Friday, May 23, 2014

One Mistake Does Not A Conspiracy Make

Players are a paranoid lot.  It's understandable.  Their entertainment involves a certain level of vulnerability and trust.  The Game Master can call, at any time, that rocks will fall and everybody dies and game reality shifts accordingly.  So a little bit of suspicion is understandable.  Sometimes the players are right to be suspicious. 

Sometimes the Game Master does something that will cause a lot of problems for a player, showers one player with a lot of benefits, or throws a GMPC into a hero position (which is always problematic because a GMPC, by its definition, cannot truly fail if the GM declares it so nor can the GMPC be blindsided by events - a quality NPC can and will, if the story demands it).

A lot of players are a little too eager to see intent behind all of these actions.  The motivations they level against their GMs is that they are meaningfully trying to show off their power and dominance against the poor unsuspecting players.  Now this does happen, absolutely, but surely it can't be so common as to swallow up almost every GM under the sun? 

If you listen to LARP players, in particular, you'd think that every LARP GM in existence was just on a power trip out to destroy them.  In any particular LARP you'll find a handful of players, at the very least, who regard their GMs with growing concern.

Now I'm not saying that the GM's haven't legitimately screwed up or screwed them over.  I'm just doubting that every GM (especially LARP GM) are out to boost their buddies and slam down everything else, all while gleefully neglecting downtimes and crushing their players every hope and dream.  There are other motives for poor decisions.

What about an overeager GM who simply had a "really cool idea" they wanted to showcase that happened to disempower their players because it really would have fitted a movie better?

What about an inexperienced or poorly supported GM who is easily wowed by a dominant player's rapid speech and seemingly positive ideas?

What about a submissive GM who takes the "Just Say Yes" principle so far the game becomes a mess?

What about the possibility that the player's idea which the GM crushed was a really bad idea, either because it would have caused negative consequences the player wouldn't have enjoyed or because it would have ruined everyone else's fun?

What about the harassed GM who has been hassled by another player and assumes the worst in you because you happen to be next or asking after similar issues?

What about a busy GM whose mind was on a dozen different things at once who simply made a bad call?

What about a GM who legitimately believes their friends happen to be the better roleplayers because they're not wise enough to realise that we are all biased towards looking positively at the actions of our friends?  (This is not an excuse for their behaviour.  It just means that they're being ignorant rather than malicious).

What about a GM who responds badly because your tone of voice or body language indicated that you thought they were a selfish idiot who only wanted to ruin their game?  (Perhaps because you did approach them with that expectation).

What about the burnt out GM who is only running the game out of a sense of obligation and therefore neglects any duty that isn't absolutely necessary to the game occurring?

What about a GM who isn't out to get you but isn't in a position to explain that there's another PC gunning for you and that they're merely the messenger because that would ruin the PvP element in the game?

What about the GM who has a sarcastic tone of voice because they are inwardly very defensive anyway?

I'm not saying that all of these motives are pure or forgivable, some are anything but.  I'm just trying to say that GMs are people, too, capable of making mistakes, having dumb ideas or simply being ignorant. 

While some GMs may be harassment loving bullies, most are not, and if YOUR GM makes only a few mistakes, then it's a good idea to thank them profusely for being awesome 99% of the time and, when a mistake is made, either give them the benefit of the doubt and either forgive them or talk to them about how something looked or made you feel so that they know where the pitfalls lie.

In other words, one mistake or judgement that lands against you doesn't mean there is a malicious conspiracy against you.  When people approach their GMs with a conspiracy in mind, then yes, the GM is naturally going to feel attacked and defensive because their very credibility *is* being threatened and once that is gone it's pretty much gone for good.

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