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mind-sapping gaming nitpicks

It's only after the conversation is over that I realize just how much it was annoying me.

When a player starts making it clear that he disapproves of your view of how a game should be run, and consistently disapproves of the system you've chosen... It can get really grating. "Well, how would this work?" "Well, that's not something the system supports, but it would be approximated with that. The effect would be to knock them out of the combat for one round."

Yes, it's not the perfect system. The point isn't to make any story you can imagine. It's to take a common ruleset that everything works under, and create a story that treats everyone fairly by the same rules, and set some forces at odds with each other, and see what comes out. You know what you're capable of because the rules tell you. You pick and choose your fights, and you have some basic idea of what kind of chance of success you have before you choose an action. Trip, grapple, attack, defense, all of these combat options were created with an essential balance in mind. If one side has overpowering "stunt" type abilities, the other needs them too, and then the math of the situation starts spinning wildly out of control. The greater the variation, the more unpredictability comes, and the less anyone is able to play the game effectively.

The reason a katana does 2d6 damage and takes the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat to use is so that when someone comes on screen with a katana in hand, you *know* that person is a badass. A katana that does d8 and can be simply used with Archaic Weapon Proficiency is just a sword. When you say "I grab his forearms as he comes at me and yank downards so as to better boot him in the jimmies" it has to translate into game terms, or else you've just got a free-for-all "No! I shot you first!" going on... And I think this system has done a better job of giving players that chance than any other has for quite some time.

If the players are significantly more powerful than the baddies, the game becomes a one-sided storytelling session. You need that balance to have real risk, and you need real risk to feel a real reward.

I think when it comes down to it, all the complaints come down to one thing: he doesn't trust me as a GM to make the game interesting to all the players; he thinks he'll have the moment when he shines, and then be sitting around twiddling his thumbs the rest of the time. Annoying. The most important thing a GM must do is balance spotlight between players, followed closely by keeping the lights on the rest of the stage all the time. You can't just have a one-player scene last very long at all, or else you lose the other players.

(Edit: oh, and finally got a d20 modern lj icon)

Further edit: Hmm... it occurs to me that since I'm learning about this here game mastering thing, he may not have good reason to trust me as a GM. I've even said things like "I hope I do this well" and stuff... So where does that leave me?

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
crs
Nov. 20th, 2003 12:45 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
firstfrost
Nov. 20th, 2003 01:00 pm (UTC)
system plusses and minuses
On the other side, there's things like Feng Shui - as I've observed it, the combats are all about saying dramatic things like "I grab his forearms and lever him down so I can knee him in the nose" and "I jump from the balcony to the lamp, swing back and forth, then fall onto him from above!" Of course, you say that for your combat turn, but then you do him your standard damage, no matter what words you used.

In general, some players will be happy with your run and some won't. Some want more spotlight time than you can afford, some are happy to be the sidekick, some are in it for the dramatic conversations, some want to kick butt and take names, some want to be the smartest person with the best plan of anyone in the run.

If you're lucky, you have friendly players, and their insecurities mesh well. If you're not lucky, you'll have some players who you have to have conversations like that with. Such is life.
exponentialdk
Nov. 21st, 2003 08:15 am (UTC)
nosy friends and family
It occurs to me that RPG players can be broken down by game-view into 3 groups:

  1. Fantasy Projectors: Those who want to see their fantasies come to life and/or be viewed by others.
  2. Fantasy Consumers: Those who want to enter a fantasy world, possibly as a vacation from reality.
  3. Game Players: Those who want to play a game, like Checkers but more complicated.


Those in group #1 get very frustrated if they can't express in the game what is in their mind. (They need to have the game match their fantasy, which can get pretty absurd, depending on the fantasy.)

Those in group #2 get very frustrated by disruptions in their suspension of disbelief. (They need what most people refer to as "realism.")

Those in group #3 get very frustrated by everything the other two groups lobby for, arguing that "realism" is a fantasy game is an absurdity, and that one particular player can't expect the whole group to cater to his selfish fantasy.

You're likely to get more conflict by having an immature member of group #1, or by mixing group #3 in with the other two.

I'm mostly in group #2, but in group #1 for my own game world (seeing as how it is a product of my imagination).
exponentialdk
Nov. 21st, 2003 08:17 am (UTC)
Sorry about the subject line. That appears to be Mozilla spazzing.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )