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Never Make This Mistake
Posted By Patrick Benson On January 27, 2011 @ 12:00 am In GMing Advice | 48 Comments
The worst GM that I ever played with was an idiot of such profound magnitude that I cannot begin to find words that would adequately describe the stupidity unleashed upon the world by the three pounds of excrement that resided in his skull in place of a brain. This event took place about four years ago, but it is still so fresh in my mind that I want to share it with all of our Gnome Stew readers even though I sincerely hope that none of you need to learn its lesson. I have contemplated writing this article ever since Gnome Stew launched and I hope you understand why despite being an obvious message that I feel that this must be shared.
A friend had vouched for the worst GM ever and praised his Twilight 2000 game as one of the best gaming experiences that he had ever had. I had not played that game since my twenties, so I eagerly accepted an invitation to join the game. The GM’s apartment did not betray his lack of higher mental functions as it was organized and well kept. There was no reason to be concerned upon entering the moron’s abode. In fact, the GM did run a fun game with a nice plot, convincing NPCs, and interesting encounters.
Why the only thing that this GM did that ruined this rather pleasant game was to produce a pistol halfway through the game.
Not a toy. Not a non-firing replica. The GM brought one of his fully functional pistols out of his bedroom to use as a prop during the game.
I enjoy going to the range and shooting paper targets or skeet shooting when I have the opportunity to do so. As my children grow older and the biometric locks improve I often consider buying a firearm once again and to return to the hunting of small game. One of the best times that I had with my younger brother was when we went to an indoor range to just hangout and practice firing handguns upon his return from the Army. I look forward to this summer when I visit with friends and we might find some time to go to the range to fire a few rounds. I am no stranger to firearms.
And the first rule of firearms is to treat all firearms as if they are loaded.
It does not matter that the GM assured us that the pistol was not loaded. It does not matter that the GM showed us that the pistol was not loaded. You never use an actual weapon as a prop. You never treat a firearm as if it were not a loaded weapon. These rules have no exceptions.
I know two police officers who despite years of service unintentionally fired their weapons while handling them (one while preparing to clean his firearm, the other while holstering his firearm resulting in a self-inflicted gunshot wound). This impacted their careers despite neither incident resulting in harm to another person. This person’s career ended when he accidentally fired his own weapon in front of a classroom full of kids. He shot himself in the leg, and thankfully did not harm any of the children. These three examples all involved law enforcement professionals who due to carelessness fired a weapon unexpectedly. In two of these three examples the person handling the firearm believed that the weapon was not loaded.
The worst GM I ever played with was not associated with law enforcement in any way (even if he was it would not have made a difference in any way whatsoever). In his own words "I love guns. They are my toys!" Now that statement by itself means nothing about how a person handles firearms, but that statement combined with the idiotic actions of the worst GM ever spoke volumes to me.
I left that game almost immediately after the pistol came out. Does that make me a coward? I really do not care. I suggested to my friend that he no longer attend the game either, but he still played in that game until eventually he too became concerned about the safety of that environment. Seems that the worst GM ever used the game to regularly show off the latest addition to his firearms collection
I do not know of anyone being harmed in that gaming group. I have no idea if that game is still going on. I hope that it is not.
I apologize to all of you in advance for the lesson that I share with you today. It is so basic and simple that it really should not need to be said at all, but somewhere out there someone needs to learn it before he or she harms another person:
Collect swords? Keep them in your collection. They are not props. Have a kitchen knife that is exactly like the one you envision the homicidal bad guy using in your game? Keep it away from your gaming table. It is not a prop. Own firearms? Keep them locked and secured. They are not props.
Why did I finally write this article? Last October a gamer brought in his fully functional flintlock rifle as part of his costume for the annual Halloween game night at my local game shop (the owners had no idea, but upon discovering what was going on had him return it to his automobile). This gamer apparently is a re-enactor in Revolutionary War battles. So what? That is no excuse for treating any form of a weapon as a prop, and other re-enactors that I know agree. They treat their firearms like firearms, and their props like props.
But I have now met two gamers who treated a firearm as a prop. I hope that I never meet a third.
Again, I apologize if this offends anyone’s intelligence. I know that the tone is preachy. But if reading this article prevents a single accident at a gaming table or anywhere else it is worth it.
Have a similar story to share? I wish that you did not, but please do tell us about it in the comments section below. Think you know of an exception to the rule of "Weapons are not props." at the game table? Do not bother. There are none.
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