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Be Thankful For Your Players

Posted By Patrick Benson On November 26, 2009 @ 1:45 am In GMing Advice | 10 Comments

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Today is a day for gathering with friends and family to reflect upon what we have and to show our gratitude towards eachturkey other. Regardless of where you live, what holidays you observe, or what you believe allow me this moment to extend the thanks of all of us gnomes to you our readers. Without you this site would be nothing, and we appreciate you taking the time to read what we post here.

Now onto the daily dose of GMing advice, for as my crude illustration shows we gnomes are gluttons unable to resist the succulent treasure that is a Thanksgiving feast! I must share today’s wisdom before my hunger takes control.

Notice Those People Around The Table?

Not the table with the food on it, but the one with the battlemat, dice, and miniatures. Look past that GM’s screen and take note of the faces surrounding you. These people are your players and you owe them, well, everything!

It is easy when you are the GM to stop thinking of your players as people, and instead to start thinking of them as resources to be managed. You need Bob to be in the next adventure because you designed a scenario around his paladin character. You need to throw in something tough for Sarah, because she built an incredibly effective space samurai character.

Even worse is when you start to think of your players as problems. Joe is a rules lawyer so you need to be ready to counter his inevitable nit-picking of how you run the game. Gidget is a scene hog and you hate when she forces the game to a halt.

The truth is that anyone involved in a social activity is a resource, but they are not your resource. They are the game’s resource same as you. Likewise, people may introduce problems into your games but they themselves are not the problem. The problem is actually the interaction between the people at the table, not the people themselves.

So who are these people then? They are not your resources. They are not your problems. They are your players. Be grateful for them.

Their Time Is Valuable, Thank Them For It

No matter how difficult it can be to GM a game never forget that your players are giving up their time to participate in the game. They could have gone to see a movie, taken a special someone out to dinner, or maybe they could have stayed home to read a good book. But instead your players decided to show up to play in the game that you are GMing. That is in many ways a compliment.

And let us not forget that we GMs make mistakes, and usually it is the players who suffer for it. When we misinterpret the rules it may negatively impact a PC. If our story is a stinker it is the players who usually indulge us and sit through it. One bad night of GMing can be painful for the players, yet they always seem to come back next week hopeful that this time it will be better.

So take a moment to say thank you to your players. Literally take the time to say the words out loud to your group the next time that you gather to play. It means a great deal when someone gives thanks to another, and letting your players know that you appreciate them and what they bring to the game will only strengthen the social bond needed for a good gaming experience.

That is my opinion on the matter. What is yours? Have you said “Thank you.” to your players? If so, how? As always, remember that the GM is a player too. Have fun with it!

About  Patrick Benson

Patrick was born in 1975, and is more or less your typical American male for someone of his age. Except he is a tabletop RPG gamer and a damn fine game master! What else matters?




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10 Comments To "Be Thankful For Your Players"

#1 Comment By raistlin50201 On November 26, 2009 @ 9:24 am

I have to say, thinking about this it seems so obvious yet something I have never seen happen (either myself as a gamer or as a GM). I will have to remember to do this next game.

#2 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On November 26, 2009 @ 9:53 am

Amen to that, Patrick! I am emailing my players right now to thank them for their time.

And I’ll do it in person next session.

Thanks for the perspective!

#3 Comment By Patrick Benson On November 26, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

Thanks for the comments!

@raistlin50201 – I end each session by saying “Thank you for playing, and I hope that you enjoyed it. Feedback is always welcomed, whether good or bad.” By ending each session with those words I believe that I have created an atmosphere where the players feel comfortable to tell me what is wrong with the game so that I can fix it.

It was when one of my players commented “I notice that you are the only GM I know who does that.” that a lightbulb went off for me – Thanksgiving Day article! Just like you I realized that it seems obvious, but most GMs don’t do it. I don’t think it is because they are not thankful, but we just don’t encourage it as part of the role. I hope that this article helps to change that.

@Kurt “Telas” Schneider – That is awesome, and I hope that other GMs follow your lead. In fact, I am going to email everyone in my groups today as well besides just saying it in person. Great idea!

#4 Comment By Flynn On November 27, 2009 @ 10:35 am

First thing I did yesterday was send out an email to my gaming buddies to thank them for all the fun we have shared. :) Sometimes, it just helps to remind everyone that I’m more than just the guy running the game; I’m also a friend that enjoys their company and their involvement in the world we’re creating together. I consider myself very lucky to have the gaming group that I do.

Thanks for the Reminder,
Flynn

#5 Pingback By Ravenous Role Playing » Blog Archive » Saturday Six: 2009-11-28 On November 28, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

[…] Be Thankful For Your Players Ahhh… Thanksgiving in the United States this week. It meant time with family and/or friends, turkey, football and getting together just for the sake of gathering. It’s also a time to give thanks for the things you have. This includes your players. Quite often the GMs get all the thanks, which I feel they richly deserve, but the players are sometimes left out in the cold. When I run a game, I always thank the players for making the night memorable for me and I tell everyone that I hope to see them again next week. The players deserve some credit too, ya know? […]

#6 Comment By Scott Martin On November 30, 2009 @ 11:42 am

I’m going to do this in person next session. It can be a struggle to coordinate schedules this time of year– while that’s frustrating, it’s a great reminder that gaming is fun that we enjoy together, that we’re willing to bend and sacrifice for. Why not say that in words too?

#7 Comment By crowofpyke On November 30, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

How about a “thank you” to all the GM’s who spend hours and hours of time prepping games for the players to play in? It’s a two-way street, don’t forget your GM.

#8 Comment By Patrick Benson On November 30, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

@crowofpyke – Yes that is true, but Gnome Stew’s purpose is to to offer advice to GMs. I try to avoid addressing the players in my posts.

Plus I’ve been in groups where some players did more work than the GM did.

I once created a very detailed background story for my character with a lot of plot hooks, and kept it all in a journal where I was taking notes written in character of the game’s events. The GM would often asked to refer to my notes in game, and it soon became clear that he was not really putting much effort into keeping track of what was happening in the game. Plus he seemed to be just throwing together any encounter that he felt like at the last minute.

It was an awful game, and I felt like I did more work as a player than the GM did. A “Thanks!” from the GM would have been nice.

#9 Comment By Kurt “Telas” Schneider On November 30, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

@Patrick Benson – File that story under “Signs that you’re ready to run your own game”.

#10 Pingback By What alignment is your GM? | Moebius Adventures On December 10, 2009 @ 8:49 am

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