Game Masters – Coping with their Campaigns
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Well, after the article I had about the worst players ever (“Players – A Guide to their Characters”), you didn’t really expect me to let the worst GMs off the hook, now did you?
Again, just to make it perfectly clear before I start – this is a humorous and sarcastic article, and no offense is intended towards anyone. However, it is important to remember that even though the stereotypes displayed here are exaggerated beyond any proportion, they are still based on real GM’s traits.
The Master of Puppets
Description: With this GM, the scenario is set out and planned meticulously before the game. However, it is planned too well – in fact, it is no more than a play the GM is holding, and the player characters are nothing more then his puppets.
Quote: “You can’t do that”
Usually appears at: GMs with a overly artistic tendencies, where each scenario must conclude to a point, and the characters are used as props in order to achieve that end. Or in novice GMs who can’t handle reacting to player’s actions properly.
Description: This GM resembles the Master of Puppets (q.v.), but differs from him. The Linear GM designs scenarios with are linear (naturally :-)), but does not force them as harshly as the Master of Puppets does. He will allow the players to do whatever they desire, but unless they guess exactly his solution to the situation, they will stay stuck for a very long and frustrating time.
Quote: “That didn’t work either”
Usually appears at: Overly sophisticated GMs, who think of overly elaborate plots that have only one good solution.
The One Scenario GM
Description: It doesn’t matter how many scenarios this GM will run, in how many different systems of campaign settings, they will always seem to be the same scenario dressed up differently.
Quote: “You walk into a tavern and…”
Usually appears at: Either burnt out GMs who can’t seem to come up with an original idea anymore or extremely novice GMs who haven’t got a good enough grasp of roleplaying to create scenarios which aren’t cheap rip-offs of other scenarios they played or read.
Description: This GM puts a great deal of effort into designing his scenarios, which is especially visible in the amount of time and energy he puts into creating and using props. The problem is that the props often steal the show, and the game becomes nothing more than a collection of props.
Quote: “The evil wizard is wearing a long dark cape like this…” *puts on a cape he spent hours sewing*
Usually appears at: Over enthusiastic drama and acting students. Or in GMs who lack the ability to actually be good and thus they try to compensate.
Description: This GM views his role as an antagonist to the players. He perceives his job as a GM to try and fail the players, or at least to oppose them and try to undo their efforts whenever possible.
Quote: “You are surrounded by TEN huge dragons”
Usually appears at: People who just can’t see other people succeed. Or in GMs who used to allow their players too much powergaming and are trying to undo this by tending to the other extreme.
Description: This GM just doesn’t know the rules properly, and thus cannot run a game properly. Every couple of minutes he will have to stop to check up on a one rule or another, which will seriously disturb the game flow and just make it unbearable.
Quote: “Wait a minute, I don’t remember the rule about critical hits…”
Usually appears at: Novice GMs, or GMs trying to run a game in a system that is new to them, or sometimes just GMs that came to the game unprepared.
The By-the-Book GM
Description: This GM follows the rules almost religiously, no matter what the situation is, or weather following the rules will or will not assist the plot.
Quote: “I’m sorry, I rolled a 20. You’re dead.”
Usually appears at: Novice or inexperienced GMs who don’t have the confidence to ignore or bend the rules in order to forward the plot.
Description: This GM arrives at the game with little or no prepared material. He prefers to wing it, to make up the scenario on the fly. Although good improvisation are any GM’s bread and butter, this GM relies solely on it, creating quite ridiculous (and annoying) situations.
Quote: “A pink elephant falls out of the sky”
Usually appears at: GMs who are simply too lazy to pick up a pencil and write down anything, even some footnotes.
The Inconsistent GM
Description: This GM just can’t keep consistency for some reason. He will make a certain ruling when required to, and then rule completely differently in a similar case. He simply doesn’t seem to be able to make up his mind about anything.
Quote: “You are attacked by a band of ten orcs… no no no, twenty… no no no, ten…”
Usually appears at: GMs that didn’t come prepared to the game and aren’t sure exactly what they want to do. GMs who don’t keep notes of what they’ve done in the past.
The Scenes GM
Description: This GM is a subclass of the Improviser (q.v.). He is a master scene writer, and usually has an exact visual concept of the scene he wants to convey. With this GM, each scene is an overwhelming assault of concepts, metaphors and references. The problem with this GM is his lack of ability to connect these scene, so eventually his adventures come out looking like a bad B-movie – a few amazing scenes connected by extremely lame shorelines.
Quote: “So you ride to the next town”
Usually appears at: Theatre or cinema students. Graphics artists. GMs who think in concepts of scenes rather than in concepts of storylines.