My Poor Track Record

I’ve been a GameMaster for Shadowrun since 1999.  In the nearly 30 years I’ve been enjoying this system, there’s been one area where my track record has been less than exemplary:  campaigns.

I don’t know where things have gone wrong historically, but anything more than a handful of connected runs seems to go off the rails in short order.  The latest example of this is my recent Fallen Angel campaign from this summer.  Four sessions and two runs in, the campaign was dead in the water.  This newest campaign was called off by me, due to my players devolving into petty, squabbling children.  The players were dividing into factions, rage quitting and the characters didn’t work together… plus there were too many players on average.

For the first time in 15 years, all gaming ceased.  I simply needed to take a pause in games and take stock of repeated failures.  It took those closest to me to give me shake and make me realize that for years, I’d been a doormat to my players.  I let them run roughshod over me, exploiting my good nature and willingness to allow my players to explore creativity to build god-like characters, or lone wolves who didn’t play well with others.

I spoke with my players and aired my grievances once I took stock of where my issues were and responses were overall predictable.  Many thought there wasn’t a problem at all and others expressed sadness at the loss of their regular game night.  A very select few made efforts to fix the situation and even fewer realized at how angry the situation had made me.  I am incurably Canadian in my willingness to forgive and be non-confrontational… for me to be this angry, my long time player base should have recognized that I wasn’t taking well to having been taken advantage of for years.

The end result of the shutdown was the development of a game table code of conduct that I expect from all of my players going forward and a serious downsizing of my RPG table, based on my sporadic gaming interactions with them since the shutdown in August.  I’ve been creating material during the downtime for some of my other campaigns, like Demons of a Fallen God and my work with Heroes for Hire, but I do aim to get a new campaign started with selected players, stricter guidelines and an emphasis on stories.  And contrary to my old methods, I will stick up for what I want from an ongoing arc…  we’ll see if I can break the streak.

For those who would ask, this is what was developed for the Code of Conduct:

  • Wheaton’s Law:  Don’t Be a Dick.  Do I really need to elaborate here?
  • Respect All Players and Everyone’s Right to Have Fun.  Sometimes, your character will have their moment in the spotlight.  Sometimes they won’t. But hey, this is supposed to be a collaborative experience, right?  Minimize the use of phones, computers and other gadgets, so I don’t have to keep repeating things, all right?
  • Story Before Rules.  The style of game I wish to tell is focused on a story and rules will be bent periodically, in the interests of telling an exciting story.  Let’s not second guess my choices mid-game…
  • Respect for the GM.  I’ve put in a lot of effort into writing and running material for you.  Minimize metagaming and don’t deliberately derail the story that is being told… I’m trying to have a fun time as well.
  • Player Creative License.  Each player has put time and effort into their character and knows better than anyone else how their character will behave in a given circumstance.  Please be quiet on other players’ turns to give them a chance to decide what they choose to do with their character. Shouting down a choice or barking orders is not cool.
  • Working Team Dynamic.  There should be effort made to ensure characters will actually play nice with others in the party.  While some in-party disagreement can make for good storytelling, major ideology differences and other disruptive behaviour should be avoided, so the team works as a unit.
  • Timing is Important.  Whether playing an RPG or board game, think ahead to your coming turn, especially for games involving long turn actions.  In order to keep the story moving at a good pace, try not to dwell on your action for too long. Your character has mere seconds… taking forever could see your turn forfeit.  In order to eliminate in-game distractions, there will be intermissions given after 2 hours in RPGs and long-play board games to allow for bathroom trips and grabbing snacks, etc.  Try to minimize leaving the table outside of these intermissions.
  • Kicking Off.  Everyone has a busy life and looks forward to gaming.  To be respectful to everyone, try your best to be on time for a game.  Delaying the start of a game means less time to play, or the game running later into the evening.
  • Tell me the cool things your character is doing not about the cool things they’ve done.  Unless a character’s background is relevant to the plot of the current game, focus on the task at hand, rather than regaling us of old tales
  • Be inclusive.  Look for ways to enable other players to participate instead of looking for ways to block them out or control them.

~ by 1nsomniac on November 12, 2018.

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