Content of the article: "DMs are players too. And a bit more."
DMs often forget they are also players. This sounds unimportant, but it isn't. Because we tend to pay more attention to the player's wishes than we play to our own, and we tend to priorize their enjoyment over ours.
This means we need to remember, rather constantly, that we are also a player in the table. Which in turn means we have some rights we tend to overlook:
– If we don't like a scene, or a topic, we don't need to DM it at all. The same way players can be uncomfortable with topics, so can we. The same way they don't need to give an explanation, neither do we.
As an example, my D&D games have no sex, and no sexuality. I just don't like it in them. That means that I don't care if your PC is bisexual or a lesbian or asexual, it just will not come up.
Moreover, I don't give a fuck wether your PC is trans or not. You tell me if it's a man or a woman and that's it. No need to go into pants. This also means I have zero interest in exploring disphoria and it's social issues. Other DMs will want to, and power to them, but I don't. So it doesn't even get the chance to happen. Wanna play a male character? Your character is male.
– The same way players get to pick what characters to use, we get to pick what setting to play.
Sure, we can ask players what they want to play, but ultimately we decide the system and setting. We aren't obligated to narrate a setting over another we want to. Players can choose wether they want to join or not, and their character.
– You aren't responsible for their characters.
You make the setting work. You make the places, the cities, the NPCs, the plots and subplots. But making their character work with each other? Finding motivation for their characters? Developing interests and personalities? Those aren't your duty.
Moreover, DMs sacrifice a good chunk of our time and effort to basically entertain others. This comes with a few rights that come from sheer common sense, but that are often overlooked:
– Players don't get to argue calls you make in-game.
Sure, they can debate or bring something up once the game is done, but what you say during the game goes, no argument allowed.
– Players should respect your time.
This means showing up on time -unless there's a real exception- or at least letting you know if they are going to miss a session / be late. You spend a lot of time preparing, and they just not showing up is, good reasons apart, completely unacceptable.
– Players should respect your effort.
You are making a considerable effort to keep the story fresh and exciting. The bare minimun they can do is pay attention whenever they are "on scene". If they aren't (split group), sure, they can pull out their phone and disconnect (actually better to avoid metagame). But as long as they are, being on your phone when someone is making an effort to entertain you is extremely disrespectful.
– You get veto to make the game work.
Since you are responsible for the setting, you get to call which classes or races or concepts or characters can be made or not, and what personalities you do allow at creation. This is not "policing their creativity", but setting healthy boundaries for a campaign. You need to plan and improvise and narrate the consequences, so unlike another player, if you don't want a chaotic evil bard in your good campaign, you can say "nope". Hell, you can say "no" for any reason you want.
In my games, there are no selfish archetypes. All characters must have a reason to want to work in a team. Moreover, unless I know you are a good roleplayer, I don't allow male players to play female characters or vice versa.
The same way a player that doesn't like another character can just leave, so can you. In your case, "leaving" means no game, so in practice this is a veto right.
I believe that's most of it. Just, keep it in mind, because many newbie DMs let other players push them around because they believe they have duties or that they should act in one or another way. And it's not like that. We are players, yes, but we are also the ones that make this happen. That workload requires some extra rights.
- Making games more exciting as a player – roleplay tips
- “What will you do for your party?” – Session Zero Questions
- I’m tired of “inclusivity” trying to ruin settings. If the GM tells you “I like your idea but it’s just not appropriate for the setting” or “I’m not comfortable with this choice, sorry” then don’t be an utter infant and throw a tantrum. You could ruin someone’s livelihood or career.
© Post "DMs are players too. And a bit more." for game Dungeons & Dragons Online.
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