the trap of being the gm


Gamer Life General Discussion


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

last sunday i ran a sesion of Rise of the runelords, it was a sidequest that took place during the players journey to Jorgenfist, weve been on a hiatus for a couple of months but the sesion proceded smoothly, the PCs were trying to get inside a kobold lair to recover a cargo that was stolen from traveling merchant the lair turned out to be a trap filled laboratory of a lone kobold alchemist,the fight was hard and long the pc fighted fiercly even when they were given a chance to surrender in a fight i knew they pretty much couldnt win, exept the did.
The point is i was so sure they couldnt win, they shouldnt win that i forgot what the game is about that its not me vs them, i prolonged that fight a little more than was needed and though there were no real negative effects since my players enjoyed the sesion (they like challenging battles) i kind of lost sight of the big picture
The message of this rant is always root for your players its not about you vs them

Dark Archive

Did you drag it out to watch them suffer or so they could get ahold of the situation?

I felt worried a tpk might happen a few weeks back when the Eidolon got killed hard! But the Summoner got.lucky always summoning 3 eagles on a d3 every other round as the eagles picked the girillion to death as they got killed off and replaced. They pulled through it. Had I concentratec on the PCs, at least one of them likely would.have died but I attacked the eagles so.they could run away. Didn't turn out as I expected.


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One of the things that makes GMing such a challenge is that you have to sort out the various motivations.

The best GMs are impartial.

The best GMs act convincingly disappointed when their NPCs die, in order to sugar the victory.

The best GMs know how to kill a PC fairly now and then, and make the player not only accept it, but enjoy it.

The best GMs are not "players". But also, the best GMs enjoy GMing.

In my experience, the best cure for the kind of bias you've described is to look at the game as a kind of kinetic sculpture, like dominos or a rube goldberg contraption. You set everything up just so, and then you start it in motion to see what happens!

You should be as surprised as anyone by the outcome, but ROLL WITH IT.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

To me, the GM's role is to work with the players to tell a compelling, exciting, and (most importantly) fun story where their PCs are the protagonists. The GM sets up the situation, and the players narrate their way out of it. The fun part, to me, is the improvisation of keeping the story fresh, compelling, exciting, and fun for everyone.

I never let an inconvenient die roll get in the way of a good story, but failure is a compelling part of the narrative. Of course, overcoming overwhelming odds is a classic story, and that's fun too!

I generally LOVE IT when a campaign goes off the rails-- that's when I get to exercise artistry and think on my feet. And it's the BEST when, after a completely off-the-cuff part of the adventure is over, one of the players tells you, "Wow! How did you know we were going to do that?"

(Answer: "Well, you just know these things when you're the GM!")


Some day I'll be one of those "best DM's"


The important thing is that you're willing to learn this about yourself. Humble epiphanies like that and the willingness to improve are really big steps to being a great GM or anything else, really.


Yup. A player tripping into a pool in the starting village right after the campaign begins and roll a bunch Nat 1s in their full plate for swim check and drowning hardly adds anything to the story, mechanics aside.


That plate and water story reminds me of something that happened in a game I ran in 1979.

So I had this group and they were in a small row boat. The boat, naturally, was attacked by a giant octopus, you know tentacles coming out of the water and all that, and one of the fighters, wearing half-plate, gets grabbed and hoisted into the air. He attacks the tentacle, does the right amount of damage and is released and I tell him

"Okay, you fall into the water, and your armor is dragging you down, you might drown unless you can get out of it"

This was 1e, we really hadn't imagined "swim checks" and all that sort of skill based stuff

The player began complaining that there should be a change for him to fall in the boat, instead. I told him that sure there was a chance, but him falling twenty feet, in half plate armor, into that tiny row boat also would mean there was a chance the boat would be destroyed, and begin sinking.

believe it or not, the group thought this was hilarious and insisted we roll for it. We agreed on some percentages, rolled, and everybody ended up in the water when the boat was split in two by the falling armored fighter.


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It can be really fun to put a smile on the players faces. I made a group laugh a lot because they kept trying to get into this one room. It went like this:

P1: I open the door
Me: A goblin inside throws a vial at you. (rolls). It hits and explodes take 4 fire damage and then the other goblin slams the door shut.
P2: I open the door again.
Me: Same thing, but 3 fire damage this time
P1: I open the door
me: Guess what happens? 5 damage this time.
P3 give it up guys
P1 alright

so they leave and later return
P1 I open the door again and run in
Me it opens. There are no goblins in sight, but as you move forwards you hear a loud crash of broken glass. You look down and realize you just stepped in a box full of alchemists fire. Get knocked out of the room, take 7 damage, the goblin jumps out of hiding and closes the door.
P1 and P2: WHAT
P4: Give it a break
P2: NO I OPEN THE DOOR
Me: It doesn't open
P2: Then I break it down with my sword
Me: roll
P2: 14 damage
Me: Your sword is now stuck in the door and the table behind it that they barricaded it with.
P3: Screw it, burning hands, I set fire to the door.

Then they ended up ripping the hinges off and the barbarian (P2) wielding a flaming door club. They smashed the table down and ran in, but the other table in the room got used as a battering ram knocking them out again. They knocked it back to standing position and tried to climb over it, and the goblins hit them with a barrel full of sand. Then after laughing really hard they gave up. And that is why being the GM is not a trap but an opportunity for something great.

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