Did you pack your breadsticks and your green sludge?


It may be fate, it may be saying something about my personality, but somehow I usually get in the situation where I have to organise meetings for people which I consider one of the hardest tasks there is. And this, of course, means taking on a leadership role and summoning more assertiveness and confidence than I am comfortable with. But, as a very wise wizard once said, the bet people to do such tasks usually have them thrust upon them; like a new set of clothes that looks like a burden but once they are worn they find they can balance the weight.

What am I blathering on about? Well, this is a post that has been a long time coming and I won’t beat around the bush any more. It’s about expectations, my own expectations based on the limited experience I have had in these past few months of gaming and how players could respond to them. If you have anything to add to the below list, please feel free to do so. We need to share experiences and that is how we learn, right? Right?

The GM is not your mother

As the GM pretty much is the game, at least that is what I tell the uninitiated when they ask, it makes the focal point for any communication about the game by default. As a GM, I like things to be regular and predictable, at least as predictable as the previous session or what you told me then, as as I have a campaign planned, don’t I? I want my players to show up every week with their gear, I want the venue to be available if I am not hosting and I want my breadsticks and green sludge, dammit!

When you come to me and say you don’t have your character sheet, have to leave after only an hour of play, would like to come but have no way of getting there…it gives me more of a headache than the Byzantine rules of Attacks of Opportunity.

I can only help you if you are willing to help yourself. Have to leave early? Well, we could work on that. Need a lift there? Well, I can only help you then if I can contact you, and no promises as I don’t even have my Learner’s. No dice? Well, lucky for you I travel with spares, but you get a crap set. But no character sheet? Well, unless you gave me a copy that I have on hand, why did you bother showing up? For the food which you may not have any entitlement to if you didn’t bring any of that either?

I said above one of the single hardest tasks is to set up a regular meeting day time and place for a group of adults that everyone can agree to. This I can cater for, and perhaps scout out opportunities for transport if you need to as I usually catch the bus to gaming and then walk.

But…if you don’t return my calls, reply to my text messages or answer my e-mails (and I am not talking about just the one person who has done this, by the way) then don’t expect me to go out on a limb for you. Just don’t play, and you can’t come to my birthday party either.

The GM is not psychic

I understand if you can’t turn up to a session. It happens. Real life is like that, I know. I do start to wonder, though, if you miss several in a row, but that’s okay too if you’ve told me beforehand.

However, if you just don’t show and don’t tell me before, please do not be alarmed if your character ends up in a clown suit, chained to a toilet on a train to Vladivostok without money or a passport.

When I plan a campaign, I do so with the assumption that the players I start with will remain in the story from the opening crawl until the credits. So, lets say you’re in a building and succeed a Perception check and hear mysterious noises on the other side of a door, then we stop for the week and pick up the following and you aren’t there but your character is.

What happens now, Scotty?

I know, there are ways of working around this, it says so in the 4E DM’s Guide (which I will get around to looking at in a later post). But can you excuse me just for the fact that it really just hurts my sense of consistency? Particularly when you didn’t bother to tell me before the game started you weren’t going to come?

If you start to look unreliable, I start to see your character as more background filler material and more than likely will pass you over when finding a character to have a major contribution to the campaign story. I may even like your character, but if you aren’t there the week of some vital plot point, the whole thing grinds to a halt.

And, speaking of story…

The GM wants what you want

If I wanted to write a Star Wars story that would only please myself, I would have stuck to fan fiction. I have addressed this in a previous post, but I see campaign building as slightly collaborative. Not completely, as it is nigh imposible to please absolutely everyone without going insane. The best way to make sure that the next campaign is one you would like to play is to talk to me during the current one, as this is when I’ll be forming the next outing for the group and the earlier you get me, the more likely I will be able to incorporate your requests.

So tell me what you liked what you didn’t like about the current campaign. If I outline a few details of the next one, tell me how you can see your character responding to this. And also, tell me if where you would like your character to go, especially if you would like some backstory issues brought into play.

I managed to observe this to some extent in a campaign that I am a player in, (and I promise I will make a post about the D&D game when I can form my ideas better) but having ownership in the story  means that it matters a lot more. After all, I’m not the only one at the table who has ideas.

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~ by katanageldar on October 17, 2009.

One Response to “Did you pack your breadsticks and your green sludge?”

  1. Owchie. These are all normal social problems that everyone can deal with. What you’ve encountered is..THE FLAKE.

    The flake is a fickle creature. It may be that she was spoiled as a child, or that he’s so good looking he can get away with murder, but the flake doesn’t value the time of others. They don’t keep their word, and their promises are worth very little. They have the best of intentions yet their actions leave much to be desired. In medieval times, they might have found themselves on the wrong end of pikestaff.

    The flake will abandon you last minute when you made plans to go out. The flake won’t return your calls after a date. The flake will call saying she’ll be late, and then just not show up at all. The flake will have ‘lost track of time’. The flake will do everything in his power to make it seem like he was helpless, it wasn’t his fault. The flake will capitalize on your sense of forgiveness until you’re sick of it.

    The only way to make sure a flake shows up on time is to figuratively ‘put his balls in a vice’. You must have some kind of collateral, either a threat or something he really wants. Otherwise, don’t count on them showing up.

    The way to deal with a flake is to never assign them responsibility, and do not spend energy catering to their wants or needs. Invite them to parties or other events where there presence would be welcome, but not necessary. Do not hire or date flakes. If you are forced to rely on a flake, have a backup plan.

    The only way to spot a flake is looking for a consistent pattern of behavior. Only after more then 2 occasions will a flake show their true selves.

    Flakes have long been the bane of human existence for ages. Note that flakes might not necessarily be flakey towards everyone- it may that this particular person does not respect or like you very much, and is simply treating you this way because he can. This type of person should be avoided unless you plan on simply using them, as you can be sure she is using you.

    The best advice is to avoid the flake, and make your life easier.

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