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Topics - Viletta Vadim

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Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / The "Bad Players" Letter
« on: January 30, 2011, 01:47:14 AM »
In the latest episode (episode 53, for those of you in Future Land), the hosts got a letter from a GM who complained about his last M&M game, about how it leaves him/her feeling drained and so on and so forth, and asking for advice on dealing with the situation.  The hosts proceeded to place all blame squarely on the shoulders of the players, which I really consider a disservice to the GM writing, and his/her group.  Y'all completely ignored the possibility that this GM might be the source of their own problem (or, more probably, it's a combination of factors, and the GM is one of them, but they all need to be addressed).

Note: There are a lot of hypotheticals and worst-case assumptions in here.  Keep that in mind.  I'm swinging in the other direction in a big way, here.

In listening to the letter, a lot of the complaints sounded like they came from a position of, "The players refuse to conform to my vision," without consideration of the players' vision, and it sounds like the GM went so far as to start limiting the system to pen the players into that vision they had no input into and have no investment in.

If the GM is thinking a street-level, gritty, toned-down teen heroes game with characters who are generally plausible like Robin, Speedy, or Bucky, where bank robbers with assault rifles are a serious threat and mundane mobsters are the main threat, but the players crave lots of freedom and cosmic-level or exotic characters on the order of Doctor Strange, Braniac 5, and the Silver Surfer, where anything short of a planet-eater is daily fare?  If the GM just tries to force the players into the street-level mold without any sort of concessions, of course the GM's gonna get burnt out, and very little of that is going to be the players' fault.

There has to be some give and take there, and in this case, it may be better to end up somewhere around a Teen Titans game.  Yeah, you have your alien princess and your extradimensional sorceress spawn of a planet-destroying uberdemon and they live in a big T on their own island, but they're still not above street-level crime, and they don't command the same respect as, say, the Justice League.  The bad guys are still the mob with a lot of the same elements, but now they have lasers and ninjas and the drugs they're dealing are juiced from a psychic alien they've captured, turning their junkies into superstrong slaves while they're on their high.  Or something.  It's a lot easier and less taxing to find common ground than it is to drag the players kicking and screaming onto your turf and constantly enforcing your will upon them.

With this particular question, of what the hosts have that this GM lacks, it really seems like one of the most important answers would be give-and-take, the ability to work with the players, rather than lord over them, because it really sounds like this GM's not giving an inch.  While there probably are some player issues at work, I just can't put it all on their shoulders.

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