in the Shadow of Greatness


September 27, 2002

WISH 15: Relationship Between GM and Player


Turn of a Friendly Die WISH 15: whell, GM, let's see how good ya dance What is your idea of the relationship between GM and player? Is the GM a host, an adversary, an enabler...?

The GM is like a choreographer I suppose. The GM supplies vision, overall purpose, and the sense of what each Player contributes to the whole wonderful presentation. The GM communicates to each individual how they are important to the whole, how they support other Players, and how they are telling a story as individual parts. Everyone might be a star, or sometimes everyone needs to be a team. The GM can give you a better idea of what sorts of success you are interested in. I'll settle for that.

I've GM'd in other people's homes, and they were definitely the host. I was the guest, I was a part of the total experience. It can help the GM immensely to be the actual host, because in our society, the host has powers of social dominance that a GM might not feel comfortable using or relying on when on someone else's turf. Social dominance can speed you through the technical clutter of having a game day.

The relationship that creates a game is between the Player-stars and the GM-producer. Without the right Player-stars, the best script and props in the world won't put a memorable story across. Without the GM-producer, the stars never get a single day of work. In our hobby, the shortage always seems to be the GM-producer. Perhaps because the GM also ends up doing Direction, Props, Script-doctoring, and even catering sometimes. Player-stars take note: while your roles are the ones that everyone remembers, while it is the Player-stars that become legends, the folks behind the production are your ticket to fun. Maybe there are ways to take some of those smaller roles off the GM and onto yourselves.

The ubiquitous "THEY" have been known to say that the submissive in an intimate D/s relationship really calls all the shots, because it's about the submissive. The hard lookin' whip-totin' figure of authority is really there to focus on the role of the supplicant. I think the apparent power of the GM is really transparently about the Players. If I see a GM playing the game for the Players, I can expect a host of abusive elements to surface as well. Just about every GM abuse story: from villains who can't be killed or out-thought, to favorite NPCs who always seem smarter than the Players, to plots that trample the backstory elements a Player has provided all seem to be direct pointers back to a GM who wants to be a Player more than a GM.

Filed under : Game WISH at 27.09.2002