Wednesday 4 February 2015

Pundit-Notes From The Great Forge Reunion Battle of 2015: Addendum 2: Why the GM Must Have Final Authority

Pundit-Notes From the Great Forge Reunion Battle of 2015

Wherein Ron Edwards Complained That People Still Remembered "Brain Damage", and Were Still mad at him for it;
and Wherein Ron Edwards Tried to Take Credit for the OSR

Addendum 2
Why the GM Must Have Final Authority

The fact that the GM has to be able to break the rules doesn't mean he SHOULD, either constantly or even ever; but he must have the power to do so.  Otherwise, you end up with a scenario where self-interested players can end up using rules against the GM for the detriment of the party.

There's only one person at the table whose job it is to make sure EVERYONE Has Fun. That's the GM.

A player who wants everyone to have fun is a nice guy, and hopefully you're playing with nice guys, but there is nothing in the dynamics of the game that demands that he care about whether the other player next to him does well or feels good. His job is to make HIS character do well and for himself to have a good time at the table.

So if a player manipulates the rules, tries to take all the attention or get all the power, that might make the player an asshole but it doesn't make him a "bad Player".
That's why its THE GM's JOB to put limits on him.

If the GM is unable to put limits, because we consider the rules something "superior" to the GM which the GM is not allowed to argue with, then you have a situation where there are no limits (except confidence in the "genius" of some asshole game designer who's never met any of these people playing) as to what the player can accomplish by manipulating the rules.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Oversize + Image Latakia


  1. This argumentation only holds if:
    (i) the rules empower a self-interested player to take all the attention or get all the power to the detriment of other fellow players, i.e., s/he can indulge in such behaviour without breaking the rules;
    (ii) the rules preclude the GM from putting a stop to such behaviour on the player's part, i.e. s/he can't intervene without breaking the rules.

    Why rules should necessarily be designed in such particular way, escapes me.

    1. Any rules designed with the intention being to "Punish" the GM (which is what many Forgists want) are going to be like this.
      If the GM could stop the manipulation of rules, then he would have the final authority, and the whole POINT for some of these asses is to strip away the GM's authority.

      Rules manipulation is just that, MANIPULATION. It's very rare for a designer to intentionally put in rules he knows can be manipulated to produce and unfair result that were not the original purpose of the rules.
      Obviously, designers will try, but they're almost doomed to fail against a player determined to be manipulative and with enough time and obsessive-compulsive levels of attention to figure out how to lawyer his way through. Make the rules very complex, then that only gives the rules-manipulator advantage, because he can play around with those complexities to give himself benefit. Make the rules very simple, and the manipulator will be able to get around by taking advantage of those gaps in the rules (and if the GM doesn't have the Ultimate Authority to say NO to him, nothing can prevent that).

  2. The challenge to the Pundit's argument is usually "Don't Game with Dicks." However, that argument is bunk. Let me offer the opposite premise. Immersion and character advocacy is natural in RPG for most people. Regardless of system or mechanics,most people will in some degree or another become either immersed in and or an advocate of their character. As soon as that happens, it's natural for that person to start thinking more about their character, and does things that are optimal for their experience but may not always be optimal for the group, story line, etc.

    1. Exactly! Every time I make this argument everyone suddenly says they're playing only with their Best Friend Who Gave Them A Kidney And They'd Trust With Their Kid.

      Well, to that I say:
      a) Great for you, but so what? There's going to be lots of people who aren't in that situation, who are not playing as a way to keep the old gang of fuckheads you knew since elementary together, but are rather playing for the sake of gaming itself.

      b) You seriously NEVER have a fight with your friends? My BEST, Closest friends are people I argue with and bitch about constantly, and vice-versa. It's a feature of being friends at that close a level, the very same level of friendship which defines that intense trust also defines that you can feel safe to fight about stupid things. So don't give me this bullshit that "playing with your friends" means you don't need ONE GUY to be the ultimate deciding Authority. It probably means you need it MORE.

    2. Heck, you know someone is your friend because you CAN disagree and fight with him.