Sunday, July 21, 2013
Rules for Asshole Gamemaster number two.
Nearly every GM I've ever talked to has ran into this problem at the table. They are going along and things are starting to pick up in pace and excitement. Finally the action starts and things get fast paced and they are going from player to player asking them what they are going to do. Then they get to that one player, the one who looks dumbly up from doing something else and goes “Huh, oh what's going on?” and the pace comes to a sudden halt like a car hitting a reinforced brick wall. Finally one time I had enough.
I was running Sla Industries for a group who were mostly new to the game. Two of the players picked Ebb users. So I gave them a quick explanation of how it works and handed them a copy of the rulebook flipped open to he Ebb section so they could look over what they could do. The first one began checking it out as soon as it hit the table, she didn't waste a moment. But the other one, he started to draw a picture of his 'cool bad ass' Brain Waster character. He spent nearly the entire time doing that, almost no interaction with what was going on just following the other PCs.
Finally combat started up and I started going around for actions from the players. Everybody was on top of their game and ready to go... until I go to him. His words were “Okay... now what can I do with this Ebb stuff again?” as he finally looked up from his drawing. He had done zero effort to be involved or to look through the power list for his abilities. I was a bit aggravated at this so I simply called out “Okay you are trying to figure out how your Ebb powers work.” and went on to the next person in line. Needless to say his character ended up getting killed that game... then he made a second character, the brother of the first character, out to avenge his death... but that's another sad gamer story for another time.
But in that story I just told lies my point, my advice for being an asshole when you have to. When they look up from their cellphone, sketch pad, whatever and ask what's going on during the middle of the action you just pass their ass up. Their character stands there like a fool trying to figure out what to do. Do not stop the pace, especially once it's up to speed, just to explain what is going on to somebody who can't bother to listen when you're talking.
Now be prepared for all manner of crying and bitching from them. But you just have to keep moving and don't listen. If they want to disrupt the game completely over this tell them to leave. Stand your ground, be an asshole. Smart ones will learn from this, sit down, shut up, take their lumps and do better the next time around. Others may not, but those are probably the few that you would have to stop the game for repeatedly every game over and over again. So it's no big loss when it come to running a good game for your players. At least the players who can pay attention.