RPG Talk: I'm a GM's Worst Nightmare

...but in a good way.

Well. Jury's still out on that one.

On this blog, I've written profiles of various players and GameMasters I've role-played with, not all of them flattering, but I've only hinted at what kind of player I am myself. This is because I'm mostly a GM, partly because logistically, I have a huge collection of game books for all genres and styles of play, and partly because that's how I started gaming and it's how I approach RPGs generally, with branching plots and subplots in my head.

My playing experience is therefore limited and it's informed by decades of playing every other part, thinking long-term, interpreting rules fast-and-loosely, and perhaps most importantly, trolling other players. So yeah, I can be a bit of a nightmare to handle. Or rather, my characters can be... we'll use the word "difficult" so none of them get offended. Cuz you don't want those rascals holding a grudge, y'know?

The bottom line is this: I don't care about rolling dice and combat and all that. It's just about the most boring part of gaming for me. The social interaction is more my groove, so I tend to build characters to be strong in that area, and then try to talk my way out of fights. But see, while combat is pretty well detailed in most game systems, social interaction is less so. You might have skills for it (Fast Talk, Intimidation, etc.) or things like Reaction Modifiers, but since actual ROLE-PLAY is preferable to rolling lots of dice and calculating bonuses and penalties in such circumstances, most gaming groups won't really look to complexify them. But when you know the system well (as most GMs-turned-players do), you're perhaps a bit practiced at DEMANDING rolls and modifiers to force the issue when ye kinde GMe doesn't want to let you derail a preprepared combat encounter.

And that seems to happen A LOT when I run a PC. And those PCs are pathological liars who'll give your village a "magic rock" and avoid the adventure tease completely, and impossibly proficient negotiators who can sell ice to the Inuit or walk into Fort Knox with a library card and an average roll, or bards who stand back and sing (improvised) songs to cheer the party while never getting within range of any given weapon. And they generally think outside the box, because their governing consciousness has seen it all before and has Plan B'd too many adventures to count. If a GM prepares for the craziest thing a player might do, then he's trained himself to do those crazy, scenario-breaking things.

So GMs have it in for me from the git-go, while simultaneously looking to me to help them interpret rules. But sadly, the stuff I would let them get away with because I love outside-the-box solutions (if it's COOL, then it trumps being REASONABLE), they never let me do. I'm obviously abusing the system, or trying to troll them as a player, the same way I've had NPCs troll them as a GM. My characters are often the first targeted, even if outwardly, they should look the least dangerous. That's just the way it is. I reap what I've sown. And consequently, I don't get to run a Player Character very much, certainly not the way I'd want to run it for my personal enjoyment.

And that's too bad, because it's a lot less work...


Andrew Gilbertson said...

As the typical GM for my group (but letting someone else take a turn currently), this is pretty much me, too. (But as a more naive GM who doesn't plan for the worst, I consequently don't have quite as vivid or dangerous an imagination as a player).

Delta said...

Question: Is it your preference to have a system that includes those social interaction skills as mechanics (Fast-Talk, Intimidate, etc.), or to avoid them?

Does the preference change when you switch from Gm to player?

Siskoid said...

Good question.

Most systems I run/play have social interaction as skills, which means as a player I'll be putting a LOT of points in those to make sure my schemes succeed. However, I still require (and am required when my turn comes) actual role-play during such scenes. As a GM, I may ask for a roll and give mods based on how convincing (or not) the player was, but ultimately, in the game, it's the PC's Charisma or whatever that's pushing the interaction. So you might have a player that sucks at social interaction, so gets minuses (or simply no bonuses) to a highly-charismatic character's actions, just as the opposite is possible. Charisma Boy not having a good day / Ugly Ugor having a stroke of luck or inspiration, etc.

I'd rather the mechanic be there in either role, but it can't be the be-all and end-all of social interaction because I'm role before roll.

Brendoon said...

Haha, just too good.


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