Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

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Devin Parker
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Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Devin Parker » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:10 am

Where I really get Imposter Syndrome is when running con games. Nobody signed up for my first game, so that was a kick in the ego. At my second game I arrived late and then had a panic attack as I was about to begin; Sgt Dan had to talk me down from the proverbial ledge. Once we got started, though, it was pretty fun - it had a lot of problems and things I could have planned better, but overall I think we had fun. Fortunately with my home group I feel pretty confident, and I have a long history of game sessions with them that give me that confidence.

As far as not being invested in the game being run, I’ve been there. It’s always been with GMs that were great, but the setting just wasn’t my jam. One of my friends ran a Harry Potterverse game that he ultimately wrote a novel about, but while it was a great game skillfully GMed, I just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for playing a 14 year-old wizard boy and wanted to go back to playing Star Wars. The fault was totally mine and my gaming cravings.

I also played in a D&D game where the GM expressed his interest in running the Mindshadows setting (an India-flavored psychic-heavy setting) and in dealing with Eastern philosophy, caste systems, and so on. I was the only player who made a character native to the setting; everyone else made a standard pseudo-European D&D-type character from a foreign land. I felt that GM’s frustration and totally understood why we only played one session.

Now I’m running a Marvel Super Heroes/FASERIP game set in an amalgam Marvel/DC/pulp 1940 New York City and absolutely LOVING it. I’m really hoping my players are as invested in it as I am. They’ve mostly said so, but being the oversensitive worrywart that I am, I fear the possibility that they may not be as into this as I am...
Last edited by Devin Parker on Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby TwilightVulpine » Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:27 pm

Devin Parker wrote:Where I really get Imposter Syndrome is when running con games. Nobody signed up for my first game, so that was a kick in the ego.


I know that feeling very well. GMing for strangers comes which much more pressure than for your group of buddies. Oddly enough, my failure story also comes from trying to run a game based on Pokémon, like Wayne did. I thought since Pokémon Go was fresh in the public consciousness I could find people to play. Man, I was wrong. I don't know if it was because I was an unknown GM with no reputation in the local community, because it was an unknown fansystem, because I was going for a Mystery Dungeon (transformed into pokémon) adventure rather than a traditional one, or because the people there didn't actually care about Pokémon at all. But nobody signed up, and nobody was interested. It was awful! I felt like shit twiddling my thumbs waiting for anybody to care, watching full tables across the hall.

Speaking of Pokémon, I know exactly what Wayne was talking about. I am guessing he might have used Pokémon Tabletop United. That system has some cool ideas and a lot of variety for trainers, but the amount of crunch and prep work it requires is insane. Making a single trainer and a pokémon is already a lot of work, nevermind populating the world, planning encounters, running encounters with 7 potential participants per player.

That is why I decided for Mystery Dungeon after all. A single pokémon with a defined moveset is much more sensible to prepare for. The classic pokémon journey really does not lend itself to a group RPG. In some ways, you might be running multiple simultaneous adventures, one for each player, as you can't exactly have everyone participating of Gym battles. And if they do not have a shared goal, there is little incentive for them to stick together.

I also ended up using a system called Pokérole instead, with some heavy houseruling. It's a good middle ground between faithfulness and ease of use, without the need of obssessively fiddling with numbers. It has some weird thematic and mechanical choices I don't agree with, but overall it is good enough. Some people might prefer a generic system and just reskin it with pokémon names and trappings, but I wanted something more specific.

Eventually I did manage to get an online group that got interested in my game idea, and after they completely failed to show up I did manage to find another online group that actually got playing. So I guess that worked out... so far.

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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Devin Parker » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:14 pm

TwilightVulpine wrote:
Devin Parker wrote:Where I really get Imposter Syndrome is when running con games. Nobody signed up for my first game, so that was a kick in the ego.


I know that feeling very well. GMing for strangers comes which much more pressure than for your group of buddies. Oddly enough, my failure story also comes from trying to run a game based on Pokémon, like Wayne did. I thought since Pokémon Go was fresh in the public consciousness I could find people to play. Man, I was wrong. I don't know if it was because I was an unknown GM with no reputation in the local community, because it was an unknown fansystem, because I was going for a Mystery Dungeon (transformed into pokémon) adventure rather than a traditional one, or because the people there didn't actually care about Pokémon at all. But nobody signed up, and nobody was interested. It was awful! I felt like shit twiddling my thumbs waiting for anybody to care, watching full tables across the hall.


I can imagine! I was fortunate in that someone else saw me moping around my box full of unused game props and invited me to join in a Firefly game, and I had a great time playing a Companion. The experience would have felt much worse if I'd been left to just sit there at an empty table next to the evidence of my "failure" and wasted hours of prep.

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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Knaight » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:38 pm

TwilightVulpine wrote:Speaking of Pokémon, I know exactly what Wayne was talking about. I am guessing he might have used Pokémon Tabletop United. That system has some cool ideas and a lot of variety for trainers, but the amount of crunch and prep work it requires is insane. Making a single trainer and a pokémon is already a lot of work, nevermind populating the world, planning encounters, running encounters with 7 potential participants per player.


It could also be Pokemon Tabletop Adventure, which PTU forked off of. They're pretty similar systems, and both have Pathfinder level complexity per character while also having up to seven characters per player (all though no more than two are likely to be out simultaneously, with some exceptions). The design is...questionable.
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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Penguinsushi » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:21 pm

I think the con-game "I've got one chance and 4 hours to prove I don't suck at this" anxiety is something a lot of us can relate to, but I think that's more of a corollary-to than an instance-of Impostor Syndrome: at least in my case, it's not that I believe myself to be terrible - I think I'm pretty good at this - it's more than I'm nervous about this specific performance suggesting otherwise. I get that a lot when running for people I don't normally GM for, at cons or elsewhere.



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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby John » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:43 pm

It doesn't mean you're terrible if nobody signed up for a particular game, it means nobody wanted that particular game at that particular time. The vast majority of people looking at the sheet have no idea or opinion of how you are as a GM at all!

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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Hal » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:54 pm

John wrote:It doesn't mean you're terrible if nobody signed up for a particular game, it means nobody wanted that particular game at that particular time. The vast majority of people looking at the sheet have no idea or opinion of how you are as a GM at all!


The very first time I ran games for a con, it was to help a friend out, who had a GM abandon a table at the last minute. So it was basically going to be "whoever showed up and wanted to play."

For the first slot, I ended up running for a full table (5 players), introduced them to the Dresden Files RPG, and we had a grand time.

For the second slot . . . nothing.

It happens. You move on.
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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Wayne » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:37 pm

Knaight wrote:
TwilightVulpine wrote:Speaking of Pokémon, I know exactly what Wayne was talking about. I am guessing he might have used Pokémon Tabletop United. That system has some cool ideas and a lot of variety for trainers, but the amount of crunch and prep work it requires is insane. Making a single trainer and a pokémon is already a lot of work, nevermind populating the world, planning encounters, running encounters with 7 potential participants per player.


It could also be Pokemon Tabletop Adventure, which PTU forked off of. They're pretty similar systems, and both have Pathfinder level complexity per character while also having up to seven characters per player (all though no more than two are likely to be out simultaneously, with some exceptions). The design is...questionable.



It was one of those two. I looked at both. Can't remember at the moment which I went with. The biggest problem really boils down to the Pokemon Journey being a single character journey that doesn't scale well. I'm sure there is a way to make it work and systems that could do it. My attempt however and the system used did not overcome this hurdle.
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Re: Episode 479 - Not That Bad of a GM

Postby Triggerhappy938 » Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:16 pm

John wrote:It doesn't mean you're terrible if nobody signed up for a particular game, it means nobody wanted that particular game at that particular time. The vast majority of people looking at the sheet have no idea or opinion of how you are as a GM at all!


This. Probably 80% of my sign ups for Fear the Con are rooted in "I've not played this/that looks unique." Unless you have some level of celebrity, who you are isn't likely to affect your signups. Even then, any celebrity you do have to your name is likely to have a positive affect. I can't think of anyone I've not played with who I know for being such a terrible GM I'd look to avoid them at a con.
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