Good DM, Horrible Player. Good Player, Horrible DM.


Gamer Life General Discussion

Silver Crusade

Another one of 'Spook likes to stir discussion' posts.

Basically this one came from observation of myself and my own experiences.

According to my players, I'm a very competent DM, able to create engaging scenarios, world-building, making the PCs feel special and their actions feel important, filling the encounters with a cinematic but still believable atmosphere, etc.. As well as seeming to have a certain laizze-faire attitude and generally being as serious or as goofy as I need to be while portraying a wide gamut of NPC character types.

According to these same players, and co-players from other games however, I am a fun-hating, psychotically paranoid, boring jerk when I play, who routinely (by my own admission) tends to only play Lawful Neutral warrior types who do not drink, smoke, make love, gamble, or do anything besides having a dog-like focus on "the objective." They also state that I tend to not get attached to my actual PCs and tend to play them 'like disposable NPCs' which I'd argue isn't true, but I will admit to the fact I always try to play 'supporting cast' and enable the other PCs in the party to shine usually by doing the "drudge" jobs of tanking damage, standing in the way of things and carrying the party's gear.

My curiousity, and the topic for this thread is basically.. Do you folks have similar experiences? A guy who is good at one of the roles (DM or player) but then absolutely awful at the other? And thought as to why.


I'm literally just the worst PC ever. Years and years of running games has cemented in me a disability to play a character for the sake of playing a character. I can easily make jokes and conversation, but when it comes time to pushing my character's agenda, I just don't know how. If the answer isn't right in front of me I can't deduce it out or take it. I'm extremely, extremely reactionary.

I also can't make PCs who have character growth potential. I make fantastic characters for single-interaction potential who have a limited story, but I can never pursue it as a goal because I'm crippled by my indecision.

Trying to get over it by playing a lot of PBP games though.

To put it in perspective for how much I GM, I've run close to 800-850 hours of games in the last year and played for 40-50.


I have a guy who's a really cool GM but he kinda freezes up when he's a player.

Not as much as the rest of my table, but he requires a bit of a nudge to get going places. Not good with sandboxes.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

We are all good and bad players and GMs in varying degrees, which vary from day to day and week to week.


I suspect that everyone (except maybe houstonderek) hates when I'm a player in real life. I'm so often the DM, I get really excited when I get to play, which means I have a very unfortunate tendency to hog the spotlight just out of sheer exuberance in finally getting to be a player for once.

I suspect that if I got to play more often, this problem would fade, but most sane people aren't willing to learn my gazillion pages of bizarre and idiosyncratic houserules just to DM a game that I happen to be in.

Sovereign Court

I can play a PC well, but i have been GM-ing almost exclusively for the past six or seven years and it shows. I can't stop being a GM even when i am not the GM. I still GM in my head. And that kinda kills the game for me.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My guys say I'm a pretty good DM. Tough but fair, challenging but fun. But one thing I've noticed among my players is that there is seldom a clear cut leader, and on the rare instances when I get to actually play I tend to try to take that role and run with it. I also tend to attempt much more daring stunts and actions than they do, and I think they have a somewhat negative feeling about that, feeling like I'm trying to upstage them.


I excel at both, but I typically get bored as a player. When you GM you're constantly juggling roles, books, and tactics. When you're a player, you're just . . . a player.
I begin to tune out during mid- and high level combat when you can easily go 10-20 minutes between turns.
I will also help the DM out as a player by keeping track of conditions and buffs and helping him move the NPC's where he wants them.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

I'd have to defer to my players to tell me if I'm a good player. I like to think I am. Certainly other players have expressed to me that they are entertained by the characters I play. I do find myself falling into the party leader role more often than I would like--which means I can rarely afford to play "Thog smash" kind of characters.

EDIT: I'm pretty confident that my players would all say I'm a very good GM.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Bill Kirsch wrote:

I excel at both, but I typically get bored as a player. When you GM you're constantly juggling roles, books, and tactics. When you're a player, you're just . . . a player.

I begin to tune out during mid- and high level combat when you can easily go 10-20 minutes between turns.
I will also help the DM out as a player by keeping track of conditions and buffs and helping him move the NPC's where he wants them.

This is sort of my experience. Sometimes I find it difficult to stay focused as a player (depending on the specific GM's abilities), but when I'm a GM I sit down and 7:00 and when I get up to get a drink suddenly it's 12:30 and I had no idea.


As a perpetual DM, I always say I want a chance to play... but the few times over the last few years that I've played I have to keep a critical voice inside my head quiet. "No, don't just read the boxed text verbatim, look at us as you talk." "Eh, I don't think this monsters really being run correctly" "Bleh, what a boring railroad plot" "I would do x y z different" etc.

I try to look at it as insight into mistakes I might be making without realizing it, as well as realizing that my friends have way less experience behind the screen as me. It wasn't til I was a player that I realized how much long 'flavor text' descriptions of rooms could cause players eyes to gloss over, and to summarize in more casual (yet somewhat evocative language) what was important about an area.

Also, (not necessarily bad, but notable) I tend to make boring pc's that push that main plot along as I can see where its likely headed, rather then fun ones that create their own stories.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

DM = Demigod Multi-tasker.

Shadow Lodge

I think I'm probably a bad player due to having the attention span of a gnat when I don't have everything in front of me like I do when DMing.

Shadow Lodge

I wouldn't call myself a horrible player, but I'm definitely a better GM. I pretty much always play the Straight Man character in the party, while when running NPCs I can be equal parts Straight Man or Off the Wall as needed. (Most recent example - my party encountered The Puck in a fey maze, then afterward one player went and talked to the group's erudite Sorcerer ally for a day.) I'll leave it to them (if any of them see this thread) to say one way or the other for sure.

I'm definitely not (IMO) the best PC-side player in my group though, despite all the time I've spent behind the screen (or perhaps because of it). That honor (again IMO) tends to bounce between three of the other players depending on the situation.


I have similar experience. I spent 95% of my gaming history in the GM seat and have only recently been given the opportunity to just sit back and play. Perhaps even as much of half of that time has also been spent running what would be referred to as GMPCs... I'm told I do a very good job of that as well, which I'm told is difficult to do.. So I actually have a lot of experience running a member of the party who's along for the ride and in the background and situationally useful.

I find I tend to also take an 'along for the ride' role as the barely combat casting, barely party buffing, quirky situational use wizard, who only casts the spells that I never see come up in all the campaigns I've ever run...

I never try to lead the party probably out of habit, now that I think about it.

In situations where my party is having a hard time figuring out a puzzle I'll chime in, but being a GM more than anything else I tend to come up with about 16 different ways the situation could play out that would be interesting but turn out to be completely irrelevent. Call it 'good imagination decision paralysis' or something like that.

-

On the flip side we have a guy at our table who is awesome at taking the lead and whipping the party into activity and loves puzzle solving and in character npc interaction, but in the GM seat he doesnt really like to do 'in character chat' and doesnt much enjoy the fact that the players have any latitude or capability to impact or succeed in his world... As soon as he's in control of the world he seems to have a lot harder time improvising or getting into character, or letting the players enjoy themselves. Its as if he's still the player but now theres 4 dms out to kill all his characters... I think he gets trapped in the player-feeling that 'I should succeed and win and be victorious' and so when all he's running are a bunch of beasties who's job is just to be angry and fall often... He doesnt evel like seeing a single fight where what he's playing is a pushover. Even when it should be.

-

We had another guy at our table who as a player was a constant rules lawyering bastridge who despite being 10 years younger than me had the gaul to say 'let me have a look at your character sheet and i'll help you make some changes... I can show you how to play a wizard." Always basically gave every gm hell in every campaign he ever played in, and always said he was a much better gm than any gm he'd ever had, including myself. So we let him run a game. He picked a module, and even screwed that up. Then he quit showing up to the game. Said he'd lost his mojo or something.


I am presently GMing a game set in Ustalav and playing in a game set in the Five King's Mountains. My Ustalav campaign has been running since Sept. 2012, and the Five King's Mountains campaign started a month ago so has only had two sessions so far--we play the campaigns on alternating Saturdays.

The second session of the campaign I'm in as a player was canceled due to another event that ran long in our play-space (we play at the FLGS), so I only have one session in the Five Kings Mountains campaign to reference so far, but I did find I was a bit bored at times, and I had to resist the urge to correct the GM once or twice. I also don't know how well my character will mesh with the party because I'm playing an LG ratfolk rogue that worships Erastil (and is seeking a new site to found a ratfolk warren--he left home voluntarily due to crowding), and the rest of the party leans toward Chaotic and/or Evil. (A CN human fighter, CE ratfolk alchemist, and LE dwarf fighter, and I forgot what the other character is.) At one point I asked what I thought would be an innocuous question ("What color are the kobolds?"), and ended up telling the GM about kobold colors and ecology from Classic Monsters Revisited.

The next session is supposed to be this weekend, so we'll see how it goes.


I find this is a situation that, for me, is drastically different depending on the medium.

As a GM online, I am perfectly secure in my ability to write convincing characters and descriptions; I can take my time and be thorough, and make everything really engrossing and engaging. I type fast enough that it's never a problem juggling like eight different conversations at a time, all of them different NPCs. I enjoy it thoroughly; I find my characterization is my strongest trait.

As a GM in real life, I don't enjoy GMing. My players tell me they enjoy it fine, but I'm much more self-conscious about it, and I don't do nearly as much with NPC variety. I can't juggle characters nearly as well, and I feel like I'm playing against myself.

Ironically, as a player, I am the exact opposite in both situations. As a player online, I feel that I act much more like an entitled player, and play more quiet characters with less interesting personalities. As a player in real life, I tend to be bombastic, and carry personalities and characters that are very memorable with voices and accents and generally mannerisms.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

I have my strengths and weaknesses at both. I used to be a drama queen player. I channel that now into GMing and that works better where I throw it into appropriate dramatic moments, and my slightly more subdued style of play is a little less attention grabby than it used to be (I hope; folks from my gaming group might comment differently :) ).

I am better at tactics as a player than as a GM, but that's also probably quite a common thing.

As a player, I am better about bringing snacks to the game than as a GM. :)


I have an interesting dilemma.

When GMing, I can't roleplay NPCs to save my life. They all come out as bland or one dimensional (I only recently realized this). However, my players tell me my ability to set an atmosphere is incredible. Also, apparently, combats I run are pretty sweet too.

When a player, I can roleplay my PC as if I were them. This is mostly because I play PCs with personalities similar to mine. They are almost always Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral. They are straightforward in their thinking. They can be cunning if they have to. However, I can't fight as a PC. Something about group tactics evades me. I've read Art of War recently, so hopefully that will change.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
_Cobalt_ wrote:

I have an interesting dilemma.

When GMing, I can't roleplay NPCs to save my life. They all come out as bland or one dimensional (I only recently realized this). However, my players tell me my ability to set an atmosphere is incredible. Also, apparently, combats I run are pretty sweet too.

When a player, I can roleplay my PC as if I were them. This is mostly because I play PCs with personalities similar to mine. They are almost always Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral. They are straightforward in their thinking. They can be cunning if they have to. However, I can't fight as a PC. Something about group tactics evades me. I've read Art of War recently, so hopefully that will change.

I feel like that sometimes, although instead of NPCs it's combat. I feel like I'm boring everyone sometimes but they all seem to love it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think I'm pretty good at both.

I only have time for one session of gaming a week, and since I've been GMing since May 2011, that means that I've only gotten a handful of chances to run a PC in that time.


I have become a horrible player over the years. It might be from years GM'ing but I don't know.

I had some fantastic GM's in the past that brought out some great RP in me. But our current GM does not foster much character development or role playing. He's fantastic at other elements and runs combat like a champ.

I feel like a hypocrate because I ask for a certain level of RP when I run a game and fall wayyyy short as a player.

Anyone else feel like this?

-MD

Dark Archive

In the rare times I get to play, I tend to play stuffy LG types (similar to the OP). Clerics, Pallys, and whatnot. The last time I did get to play was last year and it was in a 2nd ed AD&D game (low level). We were required to bring two characters each - one of mine was a very pious, (but incredibly crappy statted) Paladin. A very devout and somewhat difficult to deal with due to his own zealotry, but still a likable sort due to an Don Quixote sort of idealism.

That angle was fun to play and I tried to play it up as lawful difficult vs. lawful stupid. I got in a good one liner from that game.
At the beginning of the Mod, a few of us ended up at the general store of a small hamlet. The town was very much a devout LG/LN type of place with a sizable church in town and the DM was chatting up the merchant we were dealing with and we were all having a good laugh going back and forth with the role-playing.

At one point the merchant was getting very chummy with the few of us there, boasting about their items and how they are open seven days a week and that they never close and my immediate response was "even on Holy Days?" (didn't miss a beat, stern response)

It was as if all the air was sucked out of the room. The DM was stunned at my question, like I was a church cop interrogating his npc. There was a pause, and then everyone started laughing.

My second was an elven fighter/magic-user. Arrogant, insult laden/spewing jerk. With a semi-larcenous streak. Underhanded, shifty and a bit of a louse.

Both were fun to play, and at one point I thought my pally should connect one to elf’s face. It was a good experience overall and getting to break with my normal "safe"/stale character type was fun. I just don’t get to play enough to expand my range of character types.

I do think I am a better DM than a player, do not have the patience or the tenacity to be a player. I once heard a recording of one of our sessions (when we were much younger, maybe 20 years ago) and I could hear different players calling out request or questions (was a huge group) and me ignoring them. Their actions were resolved eventually, but the whole waiting your turn/limited action thing is it's own discipline and I applaude players for putting up with all of that.


I used to be a good player, until I wanted to be a good DM. I inherited a group and in an effort to meet the requirements of GMing I read and prepared and researched. And then I became our circles' worst rules lawyer. I can't hold back and let the game flow anymore, because I know how it is supposed to work. In the years since it was pointed out to me I've taken steps to try to avoid it, but now I'm paranoid of rules lawyering, yet still want to help. I like to think I did well it another GM's short-lived Skull & Shackles game, where I ended up being punished for half the session, but then he quit after a session.

GM is where I am comfortable now, and I've been told it's where I shine. I miss being a player, and jump at the sparse chances I have to play. But the GM's chair is where I'm comfortable now, and I accept it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think it can be a case of how doctors make the worst patients. If you are usually gm, you get used to the control, and to your own stlye of game. Often another dm wont do things 'your way' they have their own style and preferences. And if you are too used to your preferences it can be difficult to control your impulse to 'correct' the other dm. People who are usually players dont normally have this issue.

Part of it ofcourse is that usually you run the game in the way you would want to play in, so you want somehow to make it so that someone else gives you the opportunity to play in such a game. That ofcourse is pretty close to impossible, but if you recognize the behavior you can usually curtail it.

Silver Crusade

Kolokotroni wrote:

I think it can be a case of how doctors make the worst patients. If you are usually gm, you get used to the control, and to your own stlye of game. Often another dm wont do things 'your way' they have their own style and preferences. And if you are too used to your preferences it can be difficult to control your impulse to 'correct' the other dm. People who are usually players dont normally have this issue.

Part of it ofcourse is that usually you run the game in the way you would want to play in, so you want somehow to make it so that someone else gives you the opportunity to play in such a game. That ofcourse is pretty close to impossible, but if you recognize the behavior you can usually curtail it.

This one seems to scan for me.

A difference in DM opinion or techniques. The rules heavy crunchy DM is going to be rankled under the story driven narrativist and vice versa. Also, I imagine the DMs with experience with the terrible things we screen monkeys can unleash live in fear of every tree stump, barmaid and the like.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
I suspect that everyone (except maybe houstonderek) hates when I'm a player in real life. I'm so often the DM, I get really excited when I get to play, which means I have a very unfortunate tendency to hog the spotlight just out of sheer exuberance in finally getting to be a player for once.

This is pretty much the way I am as well. Except I tended to hog the spotlight even before I ever DMed a game. I think part of that is due simply to the people in my old group. I introduced most of them to RPGs, and I think they just sort of let it happen. With my current group, I have played exactly 3 sessions as a player, and it's kinda hard to tell if that's changed. The first one I kinda stole the spotlight. The second I faded back a bit because I had been awake for 22 hours when we started the game. And the 3rd was I had laryngitis and wasn't up to DMing but still wanted to play, so my wife ran a one-shot with pre-gens. Obviously I let others take the lead there as well.

As far as DMing goes, all my players tell me I'm a great DM. Certain players have had issues with me before, but the group had always had issues with those players.


Self-perception is always questionable, but I think I'm a better GM than a player. I tend to run a fairly fast paced game and often push the players along to make then decide what to do next. I get a little antsy when I can't do that to the GM.


My best friend and I tend to trade off the GMing duties for our group. We are both very good GMs, and have a lot of fun as players.

In the rare occasion that we are both able to be players int he same game, things tend to get out of hand.

We've been flat out told by two of our group members that they will never run a game where both of us are players ever again.

Apparently, individually we're fine in a game. Together, no matter what characters we make, we end up completely derailing or destroying the story.

The straw that broke the camel's back involved a ring gate mounted on the end of a cannon, and a long string of ensuing antics. It was fun while it was happening, but on reflection, I can see how a GM might get tired of those sorts of antics.


I very much fit into the role of Good GM, Bad Player.

I love being a GM. LOVE IT! I adore knowing everything that's going on, maneuvering NPCs and monsters both on the battle-mat and off, and just generally watching to see what my players are going to do next. I love designing characters and plots and game mechanics. I love world-building. I love surprising and even scaring my players with a twist that nobody saw coming.

Being a GM rocks.

Being a player blows.

I hate the idea of coming up with a character that I have to stick with session after session after session. I hate being walled into my character's constraints. If I'm a fighter, I can't use awesome spells. If I'm a wizard, I can't beat things to death with a stick. I always tend to play alchemists, bards, magi, or inquisitors; something in that vein of "I can do most things pretty well" because I hate not having access to things. My characters also tend to fall into the thematic category of either "epicly awesome and important so I can do things that matter and remain entertained" or "exceptionally boring and beat-sticky so I can sit back and work on other things while everyone else has fun." I also tend to hate other GMs when I'm a player. I always nitpick the hell out of their GMing style. They reveal too much out of character, or they don't reveal enough. They make things too easy, or too difficult. I hate not knowing what's going on behind the screen.

I love getting my ass handed to me by a particularly awesome strategy that my players come up with when I'm the GM. It acts as a learning experience, so that I can prepare for such a thing next time.

I can't stand getting my ass handed to me when I'm a player, because then I get to sit around and roll stabilization checks while everyone else has fun. As a player, I take getting KO'd very personally, and all of my characters tend to turn into murderous psychopaths out to get revenge on the GM who dared assault them.

Yeah. Good GM. Awful player.

...Catch Phrase,

-Chris

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / General Discussion / Good DM, Horrible Player. Good Player, Horrible DM. All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.