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Role-playing Rants: GM what you want or don't do it at all

What happens when your group really wants to play that one system, that they love so much and read so much about, but you, as a Gamemaster, actually hate it? Simple - you tell them: no.

As hard as it can be, sometimes people need to hear a simple "no", even when it comes to mundane, less important things, like RPG's for example. This hobby is all about common, mutual understanding and having an open mind. However one also needs to remember, that sometimes we'll encounter something, that simply isn't for us. Whether or not it's about rules, setting or atmosphere, sometimes it's simply impossible to like a title, albeit it's always good to actually articulate and explain what is so bad about it.

After all, communication is the key
Now RPG's, being a social hobby, are all about compromise - it's usually a good idea to relent to majority's choice, even if it means playing a title that we don't really enjoy. Hey, next time it'll be them who will be oblieged to accept our choice, right? Unless they're egoistical douchebags, but if that's the case, it is probably wise to just dump them and find new, better people to play with. You see, it's all about compromise and mutual agreement. This month we're playing Pathfinder, next month we'll play Numenera. Easy as that, eh?

Sure, as long as you're not the one running the game.

Before you start accusing me of being an egoistical, self-centered bastard, allow me to explain. Yes, I am the "forever GM" kind of guy. I don't really like playing these games, I like running them. I have a full control of the world I create, I can act as all manner of characters, not just one. I don't have a problem of not agreeing with others on how they're running their games. Perhaps it's a sign of egocentrism or megalomania, but then again I do run these games with one goal and one goal only - the enjoyment of my players. Nothing else really matters to me.

However I also know myself pretty well and there are character traits, that I posses, which will inadvertently play a major part in this hobby of mine. One of them is the complete and utter reluctance to run something, which I don't really like. I can play a game, that dosen't really interest me, but I will never run it myself. Simple as that. In my opinion a Gamemaster who allows himself to run something, that pisses him off, is not only making sure that he'll have a bad time, but also that his players will have it as well. When you're a player and you are participating in a game, which isn't exactly your cup of tea, it's easier to stomach it. After all, you can always find something cool about it, or at least try. Maybe the music that GM is playing, gets to you, or there are certain elements of the world that are ok. Who knows? There's also the knowledge that, sooner or later, you'll finish this adventure or campaign, and will be able to propose another system, one that you actually like and enjoy.

It looks completely different when you're actually in charge of the game. I know that I'll probably get a lot of crap saying that, but Gamemasters do a lot more work and have to put much bigger effort into these games, than players. All they need to do is roleplay and get into their characters. More than often they do not even need to know the rules, besides the basics. They come to a game, sit on a couch, drink a beer, eat some Cheetos, roll a couple of dice and just enjoy the world, which the GM has created. Gamemaster, on the other hand, needs to put a ton of effort into his game, making sure that his players will have fun and will want to come back for more. Creating a fascinating, multi-level plot, generating NPC's, making sure that each player will have at least a single, individual plot point etc. All of this, and more, needs to be done, in order for a session to be successful and memorable. So that there will be more than one.

That you'll actually be able to grab all that sweet, sweet loot!
Now imagine that you, as a GM, have to do it, while also loathing the actual system, that you're playing. Sounds like fun? No, not really. Trust me, I've been there. A few years back I was GM'ing a game, which I've absolutely loathed. I've did it in order to preserve our back-then group (which in the end didn't worked out anyway), but it was probably the worst RPG experience, I ever had. The worst part was, that I knew what I was doing was wrong. I didn't had a slightest interest in the game, I've created half-assed plots and generally was waiting for our sessions to end as soon as possible. I wasn't interested in the story, in my players' characters, in mechanics, in literally nothing. Even my usual method of reading, watching and playing a lot of things, related to the game that I'm currently running, was for naught. It was because I was running a game, despite not wanting to do that and despite myself. Which was wrong and should've never had happened. It showed during our sessions, and I wonder to this day if my players saw it or not, and if they did - what did they thought about it? I certainly knew that I was doing a bad job, and felt bad with that. However it did taught me something important: the ability to clearly express what I want, and don't, want to play. What I can, and what I will not GM. A very unpleasant lesson, but one that needed to be assimilated.

After that unwelcome experience, I've promised myself, never to do that again. I'll never, for anyone or anything, GM a game, which I don't want to GM, which I don't have a desire to play, to run. Even if it'd mean the end of my group, I won't do it and I advise anyone to do likewise. Players may want to play a system that they love and admire, very badly, but if the Gamemaster dosen't like it, or dosen't want to play it at that certain time, as was in my case, then it should't be played. Simple as that. Because otherwise, everyone will have a bad time - GM, cause he'll struggle with running something that he dosen't want to run, and his players, because they'll see and experience his lack of enthusiasm and willingness to create a world, in which they'll have to immerse themselves. There will be no winners here, only losers. Trust me, forcing your point and desire, is not worth a bad, tabletop experience. Sometimes it's better to understand that we'll not always play what we want, at least for some time, or who knows: maybe never! It's harsh, I know, but it happens.

These games are all about people so ask yourselves, is it worth it to loose a cool bunch of gaming buddies, because they did not wanted to play that one game, that you really like. Ask yourselves, if it's worth sacrificing your relationship with others, for a game.

Here's a small hint
I know the answer to that question and I hope, that you know it as well.

Until next time!


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