Gaffer
 member, 1580 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Tue 1 Oct 2019
at 03:53
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
I have run quite a few games on Rpol. In some of them I have played a PC without informing the other players.

Some of these were abandoned by the original player but too plot-involved or interesting to remove or relegate to NPC status.

Others I have created to play from the start, either because I had a special purpose for them or, more often, because I wanted to play.

I never use these players as 'pets' or Mary Sues. I try to play them straight up and never put them in a leadership position, give them special breaks, or let them operate outside the information all characters share. They often fulfill a purpose that no other player has opted for.
Starchaser
 member, 658 posts
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 14:25
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
I am no longer gming any games because doing so seems to take the fun out of running characters for me.

My case is unique in that what is important to me is character relationships and romance. The sad fact is that players would much rather interact romantically with other characters than they would npcs period.

I also find that if Im a player in the game you can bet my character can never get romantically involved with an NPC becuase gms seem to also steer away from using npcs in this way.

Bottom line - Ive found that players do want a game to revolve around them and if you dont give them exactly what they want they lose interest. It is never ever a compromise where both parties get to have fun.
facemaker329
 member, 7125 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 16:28
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
I avoid GMing, in general, because for me, part of the fun of playing is seeing the story unfold...if I'm a GM, I generally have a pretty clear idea of where the story is going, even if I don't foresee the exact route taken to get there.

I do have to laugh a little bit about the romance angle...I've been in one game on here for years, now...and while there have been romantic elements to it throughout, for some reason, during the last year, romances have become major plot points for most of the PCs in the game...(about a third of those are with NPCs...)
tibiotarsus
 member, 76 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 17:47
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
Pretty much all my players across a couple of games currently have/potential NPC love interests...I think it comes down to whether the GM is good at running a diverse range of people, i.e. someone for everyone if the right circumstances arise. If your tiny milkmaid and your strapping lumberjack (and your ungendered heap of sentient alien ooze, for that matter) have the same depth and care gone into making them people, then there's the possibility of PCs treating them as more than NPscenery.

Otherwise it'd be kinda like romancing the GM, which is...not what any players want to be doing and definitely not what a public RPG site is for (it's what those phone numbers in telephone booths and public toilets are for, in fact).
bigbadron
 moderator, 15806 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 18:03
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
tibiotarsus:
Otherwise it'd be kinda like romancing the GM, which is...not what any players want to be doing

Funnily enough... about 16 years ago I met the woman who would later become my wife, when she applied to a game that I was running here on RPoL.  :D
donsr
 member, 1730 posts
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 18:15
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
 the main game I run has a close knit group, they talk about  OOC  stuff in OOC or PMs,  they get along   pretty well. I think that leands itself to the whole 'romance ' thing.

 For an Ensamble game game  that's important.. 'arena  dice rollers"  and  heavy stat  games  don't need it.. but   heavy RP  games  need  folsk to be able to   play off  each other's posts and the things  that happen... just like actors in a  good movie   or TV series.
tibiotarsus
 member, 77 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 18:49
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
In reply to bigbadron (msg # 33):

XD

 ...but presumably you built up a good player relationship before an actual one, right? I was actually going to go edit that post for being mean (old legbone posting hungry here) but the "I'm a romance GM but no-one likes the NPCs" kind of had an air of "I'm expecting players to want the NPCs I want to pair them with for story aesthetics that suit me"...all take and no give isn't what players go for. Plus if one wants a stranger that will do exactly the romance fantasy you want, there are professionals.

Now, that was definitely a bit hard on GMs who're actually just...bad at a range of NPCs, but it's practice that can fix that! Like real life, you've got to get good at liking people (or characters) for themselves and being buddies before you have the emotional know how to love someone.
donsr
 member, 1731 posts
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 19:09
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
 don't getv me wrong..folks  come  and go, my games  are darker, and  not everyone like it after a bit.

 the ones who stay form friendships through OOC banter  ect ect, and that, of  course leads to  the characters.

 in the end? Its part of the whole thing.. folks  facing danger , trying to save the universe,..the neat thing is  the  folks  who bail or get cut, can be  weaved into the tale , those who  quit honorably, get sent away.

 there  is somethimes  banter   in-game  of  Vet characters  talkign  about , those who died  or shipped out... in the end? its  all believable  with  folks under stress.
Starchaser
 member, 659 posts
Mon 21 Oct 2019
at 06:07
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
tibiotarsus:
I was actually going to go edit that post for being mean (old legbone posting hungry here) but the "I'm a romance GM but no-one likes the NPCs" kind of had an air of "I'm expecting players to want the NPCs I want to pair them with for story aesthetics that suit me"...all take and no give isn't what players go for.


I totally agree with you there. And after my post I kind of realised how it came across. One of the main problems with text is a lot of emotional context is lost that would otherwise be picked up in face to face conversation which makes textual communication much harder (If you understand what I mean). Im not the best with words at the best of times so yeah. Ive also discovered that one wrong word here and there, especially when taken out of context can loseyou friends fast.

I'm constantly learning.

There does come a point however (on the subject of give and take) when youhave to stop jumping through hoops to please people when you get nothing in return for your efforts. Im not pointing fingers at anyone here and I do have a good group of reliable friends but I think I must suck at roleplaying tbh because I seem to get on better with people here OOC than I do IC :->
tkolter
 member, 78 posts
Sun 27 Oct 2019
at 03:48
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
The best option for this and it should be a sandbox more game is to have a co-GM run that single character.
praguepride
 member, 1516 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Tue 5 Nov 2019
at 23:13
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
I would say Yes under four conditions

1) Players are aware that the GM is running the PC
2) You are completely transparent with the dice rolls for that PC. You can never ever fudge a dice roll up or down for your GM-PC.
3) You don't over optimize him so that he doesn't overshadow the others. He should fill a niche and I would recommend either a tank, healer, or support style. He should not be an encounter ending wizard or an untouchable multi-attacking fighter. He needs to ensure the other PCs are getting the spotlight.
4) You establish early on that he can be wrong.

This is a bit of advice from Matt Colville's vlogs where when he puts an NPC in the group and the party asks them for suggestions on what to do that it is abundantly clear the GM is not dispensing secret information through them.

For example in his setting dwarves are like mini-klingons so when the party asked the dwarf GM-NPC "What should we do to infiltrate this fortress" The dwarf said "We should scream at the top of our lungs and charge the front gate"
"Won't that result in us getting slaughtered?"
"Yep! And it will be a glorious way to die."

So the PCs all realized "Ohhh...this guy isn't always a great source of information". Sometimes he was useful like specifically with smithing or stonecunning or if they were looking for ways to die gloriously in battle but he isn't a replacement for the PCs to think critically about solutions.

The GM-PC needs to have a clearly established personality with clearly visible flaws that are the focus in interactions with the players.

I think if you tell everyone up front, if you make sure they don't overshadow the other PCs, that they have a very clear personality and can be just as flawed and wrong as anyone else and never ever ever ever fudge dice in their favor it can be just fine.
Sithraider
 member, 182 posts
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 05:27
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
I think itís important to point out that the GM is a player character. I only make NPCs that have purpose in my games. Sometimes itís their own purposes and sometimes itís the storyís but if they donít have a purpose, they never make it out of my GM post and into the cast.

Iíve never had problems with players ignoring the NPCs. The only PC characters Iíve had have been ones Iíve been forced to play because players dropped out and their characters were too Central to the current scene/plot.

Although, what BBR posted is a level of genius Iíve never even contemplated.
praguepride
 member, 1565 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 11:53
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
Sithraider:
Although, what BBR posted is a level of genius Iíve never even contemplated.


Years ago I did that. I was frustrated with how players seemed to lack the iniaitive to create battle or heist plans and thought if I snuck in a GM NPC into the party I could give them the periodic kick in the pants to get a plan on paper.

It worked but after awhile I felt very dishonest and it spoiled the game for me. I never felt like I could divorce my player knowledge and GM knowledge completely. I could never come up with a flawed plan without deliberately coming up with a flawed plan and then I would be deliberately misleading the players who had grown to trust that character as a party leader.

I also lived in constant fear that our similar writing styles would eventually be uncovered. I played in another game where PCs secretly played multiple PCs and NPCs and it was fairly simple to discover who was playing which character.

I have since tried it with outright stating "the captain is an NPC" and that failed too. When the Captain asked "What should we do?" the players just turned it right back to the captain and said "What should we do?" and I shut the game down shortly afterwards.
donsr
 member, 1871 posts
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 14:07
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
  I think the bestanswer  si the Players...There are MPCs  all over the place in my games...  The Admiral , is the MAin NPC.. i have a  character that is  my character who is a 'semi-NPC'

  The Admiral   orders the ship/Fleet, the characters  act, react,  on their  own...BUT... there is  still the frame  work on this game's Military...

 my other  games  work a bit the same way... some of the players   cause or start some  RP on thier own?  This may even lead to uncovering plot points, or creating them.. other  time the NPCs   'start' some interactions.

 if you have  palyers that peek in and  say.." oh well..nothing for me today"..the game isn't going to last. The GMs  need to  pump life in and not  let the game bog  down..slow  games  die. And? more often then that, The GM has to have a character, of sorts, to be  invested in the RP as much as any player.

 now?  if all you are doing is  jumping from fight to fight and rollign dice?.. the GM should not have a character, , because  players  may think you are tilting the playing field.

 after saying all this?  A GM should want to have a character  in His or Her own game... If you don't want to play in it? why should anyone else?
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 220 posts
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 15:16
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
praguepride:
Years ago I did that. I was frustrated with how players seemed to lack the iniaitive to create battle or heist plans and thought if I snuck in a GM NPC into the party I could give them the periodic kick in the pants to get a plan on paper.

It worked but after awhile I felt very dishonest and it spoiled the game for me. I never felt like I could divorce my player knowledge and GM knowledge completely. I could never come up with a flawed plan without deliberately coming up with a flawed plan and then I would be deliberately misleading the players who had grown to trust that character as a party leader.

It helps if you make sure that the GM PC is expressly not the leader. Then, you can just drop little nudges here and there (that are in keeping, of course, with what the character would have access to) when you need to 'right the ship' as it were. Sometimes you need someone to say 'How about we start with this tunnel?' when the entire party is milling about unable to decide which door to choose, but that doesn't mean they should step up and always be deciding which path to take.
praguepride
 member, 1566 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 17:11
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
That was the problem though. It started out as a gentle nudge and I would jump on any player ideas but as months went by the other players started turning more and more to my secret NPC because he always had a good idea...
SunRuanEr
 subscriber, 221 posts
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 17:42
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
That's fair. It's hard to deliberately sit on your hands and let the players make mistakes, but sometimes that's what you have to do - simply be the voice of last resort when no one else is making decisions at all.

I also very much like using the dice to make 'random' decisions. Say for instance that your party can pick one of four directions, but only one is the "right" one? Just roll a d4 and throw out whatever comes up as your GM PC's contribution to the decision making. Takes away some of the fact that you, as GM, know the answer that way.
GreenTongue
 member, 918 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 20:50
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
Use a GM Emulator type of mechanic to make the decisions.
That way even you can be surprised by the choices.

There are many solo gaming options that you can use to keep from always going the direction you expect.

You can create a "Personality Chart" that sets the expected response and then roll off of that for the actual response.
You can even shift the Target Value over time depending on the number of "successes" or "failures".
praguepride
 member, 1567 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 21:33
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
One solution that I have found when I as a GM am struggling to make an "honest" decision is to loop in a friend of mine. I tell them what the situation is and have them make a decision. I have my friends run criminal gangs, enemy parties etc. It's a great way to involve buddies who can't really play full time anymore but can spare 30 minutes every now and then.
evileeyore
 member, 301 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 21:43
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
SunRuanEr:
It's hard to deliberately sit on your hands and let the players make mistakes...

We have completely different mindsets.

It used to be hard for me to let the 'Players fail' when I tried to run 'stories' with 'plots' in which the 'PCs mattered'.  However I learned my lesson, and once I stopped writing stories in which the PCs actions 'were required to move the plot' I stopped caring if they were 'making mistakes', because they couldn't make mistakes.

They could only take actions, but it didn't matter if they worked to help, hinder, or ignore the plot (or even if there were a plot).  Even TPKs ceased to matter.  The next group would do whatever the next group did.


I'll still run games with rails, if the Players want that, but then they are agreeing to get on the damn train and I am not subtle about pushing them in the 'right' direction if necessary.  But then again, that's what they are signing up for, so it's a-okay  (and it's also going to be a book adventure, pre written by someone else - but altered by me, because I do not bother with that nonsense anymore).
donsr
 member, 1872 posts
Wed 18 Mar 2020
at 21:48
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
 we never  seem to have those problems.. if there is  a game decision.. that's  what the GMs   for.  I do use  'offboard' dice rolls    for  some  NPC  reactions . but   seriously?.. PCs   and NPCs   are supposed to have personalities. Thier  reactions   are easy enough to write, just  with that  information in your pocket.

 I make no bones about, that my players  might be the best on this site...between  OOC banter  and PM  questions, we keep the game goign   freely. we do hit  hiccups when RL grabs  someone, but it never effects the RP  between palyer..NPCs   and PC/NPCs.

 this isn't hard, unless  you are  too close to the  rulebook..in here?  we can hash out stuff face to face... the game slows  down as you try to juggle?... Nope.. there are PCs  and NPCs  whoa re there  to solve about any problem.. and the ones that can't be solved that way..the GM  ruling  takes  care of the rest.
JRScott
 member, 37 posts
Thu 19 Mar 2020
at 00:29
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
They can be and many GMs make the mistake of doing a PC beside the PCs. The problem invariably is that they give knowledge to their PCs they should not have often and their PCs are used a focal point often when they shouldn't be.

We all go through stages though, and many commit this mistake. Some learn to grow out of it, some learn that they should not be in the driver's seat on both sides of the table, and some find players that is okay with their style.
facemaker329
 member, 7187 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Thu 19 Mar 2020
at 06:25
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
In reply to praguepride (msg # 44):

My experience has been that most players will wind up turning to ask the directions of ANY character who is consistently decisive (provided those decisions don't wind up routinely having some kind of catastrophic results).  I've been in a LOT of games where I specifically made a character who was not supposed to be the party leader...subordinate officer, or not even an officer, or an alien in a human-centric universe...all kinds of reasons to not choose to follow that character.  But since I tend to play pretty decisive characters, a lot of times my character winds up becoming the de facto party leader, even in games where there is no official party leader.

If you're a GM running a PC in a game, and you let yourself start providing direction for the party through that PC, you're running a very real chance that the party will start looking to that character for leadership.  If you don't want them to follow your character, don't ever let that character do anything beyond provide advice (and maybe fire support...)  The more your character makes the decisions for the group (or provides suggestions which the group agrees to act upon), the more likely it becomes that character is going to wind up leading the party, regardless of who is running it.

And it's not necessarily a bad thing for the GM to be the one running that character.  Not everyone joins a game with an eye towards being the party leader.  Some people really take comfort in playing characters who are there to follow someone else's directions...for some people, it's a chance for a quirky character...they're the sergeant who's always telling his corporals about what bad decisions the lieutenant keeps making, to borrow a common archetype from war movies (especially Vietnam war movies).  They don't want to make the decisions, they don't want to feel responsible for the fate of the party, but they need someone there to complain about, rebel against, second-guess, etc to fulfill their character concept.

I've already sounded off in this thread about my support for the concept of a GMPC, because I've seen it done very successfully on a lot of occasions.  But I've also been equally vocal elsewhere about the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to gaming.  If you want to do it, do it.  It may take you a while to learn to do it well, but if that's the kind of game you want to run, you should run it.  If you hate the idea, don't do it...and if you hate the idea so much that you can't stand being in a game with a GM who does it, tell the GM when you RTJ the game so they can let you know whether or not you should continue with the process of putting a character together.  As is the case with darn near everything else about gaming, there is no 'wrong' or 'right' way to do it...if you're having fun, and the players are enjoying the game, you're doing it right, no matter how it happens to be that you're doing it.
Gaffer
 member, 1607 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Thu 19 Mar 2020
at 15:55
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
In reply to facemaker329 (msg # 51):

All true, especially the part about most players following a decisive individual.

When I first started playing con event rpgs with my daughter, she noticed that I always wound up leading the party because I always had ideas and voiced them. After that, I began deliberately not being a leader. I often had more fun playing the dumb bruiser or the plucky comic relief or the single-minded scientist or the twit.

When I run games at cons (and sometimes here), I sometimes have an npc leader who dies/goes insane/goes missing once the party has been dropped in deep doodoo. That's fun. Think of Aliens when they lose Sgt. Apone.
praguepride
 member, 1568 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Thu 19 Mar 2020
at 16:02
Re: Can GM also be a Player?
Gaffer:
When I run games at cons (and sometimes here), I sometimes have an npc leader who dies/goes insane/goes missing once the party has been dropped in deep doodoo. That's fun. Think of Aliens when they lose Sgt. Apone.


This is a great idea and one I enjoy as well. Set up the GM NPC like he is the leader of the group, he gives orders and they follow for a couple missions just so everyone gets a feel for it.

Then kill the NPC. Or Kidnap him. OR make him go insane. Whatever it takes to abruptly remove that safety net.

Sometimes it works, sometimes the PCs step up. Sometimes it flounders and the game dies. Either way it does make for a nice memorable and dramatic moment so I have fun even if it is the end.