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  Click here to go to the first special guest post in this thread.   Thread: Ask a GM [11/17/08]: Who Picks the System?

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    Ask a GM [11/17/08]: Who Picks the System?

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    MuslixtheMighty asks, "Who picks the system?"

    When you are deciding on what game/system to run, do you let your players feelings guide your hand or do you pick the game, no matter what they say?
    Robert A. Howard
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    I seem to think that the GM/DM would be the one to chose which game and/or system will be used. How can a potential player make a decission on whether or not they want to be in a particular game if it hasn't even be decided upon yet?

    With that said, I will admit that there are still a lot of questions that could need to be ironed out before starting a game. This is why at the first session for our group that is running the "Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" and using the 2E system of AD&D, we probably spent the fist half hour to an hour in just asking questions. Now, this doesn't mean that questions won't come up occaissionally during the game, but at least it will get the basic information stuff out of the way at the begining. This will help to give the players a sense of helping with the game even though they haven't chose the game or system themselves.
    Last edited by cplmac; 11-12-2008 at 07:47 PM.

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    As a frequent GM for my own group when I'm deciding on a campaign, clearly I want something that will fit my own ideas of what I think would be fun or exciting but I want to make sure that my players will find it fun and exciting as well. Afterall, you might think you have the greatest campaign idea in the world but if your players aren't into it, it won't be nearly as fun as you imagined it would be.

    But you can't allow the players to entirely choose the game for you because they might want to play something that the GM has no interest in. If the GM isn't excited about the game, he won't be compelled to put as much effort into running it and the game will suffer that way.

    To that end, I usually meet somewhere in the middle and give my players "options". I will develop the seeds for a couple of different games or campaigns that spark my imagination and I will pitch them to the group. I will let them come to a decision about which game they are most interested in and we will run with that. In that instance, the GM is essentially still the one picking the game and system, but he's also giving the players their share of input on what is being played.
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    I have a simple rule about the games I GM: I'm not running anything I won't enjoy.

    So I choose the system and setting every time. I don't mind people suggesting things they would like to me, but if I won't enjoy running it -- I'm not going to be the GM. I encourage them to be the GM and ask to play instead.

    In my experience there are far more people who want to be players than GM's for any game system. Supply and demand put leverage in the hands of the GM and I pretty much leave it at that.

    I also figure that attendance is a good quality control. If you, as the GM, are running a game you enjoy but you can't find / keep players it's a good time to look at the games you are running and ask why others don't enjoy it. Or ask them and be ready for honest feedback.

    If your chairs aren't empty, and you have people in queue to take those chairs... by all means run the game you will enjoy most -- you are obviously doing something right
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    Grimwell

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    I think this question has a very simple answer -- both. RPGs are fundamentally a game and games are supposed to be fun. If they're not fun, why play?

    GMs pick a system by choosing one that they want to run. If they don't want to run it, they won't have any fun. So why play?

    Players pick a system by playing in that game. If they're not having fun, why play?

    Without either -- no game.

    If I have advice it is this -- discuss system and story openly and honestly in your gaming group. Try to plainly and non-accusatorily describe what you like about a game and what you don't. RPG groups are a relationship and like any relationship, communication is key.

    Talk about your game. Choose it together. Have fun.

    Gary

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    As I'm limited in the number of RPGs I'm comfortable GMing, I do tend to stay within those. When I do plan a campaign, I may be persuaded to do a different setting, say if every other D&D game is set up in Faerun, I'd be open to moving the setting of my game to Eberron, for example. I also may be inclined/willing to do a campaign in say, d20 Modern, if everyone else wants a change from D&D.

    In my last tabletop group, I let the players give their 2 cents every so often-and a lot of the time it worked out pretty well when I went their way (or at least met them halfway & compromised).

    There were very few times where I or another player asked if we could change the game to another system or another setting, and a few times the GM picked a new setting or cracked open a game no one played before.
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    I think the answer is the Gamemaster ultimately decides. It is the GM that is going to have to put the majority of work into the game. The system should be one that he or she is comfortable with and enjoys. That is not to say that the players have no input. In my groups, I have always first proposed what games I am interested in running and seeing if anyone is interested. I tend to run whatever my players are must excited about. However, if there was a game that I did't want to run, but my players were jonsing for, I would suggest one of them take up the mantle of GM and try to run the game themselves. If the GM isn't excited about a game, it is doubtful anyone will get much out of it anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    If I have advice it is this -- discuss system and story openly and honestly in your gaming group. Try to plainly and non-accusatorily describe what you like about a game and what you don't. RPG groups are a relationship and like any relationship, communication is key.

    Talk about your game. Choose it together. Have fun.
    Gary nailed it. It's not just the system but every aspects of the game should be discussed : heroic or gritty, fantasy or SF, system A or system B, pizza or veggie dip... Obviously everyone can bail out so there's no point insisting on a type of game the GM doesn't care for unless you offer to run the game yourself. Even then it doesn't mean the rest of the group will follow you.

    Eventually it could be time to realize you have nothing in common with the group you planned to play with. I personally prefer no game than a game I don't enjoy but YMMV
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    I guage what the players want, the key is to play with players who enjoy your playstyle. I know my players wouldn't play 4e ever, nor would i, but didn't want to just stick with 3.5, so i found pathfinder and everyones loved it. I joked the other day about switching to 4e and it was pretty much said that if i did i (the dm) would be voted out lol.

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    The GM does ultimately decide, but that's not to say that i havent offered up a few other rpgs to my group for a change of pace.

    In the end, you want to play something you enjoy balanced with what your players would enjoy. It can never be one way or the other. I've seen GM's try this with disasterous results.
    Last edited by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon; 11-17-2008 at 04:38 PM.
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    Get a good feel for the predominate group dynamic. Are they more role play versus melee play oriented? Finding a gaming/system that is built around one approach as opposed to the other may be more helpful as a game in bringing more enjoyment out of the experience.

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    I guess it depends on the group. When I had a steady group of eight players, every year a new gm/dm would take over and they would pick the system/world we would play in.

    Lately, as players are dwindling because of time/lives/xbox/ps3/whatever (choose one). If you can get five players together weekly is a challenge in itself. So when I started my group I asked what there preference of world we should play in. However, I chose the rules system.

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    ive never had a problem with the players not liking my games, and i always decide which system we run without input, but if i dont like the way people play my games i have been known to replace almost all players with new ones not because i wasnt enjoying it but because other players werent enjoying it and the few people were ruining it for everyone
    new question at which point is it time to replace a player?

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    What happens in most groups I have played in, is GM suggests a System/setting and the players comment/vote.

    As the GM I have a veto. Someone else proposes "Soap Opera Vampire: The Endless Monologue" - I can say "Have fun with your bad selves, but I won't be there."

    Eventually we reach a consensus on what is to be played.

    I try to have some viable alternatives available. But some times I am so hepped up about a game, I push for a specific conclusion.

    This can have mixed results. It really depends on how much rope the Players are willing to give me.

    Jay ~Meow!~

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    Most often I run whatever the group decided on. Granted, the only campaign we ever really got in depth with was a D&D published campaign, but on our weekend get-togethers we would usually throw something out there (OWoD, D&D, NWoD).

    You get the idea. Whatever we could do to prevent the dreaded B-word: Boredom.
    "All you need is ignorance and confidence, then success is assured." -Mark Twain

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