9/22/2015

Is Your GM "Out to Get You"

Is Your GM "Out to Get You"
This morning I was fortunate to have a long talk with an old gaming buddy who lives out of state and part of our conversation was about various "complaints" he had with a particular game system and the GM for his home game.

Nothing major, pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff. The system didn't have this or that in it and the GM....well a lot of players think their GM is screwing them on this, that, or the other. Aside from one instance where I had a GM also playing a PC/Multiple PCs (not NPCs!), I haven't really experienced a GM screwing over the players.....

...well there was this one time at a tournament, but that was an outlier as far as I'm concerned.

As a GM and a player of this one system myself I kind of had to laugh because on the surface I could see how the player might see some of the stuff the GM was doing as trying to be a hard-ass and screw him over. My initial response was something to the tune of, "I can see where you're coming from, but if he was actually trying to screw you over....or if it was me trying to screw you, I'd have done this. This would have fucked you well and good."

Yes, there are so many ways a GM can dick over a player. They can be overly generous with foes by doubling up on some solitary-type monsters or even just make everything have max hit points. To me the easiest is to simply not play monsters to type. Every monster fights stupidly to the death without any hesitation or motivation to do so.

Actually, I see this one all the time and I don't think it is always an attempt by the GM to screw PCs over. All too-often published adventures are written this way and the effect can carry over.

I would say the biggest complaint I've seen by players with regards to the GM is not getting enough. Not enough XP, not enough gold, not enough magic. I am 110% certain I've had this complaint myself. Hell, I remember scraping and saving to commission a +2 weapon because I doubted I was ever going to find one in-game. When it came time to pick it up I find the blacksmith's shop razed to the ground and my weapon gone. As a player I was pissed....as a GM...well I'll admit it was a nice touch.

The problem here is often a matter of perspective. Players usually think of the here & now and if they don't like the current situation they may reminisce. GMs have to think ahead, planning for a bunch of "what-ifs" and react to the current goings-on.

Yes....your GM may be shorting your group on coin. This could be because they want the party to be "hungry" and willing to go on some adventure they are planning that might ordinarily be turned down. Maybe the GM's intention is to make some expenses less down the road (like the expense of training in HackMaster) and to compensate needs to "trim down" some of the loot along the way that normally would be bled off otherwise.

I will freely admit that it could very well be that the GM is inadvertently screwing you and your group over. Maybe they place all "the good stuff" with special foes that need to be defeated and your group keeps avoiding those carefully-placed encounters. As a GM I like the players to earn their special items and if they don't get them where I have planned, they aren't getting them. I might make other stuff available elsewhere, but I'm not going to take that magic longsword and give it to the next BBG that fights with a battle-axe. That is just how I roll.

IF, and this is the big if, you think your GM is "out to get you", it is entirely possible, just not as likely as your might think....and this is coming from a GM of a game notorious for the "GM vs. the Players" mentality. Before confronting your GM, which is always an option, I'd like you to consider these two questions:

  • Is your character still advancing (earning XP, getting some stuff, alive, etc.)?
  • Are you having fun?
If the questions to both of these questions is "no", then you should have a chat with your fellow players and your GM. If you simply aren't having fun then I'd look closer as to why. It might be you or an outside cause. Not saying that will be the case, just it could be the case and questioning your GM wouldn't be appropriate.

Bottom line, we play to socialize and have fun. You should be able to do both.