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Author Topic: Help With A Reply  (Read 5333 times)
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« on: July 24, 2001, 03:24:00 PM »

Hello,

This is a bit of a personal matter and I'm not sure how "apropriate" bringing this to the public forum is but I'm affraid I'm at a bit of a loss.  I'm not even sure if this is the right forum but since it deals with an actual conflict between two gamers I figured it might go in the "down to earth" form, so to speak.

As I mentioned in a post elsewhere my own GMing style has been slipping more and more towords Narrativism.  As expected my dyed-in-the-wool Gamist has caught on to the trend.  When I tried to communicate and explain what I'm doing he got very "angry".  I put angry in quotes because he has a very funny way of becoming this extrodinarly detached angry.

Anyway, the name calling has begun.  He says that I'm a bad GM because I'm ignoring the desires of ALL the players to selfishly pursue my own agenda and the few players who agree with it.  He's calling me exclusive, arrogant and self-righteous.  Even, though I have not been.

This all began with a discussion of how d20 is not the be all end all of games.  He claims that games with narrativistic goals exclude everyone but narrativists and that d20 is capable of satisfying all of the people all of the time.

Here is relevant snipit of our conversation:

--------------------------------------------
Me:

> And again I bring up the point that
> player's don't. Latching on to father
> figures is an emotional decision that I
> just don't see player's making.  It
> ruins my suspension of disbelief because I > know that people DO have passions.

Him:

Jesse, as a DM your suspension of disbelief is totally unimportant.  What's important is the *player's* suspension of disbelief.  
Period.  If a player doesn't want to go around latching on to father figures, fine.
If he does, fine.  In my game there are all different kinds of players, players who have intricate backstories and see those elements addressed in my game and also players who don't give a crap about backstory (theirs or
anyone else's) and are more concerned with what's going on the game, in the here and now.  These are all fine, 'equal', and worthy of being addressed. The more different the styles of play the more dynamic your campaign will be and the more challenging it will be to set up, which, in my opinion, is where the 'fun' of DMing comes from.  The challenge of creating something for everybody.

Me:

> I'm a player too.  And if you can
> appreciate the GM meeting the needs of the > players can you appreciate the players
> meeting the needs of the GM, to any
> degree?

Him:

To *no* degree, which is why is takes a certain breed of gamer to be a good DM.  It's a hard and thankless job whose only reward is the look of satisfaction on player's faces after a job well done, the
look of fear when you call for an unheralded saving throw, the friend who tells you something he saw reminded him of an NPC from your game.  But in-game, a player really owes nothing to the 'DM's needs' besides the
agreement to accurately reference the data on his record sheet and to roleplay to the best of his ability.  Anything else comes
from the DM who should not expect anything from the players but the unexpected.

--------------------------------------------

I'm not quite sure what to say to this.  And perhaps there's nothing I CAN say to this.  Perhaps, I'm just posting this as a venting rant because it makes me angry.  If that's the case feel free to ignore it.

But if you think there's a useful and constructive answer to this please tell me what it is?

Thank you for your time.

Jesse
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joshua neff
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« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2001, 03:39:00 PM »

Jesse--

Wow. It seems pretty clear to me that you guys should not be gaming together. That's really all I get from that. If he's angry about the way you want to be a GM (& I completely disagree with his statement that players owe the GM nothing--& I can only imagine Jared's response to him), then forget about it. Cut your losses. Can you GM for the rest of the group? If so, I'd say do it--stop inviting him, or tell him that your in no way willing to GM any way except your own way & let him split. If this is a matter of leaving without a group--well, find another group (I always seem to have a hard time finding a good group of people to game with, me being very picky & all, but others claim it's easy as pie).
Personally, I think he's being pretty unreasonable, but that's not important. What's important is that you guys have very different ideas of what a GM does, & it doesn't seem likely at all that the two views can be reconciled.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Zak Arntson
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« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2001, 04:11:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-07-24 19:24, jburneko wrote:
Me:

> I'm a player too.  And if you can
> appreciate the GM meeting the needs of the > players can you appreciate the players
> meeting the needs of the GM, to any
> degree?

Him:

To *no* degree, which is why is takes a certain breed of gamer to be a good DM.  ...


There's your big problem right there.  Your player has a different idea of good DM than you do.  Personally, if I were DMing and a player told me that it was my sole responsibility to provide fun for my players' at my own expense, I'd switch groups, or have a heated argument with that person.  In my gaming experience, both as a player and DM, part of the job is to keep everyone entertained on on the same field.  We all work together, sometimes discussing things out of character to ensure everyone is having fun.  This is what I like, and it works for me.

I wouldn't advise using my comments as ammunition, since it sounds like he's made up his mind.  You may want to point out, though, that it's awfully righteous to proclaim one single method of DMing as universally good.  Good for him, and probably many other players.  But not good for you, or else you wouldn't have posted here.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2001, 04:40:00 PM »

Ever try to talk with someone going through a messy divorce?

Let me give you an example. "A" has all the photos from ten-plus years of marriage. "B" wants them, or some of them. They spend hours negotiating how to divide them up. Hours of tremble-voiced debate, punctuated by shouting about who really parented the kid, or who really organized a particular vacation. If neither wants a particular picture, does it "count" in terms of the exactly equal number of pictures each expects to end up with.

This is a true example and I am not trying to be funny. Imagine being the kid in the next room.

A calls me up and rants about how unreasonable B is, explaining how A suggested the old "I divide, you choose" method and that B responded with insults, and, and, and.

"A," I said. "You're raving. Take'em to the photo place and get a ton of copies. It's easy, cheap, and no one loses."

But A's priority was to impress upon me how bad B had been, and how angry A was about being treated like that when A's suggestion was so reasonable.

Now that everyone's thoroughly depressed, I should make my point: what is the purpose of this conversation Jesse and the other fellow are having? It seems clear that they won't be role-playing together (no loss, I suppose; they both have groups). It also seems clear that something more judgmental and last-word-oriented is at stake - for example, the accusation that Jesse is a "bad DM." Harsh words, in gaming circles - tantamount to calling someone a useless wimp in martial arts, or a stupid hack in science, or a rotten lover.

I don't think Jesse is being like A or B in the exchange, even though I am not privy to the exchange itself. I've mixed it up with Jesse enough times to know that he really cares about people, role-playing, and treating ideas fairly. But the other fellow is definitely in that mode and is using words as weapons, trying to generate as much hurt as possible under the guise of debate.

I agree that the issue of player-to-GM and GM-to-player is interesting, although my answer is abominably simple - I consider everyone at the table to be a live human person, and as such we all share social and enjoyment responsibilities to one another, both at the courtesy and at the aesthetic levels.

Would such a point matter to the person flinging insults at Jesse? Probably not. It is presumptuous to offer advice, but here it is: Jesse, practice self-defense. Don't be where this guy is shooting.

Best,
Ron
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Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2001, 04:41:00 PM »

I'm going to hijack this thread a little to illustrate some things I was hoping to get across over on the RPG Theory forum but are extremely relevant to your problem.  I'll try not to take it too far off and hopefully any replies not involving your personal problem will go to the proper forum.

Quote

On 2001-07-24 19:24, jburneko wrote:
...He claims that games with narrativistic goals exclude everyone but narrativists and that d20 is capable of satisfying all of the people all of the time.


Well be happy to provide you will a signed petition that such is not the case.  I wonder if he really did say "all the people all of the time" or if you're just still hot after your last altercation.  If he did he's being hypocritical complaining about games that serve only the narrativist goal while dimissing the narrativists with such a broad statement, a commercial even, for d20.

Quote

Jesse, as a DM your suspension of disbelief is totally unimportant.


Mein Gott!  In other words, it doesn't matter if you have a good time, so long as I (we?) do.


Quote

The more different the styles of play the more dynamic your campaign will be and the more challenging it will be to set up, which, in my opinion, is where the 'fun' of DMing comes from.  The challenge of creating something for everybody.


Isn't it impossible to please everybody?
I thought so.

Quote

But in-game, a player really owes nothing to the 'DM's needs' besides the agreement to accurately reference the data on his record sheet and to roleplay to the best of his ability.  Anything else comes from the DM who should not expect anything from the players but the unexpected.


OK, here comes the rant.

There's this thing called "finding a decent GM" which is quest of sorts in the hobby to find someone willing and able to run a game.

"Decent GM's" are few and far between.  Post a notice in your local comic shop for a RPG game and you'll get enough responses to have a decent sized group.  Post that you're looking for a GM and you'll be lucky to get one response.

The kind of GM you're friend is talking about is indeed a rare breed.  The sort who enjoys being that much in control of the situation or derives that much enjoyment from being in control.

This is sort of what I was driving at with my "This fifth business" thread.  GM's of any breed is rare.  SO the idea of a GM-less game is something I find appealing.  It would also short circuit such problems as you're having (not that there'd be no problems of this kind but it would be about "you're the GM, you don't matter" either)

Quote

I'm not quite sure what to say to this.  And perhaps there's nothing I CAN say to this.  Perhaps, I'm just posting this as a venting rant because it makes me angry.  If that's the case feel free to ignore it.

But if you think there's a useful and constructive answer to this please tell me what it is?


Jeez.  Shades of stupid player tricks.

Here's my advice, such as it is.

Point out to him that he's basically saying that you don't matter.  That he's being actually rather selfish in that he only cares if he has fun not if you do.

Well, don't phrase it like that.  If you put it to him in a accusatory tone like that, you'll just put him on the defensive and get nowhere.

Phrase it like you feel unapprciated.  Point out some of the things he said, not him the things he said and how they make you feel.

If he says, "Then quit."  do so.

If not, wait a week and if he doesn't give you even a reason to hope for some sort of agreement, then quit.

edited:
Christ, Ron!  Wonderful story.  I think I'll but my head in the oven.  Bloody electric.

OK, new plan.  End it.  Now.
You and this guy will not be gaming together at this time.  Better to end it now, quick & painful, than to drag it out.

End it with a few words as possible.  If you need any, use Ron's.  The part about how everyone has responsibility to everyone else's enjoyment or what-not and how you do not wish to play in a situation anymore where this was not true.

[ This Message was edited by: pblock on 2001-07-24 20:58 ]
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Supplanter
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2001, 05:50:00 PM »

Ron's right. This is irreconcilable and the emotionalism can't do either of you any good. Way way back there one might find a problem seed in your early statement:

Quote
As I mentioned in a post elsewhere my own GMing style has been slipping more and more towords Narrativism.


The "slipping" may be as much the problem as anything - the group may not have deliberately revisited with you whatever explicit or implicit contract the game began with. If you're running the same campaign but changing the style of it midstream, he may feel betrayed on that basis.

But, let me be clear, feeling so disproportionately. And his ideas about "DMs" are just odd. "The DM's suspension of disbelief doesn't matter?" Suggest that he explain this to these few dozen people over on rgfa... :wink:

And as one of my AW2 players wrote during a touchy patch, "The most important thing of all is that the GM have fun." It may indeed be better for certain styles of games if the GM's fun consist in some expectations and not others, but the bottom line is, if you ain't that guy, you ain't that guy. Running a soul-draining game is far worse than not gaming at all.

Best,


Jim
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james_west
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« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2001, 06:32:00 PM »

As an addendum:

There exist several people whose company I quite enjoy in every other social endeavor, with whom I absolutely will not play role-playing games.

I still socially interact with them. We just don't play role-playing games together. It works very well. (It gets easier, actually, when they leave the state ...)

         - James
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gentrification
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2001, 06:16:00 AM »

I wouldn't reply to him at all. Or at most, reply to simply say, "I guess we disagree on that," and just drop it. He's moved well beyond mere disagreement on GMing styles, and is essentially telling you that you're a rotten person because of how you like to play games. He almost certainly has issues with you that run well beyond the gaming table.

Your preferences in gaming are changing. You can't please everyone. Locate the people in your group who are amenable to the style of game you want to run, and run games with them. You do not owe a good game to anyone you don't want to run a game for in the first place.

-Mike.
http://edromia.com">edromia.com
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Michael Gentry
Enantiodromia
Damocles
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Posts: 43


« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2001, 06:26:00 AM »

Regarding the appropriateness, I take it you are quoting personal e-mails there? If so, that is usually considered bad form. More importantly, in my experience sensitive discussions do not lend themselves to e-mail very well. It's much easier to misunderstand stuff and bad blood is much more likely to follow. I've had fairly long and utterly pointless exchanges with people that way which then get resolved in about ten minutes in direct conversations.
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Epoch
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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2001, 12:34:00 PM »

Minor point:

While I disagree with almost everything else your friend has said, I think there's a kernal of truth in this:

"He says that I'm a bad GM because I'm ignoring the desires of ALL the players to selfishly pursue my own agenda and the few players who agree with it. He's calling me exclusive, arrogant and self-righteous. Even, though I have not been."

Now, a "bad GM"?  Perhaps not.  "Selfishly" pursuing your own agenda?  Possibly, but not to the extent that he advocates selfishness in players.  "Exclusive, arrogant, and self-righteous"?  Well...  Maybe.

Hard-core narrativism is pretty exclusive, I've found.  It's very, very, very different from what most roleplaying gamers have experience with, and it's a style of play that not everyone is ever going to be comfortable with (I wouldn't play an extended campaign in the style that I've heard communicated from many of the posters here).

Are you being arrogant about it?  I have no idea, as I don't know you.  But a lot of people who switch to a gaming style which suits them do become somewhat arrogant about it, and a lot of the ones who don't have difficulty explaining themselves without seeming arrogant.

Self-righteous?  See "arrogant."

Now, let me emphasize that I don't know if you, Jesse Burneko, have any of these problems.  For all I know, you may be the soul of humility and gentleness about this.  I'm not even trying to imply that that's a possibility, but a remote one -- I just honestly don't know you or how you communicate with your group.

But, I gather that you've been gaming with these people for some time.  I seem to recall, from some posts of yours back on RPG.net, that you claimed that your players were very happy with your games.  So, now you're switching to a style of play which a few of your players like and more are uncomfortable with, right?  It shouldn't be surprising that some of your players are dismayed that a GM who previously had games that they were very happy with, now has games they dislike.

To be clear:  I'm not agreeing with your friend that you should (or that any GM should) sacrifice yourself on the altar of your players' happiness.  Roleplaying should be fun before all else, and if what makes it fun for you is Narrativism, then you should pursue that.

Anyhow, maybe something to chew on.
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Peter
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2001, 04:40:00 AM »

Wierd. I totally agree with the player, (sorry Jesse) if I read the quotes right.  

In fact, I'm starting to think I actually wrote it!

Ok, I didn't, but read it again, will you? All he is saying is that it's a GMs job to facilitate the game for everyone- not everyone is interested in experimenting with exclusive narrativism on an extended basis, in fact, hardly anyone is. His philosophy on where a GM's responsibilities seperate from a players responsibilities may not be pleasant to your ears but it is a proven and reliable philosophy. He speaks like a very sensible GM. Indulge me for a second of wild conjecture: I bet just based on what he's saying, that this is the guy that's only ever been a gamemaster, and rarely plays.

However, this also might have something to do with it. I'm the same way: and I know from experience that when I do end up playing, there are usually two things going on in my mind:

1) I would GM this part better.
2) That part is pretty good. I am going to steal that bit.

It's ruthless, I know. I spent the better part of my college days observing at least as many games as playing them, just to see how other people did things. I recommend this to anyone who wants to become a better GM.

So anyhow. Like Brian says above, your'e really just going to have to say "I'm doing it my way" and drive on.

One question: are you the regular GM of this group?

Peter Seckler
Doc Fortune


[ This Message was edited by: Peter on 2001-07-26 08:41 ]
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Peter Seckler
Campaign starting in Columbia, MD, email pjseckler@aol.com for details.
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2001, 12:00:00 PM »

Hello,

I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time to reply to this thread.  In hindsight it was probably pretty foolish of me to post this in the first place but I was rather emotional at the time.

Again, I apreciate the feedback.  Thank you.

Jesse
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Knight
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Posts: 47


« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2001, 12:37:00 PM »

It's an uncomfortable situation to be in, but I'll do my best: Your player has a perfectly valid style.  It's one that I'm fairly close to myself.  The GM is the host, in a way, and whilst they should be having fun, they should not hesitate to sacrifice their personal enjoyment if it comes into conflict with that of their players.  Their personal enjoyment should be inexorably linked to that of their players.

Really, I don't know anything about your situation, but GMing is based on trust, and after a disagreement such as that perhaps it would be best if the player in question dropped out of the game.  
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Ian O'Rourke
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« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2001, 04:33:00 PM »

The specifics of the situation (and its depth) can probably not be gleaned from the snippets of conversation you've provided, as a result I find myself sort of agreeing with everyone who's posted (even with Brian who has totally apposed views to me on gaming).

But my comment would be this. Unless your young and in college or something, we have very little time to game, and the time we do find is the result of hard effort on everyone's part to dedicate that time (both the sessions and out of game discussions) to make that work. It should see dedication from the GM and the players.

If anything gets in the way of that, and makes the process difficult or uncomfortable then get rid of it. This is especially true if the guy is not your friend and just games with you. Obviously if he's a friend beyond gaming it gets more difficult, but I'd be pretty dubious of any friendship that did not survive a difference over GM'ing style.

But Brian's right, really look at what you are trying to do and achieve (and if it has to be done in this campaign, assuming you have switched styles halfway through) and if you're sure - go for it.

Life is too complicated without having gaming give you hassles.

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Ian O'Rourke
www.fandomlife.net
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