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Talk is Cheap

Posted By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 12:00 am In GMing Advice | 62 Comments

Consider this my manifesto to GMs everywhere.

I am tired of hearing about your games. Do not approach me with your stories about how awesome your past campaigns were. Do not bother to share with me how great your gaming group has been for the last X amount of years. I have no interest in your past accomplishments. They are a part of your past, and I’m focused on my present.

Instead of talking about your games run a game for me. Run it in public. Run it for strangers. Run it without any of your favorite safety nets whatever they may be.

Go for broke. Do not tell me “I need to prep something first.” That is an excuse, and you know it. If you feel your game is good enough to talk about, well then run that particular game again for me instead of talking about it.That game is already prepped, so let’s see how it runs for other people.

Or run it off the top of your head. Improvise like MacGuyver would with nothing but a ham sandwich and a ticking time bomb in a locked room. I guarantee that you will survive the ordeal.

Save the talk for your date nights and family reunions. I want to game with you, not hear you talk about gaming.

Other people want to game with you too. They are not looking to join your group. They are not interested in what you ran for someone else last week. They are at your local game shop, community center, and student lounge waiting for you to show up and GM. They are not waiting for you to show up and share a story about GMing.

Want to try a new RPG out but your current group is not interested in it? Do not talk to me about your situation. Break out the dice and hand me a character sheet. Start the game.

Just had a bad night in the GM’s seat? Do not tell me went wrong. Take your material and run that game for me. Now. No hesitation. At the end of the session you will either have a better understanding of what failed, or you will have solved the problem.

Having trouble finding new players? Show up at a place where people meet with pre-generated characters and a sign that says “Roleplaying Game Open To All!” and get the first person who asks “What is that?” to sit down and play.

You can talk, or you can take action. Talking is easy. Leave easy for the other guy. Take action. Expose yourself to the risk of failure, and then push yourself hard to succeed. In other words – run a game. That is the best advice you will ever get as a GM.

Stop talking. Start gaming.

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?




62 Comments (Open | Close)

62 Comments To "Talk is Cheap"

#1 Comment By epicfreak On September 30, 2011 @ 12:31 am

Sounds like someone needs to take a chill pill and a healthy dose of shut-the-fuck-up.

#2 Comment By theeo123 On September 30, 2011 @ 1:43 am

ok, so what your saying is that, we should not be proud of our accomplishments, and that we, the participants of a SOCIAL hobby, should, not be sociable about that hobby?

Isn’t the point of role-playing, in many ways to craft a tale, to tell a story?

what you suggesting is akin to writing book, an epic grand novel, and then locking it away in a vault and never letting anyone see it.

You speak of GM-ing like it’s a job, a career that one should push and strive at, that one should try to constantly improve. I’m not against improving, but isn’t this, at it’s heart, supposed to be a game? a fun time with friends?

I can’t imagine sitting down to a gaming session without reminiscing about our past exploits.

The saying is “the stuff legends are made of”
without retelling the tales, there are no legends.

Hearing of other peoples exploits often inspire me, they provoke thought and give me different ways of looking at things.

Evil Gazeebo anyone?

Our hobby REVOLVES around the telling of tales. Don’t ever forget that

#3 Comment By epicfreak On September 30, 2011 @ 3:19 am

Or to put it another way, stop whining like a bitch and wasting my fucking time with useless articles where you do nothing but whine like a bitch.

#4 Comment By The Angry Monk On September 30, 2011 @ 4:44 am

I thank you for kicking me in the balls. To paraphrase the Ugly, “If you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.” I think the other posters are being harsh.

#5 Comment By Clawfoot On September 30, 2011 @ 5:12 am

Wow. There are a couple very literal-minded people around, aren’t there? Sheesh.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t take this as an edict (“don’t talk about your games EVER”), but as a challenge, to take or leave. Yes, the whole point of the hobby is fun, but this article is obviously directed towards those who find challenging themselves fun (which includes me).

Good article. Food for thought. Er– food for action? ;)

#6 Comment By Nevynxxx On September 30, 2011 @ 5:47 am

Ok. I’ll take you up on that. I get out of work in 5 hours, G+ hangout or skype?

(p.s. *really* surprised by the comments. Geesh!)

#7 Comment By epicfreak On September 30, 2011 @ 6:22 am

You’ve got to be kidding. This is the most retarded of all the articles I’ve seen on this site. I’ve only been following it for about 6 months or so, but in that time I’ve read a lot of useless shit with the occasional decent posting, and this is by far the most useless I’ve seen thus far. Luckily, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any more.

#8 Comment By parrais On September 30, 2011 @ 7:18 am

Fred Hicks has a similar challenge (albeit stated in a more measured tone); ‘Play More. Run More. Share More’: http://www.deadlyfredly.com/2010/12/not-a-resolution-a-mission/

#9 Comment By black campbell On September 30, 2011 @ 7:34 am

I’m assuming this was written as a response to some blog or some email that was complainng incessantly about the issues listed above…

That said, I think I ‘ll go with the majority of posters here: not helpful, not inspiring, just kind of annoying.

#10 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 9:03 am

@epicfreak – I’m sure you’ll find other sites that appeal to you. Good luck and good gaming to you.

@theeo123 – I disagree. Our hobby is about the act of role playing in a game, not talking about the last time we gamed. Don’t tell someone about your game – run a game for them.

Be proud of your accomplishments. I never said not to be proud of them. Express your pride by running more great games.

@The Angry Monk – I don’t want to kick anyone in the balls here, but I’m glad you like the post. Fan points from me to you for quoting my favorite character in my favorite movie!

@Clawfoot – You got it! Let’s all go take action!

@Nevynxxx – Is that an open invitation to anyone to game with you online today? If you are saying “Hey world! Want to game? I’ll GM!” then I tip my hat to you. That is exactly what I am talking about!

If it is an invitation for me to game with you tonight I cannot, but shoot me an email at Patrick.Benson@SinisterForces.com and let’s figure out a time when we can game together. I’ll run one game for you, and you can run one for me. Deal?

@parrais – Thank you for sharing that link. It definitely compliments what I have said here.

@black campbell – No, it was written because I was inspired by various sources. Seth Godin’s book “Poke the Box” was a big influence on this article, and I highly recommend his stuff to everyone. Another reason that I wrote this is that readers have said “Tell me about your game!” and I always think “Wouldn’t you rather that I ran a game for you?”

It is unfortunate that you feel this article is annoying. Maybe you’ll find my next article to be better, and I hope you still find the site as a whole a good resource.

Let’s not talk about our games. Let’s run them and invite people (both gamers and non-gamers) to play in them.

#11 Comment By Synderryn On September 30, 2011 @ 9:06 am

You seem to be forgetting something. Well, two somethings, apart from that which has already been posted.

#1 – Talking about our previous games is the gamer version of a resume – and also a way to get feedback.

#2 – By sharing your ‘war stories’ with new people, you learn what kind of mistakes not to make by comments other people have.

Shut up and game already, in my experience, comes only from a couple of different camps.

*the people who’ve heard it before
*the people who don’t really care about the game at all

Consider that.

#12 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 9:14 am

@Synderryn – I disagree. My gamer resume is not me talking about my games, but satisfied players talking about my game.

As for war stories, I feel we learn more by doing. Comments made by others in reaction to you telling a story can be influenced by a bias in how the story is told, or by the relationship between the storyteller and the listener.

My experience is that I have always learned more from playing in someone’s game than I have from hearing about it. It is also my experience that a person who wants to play in your game cares a great deal more than someone who wants to just hear about it.

#13 Comment By theeo123 On September 30, 2011 @ 9:29 am

Pattrick, thank you for taking the time to respond.

We may have to disagree about the point of role-playing, and Im willing to accept that, but the tone of your article paints a very bleak picture.

For instance when you say to just run and not use prep time as an excuse. Sadly, the 1st edition D&D books and hand drawn maps I used 20 years ago, just aren’t available to me.

Your article, in my perception at least, doesn’t come across as “put your money where you mouth is”.
It comes across as “shut up”

It’s largely a matter of tone rather than Content.

I agree with you that we learn more from doing, but your article, says “Don’t tell me about it”
as if we learn nothing at all from telling.

More from doing than telling, sure, nothing at all from the telling…. not so

In essence, spending time gaming, RATHER than talking about gaming, is good, I’m with you there, but as I said, your article, in its aggressive, and stand-offish tone, came across more as a battle cry, to not talk about the gaming at all, To not try and share our stories.

Perhaps I’m looking at it wrong. perhaps I misunderstood you, it’s hard t say, but I enjoy telling other people about the things my players did, I enjoy telling people about how myp layers figured out some devious trap. Not telling about how I came up with some devious trap. Perhaps that’s the difference between the type of Talk you and I are envisioning.

#14 Comment By Synderryn On September 30, 2011 @ 9:36 am

Satisfied players aren’t akin to a resume – they’re positive consumer feedback.

Not everyone learns the same way. Doing gives us personal experience – some people learn best this way, I agree.

There can be bias in the way a story is told, I know this. It has always been my experience that when a new person finds a new group, there is more than just the GM there, so a story becomes multi-faceted.

Your article here, may have a valid point – if it didn’t feel as though it were written snarkly, as a result of a bad mood forged from someone incessantly telling the same story or stories over and over, or pestering for a game.

#15 Comment By The Angry Monk On September 30, 2011 @ 9:38 am

@Patrick Benson
I meant that you kicked me in the balls like a monk master might kick his grasshopper in the balls…to present to him the painful, yet obvious, truth that talking is not doing. Thank you, Master, for your humble lesson. Now may I snatch the pebble from your hand?

#16 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 10:09 am

@Synderryn & @theeo123 – I can understand that my tone can be taken as snarky, or insulting. That was not my intention. I did write this piece to push people, like a good coach is harsh in some ways in order to bring out his or her player’s best.

And I understand not everyone is going to respond the same way to that kind of tone. That is the risk I take when I decide to write in the manner that I did, and I accept the consequences of that. I still stand by what I wrote, and how I wrote it. Time will tell if I made the right decision.

@The Angry Monk – Now I get you, and I agree. That monk master isn’t taking a cheap shot, but he is teaching the student a lesson. Now maybe his technique is no the best, and the same could be said about my article, but we don’t know until we see the results. If five years later his students are the undisputed champions in their art, well then we can assume that he knew what he was doing.

And if his students are all walking around with swollen crotches, well then we know to go down the street to the next school. :)

#17 Comment By drow On September 30, 2011 @ 10:36 am

i get the meaning, but man. way to stir the cauldron of nerd rage. :)

#18 Comment By beholderbill On September 30, 2011 @ 10:49 am

Starting an article out with “I am tired of hearing about your games” is not the best way to endear yourself to fanbase.

I read through the article and understand your intentions were to rally the troops, but the first line stuck with me through the entire article and tainted the message.

Perhaps you should consider a less public forum to express your burnout.

#19 Comment By beholderbill On September 30, 2011 @ 10:52 am

Your Readers Are Your Fans– Treat Them as Such

#20 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 11:07 am

@drow – Yep, but maybe the cauldron needs to be stirred from time to time.

@beholderbill – I am not going to censor myself. I think that is deceptive. The article may not be one that you like, but it is an honest representation of me. You may not like me, and you can react as you would like to to that.

As for burnout, I don’t have it. I’m happy as a GM. I hope that you are too.

And my fans, if I have any, know from my previous articles that this is the sort of thing that they can expect from me. I appreciate that they read my work, and that they may disagree with it. Maybe I will have lost some fans due to this article, but in the long run I think that those who remain appreciate what I write and how I write it.

#21 Comment By beholderbill On September 30, 2011 @ 11:22 am

Just seemed a bit harsh and self centered is all.. I have read your past articles and this one just came off as selfish.

“I have no interest in your past accomplishments. They are a part of your past, and I’m focused on MY present”

I generally like what you write, but this one was not really very constructive.

#22 Comment By InsaneMuadib On September 30, 2011 @ 11:23 am

I’m probably going to be one of the few to say this, but this has made me think about what I have been doing as a GM, and I think I do need to stop talking and start running more. So when that online game happens let me know I would love to GM for you guys and get some feedback. Shoot an Email to A.Geddes5@gmail.com and I’ll run one too.

#23 Comment By beholderbill On September 30, 2011 @ 11:28 am

“My experience is that I have always learned more from playing in someone’s game than I have from hearing about it.”

Yes, I agree that YOU can learn more about a game from playing in it, However if somebody is telling you about their game perhaps they are looking for feedback and idea validation from a person they consider a good GM rather than trying to entertain you.

#24 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 11:36 am

@InsaneMuadib – Awesome! I will contact you this weekend.

@beholderbill – Again, I think that how people react to my tone in this article is going to encompass a very broad spectrum. But my goal here is not to be loved by the masses. My goal is to be honest, and to expose my ideas to you sincerely. That comes at a price though. I’m willing to pay it.

And if you are looking for validation, run the game for me instead of telling me about it. If you are asking for advice, then ask in the form of “Let me run this game for you, and tell me what you think of X.”

#25 Comment By BryanB On September 30, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

I get Patrick’s goal, even if I disagree with the tone and approach of the article. But to run a game for complete strangers without any prep work at a moments notice? To me, that is just crazy talk! :)

#26 Comment By InsaneMuadib On September 30, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

@BryanB: That is what I’m planning on doing though. This weekend apparently. I just want to improve my games.

#27 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

@BryanB – But if you run enough games and get to the point that you can run a game for complete strangers without any prep work at a moment’s notice (which I have done myself several times btw)is that not a great personal achievement? Run those games and pursue that goal! Then pursue the next goal, and make it an even bigger one. :)

#28 Comment By iserith On September 30, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

Okay, I’ll bite. I’m running a one-shot online 4e Eberron game for some “What’s a DM to Do?” regulars on the WotC forums on October 12th, 8 pm Eastern. Think James Bond parody in Trolanport (gnome capital city).

Gory deets are here: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/28299959/Gnomefinger_(LFP)

I wrote it myself. My only price is constructive criticism when we’re done. So slap on your dragonmark and get over to that thread pronto with your character idea.

#29 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

@iserith – You are awesome. :)

#30 Comment By BryanB On September 30, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

@Patrick Benson – It is a pretty amazing achievement in gaming to be able to run an improvised game for complete strangers especially at a moments notice. It is hard enough to run games for complete strangers WITH preparation and scheduling.

What I don’t see is a pressing need to do it that way. At least I don’t see why it needs to be a goal of mine in the first place. I have other areas of my GMing that I’d like to improve first. And that’s alright. We all have room for improvement just as we all need to decide what is more important to focus on when we are striving to improve.

#31 Comment By Trace On September 30, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

Patrick,
You view your own candor as “honesty,” and “uncensored.” While this is true, it was also shortsighted and condescending. Remember, we already exist in a hobby where may people have social anxiety issues. Being talked down to in a manner like you have here can be very hurtful for them. If your idea of honestly involves a complete disregard for the emotional well-being of a significant section of your reader base, I’ve allowed myself to be misled about what the intent of this site is.

I’m very disappointed.

#32 Comment By iserith On September 30, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

@Patrick: Right back at you. See you at the game if you can make it. If not, let your pals know. Tell them it’s got gnomes in it.

@Trace: The only thing I’m disappointed with is that people in our hobby with “social anxiety issues” don’t man up and grow a pair. That “disorder” didn’t even exist before they made a pill for it. The only difference between now and then is that now it’s socially acceptable to be a reject, strange as that sounds. So we may as well get out there and meet people and game. Sorry if that shatters anyone’s delicate sensibilities.

#33 Comment By Patrick Benson On September 30, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

@BryanB – I don’t do everything that I read on the Internet either. I think it is very a good thing that anyone who reads my stuff here thinks critically about it, and makes the decision that is best for them. If the article gets you thinking, then I am happy with the result. If it gets you to start your own blog where you argue against me in an intelligent manner, well that would make me ecstatic! Disagreeing with each other is fine.

@Trace – Understood, but I disagree. I think that you are extending what I said well beyond a rational expectation. If what I said here is very hurtful to some people, and I am completely serious here, I fear that such a person might have a much more severe problem requiring medical help. A single post on a blog causing the damage that you described seems highly unlikely. My experience has been that the vast majority of gamers can easily handle this content without suffering in any form.

And if the expectation is that I never say anything that might be taken poorly, well I will never meet that expectation. You cannot make everyone happy. Granted, how I wrote today’s article did provoke people. Yet it provoked people in both good and bad ways. I now have several online games in the works thanks to this article, and I will be playing in several as well. Kudos to all of you who are hearing the call and are responding!

@iserith – I will try to be a part of your game. I may be traveling at that time, but if my schedule allows for it I will be there.

#34 Comment By theeo123 On September 30, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

I’ve been quiet for some time, but I feel the need to chime in here

Social Anxiety
There is a difference, between someone who is socially awkward, and someone who has a legitimate chemical imbalance, someone who, when in a room with more than 2 or 3 people, starts having SEVERE respiratory problems, not being able to breath, blood pressure rising into the 200′s, and other measurable, verifiable, reactions.

I agree there are a lot of people diagnosed as such, that have nothing that severe, and may need little more than to be pushed out of their shells. However for others it is a legitimate, and serious, even at times life threatening condition

On this point I agree with Patrick, it’s unreasonable to expect everyone to agree with everything you write, and if an article offends you, don’t read it, boycott the author, or the blog, whatever. I had (have) issues with this article, i stated them clearly i opened a discussion and have continued to be, I think civil about it, as well as Patrick has. We disagree, but I respect him, and think he’s dealt with the negative comments admirably.

I do want to say, Patrick, be ever so careful with opinionated articles though, as you are writing them as a representative of Gnome stew at this point. In this case I don’t think you crossed too much of a line, it’s just a word of caution for future articles. It would be a same for the thoughts and opinions of one author to reflect poorly on the blog as a whole. We all know, right or wrong, that people will see this as “That Gnome stew article” not “That Patrick Benson article”

#35 Comment By BryanB On September 30, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

@iserith – Anxiety is very much a real disorder that causes increased social challenges, especially for those with introverted personalities. I have anxiety issues that I have had to overcome to live a more satisfying and complete life. I’ve even managed to cope without any medication for nearly ten years. I still have moments in life where I must push myself to be socially affable. Awareness is the first step. Having supportive encouragement from family and friends is the second. Dismissive behavior from those that are more apt socially or don’t have this kind of challenge is not helpful at all. It is actually harmful.

That most people don’t realize I have an anxiety disorder is a credit to myself and how hard I’ve had to work to overcome it. But it is very much a REAL condition. Don’t be so dismissive of things you couldn’t possibly understand.

#36 Comment By iserith On September 30, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

@theeo123 and BryanB

Not to derail the commentary further, but it’s called booze and sex with ladies. It’s worked for centuries as a cure for what used to be called “shyness.” It became SAD (what awesome irony) in 1994 when things like Paxil, Luvox, and Zoloft flooded the market for it. Having the jimmy legs is called “restless leg syndrome” now because someone figured out how to make money off a pill. Give me a break. Go get laid. You’ll feel better.

Those who took offense to Patrick’s post because he used a harsh “tone?” Wow. Thicken up that skin. Or at least up your dosage. Jeez.

Soapbox Rant Complete.

#37 Comment By Riklurt On September 30, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

Whoooaa these comments are madness.

Anyway, here’s my opinion on the matter: Gaming is, obviously, superior to talking about gaming. That’s a no-brainer right there; it’s just like how, say, actually eating is better than discussing restaurants. However, sometimes you don’t have the resources you need on hand – that’s what talking is for. And by resources, I mean stuff like character sheets, preparations for the GM, dice, or a sufficient amount of time.

That’s when talking about games is for. Obviously, if given a choice between gaming and talking about gaming, I would play. But that isn’t always an option.

#38 Comment By The Angry Monk On September 30, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

This is getting crazy. I think you people are taking this way too personal. I felt as though the author was talking about me exactly. I talk about the campaigns I want to run, but have never gotten around to doing. I have to do less talking, less researching, and MORE playing. That’s what gaming is about. Nothing can be perfect, so stop worrying and start gaming. As I said, I felt as though the comments were directed right at me…and I’m not offended. I need the kick in the pants to get going. If you don’t feel the comments applied to you, then why are you taking it so personally. Just ignore them. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water though. Anyhoo, thanks again for providing me with free ice cream. I appreciate the fact that you take the time to reach out to a very passionate (obviously) community.

#39 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 1, 2011 @ 9:17 am

@theeo123 – Thank you for the advice. At Gnome Stew we have no restrictions on what or how the authors write. Just as I take risks with my articles, Martin takes a risk by letting us have free reign. I believe that this is one of the reasons why this site has been so successful. It is not a perfect system, because it is possible for one author to “damage” the site’s reputation. The potential for great articles far outweighs the risks IMO.

@BryanB – I am glad to hear that you have been successful in dealing with your condition. I wish you the best in continuing to do so.

@iserith – I’m not a doctor, so I will not comment on whether or not someone has a legitimate condition. Someone close to me was diagnosed with anxiety problems. This person did need treatment, and the condition is very real. The medication this person takes is necessary for them to function and enjoy life to its fullest.

Ironically, I asked this same person to check out my article (they are not a gamer) and to give me their opinion from the perspective of someone with an anxiety disorder. This person’s response (remember, this is their words and not mine): “Toughen up. Just because it offends you doesn’t mean it didn’t inspire someone else.”

@Riklurt – That is a very rational argument and a valid point. I would suggest that use that time when it is not possible to game to collectively prepare a game instead of just talking about your past games.

@The Angry Monk – Passion is a tricky commodity. When you expose your passion to the world you take a risk. Luckily the world is big enough that your passion may be embraced by some and safely ignored by others. I’m glad that sharing my passion with you has inspired you, and I hope that those whom I offended understand that my intention was never to do that.

I have learned something from many of the comments left here (both the positive and the negative), and they all have influenced me in some way. The only exceptions are the comments that are outright insulting, which never influence me. Those sort of comments only make me laugh.

Something that I should clarify – when I say talk is cheap I mean just that. Talk is cheap. Writing is not cheap. If you take the time to write about your past games that is something completely different. Good writing takes effort, and it is much more difficult to write about your game then it is to give me a verbal play-by-play of your game.

#40 Comment By Synderryn On October 1, 2011 @ 9:25 am

@Patrick Benson I admire the fact that you stick to your guns, and your comments here have helped to clarify your point, and take away from the initial tone of the article. That said, perhaps an idea for a future article?

Perhaps something about how gaming is therapeutic for those with mental illness. At least it is for me – I suffer from social anxiety, PTSD, and I’m bi-polar as well. For me gaming helps to deal with all of that.

I’m still not wholly comfortable running a game, but the few I have run, I’ve tried to pull from some of my worst experiences to make the game interesting.

I’m sorry for rambling, but I’ve never come across an article like it before, and it just might be of use to someone.

#41 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 1, 2011 @ 10:44 am

@Synderryn – I’m not qualified to say that RPGs are or are not therapeutic for the treatment of mental illnesses. I believe that it would be both immoral and unethical for me to make any sort of claim on that matter.

I will contact reputable professionals though, and I will investigate if there is a GMing angle there.

I do not feel that you were rambling at all. I just do not want to make a promise to you when I am not a reputable source when it comes to the treatment of mental illnesses. I will promise to put serious effort into fulfilling your request, and if I can produce something of value that ties in with Gnome Stew’s mission of helping GMs then it will be posted here.

#42 Comment By Martin Ralya On October 1, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

@epicfreak – Personal attacks are against our comment policy, and this is your only warning. Any further violations of that policy, whether in this thread or in any other thread here, will result in a ban.

To everyone else who has commented, thank you for keeping things civil. I wouldn’t have presented this article the way that Patrick chose to, but I see what he’s driving at and I respect his perspective.

That variety in viewpoints, plus the high quality and signal:noise ratio in the comments, are two of the things I like most about the Stew.

#43 Comment By Bluedress On October 1, 2011 @ 1:48 pm

For what it’s worth, I loved this article. I’ve known plenty of people who enjoy telling me (for hours and hours) about some past campaign they ran four years ago, and how amazing it was–or, on the other side, someone who wants to talk about what they would do, what an amazing twist they would introduce, how cool a story they have.

It’s fun to talk about gaming, sometimes, but it is not the end point. The hobby withers without people actually playing.

#44 Comment By hattymchappy On October 1, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

I could tell right from the start that this article was not Patrick’s attempt to insult anyone. If you’re a regular here at the Stew, then you know that Patrick is quite intense and brutally honest about his feelings. I think some people here need to lighten up. Sheesh!

#45 Comment By Neil Glassford On October 1, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

I’ve read the Stew for over a year now. I hardly ever feel the need to post. Only two things:

1) Awesome article.
2) Geezo. The virulence it unleashed!

Good stuff.

#46 Comment By Redcrow On October 1, 2011 @ 11:24 pm

I enjoy discussing highlights and memorable moments from my games and I enjoy hearing others discuss theirs. I wish I had more time to devote to gaming but that pesky real-life stuff prohibits it. It just takes far less time to discuss the highlights and memorable moments of past games with someone than it would to run them through every scenario in which those moments occured. Especially with 30+ years of them built up.

When I was younger I had the time to keep 2 or 3 groups per week going, but my responsibilities and obligations these days only allow me enough time for 1 group every other week.

So I will probably just continue to discuss past games with those who are eager to share their stories and willing to hear mine.

#47 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 2, 2011 @ 9:57 am

@Martin Ralya – Thanks! :)

@Bluedress – There are many people who share your opinion. I’m sure that there are many who do not as well. I side with you, but the important thing is not what side we are on. The important thing is that both sides communicate with each other. Maybe this article helped to spark that communication, or maybe I inadvertently hurt that process. Time will tell, but the responses that I have been getting both here and through other means suggest that things are moving in the right direction.

@hattymchappy – In all fairness I tend to be the person who causes the majority of my own problems. :)

@Neil Glassford – Thanks for the kind words! I don’t blame people for taking offense to what I wrote, because if they choose to perceive my tone as me being an asshole that is a valid reaction. I’m not perfect, and now I have to defend what I wrote and explain my intention. But it is a tribute to the readers of this site that with the exception of one person’s comments that those who disagree with me are stating their objections in a productive manner.

@Redcrow – Well said. While I do not agree, I cannot say that what you have described is wrong. I think that it is better to focus on what’s next with an understanding of what has happened before. If we all focus on that our hobby can grow.

#48 Comment By philipstephen On October 2, 2011 @ 11:32 am

I think you did well to title this post a Manifesto, Patrick…

Manifestos are supposed to be challenging and filled with charged and somewhat confrontational writing… they express a way of viewing the world or living one’s life, but they are not so much an edict as a personal creed that people can accept, debate, reject or whatever.

And for the most part I have found Gnome Stew to be one of the best places to go to find intelligent comments — whether they debate, accept, or reject the premise of the orignal post. Even in this thread, there are well balanced posts that challenge Patrick’s premise and tone, while being respectful in their disagreement.

(I think Martin’s sex-with-donkey-post a while back was the only exception I can think of that goes against the general tone of awesome and supportive writing…)

This is why I love the Stew. (the awesome and supportive writing… not the donkey thing)

But there have been sour notes of late. Epicfreak is the first poster I have seen whose words seem to have the complete intent of being insulting without providing constructive argument…

Even his first post I saw in the Vornheim article struck me as jarring and out of place in a forum that I have felt to be very friendly until his (or her) posts cropped up.

I would support an instant ban if it meant I would never have to find another post from them again — that is how jarring and offensive I find their comments.

I would hope that Gnome Stew could be a resourse for GM’s of all ages. I started GMing when I was 10 years old… and if I had a kid that age, I would hope I could send them to Gnome Stew to help them with their game… but without exposing them to language and views as harshly antagonistic and belittling as Epicfreak chooses to share.

If their words could be removed from the site so as to make it a place that I would be proud to refer a young GM to, I would be grateful.

Phil

#49 Comment By Martin Ralya On October 2, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

@philipstephen – Epicfreak’s Vornheim comment doesn’t cross any official lines, and while I understand where you’re coming from I don’t censor folks who stay within those lines. If you look back through the 13,000+ comments we’ve had over the past three years, you’ll find “sour notes” along those same lines — everyone chooses to express their opinions differently.

Whether the Stew is explicitly kid-friendly is a different issue, though. From where I sit, it’s not specifically adult- or kid-oriented, but skews to adults — the majority of GMs. The occasional article about donkey-fucking fits within the context of the easter eggs and undercurrent of humor that runs through the site.

At present, I’d have to say that if you’d be uncomfortable referring a 10-year-old to the Stew, just don’t refer them here. I’m not saying that because it’s kickin’ rad to be all edgy and in your face, but because the Stew probably isn’t appropriate for some 10-year-olds and I don’t intend to change that.

Down the road, maybe that will change. My daughter is two now, but if we’re still writing the Stew when she’s 10, I might feel differently.

Thank you for bringing up good points and excellent food for thought in such a constructive way. I really enjoyed your comment, and I’m sorry the Stew isn’t exactly what you would prefer it to be.

#50 Comment By philipstephen On October 2, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

@Martin Ralya

Fair. It is your site to moderate as you wish, and your style and tone will garner an audience that appreciates that — whatever age they might be.

Please know that I do appreciate the Stew. As long as I am not busy, I too like Monte Cooke check up every day in anticipation of quality and useful articles — with a helpful dose of humour and intelligent commentary.

If you do want to change things when your daughter is 10, maybe a simple content filter might work that just hides the minority of posts with questionable content if you select a filter… kinda like google image searches…

Me being fairly technically ignorant, I do not know if that is actually a simple process or not.

Thanks for the reply and be well,
Phil

#51 Comment By Martin Ralya On October 2, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

@philipstephen – That’s an interesting idea, and WordPress has a deep enough library of plugins at this point that I’m sure someone has made one for filtering content by age-appropriateness. Thanks for the suggestion!

#52 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 2, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

@philipstephen – Thank you. That is exactly why I used the word manifesto in the article and used the tone that I did. It is also why I accept the consequences that should accompany any manifesto. If everyone reads your manifesto and agrees with it right off the bat, well then you didn’t write a manifesto at all.

Yet if a manifesto is correct, and I hope that mine is, it will eventually be accepted and embraced by the majority. If my article here has in anyway caused true damage to the RPG community as a whole (I doubt that it has) may it be a mere glitch before bringing us all together under a common goal – to play more games.

#53 Comment By recursive.faults On October 2, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

You know, I read this article a few times. It took me a few times to reconcile what I felt reading it. To be clear, I was never outraged or upset. I was afraid.

When Gnomestew asked for advice on how to improve their site I said something along the lines of the advice being to ethereal without enough practicality. At least I think I did. Now, here’s an article that couldn’t be more of an extreme in the other direction. I enjoyed it every time I read it. It did everything I would hope an article should. It inspired me, made me pause, and helped me to identify myself as a GM.

To get back to the fear. I have no problem speaking in public. I have no fear of presenting in front of crowds, microphones, or cameras. I’ve been in front of them all. I am, however, afraid of failure as a GM. This article brought those feelings to light. I know its a weakness of mine, and an odd one at that, but now I can move forward.

To everyone who was offended or upset, I can certainly see how Benson’s tone seems’s excessive. How his words seem to be an attack on all of us as GMs. I saw that in the words as well. Though, I saw his words as the advice you only wish you friends gave you when it mattered. Things like, “She’s bad news, stay away from her. Seriously,” or, “You shouldn’t have spent your money on that, let me help you with a budget.” We want these things, but when we finally get down to it, the most important advice we receive is the first we reject. I consider this article in that vein.

As GMs we have to be able to perform consistently and well. Its no good if we only have a handful of story worthy games to talk about. We need, and should desperately want to, perform beyond anyone’s expectations every time. Can all of you tell me that you are all actively doing that? I know I couldn’t. Some games I coast. Some times, I never make it past a few notes on a game that I’ll never play. Sometimes I see disappointment in my player’s faces, and try to reconcile it with some stupid excuse.

I let this article be a call to excellence that I otherwise didn’t have. I hope many of you can see it similarly.

#54 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 3, 2011 @ 9:16 am

@recursive.faults – When I read a comment like your’s, where there is obviously heartfelt impact being expressed honestly, I am humbled. Thank you.

#55 Comment By Razjah On October 3, 2011 @ 11:38 am

Challenge accepted, Patrick.

Every week for the rest of the semester I will be running an improvised game played in public (my school’s student union). Hopefully more people will come by and see what this is all about and drop in to game.

#56 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 3, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

@Razjah – Rock on! :)

@Everyone – I am floored by how this article has been received so far. I have a lot of online games that I need to get busy organizing now. I even received one email that said nothing more than:

“You are in a room. It is dark, too dark to see. All you can see is a small box ahead of you, lit-up. What do you do?”

Amazing! A PBEM game spontaneously appearing in my inbox! Just awesome!

I look forward to all of the games that I will be participating in thanks to GS readers. Good gaming all!

#57 Comment By Tsenn On October 3, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

Provocative. Made me think. Good discussion, too. Thank you, everyone.

#58 Comment By Matthew J. Neagley On October 3, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

I like how this speaks against the tendency in all of us to be armchair GMs.

#59 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 3, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

@Tsenn – I agree. The discussion has been a very good one overall.

@Matthew J. Neagley – Yep, it is better to be on the field than it is to be in the stands IMO.

#60 Comment By gerald On October 4, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

A proper role-playing game session for my group lasts upwards of six hours. I’d say that most people with day jobs and families don’t have the spare time to commit to starting another game with random strangers on a whim. We do, however, have the free time to discuss our games with other GMs and to absorb advice and theories that can help improve our experience on game nights.

Sure, you want us to stop talking about our games and invite you to play? How about every Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight? Oh, you already have plans? I’m shocked.

I’m very happy for you that you have this surplus of time and can play in lots of games, but I think your attack on hobby discussion is misguided.

#61 Comment By Patrick Benson On October 4, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

@gerald – I understand why you do not want to take my advice. I’m incredibly busy myself, which is one reason why I would rather run a game for you instead of telling you about my game. If I don’t have the time to run a game for you, then I will not talk to you about it either out of respect for your time as well as the conservation of my own. If I feel that I have something worthy to share about my game then I will blog about it, as I believe that is better way to share the details about one’s games instead of talking about it. The you can choose to read about my game at your leisure, but let’s spend our time together gaming instead of talking about gaming. If we can’t game, let’s plan when our next game will be and what it will be about instead of talking about past games. I believe that will help the hobby grow significantly.

#62 Pingback By News from Around the Net: 7-OCT-2011 (Sponsored by Crafty Games) | Game Knight Reviews On October 6, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

[...] Patrick Benson has smacked us all with a gauntlet over at Gnome Stew. He doesn’t want stories and summaries of  the games you GM, he wants to participate! As he says – talk is cheap. “Expose yourself to the risk of failure, and then push yourself hard to succeed.” [...]


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