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Author Topic: Wearing the Big GM Pants  (Read 932 times)

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Online RampantDesiresTopic starter

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Wearing the Big GM Pants
« on: April 17, 2014, 05:30:29 AM »
... and wow they don't fit super well O.o

In inherited a large group the end of January, going from a happy little organizational/coding/recreational co-GM to the group's only GM as the creator has had to take a break from E due to real life events.  No problem.  I can hold things together for a few months.  We've discussed things extensively I have a firm grasp of the game world, how the combat rules and such operate, and a few kind of delaying tactic ideas to keep our players interested and advance interpersonal relations while large plot continues to progress in the background. Except now it is four months later and I'm still here muddling through and there is no definitive 'end' in sight.  I really, really, really just need to grow a spine and as the title of this thread says put on the Big GM Pants, but I just can't seem to do it.

As a general rule I have avoided GMing like the plague both here on E and in real life.  I tend to be super detail orientated (read: anal retentive) and I shy away from confrontation wherever possible.  I always want there to be some kind of magical compromise where everyone walks away happy.  Sometimes this is a good thing and that balance or at least some semblance of it can be reached.  But sometimes the GM just has to be the bad guy.  Not in terms of playing the antagonist so much, but just in saying 'sorry guys this is the way it is'.  Not all rulings are going to be universally popular, but without that voice of... not even reason, but certainty perhaps? groups will start to flounder.  I KNOW this and yet I still waffle.  I spend hours that I don't really have trying to come up with creative solutions to problems and then get all defensive when my grand plan is rejected.  I spend even more time badgering my players trying to get a handle on their own views on topics, there are polls, somewhat explosive discussions, which can be helpful  and even healthy for a group upon occasion but I'm on the verge of grid-locking things with my reluctance to just make a decision and stand by it even if everyone is not happy.

So grand assembly of GMs of E ... how do you do it? How do you balance the needs and voices of a single player or a handful against the needs of both yourself and your own sanity and the group at large? How do you know when it is time to just put your foot down and make a call even if it isn't a popular one?  Will these damn pants ever stop chafing?

Offline ebpohmr

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Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 12:54:17 PM »
Its been my experience, on E and in RL, that there is no fixed solution for this problem. It starts with you having to make a judgement call on a compromise. You see how that works out, and each time you make a new compromise, you get a better feeling for where the likely 'best' solution is going to be. But I've yet to know when it was 'right' to act or the 'right' call to make - its so far been trial and error. Sometimes I get it right and other times I fall far short.

Offline Batman4560

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Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 01:08:45 PM »
Honesty, and understanding is the best way to go in my opinion. It has always worked well for me in the past. If you need to change something in a game, simply explain why you feel it needs to be changed. Let the players know that you are changing things to try and make the game move smoothly and if it doesn't work you can always go back to the way things were. Every GM has to find a system that works well for them. I understand that you are not the creator of the game but you are doing your best and the players will understand to. =)

Offline steelsmiter

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Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 05:08:00 PM »
I've only ever really had one difficult game where being assertive didn't help matters much, and that was because of the extremely vocal nature of one player.

Online Thufir Hawat

Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2014, 11:45:02 AM »
I'm not sure I can help you, but let me try.
First, I'm probably not your go-to example. Being inconsiderate is quite easy to me :P. In fact... let's cut it short, I'm not you, and not only because E. doesn't permit two profiles per user >:)!
That said, I've had to help other new GMs overcoming the same problem when starting to run. Some of them actually shared all the personality traits I can derive about you (tries to please everyone, hesitates because of it, tries to account for everything).
So there are a couple tricks I can advise you, and I can ask them how they deal with the same issues* if that's not enough.

First, and that is the easy, you should realise that at least some players will be even more bored and displeased by a slow ruling, and explicitly don't want the GM to be a pushover. It's likely others don't feel the same way, but let's assume you've got both kinds in the group. So you just can't please everybody >:).
Which means that you can as well stop trying. Just do what fairness and honesty demand. You can do that, I'm sure! People without a moral compass seldom have an issue with displeasing anyone, I have noticed ;D! Besides, you can always ask the players for their opinion. It's just that you take into account the opinions that were provided in a timely manner.
And remember, a player might not like a specific ruling, but as long as you're being fair to them, they'd like most of the others. It's not a zero-sum game, and assuming you're playing with adults, they should be able to deal with it.

The second trick is much simpler, but might be harder to pull off, because it's not so much a trick as a playstyle.
Just do whatever the NPCs are planning to do, running them according to their own personality and not what "the story needs". Apply the rules as they were meant to be applied, and remember, you're not responsible for what the NPCs do any more than about how the dice fall. If what you're doing would be the same no matter what, people can't really complain that you did it (unless they're into complaining about the sun setting, too).
In short, whatever happens, is IC, and what happens IC, stays IC, no OOC reasons allowed. Like in the first variant, you're there  just to provide the neutral arbitration between PCs, NPCs and setting. Just be neutral, and you're doing your job!
I have no idea whether this would fit the game you're running though. Hope one of those helps, though.

*Not too sure their answer will be helpful, though ;D.

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Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2014, 08:53:55 PM »
Thank you all for your insights, and just for listening to me rant :) You've been muchly helpful!

Offline eternaldarkness

Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2015, 11:10:08 AM »
A bit of thread necromancy, but I think that it's high time someone wrote a general 'Guide to GM'ing', particularly one focused on running Play by Post games, because they have different needs and quirks than a face to face tabletop game. I'd be happy to do that, though i'd love some input from others to make it better. Any takers?

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Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2015, 04:23:09 PM »
Have a look at this thread

https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=88480.msg3875974#msg3875974

It might give you an idea or two. I'll be happy to bounce ideas around with you after that.

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Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2015, 11:28:30 PM »
A bit of thread necromancy, but I think that it's high time someone wrote a general 'Guide to GM'ing', particularly one focused on running Play by Post games, because they have different needs and quirks than a face to face tabletop game. I'd be happy to do that, though i'd love some input from others to make it better. Any takers?

I would love to see this! I would be willing to put input towards it once I have any of value. ;-P


Offline Fenrisulfr

Re: Wearing the Big GM Pants
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 05:17:37 AM »
The problem with guides and recommendations tend to end up with a list of things matching the writers own preferences as what people should do, and things not matching as things not to do (or worse, recommending their old habits).

Those taking extra care of avoiding their own bias still miss at least half of the different ways people do enjoy to roleplay.

Here is a link to someone trying to make a tool to make sure people are at least somewhat on the same page https://bankuei.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/the-same-page-tool/

So if writing a Guide to GM'ing, please acknowledge it is for a subset of forum based roleplaying, because the main target group will most likely be those least aware of different ways to handle things.