June 27th, 2002

It's All Me

The hazards of gaming in public

I'm involved in this incredibly character-intensive, very personal tabletop RPG. Last night, I was hanging out with the GM, because he wanted to play out a critical private conversation. It was 3 a.m. and we were both wide awake and restless, so we ended up going to a diner and eating whatever you'd call a meal eaten at 3 a.m. when you haven't eaten all day.

So we're deep into this in-character discussion that's probably going to determine whether one of the players gets permanently booted from the game, and I'm trying to negotiate more information and find an acceptable ethical choice. And the waitress comes back to check on us, looks at me and says, "Honey, you look worried." I said, half ironically, "I'm tired and I've got a lot on my mind."

She said, "You know, God never gives us more burdens than we can handle. You just remember that, and you'll be okay. He never gives us more than we can handle. It'll be all right, really it will."

It was a very strange moment of cognitive dissonance, having this waitress try to comfort me through a role-playing situation, and knowing there was no way I could possibly explain to her that yeah, it was going to be okay… it was all make-believe.

But apart from this piece of animation, the main thing that ran through my head was "Honey, the 'god' in this scenario is sitting across the table from me eating a corned-beef sandwich, and he lives to give me more than I can handle."
  • Current Music
    Lisa Theriot, "Elizabeth's Song"

In Case You Needed To Know What I Hate ...

New to the community, but I've been gaming for a little over a decade now, and there's one trend of behavior that has never failed to annoy me. In conversation, it goes something like this:
"Player A is a combat monster! All he does is hack and slash; all he wants is to steal treasure and gain experience points. How can I get him to roleplay?"
Sound familiar? Or perhaps:
"Player B thinks he's a tactical expert. He refuses to go into combat unless we have a detailed and exacting plan. But I've got this sweet plan to change his ways ..."

And let's not forget:
"I don't even know why Player C brings his girlfriend! She's clearly not interested in what we do. She never speaks up, volunteers, or even tries when we come to a crisis situation."

Who's at fault in the above examples? The speaker, of course - for trying to force someone into a role they don't like.

The end-result of a role-playing game is for everyone involved - players and game master alike - to have fun. Different people have fun doing different things. It's no one's place to say "your way of having fun is not allowed" - not even the GM's.

"But so-and-so is being disruptive!" That's a problem, sure, but why is that? Aside from active malice or testing the GM's cojones, players are disruptive because they want attention. They want attention because they feel their needs aren't being met. 9 times out of 10 it takes remarkably little to soothe a distracting PC.

Players aren't problems - players who aren't having fun are problems. And it's easier to solve that then you'd think.