25 January 2015

In the Spirit of Fun

I used to play Vampire: The Masquerade. I was drawn to the rich setting with great potential for character development. Once, I was playing a Salubri character. Salubri have access to a defensive power called Obeah. One of the abilities of this power is to erect a force field around the character, so that anyone not already within 25 feet cannot approach any closer than that distance.

At one point, my character finds herself in a small cavern with at least one hostile NPC. I state that I am looking all around me to ensure that there's no one within 25 feet. To emphasise the point, I turn my head to the left and the right.

I considered, at this point, stating outright that my character was looking in a full 360° arc, just to be sure the GM understood what I meant. But then I thought to myself, 'No, that won't be necessary. The GM is understanding enough to know what I mean. I'm not going to insult her intelligence, nor her ability to be a good GM, by stating the obvious.'

What a fool I was.

Shortly after I activated the power, my character was attacked from behind. I pointed out the force field ability. The GM responded, 'Yes, but when you looked around you, you only turned your head 90° in either direction. So you didn't see the man standing behind you.'

I considered arguing, but I realised there'd be no point. So I just continued playing the game as if I'd never cast the spell in the first place.

This sort of attitude from GMs really irritates me. It sets up a sort of antagonism between the GM and the players. The game becomes a zero-sum game, where the enjoyment of one has to come at the expense of the other. As I've discussed previously, the point of gaming is supposed to be to have fun. We all have fun gaming in different ways, but there's no real reason we can't find a way to balance the various types of fun. When someone in the group is not having fun, then something needs to change.

But that's just the point, isn't it? In the example outlined above, the GM was not working in the spirit of fun. Maybe she thought it was fun for herself to taunt the PCs in this way, but in my case at least, I think that a player shouldn't have to be so exactingly specific about his actions in order to communicate his desires.

I'm trying to arrange a GURPS Firefly game. I'm having trouble getting a group together, because I want people on whom I can rely. The last time I tried to GM a long term game, players just stopped showing up. Additionally, I want players who will fit the theme. The game will be a creative exercise, so those who just want to kill monsters likely won't enjoy themselves.

It's turning out to be harder than I expected. But, in the spirit of fun, I won't lower my standards. I want everyone to have a good time.

Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about lately. Until next week,

Game on!

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