly, except I made two big mistakes.

1) No NPCs, 2) I played the captain.

Insufficient NPCs meant the players were limited to interacting with each other and that left some players out on a limb. Me playing the captain as a player character meant that I was trying to steer my character into a relationship that I wanted rather than running the game. In fact, I ended up with the character in a relationship that I didn't really want. Couple that with half a dozen players just dropping out and the game flopped.

SO: I think there is a lesson to be learned here.

Playing the lead character as a PC when you are the GM is probably not a good idea. And to think, Broken, if you hadn't reminded me of that one, I wouldn't actually have got that!

This brings me to something I have been meaning to ask: Could this forum have a "where did I go wrong?" service, for GM's like myself who never seem to get something going for more than a month?

It could be a thread in which we could post a link to a failed RP, perhaps with some explanatory notes, and invite CONSTRUCTIVE criticism from those who have more experience. After all, it's hard to learn from your mistakes if you don't know what those mistakes are!

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #406 on: April 06, 2012, 04:42:29 PM »
That might be a good idea, though I suppose we could do it in this thread as well.
Quote
I am of a similar disposition. After the amount of effort I put into creating the world for players to explore, why shouldn't I join in the fun?

Quote
If I couldn't play a PC in the games I run, I would straight up -never- GM.

Where do you get the fun, though? If it's an 'action' game, you're already deciding what the outcome of attacks in a fight are; in a horror game, you know when and where the scares will come, so it's hard to scare yourself; for a mystery or exploration game, you already know the answers to the puzzles and where all the secrets are; in a sexy/smut game, having 'your PC' get it on with an NPC means you're quite literally playing with yourself. There's nothing for you to explore or discover, because you've already done it when you made the world in the first place, so what benefit does arbitrarily designating one of your many NPCs to be 'your PC' give you?

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #407 on: April 06, 2012, 04:54:19 PM »
*giggles* Glyph, you will probably be interested to hear that I am restructuring my latest attempt at GMing a group game. I have removed my "player character", and although I do have a plot in mind, I'm going to use it as a means of giving the game direction if the players fail to create one.

Of course, if they take off in a direection of their own, I may still have the NPCs do what I was planning anyway, because it will be fun to see how the players react...

Offline BrokenCollar

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #408 on: April 06, 2012, 04:55:13 PM »
Well I probably wouldn't interact my PC sexually with other NPCs anyway.

My enjoyment in a game comes from the other players reactions to the world and each other. So again, me playing a specific character as my own would make little difference.

Offline LunarSage

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #409 on: April 06, 2012, 04:58:54 PM »
That might be a good idea, though I suppose we could do it in this thread as well.
Where do you get the fun, though? If it's an 'action' game, you're already deciding what the outcome of attacks in a fight are; in a horror game, you know when and where the scares will come, so it's hard to scare yourself; for a mystery or exploration game, you already know the answers to the puzzles and where all the secrets are; in a sexy/smut game, having 'your PC' get it on with an NPC means you're quite literally playing with yourself. There's nothing for you to explore or discover, because you've already done it when you made the world in the first place, so what benefit does arbitrarily designating one of your many NPCs to be 'your PC' give you?

This is what co-gms are there for.

Besides, I can with a PC interact with the other PCs in the game.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #410 on: April 06, 2012, 05:06:03 PM »
Well I probably wouldn't interact my PC sexually with other NPCs anyway.

My enjoyment in a game comes from the other players reactions to the world and each other. So again, me playing a specific character as my own would make little difference.

I think the real issue in regard to the GM having a player character, particularly in a smut or semi-smut based scenario is that your player character is taking another player character away from a possible pairing.

I will say this: I have never yet participated in a RP on this site where the GM did not actually participate.

I can, in fact see one good reason for the GM having a "player character", now I think of it:

In a sex-based game where players partner up, if there are an uneven number of players, or there are players with sexual orientations that "unbalance the mix" - say you have six girls and six guys but one girl is gay. In that sort of situation, if no other players are forthcoming, it really is down to the GM to create a character (or two) to balance things up, is it not?

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #411 on: April 06, 2012, 05:16:24 PM »
I think the real issue in regard to the GM having a player character, particularly in a smut or semi-smut based scenario is that your player character is taking another player character away from a possible pairing.

I will say this: I have never yet participated in a RP on this site where the GM did not actually participate.

I can, in fact see one good reason for the GM having a "player character", now I think of it:

In a sex-based game where players partner up, if there are an uneven number of players, or there are players with sexual orientations that "unbalance the mix" - say you have six girls and six guys but one girl is gay. In that sort of situation, if no other players are forthcoming, it really is down to the GM to create a character (or two) to balance things up, is it not?

That's a good reason, but like I said above, there's also the issue of terminology. When you're GMing, every character not run by a player is your PC. You get as much, ten times as much, or a hundred times as much interaction with the other PCs...you can interact with all of them simultaneously or individually, depending on what they do. A GM is always going to be participating, and they're going to be participating at 4x-6x the amount the PCs will be; the mystery for me is why one of the NPCs needs to be elevated to 'GMPC' status when 'NPC' would do fine...it's not like PCs must hook up with PCs, after all.

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #412 on: April 06, 2012, 05:33:55 PM »
That's a good reason, but like I said above, there's also the issue of terminology. When you're GMing, every character not run by a player is your PC. You get as much, ten times as much, or a hundred times as much interaction with the other PCs...you can interact with all of them simultaneously or individually, depending on what they do. A GM is always going to be participating, and they're going to be participating at 4x-6x the amount the PCs will be; the mystery for me is why one of the NPCs needs to be elevated to 'GMPC' status when 'NPC' would do fine...it's not like PCs must hook up with PCs, after all.

Ah, but not all scenarios have NPCs? Don't misunderstand me, please, you've convinced me. But I'm playing devil's advocate to see if there is some circumstance in which you might agree that the GM should have a single character all their own? So, imagine the following scenario: A small, sealed environment - maybe a post-apocalyptic world where our players are the last people left on the planet - where there are only a small number of characters needed, and no interaction with any other characters. There can be no NPCs for the GM to control in that scenario.

Offline PeacethatPowerbrings

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #413 on: April 06, 2012, 05:35:47 PM »
That's a good reason, but like I said above, there's also the issue of terminology. When you're GMing, every character not run by a player is your PC. You get as much, ten times as much, or a hundred times as much interaction with the other PCs...you can interact with all of them simultaneously or individually, depending on what they do. A GM is always going to be participating, and they're going to be participating at 4x-6x the amount the PCs will be; the mystery for me is why one of the NPCs needs to be elevated to 'GMPC' status when 'NPC' would do fine...it's not like PCs must hook up with PCs, after all.

I think there is an issue of terminology, but I think it is that GMing does not always imply this level of control. There are games where a GM PC makes perfect sense, and others where it doesn't. In large games, where the plot is constructed by players, the GM is really just an 'administrative player,' if you like. Now, in games where the GM has the level of control that a D&D DM has, you'd be right, the GM is sort of in a conflict of perspective, controlling both the world, and one specific character.

Besides, if we just call a character played by the DM an NPC by default, you're making it definitionally impossible for a GM to play a PC. I'd rather say that, in the instances where a GM has a PC, they are acting as both GM and a player, which would cause the same concerns expressed already, but would point out that the distinction is not pointless.

Ah, but not all scenarios have NPCs? Don't misunderstand me, please, you've convinced me. But I'm playing devil's advocate to see if there is some circumstance in which you might agree that the GM should have a single character all their own? So, imagine the following scenario: A small, sealed environment - maybe a post-apocalyptic world where our players are the last people left on the planet - where there are only a small number of characters needed, and no interaction with any other characters. There can be no NPCs for the GM to control in that scenario.

Ooops, that appeared as I was posting. My point was partly this, exactly. Some kinds of GMing may create a kind of internal conflict with having a PC, while some don't.

EDIT:

Yet another category I failed to mention would be a GM as a 'game creator.' A situation in which the GM creates a game specifically to play the PC. In this case, they don't play NPCs, or only play limited ones, with the intent of filling out the game world with other PCs with which to interact. Now, this may have problems, but it would explain another reason for a GM to have a PC.

« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 05:40:09 PM by PeacethatPowerbrings »

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #414 on: April 06, 2012, 05:51:47 PM »
*giggles* Glyph, you will probably be interested to hear that I am restructuring my latest attempt at GMing a group game. I have removed my "player character", and although I do have a plot in mind, I'm going to use it as a means of giving the game direction if the players fail to create one.

Of course, if they take off in a direection of their own, I may still have the NPCs do what I was planning anyway, because it will be fun to see how the players react...
Don't know whether it matters, but I totally agree with this approach.


I will say this: I have never yet participated in a RP on this site where the GM did not actually participate.
The GM is a participant. He just participates via NPCs, which can be just as detailed as any PC, if he likes so.
The PCs, however, are the protagonists in the story. The NPCs are major antagonists, sidekicks, and extras. That's even reflected in some systems ;).

Quote
I can, in fact see one good reason for the GM having a "player character", now I think of it:

In a sex-based game where players partner up, if there are an uneven number of players, or there are players with sexual orientations that "unbalance the mix" - say you have six girls and six guys but one girl is gay. In that sort of situation, if no other players are forthcoming, it really is down to the GM to create a character (or two) to balance things up, is it not?
Again, that's what NPCs are there for ;D!

Online Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #415 on: April 06, 2012, 06:13:13 PM »
The GM is a participant. He just participates via NPCs, which can be just as detailed as any PC, if he likes so.
The PCs, however, are the protagonists in the story. The NPCs are major antagonists, sidekicks, and extras. That's even reflected in some systems ;).

Ah, not what I meant. I worded it badly

I meant I have not yet, on this site, participated in a group game where the GM did not also have their own player-character.

Of course, if you are going to argue semantics over that point, then I shall, in turn, point out that any participant in a game is by definition a "Player", and that "Game master" is merely a specific Player Role. As the GM is therefore equally defined as a player, any character(s) controlled by the GM are logically Player Characters!

A Non-Player-Character is one not controlled by a player. Now, if we have defined the GM as "a special player" but still a player, who controls the NPCs? Well, in a system game, I imagine they are controlled largely by the system itself. On a computer MMORPG they are controlled by the software. In free-form, in the past, I have often left NPCs available to be played by whatever player wishes to control them for the particular time and place that they interact with that NPC. So for example, in a bar scene, the bartender would logically be a NPC, and would be controlled by any player ordering drinks.

This tends to be a fairly common standard across Elliquiy in free-form games - as I said, I've not yet participated in a game that didn't use it.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #416 on: April 06, 2012, 09:44:56 PM »
Ah, not what I meant. I worded it badly

I meant I have not yet, on this site, participated in a group game where the GM did not also have their own player-character.
Yeah, I suspected you mean that. My post provided a contrast with how it should work, at least in my opinion.

Quote
Of course, if you are going to argue semantics over that point,
I avoid arguing semantics, generally, except where it's necessary to clear up what the other side means to say. Do I still need to answer that :P?

In case you want me to argue semantics!
Quote
then I shall, in turn, point out that any participant in a game is by definition a "Player", and that "Game master" is merely a specific Player Role.
Not how many people view it. I agree, however.

Quote
As the GM is therefore equally defined as a player, any character(s) controlled by the GM are logically Player Characters!
So, you answer arguing over semantics by claiming there's no distinction between a PC and an NPC?
Fine, re-read my posts and replace "PC" with "protagonists" and "NPCs" with "antagonist, sidekicks and extras" ;D! You'll notice the arguments don't actually change, because that's how I use them.

Quote
A Non-Player-Character is one not controlled by a player. Now, if we have defined the GM as "a special player" but still a player, who controls the NPCs? Well, in a system game, I imagine they are controlled largely by the system itself.
Depends on the soecific system and what kind of game you're running, but in most system games, the system only matters in some circumstances, combat being the most common. So it's still the GM that controls them 99% if the time.

Quote
In free-form, in the past, I have often left NPCs available to be played by whatever player wishes to control them for the particular time and place that they interact with that NPC. So for example, in a bar scene, the bartender would logically be a NPC, and would be controlled by any player ordering drinks.
Also happens in system games, but depends on the GM.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2012, 10:29:20 PM by Thufir Hawat »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #417 on: April 06, 2012, 10:23:41 PM »
Ah, but not all scenarios have NPCs? Don't misunderstand me, please, you've convinced me. But I'm playing devil's advocate to see if there is some circumstance in which you might agree that the GM should have a single character all their own? So, imagine the following scenario: A small, sealed environment - maybe a post-apocalyptic world where our players are the last people left on the planet - where there are only a small number of characters needed, and no interaction with any other characters. There can be no NPCs for the GM to control in that scenario.

Well, personally, I'd still consider that single character to be an NPC, but at that point it's just my own terminology preference because of the strong negative associations I have with the term GMPC.

Offline PeacethatPowerbrings

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #418 on: April 06, 2012, 11:03:42 PM »
Well, personally, I'd still consider that single character to be an NPC, but at that point it's just my own terminology preference because of the strong negative associations I have with the term GMPC.

Okay...but the terminology doesn't eliminate the problem. Even if we call any character controlled by a GM, an NPC, if they have a single NPC that they treat like a player character, then it seems important that we have a term for such a thing. Hence, the need for a term. Presumably, even if all characters controlled by GMs are called NPCs. Changing the language doesn't eliminate the problem, unless you also mean to change the content. In this case, if you call all GM controlled characters, NPCs, you need to draw a line between acceptable uses of NPCs, and the ones that we would have otherwise referred to as GM PCs.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #419 on: April 06, 2012, 11:23:44 PM »
Okay...but the terminology doesn't eliminate the problem. Even if we call any character controlled by a GM, an NPC, if they have a single NPC that they treat like a player character, then it seems important that we have a term for such a thing. Hence, the need for a term. Presumably, even if all characters controlled by GMs are called NPCs. Changing the language doesn't eliminate the problem, unless you also mean to change the content. In this case, if you call all GM controlled characters, NPCs, you need to draw a line between acceptable uses of NPCs, and the ones that we would have otherwise referred to as GM PCs.

For most freeform games, there wouldn't be much of a a distinction. For me, 'GMPC' is the term that I apply to a GM-controlled character who travels with the player characters, gets equal to or more 'face time' as the real player characters, and receives a share of their rewards. The all-too-common dark side is when said character is also, consciously or otherwise, benefiting from GM-exclusive knowledge and favoritism. GM favoritism is always a bad thing, but it's worse when the GM favors themselves, and is simultaneously an easy trap to fall into for new GMs, particularly ones moving from freeform to structured and already conditioned to think of 'their character'.

I've got more coherent arguments when I'm not sleepy, but the gist is that a GM should be giving the players the spotlight as much as possible. In, say, a freeform post-apocalyptic game like Chrystal mentioned, the distinction between 'NPC' and 'PC' dwindles to near-meaningless. They can interact with the party, possibly even be 'in charge', but they shouldn't be the leader of the group in a physical or social sense if it can be avoided - better for them to be a secondary or more passive role, again to minimize or avoid spotlight-stealing as much as can be done. Give that role to the players, even if they then in turn force it onto the GM's character.

Offline PeacethatPowerbrings

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #420 on: April 06, 2012, 11:36:18 PM »
For most freeform games, there wouldn't be much of a a distinction. For me, 'GMPC' is the term that I apply to a GM-controlled character who travels with the player characters, gets equal to or more 'face time' as the real player characters, and receives a share of their rewards. The all-too-common dark side is when said character is also, consciously or otherwise, benefiting from GM-exclusive knowledge and favoritism. GM favoritism is always a bad thing, but it's worse when the GM favors themselves, and is simultaneously an easy trap to fall into for new GMs, particularly ones moving from freeform to structured and already conditioned to think of 'their character'.

Right, but my point is that the distinction does exist, and the distinction is important you should separate the 'is' from the 'ought' here. I'm only pointing out that the terminology in a discussion ought to be consistent. We can simultaneous point out that GM's sometimes have PCs, and that they shouldn't, in general. At least then, we all know what we're talking about. NPCs are fairly irrelevant, because, really I don't think we're concerned in general about GMs controlling NPCs, except insofar as you might say that a GM should not have a character that strays beyond the status of an NPC, which goes right back to the is/ought thing.

It is my opinion that if a GM wants to have a player character, there are times when it is appropriate, and times when it is not. My maxim would be, that a GM should generally only have a PC if their position is wholly administrative (something I mentioned before, about games without NPCs, and without the GM controlling the plot). I'd agree that GM favouritism is always bad, and doubly so if done to advantage their own character. Being a GM is a position of power, and that power ought to confer some obligations to your fellow players, one of which is fairness.

Offline Thufir Hawat

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #421 on: April 07, 2012, 03:40:34 AM »
Okay...but the terminology doesn't eliminate the problem. Even if we call any character controlled by a GM, an NPC, if they have a single NPC that they treat like a player character, then it seems important that we have a term for such a thing. Hence, the need for a term. Presumably, even if all characters controlled by GMs are called NPCs. Changing the language doesn't eliminate the problem, unless you also mean to change the content. In this case, if you call all GM controlled characters, NPCs, you need to draw a line between acceptable uses of NPCs, and the ones that we would have otherwise referred to as GM PCs.
Does it change the content if we adopt my suggested solution? "Make PCs protagonists, and NPCs antagonists, sidekicks or extras, thus not equivalent in terms of spotlight, role and if possible, pure abilities".
It does work for my games, at least ;).

Offline PeacethatPowerbrings

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #422 on: April 07, 2012, 07:23:50 AM »
Does it change the content if we adopt my suggested solution? "Make PCs protagonists, and NPCs antagonists, sidekicks or extras, thus not equivalent in terms of spotlight, role and if possible, pure abilities".
It does work for my games, at least ;).

Well, yes and no. Your statement is about what the terms ought to mean. While I agree, in general, with that statement, I think that the salient point for the discussion is how PCs and NPCs should be used, or rather, when or if it is a appropriate for a GM to have a PC. I think that my solution on that front still holds, given your definition.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #423 on: April 07, 2012, 09:19:19 AM »
Right, but my point is that the distinction does exist, and the distinction is important you should separate the 'is' from the 'ought' here. I'm only pointing out that the terminology in a discussion ought to be consistent. We can simultaneous point out that GM's sometimes have PCs, and that they shouldn't, in general. At least then, we all know what we're talking about. NPCs are fairly irrelevant, because, really I don't think we're concerned in general about GMs controlling NPCs, except insofar as you might say that a GM should not have a character that strays beyond the status of an NPC, which goes right back to the is/ought thing.

It is my opinion that if a GM wants to have a player character, there are times when it is appropriate, and times when it is not. My maxim would be, that a GM should generally only have a PC if their position is wholly administrative (something I mentioned before, about games without NPCs, and without the GM controlling the plot). I'd agree that GM favouritism is always bad, and doubly so if done to advantage their own character. Being a GM is a position of power, and that power ought to confer some obligations to your fellow players, one of which is fairness.

Okay, I think we're mostly in agreement on that. If the GM is administrative, as you say, when either the GM doesn't control the plot or there simply is no plot and no NPCs, then the GM is more a player who got the game running in the first place, so it'd be fine to have a 'full PC' in those circumstances.

Offline Deva

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #424 on: April 07, 2012, 09:22:22 AM »
It's usually my reason to not have a character ingame.(the above discussion) while I am not favourtising I am a rather good builder and know all the corner and edge rules from all the current allowed books, so even if I don't favourtise I am often accused of it. I think the best character for a DM to play is semi comic relief, ideally someone that can 'accidently' discover plot hooks or help the party move along in the right direction if they loose trail.