GM’s rights and GM trust

August 23, 2007

There’re a lot of discussions on the rights of the game master (GM, DM, ST, whatever): not only what (s)he can or cannot do in terms of game mechanics, but also in a broader sense of when players should suppress their suspicions and trust that GM is still in control of the game process, and when they should say “hold it right there” and probably even stop playing at all.

There are two polar views: one is called “GM is always right” (and thou shalt have faith in the GM in any situation), the other one is encountered in GM-less indie RPG when all players have equal rights and equal trust. Depending on taste and mostly personal experience people would argue that one of the two is best or come up with yet another theory for something in between.

The truth is simple. The more the GM cares about the game and the more the GM does for it, the more rights the GM has and the more trust the GM deserves from the players. If the game goes on without much effort from the GM, (s)he doesn’t and shouldn’t have much influence on it (if it works, don’t break it). If the game requires constant attention and the GM puts much more effort in it that all the players together, they should learn to trust the GM and let the GM do what (s)he wants to build a great game for them. That’s all there’s to it.

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Rails

July 11, 2006

A lot of people are complaining about so called ‘rails’ – any forcefully fixed plot part can be blamed with that term. In fact, when you think of a railroad, it’s just a path from one town to another, one of the many. Come to think of it, the analogy proves to be right: there is nothing wrong in fixing the departure point (“y’all meet in a tavern”, “you just got teleported”, “you know each other for long”, etc) or destination point (“you gotta kill the dragon”, “bring peace back to the country”, “destroy the ring”, etc). Complaints arise only when you try to fix the path, to force your players to take the way you chose for them.

As long as [they think] there is more than one way to get to wherever you want’em, no-one will complain.