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View Full Version : Fickle, inscrutible lot. :(



Bubbalin
1 August 2002, 12:43 PM
(Warning: This may be a bit of a rant)

We just had the first session in a new campaign with a different GM.
I have in the past been GM, but I found that some players were having problems with my style, and so I told one of the players to have a go instead.
Being interested in what the others would bite at, I undertook to study what happened with a different GM, since in the past only I have GM'd for this group...

BUT I DON'T GET IT!!!

One of the players who enjoys my style (and is my very close friend also admittedly) totally faded away.
Another player (whom I normally have problems keeping the attention of) enthusiastically stated his liking of this session as opposed to sessions in the past. And yes, to my face too. :(
The third member of the group is a fan of all things SW and RPGing and as expected took it all on the chin and had a great time.

Now, the thing is that I can't seem to determine any vital/fundamental differences in presentation style or type of adventure.
I did feel that this adventure read very much like a printed adventure that pidgeonholed me a bit, and I think I took some unexpected tangents that the GM didn't expect me to take.
But otherwise, I can't seem to see the difference...

Perhaps I expect my players to have more initiative than he did, because I did feel that we really could have done things in several ways. And he was insistent we take out the command centre before we take out the laboratory for instance... But I don't know, that seems like a minor point of quibbling to me, and I didn't see why we had to do so as a player...

Also, I think player 1 mentioned above is more independently oriented, whereas player 2 has always been totally there when I have deigned to run a completely combat oriented mission for lack of preparation time.
Combat is strict and has rules whereas interaction requires a degree of improvisation right?

What do you all think?

PS. As GM's, how would you like your players to offer to you what they hope is constructive criticism?
PPS. Also, how do you get constructive criticism without having your players write you a report card?

Bubbalin
1 August 2002, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by Bubbalin
Another player (whom I normally have problems keeping the attention of) enthusiastically stated his liking of this session as opposed to sessions in the past. And yes, to my face too. :(


Actually, the more I think about this, the more incensced I am becoming...
I have tried to talk to him several times, and gotten non-commital replies. I'm annoyed because this is the first time I've heard him speak up.
I knew he had a bit of a problem, but still, he could have told me...
Couldn't he?
How hard is it to tell your GM that you have a problem?

Zanus
1 August 2002, 03:24 PM
often when someone, or a group in this case, plays only under one gm's style, they get used to it and don't know how other GM's work. It might be that this new GM ran things just differently enough that the players took to it since it was not their usual way of things. Maybe his more narrow approach is more appropriate for your group? not to say they are not that intelligent, but some people prefer to have the answer handed to them as opposed to trying all the possible options.

Have you ever told your group that they can feel free to give you feedback? if so, did you ever react badly to anything they said? some people need an invitation to open up, and if they do open up and get a bad reaction, or watch someone open up and get a bad reaction, then it discourages them from expressing themselves.

My best suggestion would be to not take it to personally. that is the worst thing you can do with a game. acouple of the groups I have been in where netorious for taking things to personally and it usually caused several bad splittings of these groups.

Try talking to each of the people in the group and get their ideas on how your style could improve. try one or two of them at a time so no one feels left out or overshadowed by someone more vocal. Include the new GM in this. Also, watch the other GM's style a bit more, but with an open mind. Let other players GM as well (if they want) and watch their style. Then, next time you run a game, watch yourself. You might find you are doing certain things that you didn't realize where all that bad.

sort of an example. Myself, I am great at improvising a game. My group is really good at taking a game I have planned, going the first paragraph of my outline, then running off to Nebraska with the rest of the game, but I can still keep it going almost to the point that they feel it was all planned. My main flaw is that on certain issues I leave no room for discussion. I am also semi-vengeful. If the group is really pissing me off, I have a nasty tendancy of killing everyone off just to end the game (somehow the dice work with me on this too, it is really something to watch). I also suck at determining the price on things, so groups either end up with more money or less money then they shoulda gotten for a job. Another problem I have is explaining things. to get around this I use a white board to draw on, or write down a good discription before hand so that I don't mess it up and no one can mess it up later and end up changing the game in a bad way.

The main GM in my group is a Palladin at heart, and expects everyone to play like one. He simply cannot run an evil campaign (he tried once, it sucked). He also has a tendancy of running earth moving games where the players affect the coarse of history. This gets very annoying after five games like this. It's 'cause of this that I tend to run more down to earth games (although I did make a group save the world, or rather the galaxy, once, but that was because they where all high level characters from other games and it was a campaign I had always wanted to run).

Anyway, I hope you got something out of this post. I assume this is the same thing you posted about on the General discussion board.

GreatHornedDragon
1 August 2002, 11:20 PM
To get criticism, I think the best way is to ask the players. I constantly ask my group to PLEASE TELL ME if there is something they dislike, something I did that upset them, what parts they like and want more of, etc. You're creating a campaign for the players to participate in, and so they are the ones that will hopefully enjoy it.

When we played Dungeons and Dragons about a year back, the GM was very optimistic that we would use EXACTLY the same process to figure things out and accomplish goals as he had planned, which is how he would do it if he were a player in the campaign. As a result, we constantly got penalised or caught the rough end of the stick for not doing things the 'right way'. When I asked him after the campaign ended a few things we could have done to make x situation easier for us to do (I used real examples that we did in the campaign), the answers he gave me were ludicrously difficult to have thought up. We all didn't have the same mindset as him and we couldn't figure out his puzzles the same way he did.

The basic idea I'm getting at is that the players have to be pleased. By the sounds of what you're saying, the campaigns were run similarly. In my opinion, ASK them players, and persuade them to BE TOTALLY HONEST, but be prepared for feedback you may not like. They may have just liked the fact that it was someone different, and needed a change in GM, which wouldn't be anything against you.

Communication is key. Hope this helped somehow.

Bubbalin
2 August 2002, 04:50 AM
Originally posted by Zanus
often when someone, or a group in this case, plays only under one gm's style, they get used to it and don't know how other GM's work. It might be that this new GM ran things just differently enough that the players took to it since it was not their usual way of things. Maybe his more narrow approach is more appropriate for your group? not to say they are not that intelligent, but some people prefer to have the answer handed to them as opposed to trying all the possible options.

Have you ever told your group that they can feel free to give you feedback? if so, did you ever react badly to anything they said? some people need an invitation to open up, and if they do open up and get a bad reaction, or watch someone open up and get a bad reaction, then it discourages them from expressing themselves.

Yes, I know what you mean... Perhaps it was just different enough, I guess it just stung a little straight after the fact. I've gotten over it. Now I'm trying to figure out how to lift my game. :)

And I have always indicated that feedback is welcome, but I guess I have never actually gone out and said it. And I did get feedback once that they didn't like what I was doing. I asked what they thought I should be doing. They said they would think about it and never got back to me, so sort of...



Try talking to each of the people in the group and get their ideas on how your style could improve. try one or two of them at a time so no one feels left out or overshadowed by someone more vocal. Include the new GM in this. Also, watch the other GM's style a bit more, but with an open mind. Let other players GM as well (if they want) and watch their style. Then, next time you run a game, watch yourself. You might find you are doing certain things that you didn't realize where all that bad.


I am going to be doing all of the above. Especially since I am considering running another simultaneous campaign because the guy GMing has his hands rather full and we would never get together much, but again I am trying not to overshadow him...


Originally posted by GreatHornedDragon
When we played Dungeons and Dragons about a year back, the GM was very optimistic that we would use EXACTLY the same process to figure things out and accomplish goals as he had planned, which is how he would do it if he were a player in the campaign. As a result, we constantly got penalised or caught the rough end of the stick for not doing things the 'right way'. When I asked him after the campaign ended a few things we could have done to make x situation easier for us to do (I used real examples that we did in the campaign), the answers he gave me were ludicrously difficult to have thought up. We all didn't have the same mindset as him and we couldn't figure out his puzzles the same way he did.

Which is why I felt a little pidgeonholed. I made that exact same mistake very, very early on in the first campaign I ran and ended up killing everybody because they ran straight into the imperial base they were supposed to SNEAK into. :)
That is why I have always tried to be more flexible and felt very cornered by the adventure because we were always being told to do this before that...
But that's another issue I have to bring up with somebody else. :)

Lord Diggori
2 August 2002, 05:07 AM
Communication is the key indeed, and there are many kinds of communication.

When they talk more and smile more than they were seconds ago you've hit upon what they like. When they just pick up and toss a die for a diplomacy check, this is ennui. When they roll the die for a long time, mumble like they're praying, hands clasped around the d20 with white knuckles they're into it.

As for the new GM's style, could it just be that it's something new? A novel adventure with a new way of doing things? Regular GMing can be a fast track to being taken for granted.

Or maybe it's just that some palyers see it more as a game(combat) than a story(RPing) while others like the story over the game, like I do and perhaps you do. I can understand this as the role-playing can be hard to do for some, there's no clear rules on that and we cant all be oscar-caliber actors. Many just dont know how/ or want to step out of themselves even for fictional characters.

Ultimately they dont have too. As GreatHorned says the players are to be pleased. They are the majority of the group and the audience to be entertained by the GM's creativity.

Bubbalin
2 August 2002, 06:16 AM
I think there's a bit of a communication problem in that my group is very jokey, relaxed and irreverent...

Hard to ask them seriously what they think.

and the thing with combat is that yes, we have identified the player I have a problem with as being a bit of a power gamer. He wants the next cool toy and the next cool ability and as fast as possible.

Tossk
2 August 2002, 08:24 AM
I have the same Lack-of-attention problem, and it really gets me because I only have one player! she cross-stiches instead of cooperating and I ahve to play a submissive char. to keep her on track. but everyt once in a while, I get a good response and the game moves fast and fluidly.

blaznee
3 August 2002, 04:31 AM
My group does many different things to keep the sessions fun.. First of all I'm the main GM, I run the campign, make characters develop etc. But two of my players are "backup GM's" of a sort.. One is for when the group feels like doing military .. Can be quite funny, and he's quite thourough.. The third one is strictly hack'n'slash for fun 2 hour sessions.. I always try to find out when the players reacts to something positively, and then put it into my style...
Next up is how I keep my players on track.. Sometimes they just go "off to Nebraska" as someone else put it :-).. When that happens I let them stroll off for a bit before whizzing up an npc to give them a hint to get them back on track..
If they however do something incredibly stupid.. Like bursting into an Imperial battalion base instead of sneaking, I make them know that they are against impossible odds.. Sometimes the players whine "how do you want us to ever get through this!?!?", to which I just state that I don't expect them to, and perhaps they should find a different approach - i.e. FLEE!!.. I rarely kill off a character!! Players don't like to remake their characters all the time, and it also makes them roleplay less.. The more attached they get to their character, the better roleplaying they do.. Sometimes a player comes up to me and says that he's tired of his character, and if I can kill him off in a cool way.. I'm always happy to do such things ;-).. On an occasion where I murder a character with a good dice roll, then I usually fudge the dice.. I hurt them badly, but I don't kill them off..
Sometimes, on a rare occasion I do kill a character though.. The players shouldn't feel invincible! But when I plan such a thing I don't look at who's pissing me off the most, but I look at who seems most unhappy with the character.. If they all seem happy, then I kill the powergamer - simple as that.. If the "big badass" of the group takes a dive, the others know they are in danger..

Here are a few examples from my games..

A character that asked to be killed off: Escaping with the secret documents the players gets hunted by a squad of Storm Commandos.. Several times they try to take up the fight, but the Storm Commandos are by far too big a mouthfull. With a desperate need to gain a lead, the soon-to-be killed character makes a stand.. Tells the players to RUN! While he holds off the Storm Commandos.. He dies saving the group, and the rest of the group thinks it's way cool what he did..

Killing off a character the "normal" way: Trying to escape from the Hutt capital ship they head for the docking bay area.. It seems strangely deserted when they stumble upon a huuuuge cage that has had it's door ripped off.. They find out that between them and the only ship in the docking bay is a huge pissed off Rancor.. The Defel (D6 game) decides that he will make a sneak to get to the ship so he can blast the Rancor with the ships cannons.. An excellent plan! The defel makes the worst sneak roll in the history of sneak rolls! The Rancor spots him and scoops him up in it's claw.. The players rush to his aid only to see the Rancor make a deadly bite attack killing the Defel.. Battle ensues, and ofcourse the players gets to avenge the death of their friend and escape...

Whoa, that was quite a rant.. Sorry 'bout that