|September 29, 2008||Posted by Walt Ciechanowski|
Not long ago, I was surfing the boards (I won’t mention where) and I came across a post from a gamer who insisted that it was the GM’s job to serve the players. I’m paraphrasing, but it seemed to me that he was saying that the GM should always allow player decisions to trump her designs. It’s a viewpoint I’ve heard echoed before.
In the early 90s, I played a game under a GM praised by several gamers in my circle at the time. I sat there while he told me an entertaining story about my character and, if I was lucky, I’d get to make one decision or dice roll before he cut the scene. Calling his GMing style “railroading” would not do him justice. I’ve read Endless Quest/Choose Your Adventure books that asked me for more input. Still, to give credit where credit is due, he was an excellent storyteller (in the classic, not WoD, sense) and he was masterful at bridging scenes.
Obviously, I’ve used two extreme examples of “player trumping” and “GM trumping.” However, I have, on both sides of the screen, been party to sessions where the GM tries to run an adventure and the players either veto it outright or “resist the story” as much as they can throughout the session. I’ve also been party to players that modify their decisions to accommodate the adventure. And, I’ve also seen GM’s rein in players to keep things on track (pun intended).
What say you? Should the players be able to essentially veto an adventure and, if they do, should they expect the GM to continue running that session? Should the GM coax drifting players back into the adventure or always let the chips fall where they may?
About Walt Ciechanowski
Walt’s been a game master ever since he accidentally picked up the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1982. He became a freelance RPG writer in 2005 and is currently the Victoriana Line Developer for Cubicle 7. Walt lives in Springfield, PA with his wife Helena and their three children, Leianna, Stephen, and Zoe.