Here’s the situation: You and your game group have switched gears. System X got a bit boring and you all decided it was time to try on System Y and see how it goes. Since you are the local GM, it’s up to you to get familiar with the rules and prepare the first adventure. Everyone seems excited. Until you sit down and play.
Things go to crap. A Redditor had pretty much this exact situation:
I’ve been GM’ing a game of Eclipse Phase for two months now and it has been rocky from the start. Two of the players’ characters have turned into violent psychopaths and are completely at odds with the rest of the party. In addition, two other players just sit there on their computers every session for the whole session. I’ve tried to tie in personal side quests to the main plot to heighten their interest, but they aren’t biting.
I made a bunch of excuses for them, but today one of the girls told me that she just doesn’t care. That she wants to go back to D&D, and that she never wanted to play Eclipse Phase. This enraged me as I’ve been working my ass off for this game and no one cares about it.
Should I even try to salvage this, or just go back to running D&D?
What sticks out to me in this scenario is the amount of time allowed to pass before anyone says anything. It’s been two months since the start of the new game. That is, at least, two sessions, but from context I think it’s fair to say that there have been more than this. Like, maybe it’s a weekly game and things have been headed downhill from the start. Why did people wait so long before speaking up if they weren’t having fun?
Normally, in any new group or system switch, I think it is perfectly reasonable to give the group two or three sessions to gel and get used to things. That seems perfectly fine to me. Sitting there at a table week after week, however, in a game you, and potentially the entire group, aren’t enjoying while your GM sweats away trying to get your interest and engage everyone in the adventure is at a minimum rude. Especially if, as this Redditor points out later in the thread, he’s already asked you all if you wanted to try this system and you agreed enthusiastically. At that point, you leave rude behind and head straight into being a jackass.
We all know, I hope, how much effort it takes to be a GM and prepare adventures for your friends, especially in a new system. For every hour of game time, the rule of thumb is to have spent a minimum of two hours preparing. That rapidly adds up to a serious time commitment for whomever is doing the duty. Meanwhile, this poor guy’s passive aggressive group has refused to let him off the hook for two months, instead choosing to dick around and frustrate him.
My advice, to both this Redditor and to you if you find yourself in this situation is two fold. First, this is bad gaming. As we’ve heard before, No Gaming is better than Bad Gaming. There’s no reason to allow other people to ruin your gaming experience. Better to walk away and not play than end up in a situation where you hate playing altogether. You play because you enjoy doing so, not because you want to deal with frustration and anger. You have a job at which you can do that on a regular basis if you are so inclined. Gaming is for getting away from all that.
Second, if your group has treated you in this manner, step away from the GM shield and allow one of them to run the sort of game they think they want to play. Let them take on the responsibility of putting an adventure together and getting everyone engaged. If you think it will be worth the entertainment value, go ahead and be a player for a while. Kick back, relax, and let them go to it. You’ll either end up getting more respect for the job you have to do to make things fun, or you’ll discover that you enjoy being a PC more than a GM and can relieve yourself of that burden.
Don’t make their mistake though and go all passive aggressive. Be helpful when they need it and speak up promptly if something seems wrong or you aren’t enjoying yourself. Don’t sit there like a lump on your laptop or cell phone and essentially ignore the game. Don’t Be a Dick is an excellent first rule for all your gaming experiences.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation as either a PC or GM? If so, what did you do about it and what advice do you have for others? Let us know in the comments below.
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