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Author Topic: How to deal with GM-players?  (Read 9442 times)
ChefKyle
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2004, 03:40:46 PM »

Quote from: Lisa Padol

So, about reading -- it depends. It's not always a rude thing. YMMV.


Well, the person can stand on their head and sing arias for all I care, so long as they're still following what's happening in the game. But this guy wasn't. I'd explained the rules for Risus, which three hours into the game, he still didn't get. Why? Because he didn't hear me, was reading his book... So I explained again, he looked down at his character sheet, "Hmm, yeah, okay..." I felt like doing that dad thing, *slap!* "Hey, boy! Look at me when I'm talking to you!"
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Cheers,
Kyle
Goshu Otaku
d4-d4
Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2004, 06:37:35 PM »

Quote from: clehrich
If, on the other hand, you're not in the game at the moment because your character doesn't have the spotlight, and you don't feel like making the effort to help out -- now or later -- with that guy's story-thread, then you're being really selfish by ensuring that you can't help because you're not paying any attention.


It depends. Maybe it's not that you don't feel like helping, but that the style of the game doesn't encourage it. Or you don't know how. And if no one takes the time to actively help, you're a little lost.

Or maybe you can't figure out what kind of input to give in a particular case. And you don't have the spotlight -- well, let's not go that far. Your PC is not in the scene. The GM is not cutting back and forth. You haven't the faintest idea how to help out. Maybe the GM's doing intense 1-on-1 play with another player, and they're both really into it. You're not. You're bored.

Minutes pass. You can't think of anything to contribute, in or out of character. More minutes pass. Say, 15-20 minutes. Not sure why, but that seems like the magical number. By now, reading strikes me as a perfectly valid option. As does telling the GM, "Er, I'm bored. Can you give me some idea of what I should be doing?"

Thing is, not all games run that way, and those that do don't necessarily run that way all the time. Maybe yours do run that way, in which case, I very much doubt I'd be bored, regardless of whether my PC is on stage or not.

Quote
One way this happens is to stick to the old "my guy wouldn't know that" perspective.  What's happening to Steve's character right now isn't something my guy would know, so I'm going to tune out and not pay attention.  But suppose I do pay attention, and then when I'm back on stage I allude, indirectly and thematically, to what happened with Steve?  Isn't that going to help bind things together and build a better story?  But I can't do that if I'm not paying attention.


If that's fun for you, great! If paying attention has that kind of payoff, excellent! But I have had to remind myself several times that my players are not showing up to Perform a Serious Task. They're not here to perform for me. They want to have fun, kick back, relax. They're adults spending precious leisure time, not kids doing a homework assignment.

Sure, social chit chat can get to me. Reading can, but less than doing something with a laptop -- reading strikes me as more interruptable.

And sleeping, well, that one doesn't bug me. You ever have a player fall asleep at your session? Quite possibly not. I've had, and I've done it. Saturday morning after a late Friday night for working adults. Matt and I have an open agreement that he can fall asleep at my games, and I can fall asleep at his. He does have the perfectly reasonable corollary that I don't get experience points for sessions where all I do is snooze. We make our best effort not to do so. But it happens sometimes.

I try my dangdest to stay awake at convention games. I've flown a couple hundred miles and paid good money, so I do want to be awake. It doesn't always work. But I digress. A lot -- sorry about that.

Quote
In my experience, when players are reading a book or watching TV, one of three things is happening (or more):
1. The player is selfish and destructive
2. The game is unreasonably limited in play-opportunities
3. The player simply doesn't care about the game

Sounds like, in Kyle's case, these guys fit 1 and 3, and were used to their game being 2 so they treated it that way.


I think #2 needs to be expanded -- or you need a #4 in there somewhere. Something on the order of "It's not the kind of game where it's a big problem."

-Lisa
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Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2004, 06:40:46 PM »

Quote from: ChefKyle
Well, the person can stand on their head and sing arias for all I care, so long as they're still following what's happening in the game. But this guy wasn't. I'd explained the rules for Risus, which three hours into the game, he still didn't get. Why? Because he didn't hear me, was reading his book... So I explained again, he looked down at his character sheet, "Hmm, yeah, okay..." I felt like doing that dad thing, *slap!* "Hey, boy! Look at me when I'm talking to you!"


Yes, this I understand. Been on the receiving end of that, albeit in a board game -- anyone ever play Arabian Nights? This is optomized for maximum participation. There's your turn. There's a set of charts and a book of text. Each of these should get passed around to be consulted by players whose turn it ain't.  Got to stay on my toes to keep up with that. But it's a fun game.

-Lisa
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clehrich
Member

Posts: 1557


WWW
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2004, 08:00:05 PM »

Lisa,

All of what you're describing is what I'd lump into #2.  All three of those are BIIIIG categories, covering a lot of ground.  

To expand slightly:
1.  If a player figures that every time something happens that isn't about him personally, he should make a big point of not paying attention and reading a book, that player should be out on his ass and not asked back.  And it really sounds like that's what happened with Kyle here.  This guy said, "Well, I'll play because Kyle wants to, but I don't give a shit about him or his game because it's not my thing, so I can't be bothered, and I'm going to make damn sure that everyone knows that their usual GM-leader person doesn't care so as to deep-six the game and 'prove me right' that games other than mine suck."  Goodbye.  If he's really your friend at other times, you might try bitching him out after the game, but frankly I think this guy's a writeoff.  If he really cannot bring himself to care about a friend's game at all, he shouldn't play in it.

2.  If the game is dysfunctional in such a way that players who would like to contribute helpfully are being shunted out of the loop for long stretches, then that sucks and reading is a fine option.  But so is saying "bugger this for a game of soldiers" and leaving.  I mean, if I come to a game all rarin' to go, I expect there to be some give-and-take so that everyone gets into the act.  If I'm going to spend a big chunk of time twiddling my thumbs, I don't see the point.  The type of GM who does this has the same problem, quite possibly, as Kyle's "friend": he figures that he's so cool and interesting that anything he's running is mesmerizing for everyone, and that they should automatically care and pay attention.  But he's not interesting in rewarding creative or contributing play; he just wants everyone to admire him.  I'll go admire my car interior on the road home, thanks very much.

3. A variant of #1, but less deliberately destructive.  This is really the casual player who doesn't want to contribute much, just wants to hang out with his friends.  So if someone else is having fun, he doesn't want to insert himself, but as soon as he gets bored he'll tune out.  That kind of behavior is curable: you just call him on it, and he'll be really ashamed.  He didn't mean to cause trouble, but just figured that he would stay well out of the spotlight so as not to hog.

Sorry to be so venomous about this, but what Kyle described at first seemed vaguely annoying, but now that he's given more detail it's something that really, really ticks me off.  I've seen more than one perfectly good campaign go down in flames because somebody decided to do #1 on it, as it were.

Incidentally, there is one very important exception to the "tuned-out players" thing, which is the quiet slipping-out when you're out of the spotlight to go pee.  The other options are worse.  <Welcome to my RPG, please get your catheter at the door>
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Chris Lehrich
Lisa Padol
Member

Posts: 365


« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2004, 08:08:56 PM »

Quote
Incidentally, there is one very important exception to the "tuned-out players" thing, which is the quiet slipping-out when you're out of the spotlight to go pee.  The other options are worse.  <Welcome to my RPG, please get your catheter at the door>


Yes, that's one thing I liked about the few d20 games I played. When combat starts, once I've taking my turn, I know I have -oodles- of time to run to the bathroom and back, even at GenCon, even if the bathroom is halfway around the convention center from where we're playing.

-Lisa
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jdagna
Member

Posts: 563


WWW
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2004, 08:24:23 PM »

Chris, I had a player who used to read books during play and exhibited what could only partly be described by your third option.  Basically, to him, gaming is about killing stuff.  If you're not killing stuff, it's just window dressing to glue the killing stuff parts together.  Since I had five other players who mostly disagreed with him, letting him read seemed the best option (since, otherwise, he generally interrupted negotiations by killing something).

Now, obviously he wasn't perfectly suited to the group.  But when it came to killing stuff, everyone got along perfectly well and had a good time.  He just didn't get into the rest and seemed happy to do other things in between, and managed to keep up on the plot even while reading.

It's also worth pointing out that many people can read and pay attention at the same time.  My finest moment in high school (I know, I lived a dull life) was in my physics class, sitting at the back of the room, reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking during lecture.  The class gets stuck while solving a problem, so the teacher calls on me, figuring he'll catch me unawares.  I, without hesitation, respond that the reason the class is stuck is that he made an error in the second line of the problem and then gave him the answer.  Boy, talk about people who need to get booted. :)  

Anyway, the GM-turned-player in this example is pretty clearly trying to be obnoxious.  I don't even think it's much of an issue that he was the usual GM as much as an issue of not wanting Kyle to succeed (for whatever reason, be it more system-based or person-based).
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
S'mon
Member

Posts: 126


« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2004, 12:23:28 AM »

Quote from: clehrich
Incidentally, there is one very important exception to the "tuned-out players" thing, which is the quiet slipping-out when you're out of the spotlight to go pee.  The other options are worse.  <Welcome to my RPG, please get your catheter at the door>


Players who slip out to pee just before their combat turn comes around are very annoying, though.  We all just sit their fidgeting until he comes back.
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Scripty
Member

Posts: 286


« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2004, 07:21:49 AM »

I've been on both ends of this issue several times with many different groups. As a GM, I try to cut between participants and groups as quickly as possible, leaving as many cliffhangers as possible so that I have something to cut back to. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn't, but I get just as fidgety as any player if a player in my game has been sitting for 10 minutes with nothing to do. I always keep a mental clock ticking in my head that basically dings whenever I've been focusing on one group of players or one player too long.

At times, this makes me appear insensitive to some players, especially those who wish to discuss the rules. I'm the anti-aircraft gun of GMs. I've had several players initiate rules debates only to be shot down by me saying: "No, that's not how it works. Look it up under the skills section, right under the BLAH heading. If that's not good enough, talk to me after the game."

But I've had to shuffle up to 11 players in the past, many of whom preferred working outside of the group.

On the GM side, I've had players snooze at the game, play video games, watch TV, read, draw, etc. On this list reading and drawing are the least disruptive. I don't mind them at all. I generally let snoozing players sleep for a while. I just skip over them. Generally, these are the players who've been up all night working or writing a paper or something. I can overlook that. But the players who've switched on their favorite show, or brought out the X-box. That's really annoying. I've actually had a player once who I had to describe everything to multiple times because he wasn't paying attention. That's really annoying. I've never had that problem with readers or sketchers. Others may have, but I haven't.

On the other end of the table, I've been both a reader and a sketcher at a game. But I don't break out a book whenever the GM isn't focused on me. Nope, I typically give the GM a good 15 minutes and THEN move on to something else. Reasons that I've read at the table in the past include:

1. The GM taking a half hour to draw and populate a dungeon map at the table while the players had to sit and wait.

2. The GM taking an hour and a half for a combat between one of his NPCs, a monster and another player. All other players had to either sit and watch or do something else.

3. The GM taking over 45 minutes to roll a combat between a monster and one of his NPCs.

4. The GM taking a half hour a combat turn to roll attack and damage rolls for every NPC combatant in a war (over 50 different combatants).

5. The GM rolling up NPCs at the table while players sat and waited.

6. The GM reading a module at the table while players sat and waited.

etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Sure, there are instances where I think reading at the table might be disruptive. Having to explain everything to a single player multiple times is a real pain. Having to put the game on hold while a player finishes a chapter is similarly disruptive.

But I've run into far more instances where I felt that pulling out a book was the best option in a given situation where a GM was either unprepared, poorly prepared, or just completely off his rocker. As a player, I can choose to either read, bitch or engage in idle, irrelevant chit-chat. I feel that quietly reading is far less intrusive than the other two options, which, IME, just tend to slow things down at the table.

P.S. I've also used reading at the table in the past to tune out events of which I wasn't supposed to be aware as a PC. There have been times when one group was plotting against another. I've read in order to take my attention away from things that aren't really my business in character. It's worked in the past, and has kept me from making decisions in game based on out of character knowledge. In that respect, reading was a courtesy.
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sirogit
Member

Posts: 503


« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2004, 01:57:07 AM »

I would like to pretty much retract everything I said about not getting how a person could be a GM-player after tonight.

In the middle of the game when I'm talking to another player, describing what someone says as "He greets you and they move to let you see the cardinal." This gm-player, who up to now has been a somewhat quiet, hard to make active individual,  says out of character "Everything should be spoken in-character... that's roleplaying."

And than I go into a brief discourse about how I set up at the beginning of the game I clearly set foward that people can choose to either use actor or author stance, and that other people refer to describe things in the third-person on many occasians, he goes in this long tirade boiling down "Sim is the only real roleplay, creating a story is impossible when not playing Sim."

I find this quite strange as I always made the game very clear that the game would focus on more collabartive story telling than immersion.

I try to get him to wait for another day to discuss it so we can continue the game, so he picks up a book and starts reading it. I decide to overlook that and try to get back into the game.

Anyway, after the game is over, the gmplayer walks up to me and starts talking to me about how the game isn't being very good, how it should be like how he DMs a game, about how we should all think in character, about how we should all sit around candlight, breaking the campus policy, and smoke weed before the game to get into character, and I should try to make "the fighters" get into more fights.  

So, I try to be polite as possible in saying "Well, looks like we have incompitable goals, so, you should really leave the game." he really doesn't get the message and says stuff like "it's only a game, don't worry about it. See you guys next week!" He really just didn't get it.

The only problem now is, now I only have two players, and I don't know anywhere else I could get more players, meaning after this game I'll be out of roleplaying for awhile.
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S'mon
Member

Posts: 126


« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2004, 02:25:25 AM »

Quote from: Scripty
Reasons that I've read at the table in the past include:

1. The GM taking a half hour to draw and populate a dungeon map at the table while the players had to sit and wait.

2. The GM taking an hour and a half for a combat between one of his NPCs, a monster and another player. All other players had to either sit and watch or do something else.

3. The GM taking over 45 minutes to roll a combat between a monster and one of his NPCs.

4. The GM taking a half hour a combat turn to roll attack and damage rolls for every NPC combatant in a war (over 50 different combatants).

5. The GM rolling up NPCs at the table while players sat and waited.

6. The GM reading a module at the table while players sat and waited.

etc. etc. ad infinitum.



*eek*  :-O

Yes, I accept that if the GM is not actually _running the game_, then players reading at the table is indeed acceptable.  :)

But all those sound like examples of atrocious GMing - I've been guilty of behaviour somewhat like 2 3 & 4, as a result of some bad judgement (D&D can do that to you), but 1 5 & 6 are cases where if I was a player I'd be furious that the GM not only hadn't bothered to prepare in advance, he couldn't even be bothered to 'wing it' entertainingly or, if he couldn't do that, say "Ok, that's all I have prepared - see you next week!".  I think a 5-minute preparation break for the GM half-way through a lengthy session might be acceptable; the players can chat, smoke, go to the toilet - but anything more, no way.
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Rich Forest
Member

Posts: 226


« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2004, 03:14:30 AM »

Quote from: ChefKyle
I'm aware of the solutions of "kick him out," and "punch him in the nose." Both of those I seriously considered, believe me. I prefer to work with a person where possible, though. So, suggestions along those lines would be appropriate.


Is this a group you've played with much before? I take it you'll be GMing for this group again. How much longer before you do? Risus is a simple system, so if the GMPlayer didn't get the rules three hours in (but is competent as a Hackmaster GM), then that seems to me like a good sign that he couldn't be bothered.

You might have to ask him whether he really wants to be a player at all. He might think he does... but does he really? You could also ask him what he expects from the game and from you as a GM--and here I'm not talking, "What do you expect so that I can do everything you want me to do." I'm talking, "What do you expect, so I can tell you what I expect/how I approach running a game, and maybe we can work out whether this will, in fact, work out."

I'm not saying be inflexible--obviously, you've expressed an interest in being flexible. But it's probably worthwhile to let him know what kinds of things you do and plan to do as GM, what you see as the role of the players or the "power split" (for lack of a better term at the moment) between players and GM.

I'm sure I've done some of these things unintentionally. The question is, how self-aware is this guy? How aware is he of his actions? If you ask him about his expectations and then lay out your own, you guys might find more specifically what caused the breakdown. Honestly, with some of those things, I have a hard time imagining that he doesn't realize what he's doing. If he's the GM, if he's running the game, you know, he'll have noticed when players zone out, draw, mess around, aren't involved, etc. So he should notice if he's doing it himself. You're giving him a lot of credit--maybe you're right, but maybe you're giving him too much credit.

The only way to really find out is to confront him about it.

Now whether you want to do this bluntly or subtly is going to come down to your personality. You know, if you explain the stuff you noticed and just tell him it was really disruptive for you, and ask whether he realized that, then you've got a start. And he might have some understanding of it--you might even be able to draw on that. "C'mon man, give me a break here--you've GMed, is there anything that really messes with your ability to GM well and have a good time? Is there anything players do that is really disruptive to you, or really breaks your concentration? Well some of this stuff you did, it really had that effect on me." And you know, hopefully he'll work with you. And if not, well, hopefully he'll understand that you don't want him to play the next time (though if he's the powerhouse of the social circle, he might be the deciding factor on whether you GM for this group at all.)

I think your idea about adding structure is a good one. But I don't know that it'll be enough without getting at least some of this out in the open. One possible approach is to focus on the behavior rather than the person. What I mean is, rather than saying something like, "You messed up the game by reading," you might say something like, "I noticed you were reading, and that really distracted me." This way it's the reading that's disruptive, and he's less likely to go on the defensive immediately. The last thing you want is to put him on the defensive right from the start, unless you're going for a "shock and awe" approach. I'd start with the broader questions about what he enjoyed, what he didn't, etc., and then move to the disruptive behavior. This means you have to go in ready to hear possible critiques without getting defensive yourself, but you have the benefit of preparation here. By letting him get his ideas out there first, (and maybe even saying something positive about his contribution, if there was anything), it makes the later criticisms a bit easier to swallow.

Hopefully some of this is useful,

Rich
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Green
Member

Posts: 247


« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2004, 03:20:19 AM »

Quote from: sirogit
So, I try to be polite as possible in saying "Well, looks like we have incompitable goals, so, you should really leave the game." he really doesn't get the message and says stuff like "it's only a game, don't worry about it. See you guys next week!" He really just didn't get it.

The only problem now is, now I only have two players, and I don't know anywhere else I could get more players, meaning after this game I'll be out of roleplaying for awhile.


As much as I am a proponent of exhausting civility before resorting to boorishness or even violence, in this case, a serious telling-to may very well be in order.  It's obvious he's trying to be obnoxious, then trying to cover it over with "it's only a game" as his excuse.  This is obviously not just a game issue, but one of common decency, and it should be treated as such.
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Scripty
Member

Posts: 286


« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2004, 04:51:04 AM »

Quote from: S'mon
Yes, I accept that if the GM is not actually _running the game_, then players reading at the table is indeed acceptable.  :)


Which was pretty much my point. It's hard to say flat-out that something like reading or drawing is, in itself, disruptive during play. In some instances it is. In some, it's not. Sort of like speeding. If you're driving 70 in a 55, that's one thing. Sure, it's speeding but compare it to the driver who's doing 70 in a School Zone. The two are related, but their context really differentiates them.

Yep, those were some atrocious GMs. Unfortunately, every once in a while they still wind up running at one of my friend's houses. I simply refuse to show up when they're GMing. It's not worth my time. Besides, I've had several instances where I went to drawing on a sheet of paper to keep from stabbing the GM in the head with the pencil.

Sure, some might consider my doodling disruptive or disrespectful but when compared to the head wound that some of these guys would've (and possibly should've) gotten, I think that the sketching was definitely the lesser of two evils.


Quote from: sirogit
So, I try to be polite as possible in saying "Well, looks like we have incompitable goals, so, you should really leave the game." he really doesn't get the message and says stuff like "it's only a game, don't worry about it. See you guys next week!" He really just didn't get it.

The only problem now is, now I only have two players, and I don't know anywhere else I could get more players, meaning after this game I'll be out of roleplaying for awhile.


Whoa. We are completely in the same boat. I had a near verbatim conversation with a GM-player who was trying to disrupt (in fact, takeover) a game I was running. The result was the same: I stopped playing for 3 months. Now, I won't even show up unless there's a better than 50% chance that I'll be running. Why do you ask?

Because the same guy who trashed my weekly game is the same guy who tries to run every game on the block (most often he runs 2, if not all 3 at the same time). He's also the same guy who has given me such reasons to read at the table as numbers 1, 2, and 3 above. Without him, I wouldn't have nearly as much experience reading at the game table and might've actually sided with the "it's rude, don't do it!" crowd.

At least he's expanded my horizons.

Have you considered online gaming, sirogit? It has its drawbacks, but it's still pretty fun. And it's a lot easier to find people who are interested in similar games. It's just hard to get them all to show up at the same time.

Scott
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ChefKyle
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2004, 09:17:43 PM »

Well, I have considered the wise advice of all of you, and concluded I need a new group:) That group is his little team, and I am the Brazen Invader.

I'm sure you've all seen, or been in, groups that become cliques. I think that's what this is.

Me, I'm always open to new games, new groups, new players. It's like - I had a girlfriend once, she told me that her practice was, if a guy had the courage to ask her out, she'd go on at least one date with him, just to honour his effort and courage in asking. I feel the same about roleplaying groups:)

Which is why I've met more than my fair share of freaks, but hey, you take the bad with the good.

It was all good advice you gave, but a person must weigh up the effort against the likely rewards, and decide if it's worth the effort. It's not. You all know of the Geek Social Fallacies, right? Well, one which isn't mentioned in that famous article is, "if I leave this group where I'm miserable, I will never find another group again." That's a fallacy which geeks are prone to. I cast it aside in contempt!
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Cheers,
Kyle
Goshu Otaku
d4-d4
tryscer
Guest
« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2004, 06:31:08 PM »

Ah, we game masters, we are creatures of ego.
     Since the dawn of societies, our kind of men were the ones to take all the responsibilities, the hardships, the challenges. We are the movers and the shakers. We are the boy who raises his hand when the teacher calls for a volunteer. The soldier who steps forward. The player who'd build the world and write the plot for the others. We do not do it without a price. Our tariff is our honor -- our beastly egoes need feeding to remain that big. And feeding must be constant.
     Yes, sometimes we take a break from managing the world or the roleplaying group. Revered men such as ourselves deserve a break. But holding our beasts down while we step down takes effort of the kind we're not used to. Sometines we need help.

The kind of crowd I'm in, it's hard not to run to a group assembled completely from on-a-break GMs, and a quiet, humble gathering of non-egomaniacs is a virtual impossibility. We all are men (and women) of incredible self-importance. We all know game mastering in and out, we all have our ways and our styles. And yet, some such groups play almost peacefully; some games run with such accordance between master and puppets --
     Oh, oh, I mean  players. Players. With such accordance, then, you can't even find in a one-ego gaming group. How so?
     Two words. Respect and discipline.

Discipline is easier. My friend Nir, he'll take anyone to an I'm-tougher-than-thou contest, and he'll win in three rounds. He takes bull from no man, king or demigod. When the big GMs come to play in his group and start bitching about the rules or the background or his method of description, he hurts them. He takes away their XP, he punishes their characters in play, he punishes them off-play. He won't give them his cookies or their characters their oxygen. There is no social contract he'd respect, if you are to question his authority. The result? You do not mess with Nir. People no woman or prison guard could handle sit in his game like award-show puppies and they show their respect.

Innate, non-fear-induced respect is harder to manage, but causes less collateral damage. Micheal, who is another big-egoed GM such as myself, and me, we agree on nothing. We argue about the position of commas in papers we co-autor. We have strong opinions about characters' names. Nothing happens with the both of us -- not a decision about which movie we're going to -- without a heated debate.
     But when I sit down to play at one of his games -- and vice versa -- there is nothing I would do to challange his mastery of the game, not even in the slightest bit. Micheal says we're playing this without watches? (A pet madness of his.) Fine. My watch is off. Micheal says we're not going into that scene? Scene's off. Micheal says I can't go to the bathroom right now? The hell with him, but that's pretty much all the freedom I allow myself. Why? Because, to us, that is the line we do not cross. This is our clause in the great social contract, and it bears similarity to that of that most important of Vampire traditions: Thy are Master of thy Domain. Although Michael and me did not need to discuss this rule -- it appeared on its own, as an unspoken understanding between two incredibly pompous egoes -- we found ourselves exlaining it to many others since. And so (partially) it came to be: there is this line in the sand you don't cross, and that line is another GM's authorship of his game. You may know better -- many times you would -- and you may have better direction to take the plot in -- many times you would. But if it's another man's game, you will give him the respect you expect from him in yours.

Neither option -- bullying or social-contracting -- is easy, as nothing concerning calming down egomaniacs is. But the point is exactly this: we GMs, sometimes we need others' help to calm our beasts. Sometimes it has to be tough love, and not all GMs like having to do that. I don't. When a moment like this comes, and a GMing player is heaving wreck upon your game and you have to pull your guns out or the game would crash, remember this: it may be tough, but it is love. It's for our own good, and we'll thank you afterwards.
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