|Jiggy RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32|
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a good GM needs to feel confident in that they are making the right call
What gets hurt if you instead trust the players to make the right call for you, in the areas in which you're uninformed?
Speaking of trusting players to make the right call...
Trusting your players is not the issue, they can be 100% honest and do everything above board but you not knowing or understanding how any of this works...
"I believe you're not cheating" is only half of what "trust" means, and frankly, it's the easy half. I think most GMs act on the assumption that no one is cheating until they encounter evidence to suggest otherwise.
Then there's the other half of trust: "I believe enough in your competence that I'll let you handle it." This is the bigger part of trust, and the one that I think way too few GMs are willing to engage in.
You say that trusting your players is not the issue. But if you're not willing to let THEM tell YOU how something works, if you're not comfortable with character options unless you know them well enough yourself that you'll be able to spot any errors, then you do not trust your players.
Trust does not just mean "I don't suspect malice". It means "I think you can handle this." If you don't think they can handle it, then by definition you do not trust them. Whether it's a GM and his players, a parent and their child that's just learned to drive, or any other situation of risk or vulnerability you can think of; if you're not willing to put them in control of the thing in question (in this case, their own PCs' mechanics), then no, you DON'T trust them.
Discomfort with not knowing your players' mechanics better than they do is ABSOLUTELY a trust issue.
Unless you can gauge what is and isn't a challenge or whether a party can or cannot overcome a challenge based on their abilities you are either going to have a cakewalk session or a frustrating slog.No one wants either option so a good GM studies and learns the new rules and then the next book comes out with even more crazy new rules that conflict with other older rules and you just want to scream.
Well, there's part of your problem: you mistakenly think that part of the GM's role is to produce a specific type of experience with a specific challenge level.
If so, you're wrong.
Your role is to present the setting, then step back and see what happens when the PCs are added to the equation. Maybe they lack crucial thing X and struggle, or maybe they have perfect solution Y and succeed with ease, but either way they're getting the chance to help tell the story. If you try to enforce a certain difficulty level instead of letting it be a product of setting plus characters, you've stolen something precious from the players.
I can't speak for everyone, but I loathe tables where I realize the difficulty is always going to be approximately X no matter what abilities I do or don't have. At that point, I'm just watching a bad movie disguised as a roleplaying game.
But really the worst thing is nearly ALL of the new material is all about giving players more and better options while really giving the GM next to nothing to challenge those options with.
This is one of the most disturbing GM comments I've read in a long time. I've sometimes suspected that this or that GM had nasty "GM vs Players" attitude, but to have someone literally just come right out and complain that they're losing the arms race... Wow.
How many coordinators have had to just stop scheduling season 0-1 (and sometimes season 2) stuff simply because the players will just waltz over it in 45 minutes and ask is that it?
I just had a table of newbies finish a Season 1 in about 2 hours, and they had FUN. For three people it was their first PFS experience, and I daresay they're coming back.
Finally, and this is the big one, some GM's just really don't like the new options. They find them overly complicated, powerful or just distasteful and the only option they have is to suck it up and watch it drain their fun out of the hobby or walk away and only do home games and ban huge swaths of material.
Taste is taste, so I'll give you this one. :)