|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
Yeah, keep ignoring what I say, put words in my mouth, make s***f posts, and ridicule me. After all, I must be a bad GM, oversensitive and probably retarded if I think GMPCs are a problem, right?
To sum up, GMPCs are never a problem, unless used by a bad GM, indeed every campaign should have them. Anyone who doesn't agree should just show where the bad GM touched their character sheet. Enjoy your thread.
What I am claiming is that the emotional investment is the difference between doing it wrong and doing it right. The other symptoms are consequences of that emotional investment. Considering the amount of crazy crap people do on a daily basis due to misplaced emotional investment, ruining a game because of it is strictly little league.
If we are talking convenient explanations, how about "I love doing so, and my players love it when I do it, and anyone who can't do it is a bad GM"?
Morzadian: Not condemning anyone, as you can see. Merely stating the obvious, that all the people involved in churches that (say) condemn homosexuals have choices to make. Demand and effect change, or leave, or carry their part of responsibility for what the church does. Huge organizations are rarely a good thing. This is one of the reasons.
I believe the Bible is clear about it: (sorry about translation here) By their fruit you shall know them. Or otherwise put: What someone does is what tells you who they are.
By your quote marks, should I conclude that you consider emotional attachment to be a foreign concept, Kryzbyn?
The Green Tea Gamer wrote:
And going by their internal merits, all the Abrahamitic religions are a) in favour of slavery, b) in favour of cruel and excessive punishments even for things that should in no way be punished, c) in favour of detailed and extensive moralistic rules for every aspect of life. This is simply by the texts. If you instead go by what their respective power structures (churches) have done, the situation doesn't get much better. In some cases, unbelievably worse.
Some Abrahamitic followers are good examples of what humanity should be like. When they are, they are so DESPITE what the books say and what the power structures say. Faith yes, religion no.
When you play as a player, you invest emotionally in the character. You want things to go well for the character. You want to stop things from going bad for him/her. This emotional investment is a major part of the reason for the emotional payoff for playing the game. It works a lot like when you cheer for a sports team, I believe. This also makes you see the character in a brighter light than others do, and anyone working against your character will become more sinister than others would see them as. This is why conflicts between characters so often ramp up into the real world also, and why they become so difficult to solve. In short, the emotional investment in a character is both the thrill and many of the problems with playing the game. A big part of playing a PC is that you are allowed to be in the spotlight of the campaign, to change things in the world, to unapologetically fight toward your goals, and to live larger than life.
GMs are by no means immune to this. The GM's job is to provide a setting for the game, and various schools of thought put various focus on different parts (setting, plot, intrigue, whatever) of the gaming experience. As part of this job, they provide other characters the PCs can interact with. These characters are parts of the setting, nota bene, meaning they have a specific purpose for being there. This can be as people driving some plotline, people to act as obstacles, people who add local colour to a place, people who aid the PCs, and so on. Generally, conventional wisdom is taken to say that all these people should be played by the GM in accordance with their goals, their personalities, their capabilities, and their situation. None of this makes one of them a GMPC. A GMPC is CERTAINLY not just a character traveling with the PCs.
But when a GM wants the thrill of playing his/her own PC... a lot of this breaks down. The GM becomes invested in the specific character. It takes part of the spotlight, yes, but that is a minor problem, compared to the rest of it: The GMPC, with the emotional investment of the omnipotent GM, will invariably (in my experience, this is an absolute) become the real focus of the game. The temptation IS too strong. A mature GM will realize the problems with it, and refrain from using GMPCs. There is, of course, nothing wrong with providing allied NPCs for the party, but what truly sets these apart from GMPCs IS the lack of emotional investment of the GM. Ways to make sure they don't end up as GMPCs are: Giving them a rather short-term goal ending in departure, a new short-term goal or death, keeping them in the shadow of the PCs, and all the other suggestions that have been provided. An allied NPC is supposed to be as personally important to the GM as the bugbear chieftain in the bandit camp over there, at least if the chieftain is played decently.
When people see it done well, they see an allied NPC. When not done well, they see a GMPC.
And when used poorly and well, was that in any way related to the GM rooting for the GMPC as THEIR CHARACTER IN THAT GAME? See, that is the only relevant distinction. If you consider a GMPC to mean a character traveling with the party, of course they can enrich a campaign whatever their power level. But once the GM indulges his/her desire to play as well, things go south fast.
I suppose we are mainly GMs here, but are there any non GM players who consider GMPCs something that makes campaigns better? I have no problem seeing that people who inflict GMPCs on others enjoy them, maybe even when they see others do it to them...
If I saw someone who did not use GMPCs praise their use, it would be easier to consider the view that maybe somewhere, someone likes seeing their GM vomit up a GMPC.
Manliness is about attitude, words you choose, and style, not just actions. That said, delivering massive falling damage to someone by hitting them from orbit is pretty manly too.
So is beating the enemy to death with your own severed arm, before dying of blood loss.
So is drowning the enemy in your blood after he chopped off all your extremities.
So is launching yourself as a catapult stone at an enemy.
So is wrestling a gargantuan monstrosity to a mutual spiky death.
And so on...
I have played in enough campaigns to know that if the GM uses a GMPC, it will be clear that the NPC traveling with you is a GMPC within the first few exchanges. So, I would maybe try, and then leave. More probably not, though. Far more.
And it is not like all redheads are evil because bad date with one. It is like all crooked umpires are bad because they are crooked. Even if one team likes it.
Friends don't let friends commit GMPCs.
Then call them either NPC allies or GMPCs depending on the investment of the GM, and we won't have to quibble about it, TOZ.
When I design an NPC, I make damn sure to make it has a clear goal for the time it will interact with the party. Whether it is a disguised succubus aiming to drain some life energy, an abandoned and reluctant soulmate of a previous incarnation of one character who wants him dead, a haughty priest who wants information about something the party delved into, a brave paladin who wants the more powerful heroes to save his town, or whatever. They are then subject to the rules like everyone else, and will fight to reach their goals. Now, either the goal is reached, or denied, but either way that NPC is at a crossroads and will need either a new goal or depart. I do not have NPC allies often, and not for long. Most of them tend to die. It is a hassle to me to keep track of, and I really don't want a player experience with them. They are part of the setting, not the party, even if welcome to travel with them.
A player experience: At some level, you are the protagonist of the story. You are one of the central actors of the game world, one of the spotlight-people. You root for your character and want him or her to get better, solve mysteries, fight the unknown and discover new things! You wish to meet interesting characters! Be a hero!
If you are the GM, you can't play a PC at all. It is a GMPC, unless you manage to remain impartial to it, at which point it is an NPC.
I think all those old modules have points to them, but honestly, when looking through them today, they fall well short of the mark. Things have changed. Random tables have been recognized not to be all that much fun. Same with mazes, inescapable deathtraps, and so on. The NPCs in modules today have personality. We don't get battles like a 20x30' room with 400 dwarves in it, or 5-50 nixies attacking the raft, and that is something to be grateful for.
Please, any REALLY good adventures that weren't written 30 years ago?
If the GM can remain impartial regarding the GMPC, though, then it is an NPC and not a GMPC.
The only difference between the types of character is that a GMPC has a GM who actively roots for it and tries to get a player experience through it, while an NPC does not. This is contentious, many try to make GMPC mean merely NPC. I am uncertain why they do this. Notably, they are also very vocal on this.
Yo no comprende que tu hablan.
All the incomprehensible stuff above is Swedish, even if some entries carry a certain scent of google translate. :-) In short, it is a list of local annoyances in Sweden and probably won't make much sense to others. Bilister i trafiken is about careless drivers. Hänt i veckan is a local paparazzi magazine. Super Mario is what the previous social democrat leader, Håkan Juholt, was called. Fredrik Reinfeldt, our previous prime minister, bears a certain resemblance to Moomin, while the current one, Stefan Löfven, looks more like the groke.
The argument "players will not give you feedback about stuff they don't like unless it really stinks" is a good answer to the most frequent pro argument, "I have done it for ages and never gotten any complaints about it". Again, some people REALLY want to use GMPCs, and will grab onto any excuse to do so. Too few players (restructure encounters), nobody wants to play a cleric (make it more attractive to do so or add in systems for managing without one), the PCs need background or plot information (find other ways to do it and make the players enjoy those parts of your campaign), etc etc etc etc etc etc etc... All of these explanations are excuses for people who want to use GMPCs. The truth is, so long as the GM is impartial toward the NPC and ready to throw it under the bus, there are no problem with GMPCs... Because then there ARE no GMPCs. Forget that and there will be trouble.
Two that come to mind from my gaming history:
An oldish man, walking with a cane, but oh so indescribably and utterly awesome in every kind of situation. The GM added this guy to the two newbie characters me and a friend made because "we would need the extra firepower". He proceeded to manipulate us, withhold vital information from us, upstage us in every encounter to completely overshadow us. One session in, we decided, simultaneously without talking about it, that he needed to die and attacked. I rolled a mega crit, but rather than the normal result of a very messy death, he fell unconscious. My friend decided to cut his throat... But was prevented from doing so by the CANE. That was the last of that game.
A TALKING SWORD. The utterly most awful and obnoxious, and SEDUCTIVE "intelligent" weapon you could find. It had a dozen different powers, but only used them for you if you kept on her good side. It did not, however, have the power of flight, and though the GM whined about how much power the sword had to give, I flung it as far out into a lake of toxic sludge I could.