Looking for advice in dealing with my group's assistant GM


Advice


*Sorry for the massive wall of text, tl;dr at the bottom*

I'm playing a Pathfinder campaign with some people and one of my friends is our "assistant GM", which according to him at character creation meant he's only going to be helping out with story writing and not actual gameplay. There are a couple of new players in the campaign with the only ones who've played before being the assistant GM, myself and a coworker of the GM (our GM has also played, but it's their first time running a game and despite that, they're doing pretty well at it).

First boss fight: we had 3 people absent, including myself, and our Priest (who probably has more experience than any of us, he's the coworker) hadn't joined yet. In other words, the assistant GM was the only non-first-time player present for the boss. My Psychic had the only healing in the entire party, so with me being at an Infinity tournament that weekend we lost that advantage as well. With just a Spiritualist, a Paladin and a Magus, the fight definitely did not go well but everyone present did survive.

Here's the problem I'm having though: from what I've gathered from our Magus filling me in, the assistant GM is saying he basically carried the fight. I talked to him about it, and he said that he had slightly god-modded his abilities to make his character a bit stronger "for the party's benefit", because "the fight was a complete disaster" (to which I will admit to saying basically "yeah, no ****, you went into a bossfight short your only healing, the tank and the DPS, what did you expect the supporting casters and brand-new tank to do to a Rakshasa?" in my head).

Though one was not actually relevant in the bossfight, the changes he made were instant and therefore uninterruptible phantom deployment rather than the normal one minute and being able to shift multiple mind affecting things onto his phantom that day rather than the normal 1 (this did not actually come into play). I asked him if this would continue to happen and he said the deployment thing most likely would but he wasn't sure about the other. Also, the see invisibility skill he gets at 9th level might be made passive rather than the spell-like, once per day, for ten minutes it's supposed to be. He was also given 1st-level Bard for free shortly after character creation (mainly, as I understand it, for Bardic Knowledge despite my Psychic already essentially having this through its Rebirth discipline), so he's basically a level ahead of the rest of us in a way that's trying to do what I was already doing, which definitely sort of annoyed me.

The whole "only helping with the story" thing has already gone out the window, and it's starting to seem like he really just wants to use his assistant GM status to justify his character being stronger than the rest of us. From my conversation with him on the matter, I could tell he most certainly did say he carried the fight as he was basically saying without his changes the whole party would have died (which would definitely not have happened had they waited to do the bossfight when I was available as, again, I had our only healing).

Both me and our Magus feel that in trying to "cover for our dysfunctional party", he's really just basically saying "you couldn't actually do this if it weren't for me and all this "help" I'm giving you by making myself stronger", and the whole Bardic Knowledge thing definitely contributed to that. Two of the other three had their first session with us last session, the session after the fight, and the third is brand new and doesn't really care either way as he's still trying to figure everything out, but the Magus and I are getting a bit annoyed.

I'm not really sure how to handle this. I don't want to be a jerk to the guy, he's my friend, but I don't feel like buffing his character by changing the wording on its abilities to make them better is the right way to handle the situation. Would y'all suggest we just accept it and move on, or is there a specific way I should go about handling it?

tl;dr: Assistant GM god-mod-buffing his own character by tweaking its abilities because he felt the party was incapable of beating our first boss fight if he didn't, despite going in short the only healer we had as well as our best tank and our only DPS.


You need to get together as a group, on a different day if possible, to calmly talk this out. He may actually be concerned like he is claiming. You may be right. There could also be something else going on. If you do not talk this out, it is likely resentment will simply build up until you reach a breaking point. Even worse, if others do not see the build up, then it will look like you are the bad guy who suddenly lost it out of the blue. This sounds like a tricky situation and I wish you good luck.


I'd wait and see if it makes the game less fun for anyone and I'd let the knew players know this was the stance I was taking. Ask them to inform you if this secondary GM is draining their fun and if you're the assertive type bring it up directly with this guy in a way that's not accusatory because he might not know, if you're more of a passive type than just bring it up with your main GM.

Before you bring it up with either of them though just wait and see. If it never becomes a problem then, well, it's not a problem.


Nohwear wrote:
You need to get together as a group, on a different day if possible, to calmly talk this out. He may actually be concerned like he is claiming. You may be right. There could also be something else going on. If you do not talk this out, it is likely resentment will simply build up until you reach a breaking point. Even worse, if others do not see the build up, then it will look like you are the bad guy who suddenly lost it out of the blue. This sounds like a tricky situation and I wish you good luck.

I didn't consider a breaking point. Yeah if you or any of the other players are the "loose it" type than I second nipping at it sooner than later.


This has the concerning aspects often associated with playing alongside a GMPC (in this case, we can call it a AGMPC, I guess).

Many people (myself included) have real concerns playing alongside a GMPC, as they can often become spotlight stealers, or focal points for the story, and seem to have advantages (direct or indirect) which the other PCs don't have.

Situation here is complicated by the fact the player is muddying the waters a bit in terms of his role as either player or assistant GM.

I think you're best off to have an open and frank discussion as soon as possible about the expected role of this player/AGM, and look to the actual GM to make the call. Better to reign in any issues now, before they get out of hand or become functionally irreversible.

I'd raise the concerns you've voiced here, and likely ask that all PCs be on an equal playing field in terms of levels, abilities, etc. No one likes feeling like second fiddle, and it is entirely reasonable to request that no one get special privileges, even if they are genuinely intended to assist the party.

If the player/AGM cares that much about the Bardic Knowledge, he can always take a level of Bard along the way. I suspect he won't, because it will undermine the power level of the character, but that sort of shows why maybe he shouldn't have been gifted it in the first place.

It also sounds like you've got a good-sized party, so unless multiple absentees is a frequent event, I don't know there is any major need for "gap-filling" bonuses to any person.


Talking is key, IMHO. Get the facts out there for all to see.

From your description I see the main problem as being quite a few players could not make the game. Which quite often in groups I have played in means we either do not play and or play something else. This can be a big problem if it happens too often and we as a group decided to move from gaming every week to every other week or even every three weeks with time off for various holidays and such. I have even played in some groups where if one person does not make it the game is canceled as the GM spent long hours crafting the adventure based on everyone being present and taking into account their damage and or depleted abilities.

One thing that also might be happening, is you said it is a first time GM (IIRC) which GMing can be a bit intimidating and it is very hard for GM's to just let players kill themselves and/or just say no.

So IMHO again talking is the best course and if that does or does not solve anything you have good info for what you are going to do next. ie stay and play or find other things to do.

MDC


Alright, thanks for the advice everyone! I think I'll give it a session or two and see what happens. We have another major fight next week, but this time there will be six of us there and we now have a dedicated healer and two tanks so it should go significantly better. I'll see what the AGM does about it when the whole group is there before I say anything, but if it becomes a problem I'll definitely see if we can arrange an open discussion on an off day about it.

Thanks again!


Talk it out!

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