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 each 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!