I've been dead on my feet. Never write a book. It isn't worth it.
Either the last post was so vague no one understood it, or so obvious it wasn't worth writing. Given that I've been medicated to the gills for five days (do computers count as 'heavy machinery'?), I'll go with the former.
I've been making the point lately that everyone that sits in and plays the game, from DM to players, is responsible for that game being good. I'm not dividing that responsibility 50/50 with the players on one side and the DM on the other . . . I'm saying that if there are four players and a DM, every one at the table has a 20% responsibility towards making the experience positive. Share and share alike.
Obviously, the DM has more work and preparation to do. The players, however, do the bulk of the decision-making. I wonder how often that is really considered. As DM, I adjudicate on the game rules, that's true, but in actual fact I don't make many important decisions - at least, not on the spur of the moment. My context is pre-set most of the time, I already know what the NPCs mean to do, and at any rate my making a wrong decision about what is behind a door or what an NPC does can be rectified as the game goes forward.
Players, on the other hand, are held to account for the decisions they make, and they can't simply rectify those decisions by slight modifications to the world. A player makes the wrong decision and it can have dire consequences, not just for the player, but for everyone at the table. That is a heavy weight on the player's shoulders that I don't feel.
That alone should make it clear how much the game depends on the players sharing responsibility for what happens. If they're not supportive, if they don't allow for others to make mistakes, if they become petty or even vindictive about their fellow players, then the game is going to be BAD. Even a moderate level of indifference - from even one player - is enough to ruin a game experience.
And there's often that one player at the table that doesn't put in his or her share of ideas, who tags along and takes their share of the treasure and rolls dice to prove there's a pulse there. And when you're the one wanting the party to make a decision, where is the support from this player? It isn't there. Nothing is there. The response isn't positive and it isn't negative. It's, "Sure, whatever, I don't care."
If the reader is looking for a good table to play at, there's more to consider than just the DM. ALL the players have to pull their weight. If they're not, then the cart of your game is just rolling along on three wheels. It still gets there, but damn, what a pain in the ass.