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Author Topic: Frustrated GM  (Read 5010 times)
Nightwing
Member

Posts: 5


« on: April 12, 2012, 01:33:14 AM »

Hi. My name is Paul and have a problem. We play in different systems. Every game becomes boring because the players play mercenaries and wait for the MG they propose a scenario that will be paid to them. If it is not profitable complain that I'm boring MG and I have nothing interesting to offer. When I ask about the objectives of their form, still receives the same answer: "I ??want to be rich." When I ask why? - Answer: "to be richer than others." How do I change it?
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Kevin Vito
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2012, 01:45:52 AM »

It sounds like the players want something a little more competitive.

Try Paranoia. Give the players objectives at odds with one another and let them tear each other apart for fun and profit. Then you can just sit back and let them drive the action.
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Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 545

Yverdon, Switzerland


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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2012, 04:46:14 AM »

Hello Paul

Welcome to the Forge! I think a lot of the people around here have had their period as frustrated GMs at one point or the other. I for one certainly had. But there are lots of nuances in frustration. Let's dig through some of it.

You mention that you play several systems; which ones? Could you detail one specific example a bit more (how many sessions of the game had you already played, what types of scenarios had come before, who the characters were, what did you offer the PCs if it wasn't riches)?
How about the people with whom you played? Friends (including for non-RPG stuff), club members, family, etc.?

Are players of this group GMs for games in which you play? How does that turn out?
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Regards,
Christoph
Nightwing
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2012, 09:29:01 PM »

We played Warhammer FRP, Fading Suns, D & D, Pathfinder, and Savage Worlds. Games always ended with a two or three sessions, because I did not like. Almost every game look so that BG trying to "hide" in a safe place and do not act until the had offered a large amount of money. They listened to details of the task, and if they did not like it, they wanted a huge amount of money.

Always waiting for information about the script and either take or reject the job that's too dangerous.

They never make anything of ourselves.

By creating characters always do mercenaries without feeling lonely, without family, without friends - because it's easier.

The players are my longtime friends.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2012, 01:56:38 AM »

Hi Paul,

Yeah, it's kind of the 'win by nagging the Game Master' thing that players sort of don't question themselves about, as if the game system can handle when they do that, when really it can't.

At the same time, it seems you're interested in dramatic characterisation (as one way of putting it).

One idea might to be to just ask them how much money they need for their PC's to be rich and run a cash for missions campaign. We could work on ideas to make a game of that (instead of it being 'nag the game master').

Doing that might get it out of their system (as they have actually gotten to do what they want). Then they might want to do a different game focusing on dramatic characterisation. But if they don't - well then you know they just aren't interested in characterisation.

Hope I haven't been unclear in explaining that :)
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Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 545

Yverdon, Switzerland


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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 03:40:03 AM »

Hello Paul

Thanks for the specifications. I think Callan has a good path to explore. Indeed, it's not quite clear to me how the players decide that they don't get enough money. Are any of these games clear about what mission rewards should be? If yes, are you following the rules (or advice) and telling the players that they shouldn't complain because that's what the game is like? If the games are clear and you're not following the guidelines, why not?

When do you decide that you don't like a campaign any more? How do you justify not continuing? What happens when you stop a campaign (as you said, after two or three missions)? What is the players reaction? Why do they agree on starting again and again, isn't that boring? Could it be that they actually prefer creating characters instead of playing a long time?



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Regards,
Christoph
Nightwing
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 04:48:05 AM »

I just love to haggle for everything. Is this the price for the execution of the mission, whether the price for the goods. If I say that prices are as in the book they say, "You're the GM, after all, you can change the amount."

We stop playing - when I prepare a scenario they claim that it is too risky or too low price.

They do not like to create new characters - they want to play the old characters. With the same motivations. I am sure that if I gave them the money to say: "Ok, we have the money, we need not now be brawlers, we can hire mercenaries.
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Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 771

roll-player


« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2012, 07:55:54 AM »

Did you consider, like, not playing with them?

You may be friends, but it clearly doesn't work. There must be some other gamers in your area and online gaming is always an option. There's no reason to feel chained to your immediate social environment.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2012, 03:33:07 PM »

I just love to haggle for everything. Is this the price for the execution of the mission, whether the price for the goods. If I say that prices are as in the book they say, "You're the GM, after all, you can change the amount."

We stop playing - when I prepare a scenario they claim that it is too risky or too low price.
Yeah, but this shows how the games cannot actually handle what you've decided to do - haggling is dependent on the other person being able to walk away. But when the players walk away, it annoys you and they are bored.

Frankly I don't know how risk adverse these players are - perhaps consider asking them to write up a scenario so they can give you an example of what sort of game they'd like to play.

If they can't be bothered writing up even a rough version of such a scenario, well - that attitude works in boardgames where the entire structure is complete and there is no creativeness needed. But it doesn't work in roleplaying. D&D has some boardgame versions out at the moment. Indeed, if they sit down to the boardgame and try and say 'it's too risky', then they are simply incapable of gaming, really.

In the end they sound like the kind of players who never, ever want their PC's to die (they just want the illusion PC's can die). Potentially adding some sort of works every time instant escape magic (like a town portal from diablo) might make things work out, and perhaps the uncertainty of play rests on something other than potential PC death (like maybe potentially losing cash, or missing out on gaining alot of cash).

If you don't like the idea of no PC death but they hate PC death, then in terms of gaming you are not compatable. It's like you like music type X and they like music type Y. Friends sometimes have very different tastes.

Quote
They do not like to create new characters - they want to play the old characters. With the same motivations. I am sure that if I gave them the money to say: "Ok, we have the money, we need not now be brawlers, we can hire mercenaries.
That'd definately be some evidence towards them being never-want-my-PC-to-die gamers.

It's entirely possible to do that sort of gaming (their assets/the mercs can potentially die for them, ala red shirts dying instead of Kirk).

But as said, if you as GM really want potential PC death but they don't, you just don't want the same thing.

And it has to be said, they have characters they like, that they risk losing. As Game Master, what do you risk losing in game? Nothing. It is a bit lop sided at best.
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stefoid
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2012, 03:46:01 PM »

Based on the theory that unhappy characters are motivated and interesting characters, why not just let them have their riches?  Let them have as much riches as they can et , til they are choking on riches and all the problems that you start introducing because they are 'the richest around' - the thieves both white collar and blue collar, the organised criminals, the government tax men (is there a difference?), the gold digging mistresses.... 
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 547


« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 06:34:56 PM »

I am not sure I agree very much with the diagnosis offered until now in this thread, but before saying more I would like to know more about the situation.

Paul, you wrote that they "Always wait for information about the script and either take or reject the job that's too dangerous.". I am not sure I understand: what do you mean with "script"?  And how do you get them information about it? Can you describe, at least a little, a practical example, in one of your games that did go nowhere, of the way did you gave them these informations and how complete they were?

Another thing:  sometimes I suppose they accept one of these mission: what happen these times? Do they stop during the mission and go back? Or it's you that lose interest 'cause of the way they play? Or what?

Can you give me an example of "good play"? You must have some example of times you were happy playing, as a player or as a GM, an example of the kind of play that would make you happy now. Can you describe that game, and what you did like most about it?

Other questions (sorry for this barrage of questions, but I think they are necessary to understand your situation): when your players play their characters refusing the mission and frustrating you, do you think they are enjoying the situation, or they are frustrated, too?  They role-play their characters during these situations or they talk to you out of characters? If you don't push them to a mission, they enjoy tole-playing their character at the tavern or at the market or wherever they are talking with PNG and haggling or buying things of picking fights or something, or they distance themselves from the game and read comics or look at the TV?

How many years did you play together? It was always like this or it was different at the beginning? You was always the GM? Did the entire group start playing at the same time or not?

Please, take your time in thinking about the answers, I am in no hurry, I will not be able to post tomorrow anyway.
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
Nightwing
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2012, 09:44:18 PM »

My players always need more money. They can not specify a specific amount. Just so are mercenaries - whatever "do they do for money, not"?

If I ask them about the scenario in which they wanted to play it the answer is: You're the GM so lead.

I do not really want to play board games, because "the rules in board games limit their character."

Examples of aborted sessions:

NPC: I hired you, that ye may guard NPC. Wages X (the standard amount of the book).
PCs: No way. X is not enough, we will not risk our lives for such a small amount. Listen guys, we do not work for this guy more.
GM: You can bargain ....
Some tests.
If he comes out, you conclude that it is too little. May pay even more, he's an NPC so it depends on our work ..
If the projections do not come out to say that GM may decide otherwise, and may not be based on the book.

Examples of cool games for me? When the players also get involved, not just the GM is the workhorse. If you ask them any questions about world events, NPCs, I always answer: "You're the GM, you think of, we can not think for you and you come up with a scenario."

If I leave them in a situation, suppose in the inn, is the claim that they will sit there until something happens.  If I don't push them to a mission, they distance themselves from the game and read comics or look at the TV. They are frustrated, I am frustrated. The game is over.

I will be very happy if they enjoy role-playing their character at the tavern or at the market or wherever they are talking with NPCs and haggling or buying things of picking fights or something,

We play together soon, about two years, maybe three. But they are not regular sessions.

In the course of the game is a mass of jokes, which also annoyed me because it's hard for me to focus.

If I check something in the manual, or notes, then all players immediately distance themselves and heavily restored in the game. Sometimes joke that "Paul is loading". Or point out that GM should smoothly lead and not look at her notes. And did not know something, he should improvise.

If I want to see one of the players led the session, I hear from them: it's not for me, I have no time, I prefer to play.
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Filip Luszczyk
Member

Posts: 771

roll-player


« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2012, 04:56:09 AM »

Now I have to ask. Are you from Poland?

It seems written all over your posts, and if my intuition is right, I have some conclusions about the toxicity of local predominant play culture. As a matter of fact, your account bears striking similarity to what some players from my Skype group have to say about their old face to face groups. Word by word.

It's also strikingly (word by word) similar to things I've heard from some players myself, though I never continued to play with people like that for long, because it never works. Not since my teenage years at least. But then, none of my Skype players who give similar accounts are teenagers. What age are you?

So, I'm starting to suspect we might have some common acquaintances. Same clichéd lines.

Quote
You're the GM so lead.
Quote
I do not really want to play board games, because "the rules in board games limit their character."
Quote
GM may decide otherwise, and may not be based on the book.
Quote
"You're the GM, you think of, we can not think for you and you come up with a scenario."
Quote
If I don't push them to a mission, they distance themselves from the game and read comics or look at the TV.
Quote
But they are not regular sessions.
Quote
Sometimes joke that "Paul is loading".
Quote
Or point out that GM should smoothly lead and not look at her notes.
Quote
And did not know something, he should improvise.
Quote
it's not for me, I have no time, I prefer to play.

1) non-play

2) They delegate all responsibility to yourself rather than the system, because for them there is no system. At some point they formed this warped idea of what "role-playing games" are intended to look like, and it just does not include "playing" in the "playing a game" sense. The only game they see is that you're in charge of their fun and if they want something, they can get it by manipulating you socially. Since there's no common understanding of the goals and practices of the activity, there are issues of power and control. In short, they assume your total control of the game, but at the same time they refuse to accept the implication that under such assumptions they are your bitches - and so, they work hard to make you their bitch instead. Hence all the jokes, clichéd lines etc., all tailored to impact GM's psychologically.

Incidentally, this is also why they wouldn't want to be in your shoes. The "no time" argument in particular is bullshit.

3) You're probably the only person there who really wants to play the damn game. The rest likely have no real investment in the hobby and may only be there to hang out with pals. Most are there only because you or their friends invited them, and they feel they did you a special favor by even showing up. It all contributes to this game of "let's piss the GM", general lack of respect for your efforts and all sorts of passive-aggressive shit.

Some will probably suggest it's possible to talk them into functional gameplay and you may even believe that yourself. I believe it's hopeless. It would only be possible if they wanted to learn in the first place. But they do not want to learn. They want to teach. And they feel strong in number. When you try to teach them anything, they respond by trying to teach you instead.

I believe it's a waste of your time.
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Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2012, 07:07:26 PM »

I think Filip makes good points and I think what he describes may very well be applicable.

But I'll ask in regards to this
Quote
NPC: I hired you, that ye may guard NPC. Wages X (the standard amount of the book).
PCs: No way. X is not enough, we will not risk our lives for such a small amount. Listen guys, we do not work for this guy more.
Have you ever thought about just adding more money to the offer, more and more, to see how much it'd take for them to take the job? It's not like it comes out of your pocket.

Is it that their characters would have so much money they could retire after one job/session? Is that a problem, or do you want the campaign that lasts forever?

Also, is it the whole group who says 'No way!', or just one particular person at the table?? This problem happens a fair bit in roleplay - someone at the table can't help but try to take over the proceedings (taking over is more important to them than playing is - well, they tend to think doing such IS playing). Kind of a prima donna player.

Quote
I do not really want to play board games, because "the rules in board games limit their character."
The idea is, if your players fail at playing a board game (or it could be a multi player video game), then they are incapable of playing a roleplay game.

Atleast if they can functionally play a boardgame/multip player video game, there is some hope they can play an RPG (if using an RPG with a strong, continuous system).

Or if you don't want to find out whether they can or not, okay. But that would be ignoring the advice I give (for whatever it's worth).
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Moreno R.
Member

Posts: 547


« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2012, 04:15:47 PM »

Hi Paul!

I agree with Paul about "talking to the group": the general idea that everything can be solved by "discussing about it together" is at best wishful thinking.  Maybe if you talk to a single player alone, but even that is risky. In front of other people? It will turn ugly.

And I agree that what is happening is a tug of war, and that they don't want to be in your shoes to avoid being on the other side of the social manipulation techniques thy are using against you.

Where I think I disagree is his (unstated) assumption, that they are wrong and you are right.

Caveat: here we go talking about something I have strong convictions in general, and they probably color my imagining of your game from what you wrote, but I don't think that the king of rpgs you are playing can avoid this kind of social power struggle. They work by it. The can't work without it. They are based on the absence of a real shared system of procedures, there are no "real rules", everything can be overruled by the GM, so everything is negotiable.  And being able to stress the GM enough to having him caring about "not provoking you" is worth much more that any tactical ability or magic item.

This put always a stress on the basic relationship between players (GM included) at the table, because to get more in the game, you literally have to damage the enjoyment of the game by the other persons at the table. If you are forceful, overbearing, and/or socially adept in the arts of passive-aggressive whining and baiting and manipulation, you go far in this kind of game. If you are "weak", if you care about other people's fun, if you care about "the story" or the setting fidelity to the source material or if you care about anything apart yourself, you will be trampled.

So, this can't be avoided, if you play that kind of games (the ones based on a all-powerful GM that decide "the story" that the game will follow), you will get that kind of social stress.

So, it can't be the only reason for your problems: true, the root of the problem is in those systems, but most people get to play more than a few sessions: it seems to me that that subterranean stress, in your gaming group, has become a full-fledged war.

They are not enjoying the game, so they make their dissatisfaction felt in the usual passive-aggressive way that is often so successful in these games, by making sure that you don't enjoy them too. And you are firing back by making sure, in a passive-aggressive way, that they will never enjoy the games until they do what you want.

You are like two elks with locked antlers pushing each other, trying to follow incompatible visions of "how a rpg game should be", each one blocked by the other but unwilling to let go. And you go on in your struggle without moving an inch and perpetuating your suffering.

Let's start by you. You vision of how a "good game" should go.  I am not really sure here, your answers to my questions were a lot less clear and concrete than I would have liked, so I am guessing a little here and I could be entirely wrong. But I get the impression that you want players that are active, genuinely engaged into "your story", that follow the trail of crumbs you prepare for them. But the problem is that this can't happen. I know that is the "promise" of a lot of old rpgs (the ones of the kind we are talking about here, at least), but it's a false promise, that wasn't really made true for anybody in real life by these systems.  Only very passive players would follow a trail of crumbs without trying to find their own way. Active, genuinely engaged players will always destroy your "prepared story", refusing to go along with it.

So what happen a lot of times? That the first times they play, they are active and engaged. But don't follow your story. The game manual instruct you saying that you should "get them back on the story", so you use your powers of "all-powerful GM" to turn them back to the crumb trail.  After a while, they learn that it's useless to be active, that they can't leave your crumb trail, so they stop caring, and you are left with bored players that say "whatever" at your hard-thought "good story". You get frustrated and bitter, and they get frustrated and bitter too, and you continue to make playing a chore for each other, each one placing the blame to the other.

You were there, so tell me: they were always like this? And if they weren't, what made them act like that?.

If they were like this from the start, from the very first session they played, ever, the diagnosis is simple: they don't want to play.  At All. I don't know why they are not telling you this, but what they are trying to tell you is this: "we don't want to play, stop bothering us".  In this case what you should do is simply stop bothering them. But I don't believe this is the right explanation: why should they show up there at all, if they didn't want to play? Or there is a reason that I can't see from here (but maybe you can), or it's not like this.

It's much more probable that they wanted to play, that they still show up because they would like to play, but they are frustrated with you pushing them to follow a crumb trail with them having no say in the matter. So they refuse to go, to frustrate you, too.

If this is the case, why probably talking about it will not work? After all if they explain to you what they would like to play, you will know, right? Well, no: they live, like you, immersed in a role-playing culture that sell people empty promises made up of contradictory pieces. It's perfectly possible (even probable) that they really believe that having the GM "create the story" is the "true way to play", and that they should not tell you what they want. And that you are a "bad GM" because you don't already know what they want... without having them tell you what it is! After all, the mainstream rpg culture believe in the myth of "the good GM" that always know what you want without having to ask...
(It it's still not clear by this point in this rant, I consider most of what is called "rpg culture" (or sub-culture) stupid and worthless, and needing some fixing and a good wake up call from a long time now)

Even if you stop playing with them and find new players, it will end up in the same way, if you still try to play in that manner.

My advice? First, use other games, games that have true, real gaming procedures known by everyone at the table that can't be overruled by the GM. So that if a player want to do something, he will know that he can do it by using rules and dice, without any need to stress the GM to force him to "give him what he wants".

If you can't or don't want to change games, simply make very clear to everyone at the table that you will not overrule anything, and roll all the dice in the open (most of these games will not work well played like this, but a few do. Maybe you will be lucky).

And, most of all, the more important thing: lose any idea of having the characters follow a pre-written path. The solutions are many: the one I prefer is not having a "story" to follow at all, and follow instead the character's decisions. But you need a game made to be played like this, in a lot of games this don't work well because it increase your preparation work and make you waste most of it. Another possible solution is having a very simple situation and starting the game already moving (example: if you create a dungeon to explore, don't try to force the characters to go there: say to the players that they have to create characters with already some reason to go there  searching for riches, and start the game right at the dungeon door), another way is to have character creation procedures that give you, right at the start, indication about what the characters will WANT to do, without having to guess or to push them where you want.

Every one of these solutions need a compatible game system, different ones for different solutions.  But the first step is dropping the empty dream of the "active characters that follow enthusiastically your story". Never happened. If they are active, is their story, not yours. If it's your story, they are passive. (search the forum for the phrase "impossible thing before breakfast", is the forge jargon name of the empty dream). And if they resist... well. you saw what happen.
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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
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