Vent Opened

I do apologize but this post is just so I can shout aloud and allow the vents to release the pressure I have been holding on to.  It is kind of like the situation this morning when I went in for my scheduled diabetes check and the woman started talking to me about some of the most stressful stuff I have had to deal with in the past 6 months and then acted surprised when my blood pressure was high!  Got in to the Doctor afterward and had calmed down and he was surprised at my blood pressure being low as it had been flagged by the nurse.  So, in this regard I felt I needed to vent for some of the behaviour in my games at the store have begun to negatively affect me…

Image of serious me
GM’s need to vent sometimes!

We aren’t progressing…

I have a group of 10+ that is playing Pathfinder.  Each week I hear whispers and moans of how the story is not progressing by the people that get in the spotlight and attempt to throw every story off target by pure chaotic actions despite playing non-chaotic characters.  Moaning players who feel they want to do evil acts despite being told up front that the players are going to be on the side of good and good characters will benefit in this campaign.  It is a case of groundhog day that is almost destroying the campaign – I do not foresee this game continuing much longer if the mood does not change somewhat.

Update on this one – I reacted by applying a logical consequence to players being stupid, flying in the face of the campaign.  they are with an army of Paladins and the head of the army has taken to court martialing those that oppose them.  this resulted in one of the offending players running, and being torn into shreds by demons once they had lost the protection of the Paladin Army.  That said, some of the players that passed away have come back with good characters claiming that they are just going to play them stupid because stupid = good apparently.  If this counter intuitive passive aggressiveness continues I will be replacing this game with a paid RPG slot running either Earthdawn or Lords of Gossamer and Shadow.

Let’s keep the talking segments to 5 minutes…

I switched into a new module this week and the initial portion of it was a mass meeting of the pirate lords to discuss matters at hand with a nice serious role playing session.  Most of the players in this group purports to be serious role players but before the night is out there are calls to not invest in the role-playing, which cut to the heart of all the modules that lead to this point, so they can go and roll some dice to kill stuff.  I had spent hours in prep to give the pirate lords (of whom the players are now equal to) personalities and well rounded presence only to have it thrown in my face.  All of them around the table then, when confronted about this, claim well I haven’t played it all through from the start, so what do I care?

This group also refuses to listen to me as I offer information – I actually have to use tactics that I was taught when I was doing the Uni thing for teachers.  It may actually be worth hiring in someone to finish the last couple of modules for this one as the players just do not seem to care for story – all they want to do is roll play as opposed to role play and that is not something that I have ever been keen on.



Thanks for allowing me to vent – even if you all did not read it through to the end.  I have a lot of great friends out here in the gamer-verse and look forward to hearing all your feedback, even if it is just “suck it up”.  Thanks for listening!


  1. You can lead a player to the table.
    But you can’t make him think.

    When gaming is no longer fun, you are no longer gaming.
    What you are doing is work.

    If the work is rewarding, it tips the bullshit to pay ratio.
    If it’s not, well then all you can do is fertilize a field.

    Good luck and try not to stab anyone who doesn’t deserve it.


    1. Need to get you, Cam, Robert and the like on a plane…


  2. It’s healthy to vent my dear buddy, otherwise we tend to blow up like a stick of dynamite!


  3. I have mixed feelings, I understand your situation, but at the same time you sound quite controlling, or maybe upset that you are unable to control things. I went through a period like that, and after just letting it go my players still throw comments at me like “I will do this and that will really piss Kevin off”… when in fact I really just don’t care anymore. Fine go do crazy things if you want but don’t expect me to be creative and make an effort for you… your treasure is a +1 sword (where-as it could have been The Flamingo Sword of the Sky Lord Jarrod). You have to abandon all hope (let it go…), and start responding to their antics with rational cause and effect… Paladins are not stupid, people in power are not stupid (mostly), powers behind the powers are not stupid… cause and effect, this is what happens when you are a dick.


    1. I am not controlling, I am just sick of telling people “this is a game about good people that are out to do good things” and then have players try to circumvent that by trying to play bad people doing evil things. To phrase this another way, it is like saying tonight we are playing Carcassonne and then having someone attempt to play it with Scrabble tiles.

      I allow any action in game and respond with consequence. This was a vent, through and through. Nothing more, nothing less…


  4. If you switch to LoG&S, I’d really love to hear how the game goes.


    1. I am running a game of LoG&S this week – will post about it.


  5. One of the many reasons that I don’t like playing in large groups.
    Increases the chance of getting players who see the role-play aspect of the game just as an interlude between the fights and not an important part of the story. That’s a pet peeve of mine.
    You also end up with a couple of players who, as you wrote, want to get in the spotlight while others end up losing interest because they don’t feel that they have the opportunity to contribute.
    That’s my little rant 🙂


  6. I hear your pain, Mark. I can empathise. It sucks. The response from Jonathan Henry (basket weaver extraordinaire!) is spot on.
    In fact, the roleplaying part of that encounter where Jonathan played an NPC sticks in my memory as one part of many great ROLEplaying sessions that I have had with you.

    DM’ing is hard. Herding cats is hard. DM’ing 10+ people in a session has got to be nigh on impossible. All the best in negotiating a less stressful way to spend your DM’ing time.


  7. As of one of the players in the group with the pirate lords i think part of that was that we where 3 or so hours in and on to about items 4 or so of what was listed as 12 items on the agenda which made it feel like it was dragging and we would be here all night (it was stated that they never get far into the items before someones had it and the council ends but i dont think anyone remembered that at the time) add to that few people having skill of any use during the meeting and the feeling like we are getting no where again comes out

    you had a fair point about the campaign leading to this point but as said none of us have played from the start and only a few had anything more to do with it then hearing part of the story makes it hard to be as invested in the story as we should be by this point and i don’t think any of the group really wanted to be rolling more dice it was more they didn’t want to feel like we are stuck in the same place.

    i am sorry to hear you are having a hard time with both groups, i don’t think there is anyone that has an issue with way you are running the pirate game and everyone is enjoying it.


  8. Role players should be as flexible as gm’s. From my own experience I know that I can get frustrated if I am unable to play a character as envisaged at level 1. But…. The point of role playing is you pc is a product of their experience.

    You may start out chaotic neutral but when you have been with the same people for level after level you must shift. Recently in a game I was called out for not being chaotic neutral as my alignment suggested but I will say the answer is my character as now formed relationships with his colleagues and with respect to those relationships he is no longer chaotic or neutral. This may not be the way the character would behave to a stranger.

    PC’s sometime time need to take a step back and learn trust, love, belief from experience otherwise we are just playing narcissists.

    It is also vital for a game that don’t force your faith, ideology etc on your comrades. You would object to this course IRL.

    I agree with Jonathan Henry. We are all gaming and it needs to be fun.

    Hope you find the enjoyment again.

    Lotsa love GM Mark Knights.


    1. By the way get me on that plane to Tassie.


  9. As the player who offhandedly made the “I’m playing Lawful Stupid” comment in the Good campaign, I’ve gotta say that I meant that as an attempt at humour. Admittedly a poor one, but I meant nothing more by it.
    And as a player in the Pirate campaign, I thought that the majority of us were interested in what was being discussed in the Pirate Council – I certainly was.
    I also definitely noticed the different personalities you gave some of the other Pirate Lords; Bonefist was egotistical and vain, Aronax was eager to search for Chelish spies, so eager that we still don’t know if it’s legitimate or if he’s covering for himself, the Master of Gales was pragmatic and strong-willed, and Tessa was friendly and wanted us to succeed.

    Regardless, I’m sorry to hear you’re having a hard time with us; I don’t know if anyone has any problems with your GMing but I think you’re swell.


  10. Been there, several times over the years. Even had a long running campaign that I really enjoyed implode due to this sort of dissatisfaction or misalignment of wants and needs on both sides of the GM’s screens.

    The thing I found is that the more effort I would put into a game, the more incensed I get when the players don’t engage with the material or invest even a reasonable fraction of my effort into their own character’s portrayal and evolution. It’s a kind of unreciprocated social contract.

    The solution, for me, was to switch to running more narrative games requiring less up front time investment from me and tend to lead to more emergent story progression and adventure. I generally have a broad operating concept or kernels of content that have something to do with moving an overarching metaplot or campaign, and just let the rest of the activity transpire from events in play and the players’ actions / reactions. It’s a much more character-focused approach and in addition to making my life easier it’s generally well received.

    Having said that, sometimes you just get an untenable group dynamic that doesn’t work for all persons, and when one of the persons in the lurch is the GM of a RPG…well, it’s not good.

    In that sort of situation, you’ve got to change the group dynamic. That might entail pruning players, or changing up the format of the game, of just deciding to run the kind of game you want to run and letting the players self-select for inclusion or exclusion via their participation or lack thereof.

    Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.