Bad Game Masters

Bad Game Masters

I saw a fragmented conversation passing me by on Mastodon the other day. It was about "bad DMs". Okay, I get it, it feels good to vent about bad DMs, but at some point I realized that the table had turned since I had started gaming and that the Dungeon and its Dragons might be a place where players consumed entertainement and ranked the middlemen.

In my nebulously remembered of end of the eighties isolated role-playing game island, everybody attempted took the master stuff in turn and we were so intoxicated by playing that whether the game master was good or bad did not matter.

Antoine Morgenthaler wrote Eloge du Jeu de Rôle in 2017, I would like to translate it at some point, but for now, I'll just extract a single sentence out of it:

Le jeu de rôle est un réel espace de liberté, de droit à l'erreur.

which I render as:

a role-playing game is a true area of freedom, an area where one has the right to make mistakes.

That was a freedom we cherished as teenagers. The latitude to make errors is my favourite part.

A podcast was retelling the story of a gaming group where a new player came in later, didn't quite understood the dynamics of the situtation and drew the group in a fight that drained their resources dry. The player then realized this and started apologizing, but the others cheered him because it was all good fun.

Similarly there must be stories out there of players charitably overlooking or preventing game master mistakes and thus preserving or enhancing the fun had at the table.

An environment where many small non-fatal mistakes can be made is necessary. After all some role-playing games are used to train real situations and are the place where mistakes are made and explored.