…make the worst actors.

“Hello, my name is Doyce Testerman, and I’m a Bad Player.”
A painful revelation I’ve come to in the last few months, but true nonetheless. I’m still trying to figure out why, because it makes me very unhappy with myself.
I’ve realized that what I really don’t want to do any more of is be a player in games that use specific systems. D20 is one. ADRPG is another, for different reasons.
In the case of d20, there are problems stemming from the simple fact that I know the rules system pretty well:
1. Being the ‘answer guy’ is irritating, which puts me in a fouler and fouler mood as the session progresses.
2. Being party to a ruling that I know is wrong… well, my hubris and OCD are both too strong for this, and I end up correcting the GM. This gets particularly bad in combat scenes.
2a. I can avoid this in Con-games because, if the GM’s wrong, I can just vote down on their rules-knowledge, scribble in a few notes on rules they should look up, and move on to play with someone else. Long years of dealing with ‘canonized’ incorrect rulings in home campaigns has, however, made me very sensitive about making sure that, for an ongoing game, the rulings are “right”. I hate retconning stuff because a rule was wrong and I hate rules that constantly change between sessions because someone finally looked it up.
Call it survivor’s guilt, whatever.
The worst situation for me right now is the game Jackie’s running. She’s a really fun GM and should be having a good time with her first ‘real’ campaign. She offered to run a game where I could play, but the original concept wandered… pretty damn far afield from “low-level, standard tropes, traditional game”. It’s her first campaign-length… anything and she’s dealing with with weird, high-level, non-standard d20 stuff — she’s struggling with all the weird rules that have to be remembered for all the wierd situations, running 15 NPCs in a fight, all of which are tweaked out… and I can’t seem to shut my goddamn mouth when I think we’re getting a rule wrong. Usually this means that we end the session with her feeling miserable and me hating myself — with good reason, I should certainly add.
With the other d20 game I play in we started at low-level, so the GM can learn about the characters from the beginning (like the players) a little bit at a time… also, it’s not in a genre I’ve been GMing weekly for 3 years, which means I’m (a little) less annoyingly all-knowing. The worst thing I do in that game is try to inject narrative control into the game, which is not what the system or scenarios are set up to deal with. It’s a spy-sim, and if I could get into that a little more instead of trying to lay out scenes and camera angles like I’m playing Wushu, I’d be better off.
I’m working on it… in maybe not perfect ways — I frequently try to ‘turn away’ from scenes I’m not directly in because my gut instinct is to interject with meta-interpretations which it is NOT MY JOB to provide and I’m trying desperately to do less of the things I’m ashamed of doing — cutting myself off cold-turkey seems the best thing — hopefully it’s not coming off passive-aggressive, but I can’t say for sure. I flat out told Jackie that that’s what I was going to do to try to curb my bad habits… I should probably mention it to Dave as well. (Then again, I probably just have. 🙂
Maybe it’s simply that when you’re used to doing one thing (GMing) all the time, you don’t really quickly step out of that mindset. Sure.

  • I’ve been playing some kind of RPG since I was ten.
  • I can still count the home campaigns I’ve been a PLAYER for on one hand, and I’ve been playing for twenty-three years. (If I don’t count the ones that aborted in < 4 sessions.)

I really feel that, at least as far as I’m concerned, I would be a better player in more narrative-style games like… well, Nobilis and many things that have come out of the Forge spring to mind — really anything where the players contribute more than an actor’s portrayal of one character.
One character is… well, doesn’t matter how much I love the guy, one guy is going to get stale when you usually play “everyone else”, and handle behind-the-scene plotting, and the scenery, and the descriptions, and the rules.
They say that most directors make lousy actors. Living proof, right here.
So what does the GM do to deal with the problem player when the player is himself?

One comment

  1. FWIW, I’ve been only moderately happy with the module-heaviness of the Spycraft campaign. It’s been about all I can really do at the moment, GM-wise, but it’s ended up a lot less narrative (there’s that word) than I’d like, and my various plans to insert metaplot have not gone well — not through any fault of any of the players, fwiw.
    That said, I haven’t felt that in my games I’ve had another GM vying for control or anything — I’ve appreciated the bits o’ advice or observations on where I’m not doing things quite right. That hasn’t bothered me (so far).
    I continue to dabble with the thought of trying to do the spy stuff with something less crunchy than D20. And that’s about as far as I’ve gotten — dabbling. Heck, maybe I should be looking at all that stuff that you’ve been feeding Margie … 🙂
    All that said, I’ve had my own concerns about Dave the Hubby being Dave the Player when Margie runs her Arabian adventure.

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