April 2, 2014
As a Gamemaster, we have a lot of different responsibilities when it comes to our much beloved hobby. Of these, the most important is in doing our best to make sure that every player has a good time. Sure, there is only so much we can do and there are some people out there who might just seem impossible to please, but as the Gamemaster/Storyteller we must do our best to make the game as fun and exciting for our players as possible. Unfortunately you cannot please everyone all of the time.
This is especially true when player interests run opposite one another, and this will happen more often than you might think. The most common occurrence of this I have found is when you have a mix of door-kicking players and storytelling players. While most players fall somewhere in between, there are some who lean much more strongly to one of the two extremes. When you have such players in the same group, you will find when one is enjoying themselves the other will often feel bored or (worse) useless. When you have a combat heavy session in which the characters battle against impossible odds with sword, shield, gun, and/or spell, the door-kicking player will likely be having the time of their life. Its their chance to shine, to kick ass and chew bubble-gum (assuming they have any left) while the storytelling player will have very minimal participation. Likewise, when you have the characters engage in social intrigue and/or politics, the storytelling player will be more in their element and you will see their character shine while the door-kicker will be sitting there, arms crossed, waiting for an opportunity to come up for them to punch something.
Again, you cannot please everyone with everything you do all of the time, so do not try. What you can do is cater to their individual interests as much a possible. Mix it up with your game and have instances where both sorts of gamers will have their moments to shine. Sure, when one shines the other feels dimmed, but that cannot be helped. When that happens, encourage them. Remind them that their time to shine will come again, but do not try to rush through something another player is enjoying just to get to the parts other players will. The old saying of “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” may indeed be true, but just because some players can complain louder than others, it does not mean their gripes are more important than the others. Try to balance out the amount of time per session you spend on RP and how much you spend on combat. Both can easily take longer than you expect, but make an attempt.
Players, this next part is for you. If there are parts of a game you feel like you are not able to contribute much to or that you do not find fun, tell your Gamemaster about them, but do so outside of the game. Understand that even if you do not like certain parts, that does not mean there is not another player who likes them. Sure, it might feel like the parts you like do not get the same amount of playtime as those you do not, and this might indeed be the case, but the other players might feel the same way about when what you like becomes the focus. Be understanding. Be patient. Maybe even take a step out of your comfort zone and give an honest attempt at trying a character who is good at what you are not so good at. For the door-kickers out there, try playing a social character. Storytellers, give a combat-monkey a shot. “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” as they say, or rather “play a game as someone else’s character.” You might just discover what it is that others find so appealing about that sort of play style.
Players and Gamemasters alike, it is up to you to make your games as fun, exciting, and entertaining as possible for everyone sitting around the table.
As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.
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