*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 17, 2014, 11:32:27 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Help me like GMing, please.  (Read 6489 times)
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« on: November 27, 2011, 12:43:17 PM »

I just finished running a nine-month Dresden Files campaign.  It was an awesome one.  The big bad guy cleverly manipulated the elements from behind the scenes.  The characters grew and changed (one even transcended humanity and became an NPC).  The final episode ended in an awesome scene and the fates of all the characters are still unknown in the coolest possible way.  But I really didn't enjoy myself, most of the time.

I don't know exactly why, but I don't enjoy GMing.  I love the creation aspect of GMing: making NPCs, concocting "what's really going on", all that stuff.  But once I begin interacting with the other players, my heart just goes out of it.

Here's my hypothesis: I want the characters to be self-motivated, and they are not.  I want to set up a whole world that goes on around the characters and let them steer the game in whatever direction they want.  But unless I start the session with a mission from on high, the other players will just roleplay their characters hanging out at the local watering hole, or trying to open up a checking account.  I feel like I'm railroading them into THE STORY I HAD PLANNED ALL ALONG when I try to get them involved in anything.  That may be the way they want to play, but it's not the way I want to.

In addition, there are very few players in my group who are interested in the other characters.  People will pull out their phones/iPads/etc. whenever someone else has the spotlight.  My reaction is probably a bad one, I'll admit.  I just ignore the phone-playing players until they get back in the game, which probably makes the problem worse.  In general I just get frustrated in two game sessions out of three, and GMing the game just drained me.

So how do I fix it?  How do I learn to like GMing?  This DFRPG game was not my first GMing experience by far, but it was kind of the last straw.  I want to go back to just being a character's player so I can enjoy the game and exert my influence on it without feeling like a dick.  What do I need to do/change to enjoy my GMing experience?
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 01:20:15 PM »

Hi Josh,

It sounds to me like the main obstacle to this:

I want the characters to be self-motivated . . . I want to set up a whole world that goes on around the characters and let them steer the game in whatever direction they want.

is this:

But unless I start the session with a mission from on high, the other players will just roleplay their characters hanging out at the local watering hole, or trying to open up a checking account . . . In addition, there are very few players in my group who are interested in the other characters.

If I'm correct on that, then the solution is to create characters who all the players will care about and who will be motivated to do interesting things.

I've found two ways to achieve that:

1) play a super-focused game that tells you why you care and what you're motivated to do (I've never seen a text do this perfectly, but some can really help)

2) before character creation, discuss your goals for play together as a group (this takes some practice to get optimal results, but I've found that simply trying can go a long way)

Personally, I like to do #2 regardless of whether I'm also doing #1.

Are either of these feasible going forward for you and your group?

Ps,
-David
Logged

here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
Anders Gabrielsson
Member

Posts: 100


« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 01:23:48 PM »

My advice in any situation like this is to just talk to the other players. Get it out in the open.

This doesn't have to be confrontational, like you're dumping your misery all over them or anything like that. You can just tell them that before you start another game you want to talk about what was good and less good with this one, let everyone have their say and then tell them what was good and less good for you.

(As an aside, at any time when I have to give criticism and don't want to piss people off too much or I'm worried they'll get defensive I follow the advice I got from my mother the school teacher: start with something positive, take all the negative in the middle, then end with something positive. Don't sugarcoat anything, just package it nicely.)

In my experience, this is the only way to do it. You can't magically change your players into not doing stuff that drains you, and you can't magically change yourself into not getting drained by the way they play. What you can do is let them know that the way the game currently works isn't as fun for you as you'd like it to be.

Someone else who knows the terminology can probably ask for additional details on your game and help you figure out what creative agenda problems you're having which might help you in the discussion, but the key is to talk about it.
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 01:39:03 PM »

Hi Josh,

Now that is what the first post of a Forge thread looks like.

My response is going to be thoroughly predictable by anyone who's been reading here for a long time. Its simplicity is deceptive.

1. You need to play with different people. Ones who want the same kind of fun you're looking for, for real, no matter what they say.
2. You need to play using a different game. One which actually has a reward system instead of a bzz-bzz hamster wheel like FATE.
3. You need to become a different kind of role-player. One who ... well, see below

I suppose this is why a number of people babble about me "ruining groups." Well, up theirs, and let's move on.

Of the three points, #3 is probably the most opaque, or at least I think it's the one that can be broken out into many different facets.

I'll start by explaining what I'm not saying. I'm not saying, Well, you're not getting X, so you have to become a person who doesn't want X. That'd suck. I'm saying instead, since you're a person who wants X, then you need to learn how to stop playing Y, Y, Y, and more Y, even harder Y! Y! and begin the little steps of actually doing X.

Based on what you wrote, you've experienced some of X as a player rather than through GMing. I recommend you do some detailed, critical reflection on exactly what that was. What was the game system? Who was the group, and why and how did they come to play with one another, especially for a long time if that was the case? How exactly did that GM carry out his or her tasks as such? Or do you really know? Do you think that person had fun, or were they burning out the same way you are for the same reasons, or did something else happen? What happened right there in one single session which struck you then and strikes you now as the finest time you might have possibly had doing this "role-playing" thing? Was your enjoyment genuine or based more on what you hoped would happen or filled in to have happened through personal editing? And any other question which crops up along these lines.

I'm actually pretty serious about every one of those questions, as in, a full paragraph with solid descriptive empirical content for each one.

With all that under way, I'm going to take your thread title literally and focus, not on becoming a player with some kind of "right GM" who makes sure you have fun, but on learning to GM in a way which really floats your boat (that what I mean by "X" above). It may be premature, and again I think you should begin with all those questions, but for preview's sake, we should discuss here the difference between focusing on product and focusing on process. You talked all about awesome, awesome, and I think you were looking at product. The story. The thing. The fiction. The made-up stuff. It struck me instantly that you were somehow able to claim "it" was awesome but that "it" wasn't much fun. Which is impossible, until one understands that you are looking at the wrong "it." Never mind the fiction; it's the experience which needs to be awesome.

To quote Lois, my second-favorite character in Dykes to Watch For, or rather to quote a t-shirt she wore at one point, "I fuck to come, not to conceive." More on this later.

Best, Ron
Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 05:18:11 PM »

So let me expand a bit.

First, to David:
The irony is that all the players are big fans of all the characters.  The playing-on-phones doesn't happen every time, but enough to be noticeable.  I don't really know what to make of it, other than to attribute it to good, old-fashioned selfishness.

Your #1 point is true, but i think point #2 is more interesting.  Specifically because I've never before seen this group of players create such goal-oriented characters.  If any game (not system, but in the sense of campaign) was going to get these guys to play to their characters' ambitions, this was it.  And to a large extent, this is exactly what happened.  The characters did work toward their ambitions.  I just had to prod them a bit to get them off their asses.

I completely agree with both of your points.  The first was a little unavoidable (everyone wanted to play DFRPG), and I try to always, always do the second.  That's one of the reasons that I am confused about my experiences.  The group just seems to have a "wait for the man in the tavern to offer a quest" mindset.

Second, to Anders:
I concur!  Talking is always the best option in cases like this.  In fact, we all had quite a nice discussion about it.

I let them know that I was not enjoying the sessions that we played.  I let them know why: my GMing style was not gelling with their character-playing style.  We discussed the differences, and it was quite a good talk.  So I decided that I wanted to finish the campaign and asked them to push their characters actively toward their goals so we could get there.  The quality of my enjoyment improved A LOT for that last month or so, but I still feel like I need a long break.  (Which I'm not really doing.  More on that in a bit.)

Third, to Ron:
Ya got three points, so I'll give 'em back that way.

1: Different People
I know this one's true.  I haven't yet met the people who want to play the way I do anywhere but on the Interweb.  I'm sure there must be some practically on my doorstep, I just haven't found them.  Instead I am doing the old missionary trick, and nudging my friends farther and farther from D&D to get to the games I really want.  I know that it's rarely worth it to follow this model, but it seems to be working (though you might not know it based on the first post).  I'll get 'em in the end!

2: Different Game
Well, I sort of addressed this above, but without finding a new group, this will be hard.  Basically, the whole gang decided to play Dresden Files, and I wanted to run it.  If nothing else, DFRPG has helped my friends realize that there are better systems for games out there.  The guy who ran our 2-year D&D campaign said that FATE is now going to be his new default system for any game he's thinking about running.  I'd say that's some good progress, even though it's not all the way there.

I'm attempting to bribe another friend into running Apocalypse World (I gave him the book with that caveat), but it might be a while before that one sees play.  So hopefully we're working toward another game.

3: Different Player
Here's a new wrinkle.  This: "Based on what you wrote, you've experienced some of X as a player rather than through GMing," is not the case.  As far as I know, I have played no game that is really X at all.  4th Edition D&D, Shadowrun, Rules Cyclopedia D&D, those are the only GMed games I've experienced as a player, and while I had tons of fun in all three, none of them are the type of game I want to run.

I think that's my biggest obstacle.  I'm trying to create a new experience for my friends and I, while having never experienced it myself.  Now, we have played some more narrativist games (Fiasco, above all else) with great success, but they have all been GM-less.  And my problem begins to take shape.

With regard to process as opposed to product, I couldn't have said it better.  That was what I was trying to get across.  I love the product we created, and I even loved about 40% of the process.  But in general the process was draining for me.  Incidentallty, I'm curious on your thoughts on FATE.  Would you mind elaborating on the hamster wheel metaphor?

***

To go in another direction, I think that this is a big motivation for me in my game designs.  I have about five of them in various states at the moment, and they break down this way.  Four of them are GM-less, and one has a specific starting point/adventure hook (stolen straight from Poison'd) for the game, along with a TON of opportunities for players to take authorship.  I am making games that I can run and enjoy at the same time.  I'm running Caterpillar (the one with a GM) right now, and it's fucking fun as shit.  Both process and product.  But that's because I made it specifically for me.  I don't know exactly what that says about me/my games/my GM style, but I think it's interesting.
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 06:49:49 PM »


2. You need to play using a different game. One which actually has a reward system instead of a bzz-bzz hamster wheel like FATE.


Ron, what does that mean?
Logged

stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 06:59:39 PM »

Josh,

Im far from an expert, but I can detail what I am currently trying to do:

move towards a style of GMing where I concentrate on NPCs motivations and wing the 'plot'.  Im thinking of it more like - each of the players gets to roleplay one character, whereas the GM gets to roleplay many.  But its the same basic thing going on - reacting to the ongoing situation with plans and actions. 

Try to shift the emphasis from making sure the group is having fun and being entertained, to investing in your own NPCs.

Start with cliffhanger situations

Make sure your players characters have one or more long term goals - self driven characters that dont have the time or inclination to to just hang out at the local watering hole.  The flipside to that, though, is you have to honor their goals by focusing on them - if you crap on their goals by glossing over them or forbidding them, then the players will abandon self-initiative and wait to be told what to do.
Logged

David Berg
Member

Posts: 997


« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 08:41:22 PM »

I'm running Caterpillar (the one with a GM) right now, and it's fucking fun as shit.  Both process and product.

Josh, are you playing Caterpillar with the DFRPG group? 

  • If so, I'm not sure what you need help on.  "But I made it for me" doesn't strike me as any kind of a caveat.  We're all trying to make the game we'd wanna play, man.

  • If not, why not?  Is that what you need help on?  "How can I get what I love about Caterpillar but also play with this crew?"
Logged

here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 08:57:07 PM »

Hey stefoid (if that is your real name),

I like your style, sir.  It sounds a lot like mine, and that's why I like it.  There are a couple of differences in there, but they're pretty subtle.  I am almost as "plot-less" as the spectrum gets most of the time.  I do one plot plan at the beginning of a campaign and never again.  I decide who the big bad guy is and what he's up to.  I decide how I want to spotlight each character and challenge their beliefs.  All of this is fairly nebulous.  And then I start the campaign with a James-Bond-esque action beginning, during which something mysterious is revealed to the characters.  And from there on out: no more plot. 

I know what the bad guys are up to in the vaguest possible sense, but I make up all specifics in the moment, purely based on what the characters do.  I know I want to offer Pix the chance to become a fairy queen, for instance, but I have no idea how I'll do it until it happens.  (It happened when she decided to look for a secret door.  She rolled high enough to declare that one was there.  So I made it lead to a magical fey tree where her dad told her she was really a changeling.  And on from there.)  Basically, I try to give the character's actions extra consequence by letting them unknowingly create the plot.  That way they have personal investment in every aspect of the unfolding tale.

But as far as NPCs go, I only make up a few.  And they may never show up.  I make up all NPCs off the top of my head, mostly.  And I flip through a blank composition book to "look up" their stats.  (Shhhhhh...)  But I never cheat (fudging die rolls is cheating).  I choose stats and stick to them.  And I give no shits if my NPCs die.  I am, as Vincent Baker says, a huge fan of the players' characters.  I care about them, not my NPCs that took 20 seconds to make up.

Now, the long-term goals thing is the tricky part.  I tried having a session where everyone wrote down their goals, but it was really tough.  Most goals were either too long-term or too trivial to make any impact on the game.  My group of friends aren't quite up to the Narrativist level of going straight for the story's jugular, so if the goals weren't immediate, they would tend to be overlooked.  This is probably the big thing I'll want to engender when I get back to GMing someone else's game eventually.

***

David: good point.  I guess I don't really consider it GMing to run my own game.  I don't know why not.  It's with two of the same gang as Dresden, and two other folks.  Now I have something to really think on...  I'll get back to you on that.
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 09:57:30 PM »

So maybe try investing more prep in your NPCs, particularly giving them motives and behavioral quirks.  Stats arent that important, but it would be nice to have a handle on your NPCs general capabilities and personal style.

I read somewhere that when you need to improvise an NPC,  basing it on a fictional character helps to fill in the blanks quickly.

But better to prep them - that way you can build all sorts of complications and conflicts into them.  Oh, and dont restrict NPC prep to 'bad guys'.  Prep good guys and in-between as well.  Try to get beyond one-note characters.

My theory is all this helps make interesting, 'realistic' characters for your players to interact with, and makes it a lot easier for you as GM to react to what is going on if you know your NPCs well.  And I would say if you want to have more fun as the GM, root for your NPCs (in a fair way). 

Really, NPCs should be called GMCs!
Logged

stefoid
Member

Posts: 657


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2011, 10:12:40 PM »

Now, the long-term goals thing is the tricky part.  I tried having a session where everyone wrote down their goals, but it was really tough.  Most goals were either too long-term or too trivial to make any impact on the game.  My group of friends aren't quite up to the Narrativist level of going straight for the story's jugular, so if the goals weren't immediate, they would tend to be overlooked.  This is probably the big thing I'll want to engender when I get back to GMing someone else's game eventually.

Yeah.  No.  goals are hard.

In my game I have a bunch to say about goals and goal setting, because its a major thing - click the link in my sig and download it, and check out pages:  16, 56-58

Let me know what you think
Logged

Andy K
Registree

Posts: 2


« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2011, 10:21:36 PM »

I'd err on the side of stefoid and Josh here, I find that investing in the motivations of everyone around helps more natural, fun RP.

Being attentive to your PC's helps as well, and may even feed into the points stated above.

I ran a session without a set "plan" for the characters to follow, but I knew I wanted to lure them one village west. One PC challenged a rather prestigious commander to a one on one spar, I went with it, and he beat the commander, but spent the last of his willpower to do it. Now taking mental penalties, the commander was able to con him into leading an expeditionary force to that one town over. Now my PC's are fighting to regain their freedom from the clever commander while also discovering the secrets of that town.

The beauty of investing in your players is that the same situation can emerge from different results. If my PC lost, the commander would have mocked him harshly and branded him the laughing stock of the neighborhood, with only one way to make it up: lead an expeditionary force to that one village over.

By investing a little in where my player wanted to go, I made the transition more natural into the next stage of the campaign. Which is better than coming up with some bum reason like " the village flash floods and you have to start going west to the next village because my plot says so."
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2011, 08:05:38 AM »

Brief reply to Christoph's aside: right now, I think Josh's problem stems from the #3 thing I mentioned, and we should focus on that. I've been planning to address FATE as a system in one of Erik's current threads about the game, but it keeps taking second place to the other material I'm working on. I'll get there eventually.

Let's not permit whatever hot-button I pushed with my comment to sidetrack this thread.

Best, Ron
Logged
Roger
Member

Posts: 228


WWW
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2011, 12:31:21 PM »

I don't know exactly why, but I don't enjoy GMing.

But once I begin interacting with the other players, my heart just goes out of it.

So how do I fix it?  How do I learn to like GMing?

Hello, Josh!  Everyone's given some good advice here.  I'm going to go in a different direction from them.

I see the fundamental problem here as the GM's version of the classic player complaint:

"OMG this game is so boring.  The GM is doing absolutely nothing to entertain us.  How can I have fun playing this game?"

And, indeed, I think if this was your complaint, someone by now might have recommended that you not rely on the GM or anyone else to keep you entertained during a game, and advised you that it isn't the GM's job to amuse you or the other players.

However, for some reason, your GM version -- "the other players are not playing the way I want them to and as a result I'm not enjoying it" -- seems to be invoking a different reaction.  Maybe we're just not as familiar with seeing it.

In any case, I'd like to formally offer you the classic advice:  relying on other people to make your gaming experience enjoyable is absolutely terrible in just about every way you can imagine.  So don't do that.  That's about all the advice I have on the subject.


If I've mischaracterized the nature of your inquiry, I apologize.
Logged
Josh Porter
Member

Posts: 58

I want to be old.


« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2011, 04:46:43 PM »

Roger, I think you've characterized it perfectly.

It seems more difficult to make my own fun as a GM.  I'm not sure why.  But earlier David pointed out to me that I have a lot of fun GMing my own game.  So perhaps, when I decide to GM another game again, I'll steal all the things I like from my game that make my job fun.
Logged

I am playtesting Flawed and Caterpillar.
I am playing Dresden Files.
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!