Gaming My Way

07 Aug

The Most Important Part of an RPG: Player and GM Relationships

Rules systems are good. They help provide a framework for how the game works, and give everyone an idea of what they are doing. But they’re no substitute for the relationships between all of the players and the GM. If those relationships aren’t solid, the game will fall apart.

That doesn’t mean everyone at the table has to be best friends. However, everyone at the table does have to trust everyone else to create a fun atmosphere for the game being played, and everyone at the table also has to be deserving of that trust from everyone else. They also have to be willing to contribute to the game to the best of their abilities.

This means the GM enforces rules fairly. How a GM does this is up to the GM, it just needs to be done in a way the players understand is fair. The players then trust the GM when a ruling isn’t always obvious, because they trust the GM will do the right thing. This way, when the GM has to make an on the fly ruling, the game can continue on without breaking the flow and without people worrying about what the book says, since everyone trusts it’s fair, and then it can be checked out later.

Likewise, the players need to trust and respect each other. Without that, games fall apart quickly. This isn’t to say all the characters have to do so, what the characters do is up to the players’ comfort levels. But this conflict should be restricted to the characters, and not the players. Generally speaking, with more trust among the players, there can be a larger amount of character conflict without bringing the game to a screeching halt. But in short, know boundaries of players, and be sure everyone is on the same page. This also goes for the smaller things, like loot distribution, secrets among select party members, and similar situations.

Most of the time, players are all on the same page and know the boundaries of the game. In some groups though, everyone has a different idea of what to expect, and when they all start playing the game differently, it causes problems if they don’t have that basic level of trust. If they do, they’ll likely talk it out and make the game work within the playing styles they all have. This works when everyone is willing to give and take a little. If they don’t have that trust for each other though, it can seem like everyone is trying to pull a fast one on everyone else.

The most important part of any game is in the relationships you have with everyone else at the table. With a little fairness and trust, things roll on smoothly when the game comes to areas that are minor, usually unnoticed bumps. Without that trust, those minor bumps become giant potholes that cause the game to veer off course, limiting the fun had by all. Making sure everyone has the level of trust and respect for the kind of game you want to play will make things a lot more fun than if it is missing.

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