GMs are bastards

Last year’s Intercon Precon had a wonderful talk on how players are scum. This one had a rejoinder on why GMs are bastards. They are both an excellent guide to what not to do in a larp, as both a player and a GM.

I love it: “Players are scum” is not a generalisation, it’s mantra. Oh well, as long as you only say it repetitively and not actually mean it as generalised description, then it’s cool. Hmmm.

The second article is more balance, and is from the point of view of a GM discussing GM behaviour vs the first, which was a GM discussion player behaviour.

Take home quote from the second article : Pickpocketing does not work. Well, it bloody well did in Happily Ever After !!

One thing I try and do with pick pocketing is have the player get the GM to do it. That way the player being stolen from doesn’t know who did it.

I don’t agree with everything in those discussions, but there are a lot of mistakes listed I have seen done or done myself (or issues that we have had to put up with). And so overall it’s pretty good advice.

Hello - gosh how lovely that you liked my panel.

I’d love to discuss anything that I wrote, more than happy to have a heated but friendly discussion

I think pickpocketing can work, but only under the right circumstances, the right game setting and with a caveat that you don’t spend the whole game trying to get something that gets taken off you by seemingly GM fiat which is just really really annoying.

There’s a big discussion happening on UK Freeforms about it at the moment which you should be able to read without having to register if you don’t want to

what does this mean?

My understanding of that is sometimes there are characters that are written as a joke or an usual character, or maybe a light hearted character. And some players actually ask for those characters.

BUT, and I agree with this totally, they still need goals and things to do. If a character is a one trick pony it is very easy for the player to get bored in a 3 hour game, then they either have a terrible time or distract others from the game. I prefer as a writer to give players lots of goals, even if there is too much to do, and then they can pick and choose what they want to do, because everyone will see a character differently.

Hi Queenortart, welcome to the forums and thanks for the link :slight_smile:. And yeah I see what you are saying there, your issue with pick pocket isn’t the action, it’s taking that 1 item someone needed to ‘win’ the game or a player losing something. I think you need to be careful when putting it in, and consider if it is right for your game. Though I think it’s important to have different ways to achieve a goal that doesn’t just mean having 1 item, and I think different communities are more accepting of different styles. Which I think you would have a lot of experience with, playing and running in multiple countries, so interested to hear your experiences.


what does this mean?[/quote]I’m guessing some character that might work out well as an NPC - come in, make a lot of noise, and then go out and get recast, but trying to bulk it up to a full length character. (I know some people who prefer relatively light weight characters, mind, it gives them an opportunity to hang out technically in character and observe everyone else. But good to ask about that upfront, like.)

I think one of mine regarding game mechanics (pick pocketing is one of them) is to consider the handling time - if you need to stop what you’re doing, find a GM, do a skill check, have the GM chase up something with another player and then get back to you, it had really better be worth your while. And more so in the bigger games, where it takes work to get a GM’s attention.

So if I had to go through all that to pickpocket someone and what I got was a random draw of items that might or might not be useful to me, I’d be kinda annoyed. Same with interacting with objects in the game - if you need a GM to mediate, it should be a high value activity; if it’s not a high value activity, or maybe has a high fail rate, then setting up passive mechanics (like the card draws attached to items that had random effects that Cat’s Perambulate We Merrily or the flagship Happily Ever After at last Chimera had) can be useful. Or put a note on something with advice to check with GM only if the activation conditions are met, or whatever.

Colour Characters are those who exist (in my head) to be there for the main characters to get something from, or kill, or just to wander around the periphery of the game and look pretty
I played a Firefly game in which my character existed to have a necklace stolen off them by the Firefly crew. I genuinely can see no other reason for my character to be there. I was very bored, and there is a danger that if I get bored in games I will make my own fun. I did end up blowing up a small Caribbean Island once - well technically I allowed the British Navy to blow it up - because I tore up a message (I was a French spy so there were reasons for it)

It’s interesting that so much of the advice, both for players and GMs, is about communication.

In that vein, I find that OOC notes to players on expectations before the game can be worth their weight in gold. Having explicit OOC expectations can cause people to subtly modify how they play their characters, in ways that will benefit everyone.

For example, it is so much easier to say to players “please find in-character reasons to stay in the play area for the game” than to try to ensure that no character finds a reason to leave (for example, they’ve got what they wanted and are in danger). It might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating the obvious. I’ve actually been in that position as a player, and my line of thinking was not “what would make this game more enjoyable for everyone?” but instead “what would my character do?” In one respect I was being player scrum by leaving, but in another respect I was just holding true to my character.

Similarly, it pays to lay out your expectations about character death. If you want people to avoid killing each other until near the end, say so. If you want it deadly from the start and you have backup characters, say that too. Align people’s OOC thought processes and things will go smoother IC.

what does this mean?[/quote]

I know this has been clarified, but I’d like to add that the term “colour character” or “flavour character” comes from the phrase “just there to add colour/flavour.” In other words, they’re not integral to the game, they’re just part of the atmosphere. The reason to avoid them is that they have nothing to do, and that makes for dull larping. Even a player who doesn’t want to play a mover-and-shaker should still have things to do that will keep the player entertained and interacting.