Hey Everyone! This is a question for GM's of Group Games, preferably Big Group Games.
Having recently taken over a swiftly-growing group game, I've found myself struggling with one deceptively difficult question: How much GM oversight is too much?
Now, obviously this can mean a lot of things, from CS details, IC interactions, and Group Events. And because I like the hard questions, my query pertains to all of those things. Now, for those of you who may be more loose, or lax on rules, let me give you all a bit of background information:
Back in November, a dear friend of mine created a group game with some SERIOUS world-building. I mean serious. Six months into the game, and she still wasn't done getting all the information out. That big. In addition to a highly robust political system, resistance factions, and all-around comprehensive world, there were also the really yummy character traits - some have empathy, others heightened senses, and others still were normal like you or I. With so many options to choose from, it grew rather quickly, and in the past month, we've reached Big Game status.
Unfortunately, our intrepid GM went AWOL over a month ago, and after some OOC debates, it was decided that the Co-GM's she'd appointed prior to her absence would step up and take the helm so that the game wouldn't die. It was a rather successful shift of power, and but for a few small issues, there were no major complaints. Success! But wait...now I'm
getting the hard questions!
Okay, background story over. Now for the pertinent things....
The hard questions...On Character Sheets:
This game has a lot of options as far as what kind of character you can make. From factions and loyalty to abilities, to gender and sexual identity, we've got it all! And then some. We all know those characters that must be "special snowflakes" who constantly want to step outside the approved boundaries of an acceptable character for the setting. Clearly, in a world that is AU London, with a slightly Orwellian level of government oversight, there are certain character archetypes that simply aren't going to fit within the world. I'm more than happy to redirect those characters to something more fitting. Sometimes characters are really, really
over the top, and trimming them down to fit the game can be a jenga-esque balancing act, without offending the player.
But what about the little things that just drive you crazy
? Like the fact that 2/3rds of the characters in game have a history of murdered empaths via gun violence, in a city where gun control is through the roof? Or the players who say "So and so doesn't like Faction A or Faction B, so they're going to stay Neutral", when "staying neutral" is a good way to dissappear in a group game? Do you just let them have their neutral character, and shrug off the fact that unless they make a concentrated effort, they're going to have a hard time? Or do you say "Well, okay, but you need to establish connections with other characters" to help them acclimate to a big group setting?
And what about the Characters that - based on their character sheet - have little to no ambition, wish to stay neutral, and will likely offer nothing to the overall game? Have you ever rejected a character for seeming "pointless"? Or do you say "Uh sure..." and let them go on their merry way? On In-Character Interactions:
This one has been hard for me - namely in that a lot of the rules established around being part of a certain faction have gone largely ignored by a certain section of players. What's the best way to rein in these interactions? Do you PM the people involved and say "hey, this isn't really feasible, I'd like you to change your post"? Do you post something vaguely passive-aggressive in the announcement thread re-emphasizing the rules? How do you keep your players in line with the established universe, without dictating their every action? This has been a hard one for me, mainly in that I've asked to be PM'ed whenever players may be uncertain if interactions would be permitted in the setting, and time and time again, people just go their merry way and derp along as though those rules didn't exist.
Lets be honest...when stuff like that gets to a certain point, you kind of feel like a nanny, chasing the children about going "no dear, don't put that in your mouth." And believe me, there's a reason I don't have kids... Group Events
: Every once in a while, players get together to plot up an idea to stir things up. Which is great! Why have factions if they're not going to make moves against each other? But wait...this thing would cause this to happen and then this in return, and that weapon isn't feasible and, and, and aaaaaaghhhh!
Does anyone have any suggestions for how players should propose Group Events? This is a whole new area for me, and I'm trying to wrap my little brain around the questions I should be asking, what details aren't really that big of a deal that can be let go, and how much oversight a group event needs.
So! I know I've introduced a lot of questions here, and unfortunately many of them are vague, but any and all input is welcome. I'm new to this whole GM business, and while I prefer to have a light touch, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by either not addressing important things, or by addressing ALL the things and alienating my players. Thoughts? Opinions? Experiences?