Monday, February 13, 2012

A GM's Game -vs- A Player's Game

On the other hand ...

I've been thinking all weekend about my feelings and passion in my last post. I also wondered about a sniggling little detail I seem to have overlooked. Allow me to elaborate.

I am the GM. I have always been the GM. Since I introduced my friends to the hobby it fell to me to GM, and thus I did, for years. I mean I played occasionally, with emphasis on "occasion".

And this got me to thinking. I have been taking things from my perspective all this time. And that perspective is decidedly GM oriented. What was it even like to be a player? Could I even say I knew? I mean I have never even played as a PC in Pathfinder. The last game I played in was 4e--for two sessions. Before that, it was a 2e game about four years ago for about a month or two. Before that, not since 1991!

And it began to sniggle away at me that I was looking for a game I wanted to GM, not necessarily that my players wanted to play in. When I asked why my plaeyrs like Pathfinder they always talked about the player options. They love options, feats, multiclassing, skills, ability increases, class add-ons, prestige classes, lots of races, new races, classes classes and more classes--with new and nifty stuff preferably.

I always thought this was a bit of a pain. But could I really blame them? I mean I got to play with all of the monsters in the Bestiaries, all of the magic items, make up new and interesting plots, traps, challenges, settings, adventures, etc. etc. I got to play with lots of toys, and it was only natural that they wanted lots of toys too.

If I am in control of making everything up, I still get a lot to play with, but what do they get? 4 classes and 4 races. The same every time, except for player background they might add in. The only new stuff they get is what I choose to create or approve that they create. And that only as it is carefully doled out to them.

So I began to wonder if I was looking for a GM oriented game and my players wanted a player oriented game. Rules lite, flexible and fast systems cater to GM creativity, not player options. Now, one might be tempted to say players can do anything they like in such a syste4m, but we all know that isn't true. Who gets to decide if it happens or not, or how it does happen? The GM of course. Unless the player knows ahead of time what rules and mechanics govern the things he might want to do, and can plan and act accordingly. Then the GM has relegated some of his power and control to the rules, but the rules extend that power and control to the player.

And I can't help but ask if that is a bad thing? Meta-Power-Parity should be good for everyone concerned and certainly involves the player more in the game than in games where the GM controls all of creation and most if not all of the rules.

Hmmmm .... Not sure exactly what to make of this, but it certainly deserves more thought. More later if I can come up with any answers.
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