The Big Debate about the Role of the GM

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The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« on: August 02, 2011, 11:13:25 AM »
It turns out Apocalypse World is at the center of a huge debate on GMing on Story Games (unsurprisingly, really):

http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=14812&page=1#Item_0

Case in point – the game made us think about how to GM differently, so now we have to debate the "death" of GMing and so forth.

Thoughts from afar, anyone?

(Barf Forth Apocalyptica itself comes up here: http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=14812&page=1#Item_43)

Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 02:09:39 PM »
Shreyas summed it up pretty well, with the unbolded portion being an optional addition:

Quote
I have found this thread to be mainly useless due to the fact that you are mostly complaining rather than being the change you want to be


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lumpley

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Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 04:13:38 PM »
My thoughts:

My construction of it as a phenomenon is different from Jocelyn's, of course, but I absolutely agree with him that we could fruitfully have more and better conversations about improving our GMing skills. I do think we've lost track of some things that we might now find very useful.

Apocalypse World exists because I took a good, long, non-nostalgic but backward look at good GMing.

Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 04:46:02 PM »
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Apocalypse World exists because I took a good, long, non-nostalgic but backward look at good GMing.

Sure – it has us prepare fields of potential threats, rather than forking paths, and react interestingly to player's moves/decisions rather than defensively.

I think the SG crowd is still dealing with the desacralization of the GMing mystique.  Once you break it down into a series of discrete tasks, it exposes the wizard behind the curtain (the GM behind the screen, if you will).

BUT what such a breakdown actually does for some is to challenge them to either rise to the task of becoming a "good" MC or or actually codify what their version of a good GM would be in opposition. Either responses productively reflects on the discourse lurking behind the reams of guru-toned prose on "How to Be a Good GM" of Kevin Siembieda, Robin Laws, Gary Gygax and all the rest.

We can understand the GM as just another part of any dynamic system we call an RPG, but such an understanding also forces us into brave new territories of negotiated play that may be closer to my ideal in any case.

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lumpley

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Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2011, 10:21:00 AM »
(You know that I agree with you.)

I just connected his complaint with something, though! It's this.

Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2011, 02:39:19 PM »
Hey Guys and Gals,

I know this is an unusual place to introduce myself, but this topic has sparked something in me. I and a group of like-minded individuals started a small GM’s group, with the expressed intention to play new games systems and get outside of our comfort zone. The stated goal was become better game masters, and produce better and stronger stories. What really shocked me was that when I first brought the topic up of becoming a better game master on my local boards, and even more regional forums there was almost no useful response or advice about topic. Now here we are talking about the minimizing the role of the GM. I look forward to the day that we don’t need one at all and I can finally play without having to do any preparation.   

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noclue

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Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2011, 06:28:47 PM »
@jester are you interested in becoming a better GM or in doing away with GMing. I'm not sure which. If the latter, there are games which don't require GMs. Including a person in the role of GM is very much a design choice.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2011, 09:21:11 PM »
noclue's right – it's totally a design choice. A GM uses their game-rule-provided authority to do whatever the game rules specify. Since it's been seen more of its own "social role" rather than a rule-bound PC-type just like anybody else, it's become a locus of despots and gurus as well as fine technocrats and good sports.  Systematizing it is kinda like establishing a written player-GM constitution usable at any given table.

GM-less games are there for when it seems like the other players can do a sufficient job themselves of providing both mystery and adversity for everyone else. The GM duties don't go away, but rather diffuse into decentralized power negotiations between players.

For the record, you can have classrooms without teachers, armies without generals, forums without moderators, and so forth.  If the culture's there and the rules are solid, anything is possible.

Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2011, 11:40:32 AM »
Systematizing it is kinda like establishing a written player-GM constitution usable at any given table.

In my book that's, mr. Torner, a brilliant analogy.

Re: The Big Debate about the Role of the GM
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2012, 09:58:00 PM »
I was browsing the forum and this thread kind of intrigued me..
I gotta say that i totally agree with Mr. Johnstone on this.
good day everyone