View Full Version : Master and Appentice

Dan Kyrinov
22 May 2002, 08:06 PM
Hello, everyone.

I've come seeking advice on an issue that has been an issue lately in my game group. It has a couple of parallels in Star Wars, because I sometimes think of the player and I as 'Master and Apprentice.'

I was a player for a long time, under a top-notch GM who does a very respectable job in roleplaying. He trained me to do a little gamemastering because sometimes he wanted to play a game rather than run one. He gave me tips, stuck with me through all my failures, and over a few years, got me in shape to run a game.

I put together several gaming groups since then, all somewhat successful and most of them Star Wars. It was always a good time, especially when Phantom Menace had come out and they wanted to do some Naboo adventuring.

One of my players, who I introduced to roleplaying, has been part of most of the groups I have run, so he's been at it awhile. He's a good player, pretty animate and yet serious enough to keep it in balance. He, however, was not a fan of any system, game, or rules we used. He wanted a specific type of game and playing style, so he asked me to help him learn to gamemaster and to help him find a good system. I agreed, but told him I didn't learn in a day.

So, he and I looked into the Fudge system, which he liked, and I tried to give him advice, tips, help him on developing the games, taught him some basics, pointed him to online resources, and let him try out his gamemastering with a small core group of roleplayers who had some experience and could offer advice. It was rocky at first, but hey, we all start at commoner and work up to 20th level.

After a few months of it, he started running games with his siblings and friends on the side, seemed to be doing okay, and he gamemastered for our group sometimes. At first, he was good, showed promise.

Things have changed. He no longer listens to my advice, saying 'what works for you as a gamemaster does not work for me.' He forgets we are in the same group of roleplayers, with very few people that I gamemaster for not also in his sessions. He railroads players, for example, picks the places they go for them and how they spend skill points. We once asked him why he brought no game notes, he said he forgot them at home, but it was later revealed he never wrote them. Since that day he gave up on any notes. I suppose that's alright, but for the fact he claims he comes more prepared than I do. And recently, he started adjucating rolls, for instance telling us we have missed without making the dodge roll for the opponents, or hitting us for a specific amount of damage without attack or damage rolls. After all the time we spent looking for a system that had the damage system he wanted, I find it annoying. He does this blatantly, without any screen.

I thought he had promise, I do not want him to give up completely, so I called him on it, hoping he might reconsider. I sent him to the site www.roleplayingtips.com because of a (at the time) recent issue about how to adjust your GMing style around such issues. He laughed in my face and said that his way was better, and that my way of roleplaying was too limited by thinking 'inside the box.' I told him that fairness to players is valuable and that the rules systems are time-honored and proven. The players in the group backed me up, not liking his style any more than I do.

I come asking for advice on how to bring him back into the fold. The gaming sessions we hold are at my place, run on my snacks and electricity, and use my dice, so I could simply deny him time to gamemaster, but I think he can become a good GM in time. I know this is a hard question, but what might you do for him, to help him see where he is going wrong? Am I relying too much on internet materials? The GM who taught me did not use so much outside material, but I believe if the resource is there, use it. This question is of course very subjective, but what might you do in my place? I value your answers, and if there's something I need to hear I may not want to, lay it on me, I need to keep an open mind here. Most of all, I want to get this behind the group so we can plunge into some AOTC roleplaying scenarios. Thank you.

22 May 2002, 09:00 PM
This is a tough question.

What it sounds like is you have a case of two people once starting alike in styles, but one of them discovering that a different style is to their liking.

He seems to have discovered that a more "free form" (for lack of a better word) is for him. You're style is more along the lines of "common" roleplaying...dice rolls, sticking to the rules, etc.

The whole thing of what you should do boils down to what you feel is important. Do you care if this friend plays with you? Do you care if he runs things differently than you? If not, just tell him, "Thanks, but I'm not going to play in your games anymore. The style isn't what I'm looking for."

He sounds as if he's getting a chip on his shoulder. The more you try to show him how he "should" do it (like you), the more he'll continue to be hostile towards you. He doesn't want to be a clone of you, he wants to have his own style, so he's doing things differently and takes offense when you tell him his way is wrong.

So my overall advice is to either tell him that you don't want to play under his system anymore (if you don't mind having him go away) or to step back and let him run his course. Don't chastise him, or tell him he's doing anything wrong. Either he'll grow on his own and realize what's wrong and what's right, or the other players will get fed up and his stint as a GM will come to an end.

They aren't pretty options, but that's the only thing I can think of. I can't say I've had any experience in this type of problem.

23 May 2002, 12:10 AM
Its odd ... but its almost as if you are on the other side of this thread's topic - http://holonet.swrpgnetwork.com/showthread.php?s=&postid=79773#post79773

But, in fairness ... I agree with you, systems and rules and structure are a good basis for a fun RPG ... but, at the same time, things like GM flubbing and tricks to speed things up are often part of a good, fun RPG.

For instance ... my players have never complained that for certain skills, I set the DC (difficulty class in D20) of a skill check on whim most of the time ... if they roll close to their maximum roll, they are very successful, if they roll close to their minimum roll ... it is a disaster ... and somewhere in the middle, is moderate success and failure. But for combat and life-defining skill checks and the sort ... I go by the rules all the way ... but I often just come up with to-hit rolls on NPC character attacks because I want the combat to seem challenging ...

I can see the same happening in any other system ... and that is a powerful GM trait that I don't believe can truly be taught ... you can't teach instinct ... no matter how hard you try.

Whether this GM has this instinct or not ... I don't know, but it is possible that he really just doesn't have that edge that makes him a truly great GM ... although he can still be a good GM ... but without that instinct, following the rules EXACTLY is your best bet.

But thats just my opinion :)

Jak Knife
23 May 2002, 05:43 AM
]Originally posted by Dan Kyrinov
[B]I come asking for advice on how to bring him back into the fold.

You don't. He is the GM, he has a style. it is always said the GM is God. Players make suggestions/requests. The GM accepts or rejects them as he see fit.

I know this is a hard question, but what might you do for him, to help him see where he is going wrong?
In his mind he probablely doesn't think he is doing anything wrong so if he doesn't want your input there is only one thing you can do.

The gaming sessions we hold are at my place, run on my snacks and electricity, and use my dice, so I could simply deny him time to gamemaster, but I think he can become a good GM in time.

The players in the group backed me up, not liking his style any more than I do.

My view on this, if a GM ignores requests/suggestions or feedback, the players have a decision to make. "Do you want to accept his style and continue playing?" If the answer is YES that you accept his style, then simple put "Shut up and play" You are there by choice not forced. If the answer is NO, then you diplomaticly tell him you no longer want to be in his game and the reasons behind your decision.

As a player I have left games where the GM style did not match my playing style. I have also stayed in games where I didn't like GM's style but still enjoy the story and the play. I had a GM that sound remarkabely similar to the guy you just described. I hated his style but really enjoyed his story telling ablity. I played in his game for 2 years and everytime I played I asked "Am I having fun" When the answer came back NO I left the group. It all boils down to are you having fun, if not "why bother". In my current group and past groups we always put it to a vote on who GM's. If we don't like results we vote him out.

This question is of course very subjective, but what might you do in my place? I value your answers, and if there's something I need to hear I may not want to, lay it on me, I need to keep an open mind here.

Thats the advise I have, take or leave it and best wishes.

evan hansen
23 May 2002, 05:50 AM
Ouch. Tough situation. I'll toss my own thoughts in now; I have a few variations for you on what's been said.

First, do *not* tell him he's wrong. Because he's not. There is no right or wrong way to GM -- only ways that your groups likes and dislikes. If your group dislikes what he's doing, ask him to tone it down a notch. Don't make him give up his style. Tell him that the entire group is no longer having fun, but they'd still like him to GM. Kiss his behind a little bit (I know, I know. Suck it up. It's for his benefit. *grin*) and tell him that you all think he's very creative and you want his GMing, but that the group wants something a little more steadfast.

Try to identify with where he's coming from. I, as a GM, *hate* making notes, reading from books, etc... I do all kinds of things to tweak my story, throw people off a bit, etc... But I *never* do anything my players don't want in terms of style, and I certainly would never force players into picking certain skill to put points into, etc... It sounds like he's a lot like me in terms of his style, but he's missing the whole end ofjective of using that style to *satisfy your players.*

He needs to find that balance. It's very easy to run a good game with no notes. I've thought about adventures for *weeks,* taken no notes, and run some of the best adventures I've ever done without one piece of paper and maybe 3 dice rolls in a 3 hour session. So he can very easily be prepared to GM.

But he's not prepared to GM for your group. That's obvious. Explain to him that he can GM however he wants, he can think outside the box, he can fudge dice rolls...as long as people think he's at least rolling behind a screen, and he can even run a mission where he doesn't know the end result. But tell him that your players want a few more dice rolls, a little more control over their own characters, and a little less bickering.

I'm not sure what else to say. In short, I suppose that you need to try to think like he does and tell him what he wants to hear. Meanwhile, use that connection to reel him in a bit. It sounds like he has a lot of potential and some of the right ideas, but he's lost as to how to carry them out.

Best of luck!

Lord Diggori
23 May 2002, 06:31 AM
The advice given above is as good as it gets I think.

All I could add is to ask him which is most important to him: A.) his enjoyment or B.) the player's enjoyment? If he says B.) point out that he's failing in that department, which in my opinion and perhaps your is the GM's main objective. If he says A.) I don't think he's truely cut out to GM. He's got the aptitude yet not the atitude.

Ideally A.) & B.) are one in the same, but this clearly not an ideal situation.

Dan Kyrinov
23 May 2002, 03:21 PM
Well, first off I want to thank you guys for your advice. Not only have you given of your experience, you've given me a reality check into a simple fact: my own stubbornness may be getting in the way.

You're right, the GM is the ruler, and as someone who often says "I'm the GM, live with it," I'm being slightly hypocritical to criticize his assertion that he chooses what works for him. Now that I'm keeping my mind a little more open, I can see that.

Many of you also said he may be resenting my consistent input or criticism and may need to back off and understand him rather than keep going after him. Good advice which I intend to heed. I don't want to alienate him, or insult him, because he's a good friend.

Alright, I am radically different in style than he is, I better get used to it. And you guys have hit the nail on the head, my players (and I) may not be the right group for him. I have consulted them, however, and they would rather I return to gamemastering for the group full-time. I hope I can present that tactfully enough that he does not leave the group as a player or get angry with me, I don't think roleplaying disputes are worth losing friends over.

There are other things, though, that tell me he may not have the attitude for gamemastering. I love going from notes. He clearly doesn't. That's fine. It's just that he claims he comes to gatherings better prepared than I do to gamemaster. (He is referring directly to notes.) We caught him in a lie once, when he claimed he left notes at home and later learned they never existed. As Lord Diggori said, maybe his attitude is not perfect for GMing. I and another player suspect he was trying to gain popularity as a gamemaster, but that's only suspicion. I say this not to fling mud at him, but because I think it clouded my better judgment with jealousy. Once again, thanks for the reality check.

I am sure that if I can let go of my stubbornness and jealousy and try to work with him, this will not end badly. And thank you all again.