R is for Running Games

FAE-Space1889No matter how much I try to enjoy being a player in tabletop role-playing games, I can’t find that groove to really enjoy it. I don’t hate it, but I don’t get the same sense of satisfaction as when I run the game.

I have had long suspicions that the issue comes down to the way my brain works.

I don’t do well with really quick decisions where I lack sufficient information. I can see that every time I go shopping or face a table stacked with morsels of food. I have to make a decision about a combination of things, but the available data on those things isn’t complete. Or it might take me a while to gather the information by which time I’m too late.

As a player, you don’t have the information. You have to play the game to gather it and then wade through it to see where to go next or how to foil the villain’s master plan. You have to do this in an ad hoc way – and that means making connections immediately. Snap decisions based on limited information in a short space of time.

No. That isn’t for me at all.

As a gamemaster, I have the chance to mull on the ideas I come up with. I might consider the decisions that a player could make to cover the options in writing an adventure, but I don’t do anything with complete spontaneity.

You might question the sense here because a GM has to improvise a lot. Characters, conversations, room descriptions, random events.

No. Nothing ever comes from nothing. When I run an adventure I have given everything a cursory consideration. I know where the adventure should go, what information the player might garner from the character’s interaction with people and places, and what adversaries the group might face. Even if I just have a name and a motivation, I have enough to base a character on.

I play when I can because understanding what it feels like matters when it comes to running a game – I like to see how other people do it and understand what feels right or wrong. However, I GM because it just feels right and I feel comfortable doing it. It satisfies a need and I enjoy the experience.

If you only ever play, you should give it a go. Maybe your brain works the other way around.





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