Friday, August 10, 2012

Backbones of the Game

Well, an overwhelming number of DMs read this blog, as compared to players, a ratio of 44 DMs to 10 players.  This is according to the poll I'll be taking down tomorrow.  Is it the content of the blog, however, or is it that players themselves are a vanishing species?

I remember when the game first hit our city, everyone had to be a DM.  Everyone set about creating a world, everyone started to run games ... and just about everyone punked out after a few months.  It was important, however, that everyone try.  For one thing, it produced a certain respect in people when they realized they couldn't do it - and I have seen that respect in others who have said they tried to run a campaign for their group and didn't have the stuff.  It's a lot of answering questions the books don't cover, at the same time being fair, not pissing anyone off and not giving so much to the players they can't be reined in.  There are more than a few DMs who have given spectacular magic items to players, only to be sorry afterwards when the players start destroying everything.

To manage people takes effort, where you must balance your concern for their wellbeing with their productivity.  Most who find themselves thrust into the position quickly find themselves either pandering too much, or pushing too much.  Both are bad - employees will walk all over a weak boss, and they'll actively hate - and sabotage - a mean one.

DMing is Management - but since players aren't being paid, it will take about five minutes for them to start counting the value of your friendship against the value of walking out on you.  You're doing more than managing them towards a goal ... you're there to entertain them, to dance for them, to make them dance for themselves.  They won't put up with shit if they don't feel their getting their time's worth.

For that reason, a lot of DMs will try to 'buy' players with +5 swords and rods of rulership.  Sometimes this is done consciously.  Most times, it is not.  Either way, people can only be swayed so much with glittering magic ... in the end, if you are not dancing enough for them, they will stop appearing for you.

Naturally, not every player is picky.  Some aren't very bright, some are mollified greatly by shiny objects, and some have little or nothing better to do on a Friday night.  I would venture that none of the 10 players who answered the poll is that kind of player.  That kind of player wouldn't like this blog - it demands too much, it isn't very shiny and I don't pander.

I do dance, however.  I dance like the dickens, as evidenced by the constant stream of activity on this blog and the other one.  I know people read me because there's lots to read ... and that my worlds do well because there's lots to do.

If any of you 44 DMs have regular players that are demanding and cost you a great deal to keep in your world, you're wonderful and you're the reason this game continues to live.  Believe it - you are the backbone of this community.

But if you've done the work, you already know it ... you bunch of arrogant bastards.  Heh.


Strixy said...

Ive never left a table because of a DM. Its always been players who dislike me (I'm way too much of an ass) or players whom I dislike (they're way too much of an ass). Its only been in the last two games that I've played that I've realized its not just the DM, the type of game or the setting, background or what not. I have 100 other things I enjoy doing that doesnt require me to be more serious or more frivilous depending who is at the table. I know I make jokes. I know I'm silly. I also know that people take this game much more seriously than I do. I dont intend to ruin their fun, but every table I've played at in the last 10 years - thats exactly what I've done. I set out to have my kind of fun regardless and maybe that's the problem. Its not DM's, its the players. I think thats what your survey suggests. (Im so silly I can't even call it a pole without chuckling).

Anonymous said...

"slightly" off-topic, but i just stumbled upon this and thought you might be interested.