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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default The GM is a Player

    So I have often wanted to try to try and discuss my philosophy of role-playing, the entire belief and understanding behind all the things I usually say. That is a sprawling mess of emotions, habits and long chains of reasoning. So I picked out one little section to talk about.

    The GM is a Player

    Is sort of a framing thing, a way to look at the situation that I feel is helpful. Its also a kind of premise in that I don't really have anything that leads to it, rather I have found it leads to a couple of things I do like.

    Division of Responsibility: This part came in some debate where someone said something like "but the GM has already put in so much more work". They may have been right but at the same time I don't want to do that much work to run a game. I would rather everyone split up that work. Like agree on the structure, the PCs come with the bits of setting and the GM glues that together. Doesn't have to work exactly like that but that would be one way to do it. We are all here to play and have fun, why should one person have to do so much more work?

    Division of Power: I have had fun playing games with a plot that was scripted out by the GM and we just sort of went from quest marker to quest marker. Its sounds unflattering but there were fun things at (and occasionally between) quest markers. Those games did pail in comparison to the dynamic campaigns I've played. The best campaigns I have played have always had people pushing in different directions and ending up where no one quite expected. And if a bunch of players control the characters and another does the setting it is sort of what you would expect.

    Splitting Roles: So the traditional role of the GM is many roles. They are a host, a rules master and referee, the entire ensemble cast, they are often expected to resolve social problems in the group and they have to create long series of balanced and interesting encounters. That's a lot. And only some of that really goes together. So why shove it all on one person? Sort of like division of responsibility except you could do more explicitly by sub-role if you wanted to. (I haven't.)

    The Players Are on a Team: "The players" are not against "the GM". At least if you are more into the storytelling / fiction side of the game, but the whole player vs. GM debates should be discarded for "its a co-op game". The goal of the players is to create an interesting story / experience. Everyone can make things harder for the characters and everyone can make it easier for them. And for the more mechanical or competitive minded I don't think viewing the GM as an opponent is constructive.

    And that is why I think one should think of the GM as a player. Again it is more of a mind set thing than an actual change. But I have found several ideas fit together better within this frame than viewing the GM as just a host, an improvising computer or an opponent. Also I am not going to say all of this should be used everywhere, but hopefully some of it will help some people who come through here.

    And if not, discuss why not. The floor is now open.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    It's more that the DM is adversarial against the players than the players compete against the DM when the issue is a thing of a playing group. Nothing exists without the DM's permission. The DM can deny anything a player wants. The DM can give any NPC or monster any ability he wants by fiat. When it's an issue is when the DM is on a power trip abusing his authority. He forgets that it's only a game. He can also believe that for a game to be challenging it has to be very difficult. The players can never win. They'll win combats, but the DM thinks something is wrong if at least one PC did not drop or lose something. The game is a continuous series of frustrations.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    So I have often wanted to try to try and discuss my philosophy of role-playing, the entire belief and understanding behind all the things I usually say. That is a sprawling mess of emotions, habits and long chains of reasoning. So I picked out one little section to talk about.

    The GM is a Player

    Is sort of a framing thing, a way to look at the situation that I feel is helpful. Its also a kind of premise in that I don't really have anything that leads to it, rather I have found it leads to a couple of things I do like.
    Yes, that's a good attitude...

    Division of Responsibility: This part came in some debate where someone said something like "but the GM has already put in so much more work". They may have been right but at the same time I don't want to do that much work to run a game. I would rather everyone split up that work. Like agree on the structure, the PCs come with the bits of setting and the GM glues that together. Doesn't have to work exactly like that but that would be one way to do it. We are all here to play and have fun, why should one person have to do so much more work?
    Agree in principle, but that requires players who are willing to invest in the game. IME, few players are willing to do any prep between session, but are happy to just show up and play. They may be positive to do it, but when next session comes around they haven't had time. I guess it's because they know they can get away with it, and it would work better if the GM is explicit about not prepping anything and that the whole group is dependent on each person's contribution.

    I would love to play more games where you sit down an determine the setting and tone together as you start playing, Fate and Microscope especially, but since I don't get to play as often as I want there are too many traditionally prepped games I want to do when I get the chance.

    Division of Power: I have had fun playing games with a plot that was scripted out by the GM and we just sort of went from quest marker to quest marker. Its sounds unflattering but there were fun things at (and occasionally between) quest markers. Those games did pail in comparison to the dynamic campaigns I've played. The best campaigns I have played have always had people pushing in different directions and ending up where no one quite expected. And if a bunch of players control the characters and another does the setting it is sort of what you would expect.
    I prefer to run more sandboxy player driven games, where I prep a world/situation to improvise and the players make their own goals. However, many players seem content with and expect having someone else tell them what they should be doing. It can be frustrating...

    Splitting Roles: So the traditional role of the GM is many roles. They are a host, a rules master and referee, the entire ensemble cast, they are often expected to resolve social problems in the group and they have to create long series of balanced and interesting encounters. That's a lot. And only some of that really goes together. So why shove it all on one person? Sort of like division of responsibility except you could do more explicitly by sub-role if you wanted to. (I haven't.)
    Yes! It's everyone's responsibility to make the game work. However, often the GM is GMing to get a game running at all, since no one else in the group prioritizes gaming enough over other things in their life to be willing to run a game. So when there is a need for hosting, scheduling, solving conflicts etc, the GM is often the single person the most willing to do that as well.

    So yes, the GM don't have to do all the work, but there's a correlation because the person in a group of people who the most want to have a game, is the person who will volunteer to GM. Also, the person in a group of people who the most want to have a game is also the person who is most willing to organize the game and the most invested in having it continue.

    And that is why I think one should think of the GM as a player. Again it is more of a mind set thing than an actual change. But I have found several ideas fit together better within this frame than viewing the GM as just a host, an improvising computer or an opponent. Also I am not going to say all of this should be used everywhere, but hopefully some of it will help some people who come through here.

    And if not, discuss why not. The floor is now open.
    I do think it's a good view, but personally I find it more useful to think of the GM as only an individual person among a social group of people.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Part of how I look at the DM's roles, I found 2 to be most essential: the Narrator and the Antagonist (or the GM and the DM).

    The Narrator/GM is the referee while the Antagonist/DM is the competitive opponent to your PCs. These two roles are often at odds with one another and generate conflict of interest as the GM is largely responsible for keeping the game fun and fair, while the DM is the side that is playing to win. The GM is trying to make sure the players have the best possible chance to win (or at least have a good session), while the DM is trying to get more or less fully immersed into the Antagonist, because nothing raises the stakes like an enemy who is being actively roleplayed to their strengths.

    This can be a great way to Co DM a game, where you actually divide these roles. One of the other players actually plays the BBEG (or whatever current adversaries the party faces before this), while the other is free to simply adjudicate and set up the scene.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    It's more that the DM is adversarial against the players than the players compete against the DM when the issue is a thing of a playing group. Nothing exists without the DM's permission. The DM can deny anything a player wants. The DM can give any NPC or monster any ability he wants by fiat. When it's an issue is when the DM is on a power trip abusing his authority. He forgets that it's only a game. He can also believe that for a game to be challenging it has to be very difficult. The players can never win. They'll win combats, but the DM thinks something is wrong if at least one PC did not drop or lose something. The game is a continuous series of frustrations.
    As I said, the roles of GM and DM represent a conflict of interest. Getting too deep into the competitive nature of the game (the DM role) generates adversarial DMing, which isn't fun for all the reasons you describe.

    However, you seem to be underplaying the problems of adversarial play from the other players. The GM can say no to anything, that's true, but it can still upset the whole table to be constantly fighting against this type of mindset from one of the players. Even worse when it's a whole table out to beligerently murder the non combatant NPCs the GM worked to populate the town with.

    It's one thing to be able to deny anything. It's another to have to repeatedly use this against any number of players who just want to watch your world burn. Sure, you can kill their character by fiat, boot them from the table, and that might be appropriate, but did you notice they still ruined that game and you more or less have to start over with something slightly different?
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

    Everyone has their own jam.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    The Rules = the game engine
    The GM = the game producer

    The role of a GM is the same as those working at Bethesda or naughty dog etc. He's a game maker, he's developing the story, the NPC's, the plot, the gear etc. That's how he 'plays'.

    What you are recommending is a solution for a group who has no real GM but they still want to play.

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Division of Responsibility: if I'm reading you right, this leads to slapdash world-building with no depth, kinda like the caricatures with no depth you get when you view "alignment" and "personality" as synonyms. So, if I'm reading you right, this would be actively opposed to my Exploration / Discovery aesthetic.

    Division of Power: I mean, yes, I definitely prefer sandboxy play… I'm just curious how you tie this into "the GM is a player".

    Splitting Roles: absolutely! I've been a longtime advocate of this mindset, and I find it has a strong correlation with most of the best groups I've played with.

    The Players Are on a Team: boy oh boy is this one tricky. You need to word this carefully, such that PvP *does* fall under "on a team" (since the GM's monsters *will* be engaging in PvP under this definition), to avoid even more dysfunctions. Best I've done is things like, "GM creates a world with the reasonable expectation that most characters (or most who would be brought to xyz game/criteria) would produce an enjoyable experience.

    "Even worse when it's a whole table out to beligerently murder the non combatant NPCs the GM worked to populate the town with. It's one thing to be able to deny anything. It's another to have to repeatedly use this against any number of players who just want to watch your world burn. Sure, you can kill their character by fiat, boot them from the table, and that might be appropriate, but did you notice they still ruined that game and you more or less have to start over with something slightly different?" - or they *made* that game, did you every consider that, instead of accusing them of BadWrongFun?

    I mean, sure, most the time, that's just them being a ****. But it's also pretty annoying when the game falls apart unless your agency is artificially curtailed. Plot-centric NPCs are pretty much just another flavor of bad DMPCs - something you have to keep around, else the GM will take his ball and go home.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2019-09-13 at 07:38 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    I don't have much time so I am going to do a quick speed round.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    I do think it's a good view, but personally I find it more useful to think of the GM as only an individual person among a social group of people.
    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that giving everyone the title of player is supposed to show they are all in the same group and no one is special. The roles are different but no one should be viewed as completely above the others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Part of how I look at the DM's roles, I found 2 to be most essential: the Narrator and the Antagonist (or the GM and the DM).
    I think this mostly applies to the GM side of that equation (appropriately) but I think you could do it DM side. And I say this because we did it once. I had a campaign where one of the players- (non-GM players) was the villain and got pretty much everyone killed. It wasn't planned but its just the way things turned out, the GM ran the rules and introduced some elements to mix things up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drache64 View Post
    The role of a GM is the same as those working at Bethesda or naughty dog etc. He's a game maker, he's developing the story, the NPC's, the plot, the gear etc. That's how he 'plays'.
    Except the GM usually doesn't get paid a full time wage.

    I have a lot of hobbies that I put a lot of work into (most games I have GMed have been in homebrewed systems, as an example), but ultimately when I am done that I don't want to have to stick play in quotes. No wonder GMs are hard to find if most groups are asking them for unpaid labour. And this a hobby you have to put some work into, so it isn't entirely wrong (see first post about splitting that work) but it shouldn't be their primary role.

    This (plus distraction) has already taken too long so I'm going to come back later.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Division of Responsibility: if I'm reading you right, this leads to slapdash world-building with no depth, kinda like the caricatures with no depth you get when you view "alignment" and "personality" as synonyms. So, if I'm reading you right, this would be actively opposed to my Exploration / Discovery aesthetic.
    The point is about sharing some of the responsibilities other styles traditionally all pin on the GM. That has not to be the worldbuilding, but might well be.

    Also yes, sharing worldbuilding is opposed to Exploration/Discovery. But that is not a thing that is important for all groups anyway, otherwise we would not have that many popular official settins.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    While I don't agree point-for-point, I agree in principle.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
    It looks like freedom but it smells like death, it's closing time.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    And that is why I think one should think of the GM as a player. Again it is more of a mind set thing than an actual change. But I have found several ideas fit together better within this frame than viewing the GM as just a host, an improvising computer or an opponent. Also I am not going to say all of this should be used everywhere, but hopefully some of it will help some people who come through here.
    Do you also play traditional type games like D&D with this attitude, or do you find yourself only playing more collaborative, improvised or storytelling games instead?

    What I find hard is to encourage players to get into this attitude when playing traditional type games. I think I might need to run more games with explicitly no GM prep to kind of force them to contribute more.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post

    Division of Responsibility: This part came in some debate where someone said something like "but the GM has already put in so much more work". They may have been right but at the same time I don't want to do that much work to run a game. I would rather everyone split up that work. Like agree on the structure, the PCs come with the bits of setting and the GM glues that together. Doesn't have to work exactly like that but that would be one way to do it. We are all here to play and have fun, why should one person have to do so much more work?
    When I step up to DM, I have a vision: something I want to try, something I want to experience together with the players. More often than not making this vision a reality will require some work. That's the price I have to pay. And if I'm willing to pay it, then I'm willing to pay it!
    Otherwise, I will put that vision back to the drawing board.

    And the player can't share this work with me. That is not to say that the players coudn't do some "homework" to enhance the experience. But everything that is required for the vision has to come from me, the DM.

    Splitting Roles: So the traditional role of the GM is many roles. They are a host, a rules master and referee, the entire ensemble cast, they are often expected to resolve social problems in the group and they have to create long series of balanced and interesting encounters. That's a lot. And only some of that really goes together. So why shove it all on one person? Sort of like division of responsibility except you could do more explicitly by sub-role if you wanted to. (I haven't.)
    Eh. I'm the rules guru regardless if I'm currently the DM or not. When I don't DM, I provide corrections ("I thinks that's not how this ability works" "Yes, this is the correct interaction") and suggestions but it is the DMs responsibility to make the final call.
    The host is who ever is willing to invite, who is best to reach for the other players and so on. Right now, for me group I'm the host because I have a nice and big appartment in a rather central location. And two cats. Two very cute cats.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I
    Except the GM usually doesn't get paid a full time wage.

    I have a lot of hobbies that I put a lot of work into (most games I have GMed have been in homebrewed systems, as an example), but ultimately when I am done that I don't want to have to stick play in quotes. No wonder GMs are hard to find if most groups are asking them for unpaid labour. And this a hobby you have to put some work into, so it isn't entirely wrong (see first post about splitting that work) but it shouldn't be their primary role.

    This (plus distraction) has already taken too long so I'm going to come back later.
    I have been the go-to GM for years. I put tons of effort into my sessions, I know very well everything you're talking about and I hate the idea that GMs can't have a story to tell, they are just procedural generating humans to serve the players will.

    But True GMs love writing the story, love running the story, love watching players play in their vision.

    What I'm saying is: if your idea is necessary, it's not a bad idea, but it is showing you that your group doesn't have a true GM, a player like myself or other GM buddies of mine who love to GM and do all the work because it's our passion.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    Do you also play traditional type games like D&D with this attitude, or do you find yourself only playing more collaborative, improvised or storytelling games instead?

    What I find hard is to encourage players to get into this attitude when playing traditional type games. I think I might need to run more games with explicitly no GM prep to kind of force them to contribute more.
    I am not Cluedrew, but i do play traditional games with this attitute. I don't really like those collaborative storytelling games because they are too meta for me which hurts my immersion, so i don't play them.

    But player habits are indeed hard to change. Not really a problem where i life but D&D was never big here anyway.


    I find rotating GM setups a good way to encourage players to see the GM as nothing special. It also usually divorces the rules-lawyer and the host role from the GM role automatically.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    This is a linguistics issue, not a gaming one. The words "play" and "player" have more than one meaning, like most words in English. Which meaning applies often depends on context.

    I'm quite likely to say, "I'm playing D&D this weekend. I'm running a dungeon crawl for the players." This is not inconsistent. It's just using two different meanings in a way that is instantly understandable.

    But in the technical jargon of D&D:

    A Player plays, and identifies with, a single Player Character (with the possible addition of animal companions, familiars, cohorts, etc., all subordinate to the Player Character). The Player Character represents that Player within the fictional world. The Player Character is a tool the Player uses tor explore and act in a world about which the Player knows very little, except what has been learned by the Player Character. In any encounter, the Player identifies with the side that the Player Character is on, and is actively seeking victory for that side. When the party reaches a door, the Player can only find out what is on the other side of that door by some action of the Player Character.

    By contrast, a DM (or GM) creates and/or runs a world (often using modules as tools), runs all Non-Player Characters in the world, and does not have a single character who represents herself within that world. The DM is not exploring the world, since he or she already knows every relevant fact discoverable by exploration, and in fact adjudicates what the Players discover with any action of the Player Characters. In any encounter, the DM might be running characters on both sides, but does not identify with either side, and is not striving to make one side win. When the party reaches a door, the DM knows exactly what is on the other side of that door.

    This is a distinction worth keeping.

    [I'm aware that some games don't have a Game Master or equivalent. Obviously the topic of whether the GM is a Player does not apply to those games, so they are off-topic for this thread.]

    You can change the meaning of the word "player" to include the DM, but as soon as you do, there will be a clear distinction between the players who are represented in the fictional world by their Player Characters, who explore the unknown world with their Player Characters, who explore the unknown fictional world will their Player Characters, and who have minor victories and losses within the story, and the Player who is not directly represented in the fictional world, who runs all the Non-Player Characters, and who knows all the hidden information, and who adjudicates all the minor victories and losses.

    I will continue to use the word Player to mean people running Player Characters, and the phrase Dungeon Master or Game Master to mean the person in charge of the dungeon world or the game.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    The point is about sharing some of the responsibilities other styles traditionally all pin on the GM. That has not to be the worldbuilding, but might well be.

    Also yes, sharing worldbuilding is opposed to Exploration/Discovery. But that is not a thing that is important for all groups anyway, otherwise we would not have that many popular official settins.
    Well, yes, *sharing* world-building is opposed to Discovery. But even *distributed* world-building can be detrimental. For example,

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    When I step up to DM, I have a vision: something I want to try, something I want to experience together with the players. More often than not making this vision a reality will require some work. That's the price I have to pay. And if I'm willing to pay it, then I'm willing to pay it!
    Otherwise, I will put that vision back to the drawing board.

    And the player can't share this work with me. That is not to say that the players coudn't do some "homework" to enhance the experience. But everything that is required for the vision has to come from me, the DM.

    Yeah, I want thought-through world-building that shows vision. That's… rarely created in committee. And being on the committee kinda spoils my fun.

    If every player came up with content in a vacuum, and some 3rd party made sure any points of integration were dealt with, maybe it could work? Or, a GM with 2 groups, who make content for each other?

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    I find rotating GM setups a good way to encourage players to see the GM as nothing special. It also usually divorces the rules-lawyer and the host role from the GM role automatically.
    I agree that rotating the GM (in some fashion) does indeed tend to be good for the health of the game in that fashion.

    Pedantic: I find it clearer if you word that (not)GM role as "rules arbiter", rather than "rules lawyer".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    I find rotating GM setups a good way to encourage players to see the GM as nothing special. It also usually divorces the rules-lawyer and the host role from the GM role automatically.
    I stand behind this point, wholeheartedly. My group's GM pool consists of myself and 2 others. Years ago, we had another 2 GMs in the group. We take turns running our own campaigns. When one of us needs a break, we let another GM run their own game. Sometimes we would create a collaborative world and take turns running "missions" or "quests" within that world. It isn't perfect, but it was damn fun.

    Also, in theory, it probably reduces the GM power trip issue because they have players that are also GMs that could, in best case: stop it from happening; worst case: turn the table on the bad GM when they are a player. This has personally never happend to me, but i've spoken with people in meatspace who mentioned about the above. I guess, one way or another, the issue did not persist.

    More importantly, with my group, when one of us gets better at being a great GM, the others take notice and try to step up their game to match. Not trying to toot my own horn hear, but reading on this forum and other articles online about GM techniques, how to run certain scenarios and dungeons, and so on, has made me a better GM. Significantly better than myself, say, five years ago. And i've noticed the others have improved to match what i bring to the table; whether they know it or not. ♪toot toot toot toot toot♫

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post

    As I said, the roles of GM and DM represent a conflict of interest. Getting too deep into the competitive nature of the game (the DM role) generates adversarial DMing, which isn't fun for all the reasons you describe.

    However, you seem to be underplaying the problems of adversarial play from the other players. The GM can say no to anything, that's true, but it can still upset the whole table to be constantly fighting against this type of mindset from one of the players. Even worse when it's a whole table out to beligerently murder the non combatant NPCs the GM worked to populate the town with.

    It's one thing to be able to deny anything. It's another to have to repeatedly use this against any number of players who just want to watch your world burn. Sure, you can kill their character by fiat, boot them from the table, and that might be appropriate, but did you notice they still ruined that game and you more or less have to start over with something slightly different?
    If the players refuse to play the game the DM wants to run the DM can stop running the game. Not always saying no to players is not the same thing as never saying no. It's not a question of the DM having parameters for the game. It's a question of what those parameters are.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post

    The GM is a Player
    In the sense that the GM is playing the game, sure...but the DM is not playing the game AS a player: they are playing as a GM.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Division of Responsibility:
    I guess this is a nice idea, but part of the defination of player is that they want no game responsibility and no game work. They just want to sit back, relax and play the game...as a player.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Division of Power:
    Again, nice idea....but it really does not work. Human nature needs leaders: this is why leaders exist. With any complex social activity that has some type of goal: you need a leader.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Splitting Roles:
    This follows the leader idea of basic human nature: people need leaders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    The Players Are on a Team:
    The players are...or at least should be...a team. RPGs are a social group activity. The Players don't Oppose the GM, the players Oppose the Game World, or more accuretly the Adventure.


    The GM is not special in the sense they are superior to a player, but they are special.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    So I think I'm giving up on using quotes and just address topics.

    On PvP: I have a little joke that goes: "PvP is banned. PCvPC allowed." Which is to say no player should be out to get another player, but the same does not apply to player characters. The in- and out-of-character line is important. I've had occasions

    On World-Building: The setting is the GM's PC in some respect so in the end they have a lot more influence there than the other players. When I run a game this way the other players have contributed some ideas about the over-arcing setting ideas, decided where their characters came from and set a few details about that and filled in gaps the GM hadn't already filled in. The first two tend to be things you would know as part of the game pitch anyways. And the gaps is really just idea sound-boarding... and usually were justified as being known in character anyways.

    On Planned Stories: Yeah planned stories are the hardest thing to pull in my style. Which isn't to say there aren't some ideas here you could still use (see below), I think that there are. Even in cases where I have had to mix up how I run a game from my preferred style these ideas are still in my head, even if I am not using them as often.

    On True GM: I am officially calling no true scotsman fallacy on the idea that a (capital T) True GM has to run a game a particular way. Which is not to say you can't run it that way. If you want to run a game that runs off the GM's plan, I think some pieces could still be used. Maybe splitting roles will help the GM focus on that core experience, and I think viewing the game as a co-operative experience cuts across play-styles, even if the roles in it are different.

    On Terminology: I am aware that if the GM is a player there are then two main types of players, one of which is called players. I even invented a bit of symbolism in the past to distinguish between the players who are playing the game and the players playing the PCs: players+ and players- (the players plus or minus the GM). I have been avoiding that so far just to be extra clear with more words but I might start using it after this. That being said is someone wants to argue me down with the old/common definitions, I am in fact challenging those and am not using them. I agree with Jay R's statements that words mean more than one thing.

    On Habits: A rotating GM set up might help people break those habits. On the other hand I have seen people new take to this sort of set up pretty well. Much better than some of the ones who have only played D&D before. I also believe that system helps, at least I have found that systems that give players lots of proactive tools and are prep-light work better than those that don't/aren't.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by MonstarDM View Post
    In the sense that the GM is playing the game, sure...but the DM is not playing the game AS a player: they are playing as a GM.




    I guess this is a nice idea, but part of the defination of player is that they want no game responsibility and no game work. They just want to sit back, relax and play the game...as a player.




    Again, nice idea....but it really does not work. Human nature needs leaders: this is why leaders exist. With any complex social activity that has some type of goal: you need a leader.



    This follows the leader idea of basic human nature: people need leaders.



    The players are...or at least should be...a team. RPGs are a social group activity. The Players don't Oppose the GM, the players Oppose the Game World, or more accuretly the Adventure.


    The GM is not special in the sense they are superior to a player, but they are special.
    nah this is all wrong

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    The point is about sharing some of the responsibilities other styles traditionally all pin on the GM. That has not to be the worldbuilding, but might well be.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Division of Responsibility: This part came in some debate where someone said something like "but the GM has already put in so much more work". They may have been right but at the same time I don't want to do that much work to run a game. I would rather everyone split up that work. Like agree on the structure, the PCs come with the bits of setting and the GM glues that together. Doesn't have to work exactly like that but that would be one way to do it. We are all here to play and have fun, why should one person have to do so much more work?
    So… what responsibilities are covered under this heading?

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    I think my best version of this that I experienced was when I Co-DM'ed. Another DM and we both wanted to be players, but the group needed a DM. So I crafted the world and the factions etc. I became the main DM and led the group on a story that was a large campaign across the world. The other DM told a "fighters guild" style story, something much smaller that players could pick up a mission in any town and level up in this specific faction as a side quest to help them with gold, weapons, resources etc. In the main story.

    Every week I'd reach out and ask "do you have a mission you're passionate about?" If he did then it was time for a side mission, and my player character would come to the party with a mission, while his player character would always say he needed to scout ahead in the main mission.

    A simple solution for a simple problem and we both enjoyed this arrangement.
    Last edited by Drache64; 2019-09-14 at 08:36 AM.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    To Quertus: Depends on the group really. In the games I run its some setting but mostly plot-direction ideas. So the last campaign I ran we created the high level description of the setting together then the characters were created by their players. After I had their motivations and knew the kinds of things they would be looking for in the setting.

    But that's just how I did it. The idea of "The GM is a Player" is a part of my philosophy, or put a different way it is a background idea. Its effects how I run the game but it doesn't have to lead to any particular action. In a different group, say one that really gets into the tactical combat maybe the GM isn't the one who designs the combat encounters.

    To Drache64: That sounds kind of fun. Actually I hadn't even thought about rotating/Co-GM applications of this so I am happy that people brought it up.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    It is not the GM's job to oppose or obstruct the players.

    It is the job of the GM's job to provide opposition and obstructions to the PCs.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    It is not the GM's job to oppose or obstruct the players.

    It is the job of the GM's job to provide opposition and obstructions to the PCs.
    Very nicely said. This is going into my Rules for DMs (properly attributed to Max Killjoy, of course).

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Very nicely said. This is going into my Rules for DMs (properly attributed to Max Killjoy, of course).
    It already was, though phrased differently.
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    It already was, though phrased differently.
    On vacation and posting from phone. Sorry if I stole anyone's thunder.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    I completely agree that the GM is a player, but there are people that would argue that the GM has to keep the story going in certain ways, therefore GMs would be allowed to fudge rolls or other things that would be cheating for a player to do. GMs would be allowed to do this, since they aren't players.

    Now, I deeply disagree with this view, but is a view that exists.
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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    To Quertus: Depends on the group really. In the games I run its some setting but mostly plot-direction ideas. So the last campaign I ran we created the high level description of the setting together then the characters were created by their players. After I had their motivations and knew the kinds of things they would be looking for in the setting.
    I suppose "plot direction" could still involve rails, and thus is technically separate from the sandboxy bit in the other subsection.

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    Default Re: The GM is a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Well, yes, *sharing* world-building is opposed to Discovery. But even *distributed* world-building can be detrimental.
    Yeah, I want thought-through world-building that shows vision. That's… rarely created in committee. And being on the committee kinda spoils my fun.

    If every player came up with content in a vacuum, and some 3rd party made sure any points of integration were dealt with, maybe it could work? Or, a GM with 2 groups, who make content for each other?
    Discovery is not always important.

    But even if it was important and there was a vision, the place to discover is usually not the whole world. You could still share worldbuilding.


    One of my current groups is literally on a discovery voyage. A huge continent beyond the horizon and no player knows what is there. There was one former expedition but that didn't do much more than take water and some food and make repairs.
    At the same time the players got a lot of leeway and duties for worldbuilding in their homebase. Where they come from is important for who the players are, so why not let the players do it ? Requirement was that the PCs are rich/important enough to actually finance such an undertaking or have powerful sponsors, know each other and are somewhat competent and have things they are searching for in that new land. Politics, allies, rivals, religious affinities, all of that was also nice. It was also hinted that there would likely be other expeditions which may or may not become rivals later. If they end roughly in the same place.



    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So… what responsibilities are covered under this heading?
    The first part of that quote does talk about sharing responsibitlities and because the workload of the GM is pretty big otherwise. Then it gives shared worldbuilding as one example how to do that in only one short sentence. Immediatly after that it again affirms that there other ways to distribute the work.

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