You ever get tired of your players? A constant GM's mid-game crisis

Gamer Life General Discussion

I've been playing with the same group of people for four years. We've had our ups and downs and we've had our stupid arguments, and like any complex social unit we've settled into specific molds.

My mold, until recently, was the GM. Constantly. I like GMing, and I'm lucky to have a party comprised of individuals who, when they GM, tolerate the fact that I struggle to turn off GM mode, and are comfortable telling me that I'm being a control freak. I am that obnoxiously intense player who, after building my character, always tries to figure out what the other players made and find out where they're from and to figure out their why and how they became an adventurer. Essentially collecting all the information that a GM would collect. My endgoal is, for the most part, altruistic: I want to figure out the archetypal roles the other players are filling in the roleplay so I can play the party diplomat. If there's one thing I've learned as a GM, the single most annoying thing to deal with is a party of narcissists. Everybody is competing for limelight, stumbling stupid over each other to be the glory hound. All of my players complain to me about each other, with the exception of the newest player, and the argument can be boiled down to this: Player A is upset because Player B did "x," and Player A believes Player B is in for a rude awakening when Player A responds to "x".

When I'm a GM, I can handle this; I know what RP archetypes each of my players like, and I give them the chance to play out their fantasy, but I find a way to make it so that the success of their fantasy (Player A wants to be a demagogue sorcerer-tyrant, Player B plays the catty, indifferent badass, Player C plays the comical relief, etc.) depends on the survival of the group (Player A's ambitions are unattainable without Player B's and C's aide, Player B needs Player C to stay in the good graces of NPC #1, Player C needs Player A in order to acquire <Plot item>). I'm certain other GMs can commiserate.

Now that I'm a player and Player B and A are GMing back and forth every other week in their own respective universes, I'm wondering why the hell I even bother playing. I enjoy the stories, I enjoy the combats, but the thing I am not enjoying is the ego-trips while I'm on the same side of the table as either player. Player A likes to take jabs at players in and out of game when he is doing well and other players are having no luck with the die; he consistently insults players (not their characters) for things that are statistically and mathematically beyond their control, but cannot handle the same style of "humor" when its reciprocated. Player B flat out refuses to discuss battle strategies or tactics in-game or out-of-game because he's so enamored with his build (which is a clever one) that he refuses to think beyond what he can do in a vacuum.

Maybe its just the GM in me, which likes to see the party working cohesively because that means that I've successfully challenged them, or maybe I'm being an over-sensitive control freak player, I'm willing to admit to either and both, but I derive no enjoyment from the game when my players/peers are more absorbed in their personal fantasies than the collective fantasy that we're trying to create.

Does anyone else ever feel like this or experience similar scenarios?

Yes. After years of playing with the same group, you're going to know - more or less - what to expect from each one, just as they should know the same with you. Everyone's selfishness manifests itself with time and with it's own face. I know what you're going through. I've been at my table for almost 10 years and we're all comfortable being ourselves. No one is trying to impress the others.

You could pick up a side game or join a few sessions at a gaming store. I know it increased my appreciation for the group I'm in. :)

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Yeah my gaming group is all player/GMs. Player A is like you has a hard time turning off GM mode and has a completely different GM and play style from player b who is less enthused about RP and more of a beer and pretzel hack and slasher. Player B has a weird GM style (RP is often up to the dice) but is one of the better GMs I've seen when it comes to paying attention to all the rules. Then there's me, I'm the guy who ends up getting between these vastly different players and mediating between them even when I'm not the GM.

When I'm the GM that's my job and I'm cool with it, when I'm a player I just want to play, so yeah you're not alone other people have simular struggles.

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This is almost exactly what happened to me in my last game. Unfortunately, what I did to solve it may not be the advice you're looking for. Thing is, I'd tried the "talk to the problem players out of game, be an adult," but my bd players just weren't having any of it. I had a group of seven ( six + GM ). I left that group, took the three good players with me, found a stone pile of people clamoring for a good gaming group, and began GMing again. It wasn't too difficult. If you have a local hobby shop, you can always start going there to buy your game supplies, start conversations with the employees and other patrons, find out who's got games going on and who's the good GMs - you may even find a Society game where you can get in on or sit-in on, and pre-interview players.

This worked okay, as I found good and bad players. I found some great players but their style's didn't mesh well with others, but I did finally find a group of people I can settle on that re good players and don't fight or argue, and drama doesn't happen.

But yeah, your Player B, I hate that person. Every game I seem to have one of them, and they've always the worst players - not understanding the rules, making up rules to suit the needs, flipping the table over for taking 3 damage, getting up in the face of and talking down to kings. It's unfortunately made me very suspicious when a player wants to be the "quiet badass." It's become a red flag that says, "I don't know how to RP, I just want to rave about how much cooler my character is thn yours." The worst was I had player B that played a magus in a campaign that lasted 2 years and made it to 17th level. In all that time, he never figured out the difference between a Standard Action Attack and a Full-Round Attack, never grasped that if you didn't take levels in rogue, you don't get extra damage on a sneak attack, or that if you cast a Spell you could not also attack that round (I'm not talking about Spell Combat, I'm talking about things like casting lightning bolt, moving right next to the enemy and then getting angry he can't get all his attacks too). I have no time or patience for Player B, and as soon as his colors show, he's out of my game.

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Dr. Take-a-step-back: Or, How I Learned to Stop Overthinking and Love the Game.

The game stops being fun when there's players at the table that insult you. You may want to look to play with a different group.

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Part of it sounds like your party should make more effort to work together during the character building phase, in order to create a more cohesive party. Competing motivations and personalities can really lead to a "why the hell is this party still working together?" feeling which can suck the life out of the game if managed poorly.

I would recommend that before you start your next campaign, sit down with the party and decide on some theme or motivation that will bind you all together. You could even have the characters make some sort of in-game or our-of-game pact that if the party collectively decides someone is being selfish, they get left behind for the next adventure.

Liberty's Edge

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After 18 + years of playing with the same group of people (more or less) I know exactly what you mean. I usually DM, but when I move from behind the screen I sometimes deal with the same stuff you're describing.

I actually took a break from them for a bit and joined some new pick-up games at the local game store (kind of like Ciaran suggested). Yeah those didn't last long. Didn't take much to make me miss my table of squabbles :P

I normally DM also and am a sometimes player in other games. Generally don't have an issue except when it is the wife that is the dm! Other players are infrequently an issue but at times we have had to ask a player to leave the group for being too disruptive and yes they generall are the exception that are all about themselves rather than a group experience.

I am more or less in this exact situation.

Two types of pen and paper dice gaming.
1)Epic adventure with challenge and glory.
2)Land of make believe where we play tea party for 3 hours.

A lot of players cant tell the difference, but most GM's can't stand a tea party. You and I probably agree, that in order for pathfinder to be a GAME, there has to be rules, and the rules have to help determine the outcome of our desires.

Such is the curse of being the go to GM. You have a strong opinion of what is fair, and can probably know more rules then your respective rules lawyer. The key point though, is that you can not have the best of both worlds. Either you are the GM and you can keep your opinion on what is fair, or you can be a player and enjoy the first person view of choice and discovery.

I, too, struggle with playing in the world of a player. Sometimes I will feel cheated that the creatures AC's(and other stats) are clearly made up on the spot. Or perhaps your perception check fails when your GM sees you rolled a 5, even though you have +'s out the wazoo. These types of things are the traits of an inexperienced/lazy GM and many players just want to play tea party when they run a game... because it is easier.

I suspect by your complaint that you are an experience GM who prepares for his players a decent amount in order to challenge them and give them opportunity for glory. Unfortunately, if you want to be a player your choices are limited. Either live in a tea party world and enjoy the story(until they get better at playing the game), or find/build a group with mostly GM's.

I am in the process of creating a GM group, and the hope is that the rules will be known well enough to not have many disputes(at least during game time) And that players will be able to create a character with more then just a stat block and an attitude. I suspect I will be the first to GM, but perhaps in a year or so I will be rewarded with getting to play a character in a world he can really grow and achieve true glory, not just some tea party hand outs.(a +5 sword at level 2... really?)

Until then, I have to accept that the players are going to try to jump on the back of the dragon at level 3, and that the GM is going to pull punches when he likes a player, because after all all the stats are made up and its all just make believe anyway.

No matter what you do, some tolerance will be good for you. Best of luck achieving your goals.


The Exchange

try pathfinder society! it's basically what I did, and I'm enjoying it.

If you play at a convention you'll be....well homesick for your group lol. Now I have met some very fun players at cons and even locally but my home group makes a mockery of the same modules/scenarios that I watch people struggle through.

Because they know what the other players are going to do, and they are familiar with high level tactics (which by the way matter more at low levels in some cases)

Really though, trying something like PFS is a great "break" from your normal group, and it's not a long term commitment :D

Assistant Software Developer

I merged the threads on this topic.

We've got..."that guy" our group. For the most part, he's fun enough that it's not an issue. But lately, he's been telling other players how to play their characters, making the snide comments, etc. He's GM'ing the 5th chapter of RotRL (myself, the other players, and this guy switched off each chapter), and interest has waned because he's taken this attitude behind the screen.

We've come to the point now where we are actively trying to schedule our sessions so he can't make them (I'm GM'ing the first chapter of CotCT now). I hope we get back to wanting him as part of the group, but we'll see.

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For my crew we've settled on there's less disputes when I'm the DM so there ya have it. I allocate the annoying rules I and johny specific crap to player b (he rolls up weather, makes tons of terrain maps, calls people out when they screw up a rule) and gave player a a bigger role in running some of the friendly NPCs thus he gets the part of DMing he enjoys in game.

Its been fantastic for like 4 sessions we'll see if that holds up on the 'morrow.

I'm on the other end of your table, Juke. How I compromised is that I run story and skill checks and social stuff, the stuff that's less precise. Then I decide when I want an encounter to happen and pass a note to my fiancé or discuss the scenario beforehand. Example: send a giralon charging through the trees shortly after the party leaves the ransacked encampment. I constantly ask others at the table what the RAW is on something when I don't know.

Thing is, people enjoy my storylines and plot hooks and homebrew world, but know I'm not a stickler to rules. That's why my fiancé runs mechanics/rounds and I run plot and social situations. It's worked so far.

My groups only been going for about a year and a half now, but so far things are good. I haven't gotten to play yet, so no comments on what its like from the other side, but we're settling into our roles and mostly everyone gets along and helps each other shine.

K is a barbarian whether she's playing fighter, rogue, or sorcerer. (We still rib her about her first encounter as a rogue. "you hear kobolds on the other side of the door." "I kick open the door and charge the nearest one! Sneak attack two handed power attack charge to the face!")

N knows the rules and tries for something different each time, to get more familiar with the system. Always seems to end up a energy blaster, whether sorcerer or monk.

EL is the charasmatic party face who will talk to everyone, everywhere, everytime. She really does. If there is a dress it must be described. If there is a street vender, he must have a life story.

B is the silent eco-warrior. Seriously. Think Fluttershy quiet. Druid or ranger and she manages to go for three hour sessions without saying more than a dozen words. Watching EL interact with B is all the entertainment the rest of us need.

You could try doing some one-shots or troupe style gaming for awhile.

Trying a new system can shake things up.

Doing the Troupe style helps folks relate to the other side of the screen.

Either way it is a good way to shake things up and insert some new energy.

More on one shots at Paizo one-shot discussion.

In service,


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