So, I did not kill any PCs last session…
…but I nearly snapped on a player.
And it isn’t fair of me to call him/her out and name names on the interwebs. Thus, I will just try and speak in generics and hyperbole instead of specifics. Cool?
Now, I think that part of a DM’s job is to keep the table on task, so to speak, whenever possible and to keep interpersonal conflict to a minimum. This DM isn’t great at that part of the whole spiel.
I try to quiet all the non-game-related chatter when we’re playing, but at the same time, I like to sort of let them go from time-to-time for two reasons. A) So I don’t come across as tyrannical bitch, ruling the table with my iron fist. Too *much* structuring as a DM is as bad as too little. And B) To get the distractions out of their systems.
Conflict though… that’s harder.
My group has been gaming together (except Rhesa and I) for like, thirty years in some cases, off-and-on. Years and years of history and stories and drama and resolution. So there isn’t a lot of real conflict. Most disagreements are quickly put to rest and filed away with all the other stupid bickering they’ve done over the years.
So in the two years I’ve been apart of the group, there haven’t been many issues around the table (ignoring, of course, the big drama that put me in the DM’s seat) and thus, I haven’t seen a lot of examples of resolving conflicts.
And I’m terrible at conflicts in general. I’m non-confrontational. I don’t know how to deal with it properly.
At the table the other night, I was running our Kingmaker Campaign. Things were going fairly well, I thought, though the night had been primarily combat and light on RP (as happens occasionally). Then, my lovely husband drew my attention to some potential tactical issues I’d missed. I think, though he did not mean it to come across that way, he stole a bit of my [insert Cartman voice] Authoritah! by doing so. Suddenly, everyone felt free to tell me their opinion on things or suggest things. And I am OPEN to opinions, suggestions, etc. As long as its respectful of the fact that a) I am the DM and thus, for the night, GOD. And b) that I am not a fucking idiot.
Fast forward to the end of the night. It was getting late. I had to pee, and people were a bit antsy to get to the next combat before we had to break up. So, I tossed my pre-planned idea and came up with a new scenario on the fly.
The party approached the slave train from behind.
And every damn round, the player in question had some comment. Some nitpicky rule B.S., some niggling little thing to point out. And I tried to just smile and let it go. But by the end, I just wanted to explode on him. I did.
I don’t know if he was being purposefully obtuse or trying to make me feel inferior/stupid for not knowing every single rule ever.
Still, that’s how I felt.
And these were things that didn’t really matter. I am not the type to cheat to purposefully fuck the PCs over. The game isn’t about ME versus THEM. Its about – in my opinion – the story.
And if it improves the story to say the big boss bowls over slaves on his way to attack the PCs, he’s going to bowl over slaves on his way to attack the PCs. No, I am not going to fucking make him roll bull rush attempts or attack rolls or any such bullshit.
Just sit back and enjoy the cinematics, bitch.
Forgive my cursing. I do try not to be excessively vulgar here. Sometimes it just comes out.
And this whole situation just had me fuming.
It took all the fun out of the night for me. And it made feel like a real bitch at the same time. Not the good kind of bitch I like to be, but the bad kind.
Its a fundamental difference between players like me (RP-oriented/Story-oriented) and players who like RP/Story, and action, but who really like to futz with the rules and technicalities.
For me – for my games – if it doesn’t negatively affect the PCs’ ability to deal with the situation, then its fine to give it some flair. To slather on the cinematic awesomesauce. To let a 12 foot tall Hobgoblin knock a bunch of 4-hit-point peasant-slaves out of his way without rolling to hit.
So fuck you, player.
That is how I roll.
Note: Image is “Sparring 2” by bjearwicke from SXC.hu