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Author Topic: What are the GMs responsibilities?  (Read 3859 times)
fruitbatinshades
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Posts: 45


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« on: May 24, 2004, 12:39:04 AM »

When discussusing our system, we keep coming back to the same point.  
Quote
How do you ensure everyone is playing the same game?

Quote from: Zak Arnston
When you're going to reward "thinking of the story", you're going to have to make sure all the participants (GM & players) are in agreement about what the story is. If one player sees one story, PCs collect the four orbs of each element from their guardian elemental spirits, and one player sees a different story, is it worth killing the neutral guardian elemental spirits for their orbs? Well, you have the potential for unhealthy friction between players. How are you going to make sure that players remain happy with play?

In my eyes this is down to players, playing well together, and the GM interpreting the gaming environment and the players actions.  I'm interested to find out what everyone thinks is the GMs reponsibilities in a game. My ideas are below.
    Interpret the world/environment and make the players feel like they're there
    Create/run adventures, plots, storylines
    Provide drinks and munchies
    Play NPC's
    React to and interpret(in a game context) the players actions.[/list:u]
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Matt Machell
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2004, 02:28:26 AM »

Quote
In my eyes this is down to players, playing well together, and the GM interpreting the gaming environment and the players actions.


The first thing to realise is that "playing well" for you, is not necessarily "playing well" for other people. Unless you state what good play is for your game in the rulebook, people won't know. Define it, as you're starting too with those bullets on what the GM does and you'll have a much more solid design.

Take your items: "Create/run adventures, plots, storylines" and "Create/run adventures, plots, storylines", something like Inspectres doesn't give all responsibility for these to the GM. There are shades of distribution of power.

-Matt
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2004, 06:33:03 AM »

Hello,

One point that I've raised in my essays is that the concept of "the GM" is actually quite misleading, when applied from group to group or from game to game.

I've listed a lot of what I'm calling "GMing tasks," which are pretty extensive ... and the point is that different groups and different games distribute these tasks differently. So two groups which are role-playing, each one with a designated GM, might be absolutely shocked at what the other is actually doing.

In one group, maybe the GM has the final authority over dice-roll outcomes regardless of what the dice say, but everyone in the game (GM included) is expected to abide by every bit of setting text in the rulebook. Whereas in the other group, maybe the GM is only "one among many" when it comes to narrating outcomes of dice-rolls, but is considered responsible for choosing, altering, and explaining the setting, and the game text is considered only to be a source of inspiration.

Those are just two little piddly variables; I think there are at least ten to consider seriously. Check out the Glossary in the Articles section if you'd like to learn more about this viewpoint.

So the answer to the question is, "there is no the GM, not as a generalized concept." There are distinctive GMing-tasks, and who performs them (one always, different people at different times, or everyone at all times, or whateve) is highly distinctive per group and per game.

Best,
Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2004, 05:54:02 PM »

I'm going to say something similar, but in my own words to give another angle on the same idea.

Basically think of everyone who comes to the table as being a GM, or if you want to be precise, of being GM capable. I mean, to varying degree's they are all capable of running something, right?

Now what happens is for various reasons they might give up their GM'ing powers to another individual at the table. That individual isn't so much a GM above the rest, he's still equal to the rest. It's just that he's been granted by the others a number of powers.

The reason I'm stating it this way is to get around the idea of 'The GM has X powers' and instead what powers he has are granted by other participants. He doesn't get anything by being THE GM. What he has is what he's given and granted by the others.

This easily accounts for fluctuations in various groups, as its primarily the players beliefs on what power should be delegated to the GM.

On a long side note, about players being expected to play well together; why? Some people have bad habits in life, but avoid doing them for fear of being punched in the nose. When it comes to acting out these bad habits in game though, a RL punch in the nose is highly unlikely and an in game punch in the nose affects the character, not the player. The player can easily distance himself from it, while engaging with his character during bad habits. And I'm not just talking about cat piss guys bad habits, I'm talking about normal people with bad habits, which can even include just banging on about things in game without being the least bit interesting.

Even if other players can do something about it, its expecting them to police their fellow players, while the system does nothing to try and assist such policing or give direction to that policing. Which means someone tries to police the others, the others get their back up because how do they know how it should go they're just an equal, not a higher up (very true), so they try and police back. Basically its the problem of having equals expected to police each other, when to do so requires claiming a rank higher than the other 'equal' to do so. And if you are equal, how can one person be better fit to judge what was a bad thing to do than the other equal who did it? If he thinks its okay, why does another 'equal's opinion matter more than his?
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Doctor Xero
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Posts: 433


« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2004, 11:10:07 PM »

Quote from: Noon
Basically its the problem of having equals expected to police each other, when to do so requires claiming a rank higher than the other 'equal' to do so. And if you are equal, how can one person be better fit to judge what was a bad thing to do than the other equal who did it? If he thinks its okay, why does another 'equal's opinion matter more than his?

This is one of the arguments made in some gaming groups against game-master-less gaming systems.  Even when most of the other game master tasks are divided among / delegated to the various players, the task of refereeing and policing the group -- and the authority to do just that -- remains with the group member who has been elected to or conscripted into being the game master.

In my various gaming communities, at  numerous conventions, and at chance meetings among gamers, I've listened in on various gamers who know each other, and one of the topics frequently brought up is the quality of their common game masters.  A major issue seems to be how much they trust a particular game master to make the right calls when refereeing the game and policing the playing group.  I've noticed that this issue comes up more frequently than creativity in scenario construction and NPC depictions : mildly creative game masters who are trustworthy, reliable, and authoritative (not authoritarian but authoritative!) tend to be preferred over wildly creative game masters who are untrustworthy and weak.

There are exceptions to the above, of course, but I've found that this sort of phenomenon occurs frequently in other social situations, so it does not surprise me that it occurs in gaming groups as well.

Doctor Xero
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"The human brain is the most public organ on the face of the earth....virtually all the business is the direct result of thinking that has already occurred in other minds.  We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind..." --Lewis Thomas
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