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Thursday 22 June 2017

Why the Traditional GM/Player Roles Matter

In a recent RPGsite thread, the age-old debate was once again reignited about the question of why it would be a bad thing to take away certain powers from the GM (in this case, the GM's authority to roll dice).  Some of the typical arguments were presented; and here's my response to them.

a. You maintain the traditional role of the GM as "it's all about meeee!"

No, I maintain his traditional role as "The GM is the final authority of the RPG game; NOT the loudest most annoying player, NOT the "rules-as-written-and-interpreted-by-the-best-rules-lawyer, NOT the Asshole Game Designer who thinks his own personal genius makes him a better judge of what should happen at a gaming table 3000 miles away from him than the guy actually running the table; NOT a movement that thinks GMs are a Product of Rape-Culture Imperialist White Patriarchy".

b. You want 'your' monsters to be as important as the player characters!

The monsters ARE as important as the characters. If you understood how RPGs worked, you'd know that. Shit, the weather is as important as the player characters. Whether or not there's gunpowder available in the market is as important as the player characters.
The player characters are just the Players' vehicles to interact in a VIRTUAL WORLD. Since the entire fun of the game depends on the realistic emulation of that Virtual World in order to achieve IMMERSION, all of those things are equally important for Fun to be achieved.

If a player feels like world is flat because he only ever interacts with the world through rolling his own stats, as if nothing in the world but his own PCs' stats were real or mattered, then the World does not become True, he can't achieve Immersion, and THE GAME FAILS.

c. We are ultimately in service to the players!

No. The GM and the Players are ALL there to have fun. The GM isn't a fucking slave there, to be punished for some imagined ancestral sin by having to be a toadie to whatever a group of fetishists want as fantasy wish-fulfillment. There's a reason why Forge games are all for one-shots.

The GM has a DUTY to make sure his players will have the most fun possible for the longest time possible. Why does he have that Duty? Because HE IS THE ULTIMATE POWER, and with great power comes great duty. If he didn't have that power, he would not have any such duty and could be whatever kind of piece of shit he wanted. And for that matter, if he did not have that power he wouldn't even have the capacity to make sure players have the most fun for the longest time possible, because to make sure that happens he must be able to have the power to say NO to their capricious little spoiled whims of the moment. If he can't say No to them getting whatever the fuck they feel like just now, the game ends quickly as one or two people at the table (again, the loudest, most annoying players) get a session that went exactly how THEY wanted it to, and everyone else feels cheated.

d. Yeah, well maybe there's better ways out there than your one-true-way!

There aren't. That's why none of the bullshit garbage ideas the bullshit garbage Swine have come up with over the years to try to hijack games has produced anything other than misery, and why Old School, my "one true way", and myself personally are all more popular now than ever.
Must suck to be you some mornings...


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia


  1. "The GM and the Players are ALL there to have fun. The GM isn't a fucking slave there . . ."


  2. That's right, all you folks thinking that you are having fun playing Story Games are wrong, because Pundit said so, and he has the biggest dick in the room. Or is the biggest dick in the room. Or something.

  3. That´s your opinion? Ok, interesting, but wrong.
    I will continue playing Numenera and Symbaroum

    1. If you enjoy playing those games, or any games, you should obviously continue to do so. There are a lot of things that I enjoy playing, but that doesn't take away from the argument being made here.

  4. Why do you think the authority of the GM is lessened in any way if he doesn't roll dice ? Not trolling btw.

    1. Because the literal mechanical controls of the game are taken out of the GM's hands. It's like asking why a race driver would think that his control was lessened by forbidding him from touching the steering wheel.

    2. Not true. Even if the GM doesn't roll, he still controls the opposition and NPCs and acts as a referee. He is still in charge.

      Actually, the only thing you lose by using a system like in Symbaroum or Brigandyne is the ability to fudge your own rolls (which is something I never do). Well, and of course you don't get to roll dice and rolling dice is fun.

    3. I allow (force) my players to roll monster damage. If they get a low roll, or get a high roll, they know it is legit. And all attack rolls are in plain sight.

      That's different from not being allowed to roll, though.

    4. GM: hey, Gary, roll to see if your character notices that secret door over there.

      Gary: Ok, what should I roll?

      GM: Roll a d12 this time because... well, I shouldn't say?

      Gary: Ok, I got a 3.

      GM: Nevermind then.

      Dave: I'm going to search for secret doors in this area.

      GM: Roll a d6 for me, Dave.

      Dave: I got a 5!

      GM: Your character suddenly contracts syphilis and dies.

  5. Removing the GM sounds comparable to arguing that cheat codes in a computer game should be standard play.

  6. GMless games sound too much like the "Cadaver Exquisito" game. Too hipster for me.

  7. While I agree with the sentiment, I still don't see the hands which touch the randomizer mattering all that much. The inability of the GM to ignore shitty dice rolls kind of sucks though.

  8. "Symbaroum" and "Brigandyne" are retarded fucking pretentious names for games. As a title they pretty much tell you all you need to know about the game and the people who made it.

  9. Try my DUNGEONPUNK RPG. The DUNGEONPUNK MASTER is the master of the rules because it's a semi Freeform RPG. The players just play and don't even need to worry about the rules. If you want I can send you a free copy if you ask me to.