Hints, tips, advice and wisdom for players and runners of role-playing games

We Aren’t Puppies, We’re Werewolves

In Community, Playing, Storytelling on July 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm

IMG_3335When relations between Players and Storytellers begin to breakdown and become unfriendly, how can the cycle be broken?

There’s a saying that a few LARPers I know always recite, “We pay five bucks to pretend to be nine foot tall fuzzy werewolves at a warehouse every other Friday night. The least we could do is do it like adults.”

The relationship between Storytellers and Players sometimes creates a caste system. A lot of Storytellers think of themselves as parents to their children (the Players). I think it’s more like a teacher/student relationship, as there’s more give and take and more respect between the two. Part of a Storyteller’s job is to teach new Players the game, and Players should always be able to come to their Storyteller with problems when they do not understand something, or when they are being mistreated by other people at the game.

Unfortunately, its easy, even in the student/teacher model, for the teacher to be condescending or the student to rebel. We have to respect the model, the Storyteller is the leader, the Player is the bulk of the team they guide. Neither can exist without the other. Both make the game.

When a Storyteller talks down to a Player, he is making the Player have less fun. When a Player disrespects a Storyteller, he’s making the Storyteller have less fun. This might surprise some, but it’s true: Storyteller’s are trying to have fun, too.

If one of these two parts is treating the other like a douche bag, they are going to avoid the other. The Storyteller won’t want to run plot for the jerk Player, and the Player won’t want to ask for any scenes to be run by the jerk Storyteller. When this happens, the game begins to stop working, and everyone’s fun begins to break down. Worse still, it begins to bleed and influence other Players and other Storytellers, festering and spreading like a virus until it rips the game apart and an exodus of Players or Storytellers occurs.

The solution is Players have to begin to realize that Storytellers do not have to run game. They’d probably rather be playing in most cases. They are doing their best to have fun, and they deserve to be treated with some respect. Players need to get over their anger and attitudes and treat Storytellers like people, like friends.

The solution is Storytellers have to begin to realize that Players are not children. Their interaction and inclusion in the imaginary game world is completely contingent on Storytellers’ involvement. Storytellers have to treat Players more like students and peers, protecting them from the bullshit coming from other games in your organization, or other players being jerks or other Storytellers with issues. Storytellers need to get over their ego and condescension and treat Players like people, like friends.

The solution is Players need to voice their concerns like level-headed adults, and if things do not change or cannot change, take steps to become Storytellers themselves and fix the issue, or find a different game to play in. The solution is Storytellers need to address their players with respectful authority, and if things do not change or cannot change, take steps to remove the disruptive Player from their game.

The dissension ruins the game for everyone, not just those involved. If we all treat each other better, the game wins.

Let’s pretend to be werewolves like adults.

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  1. Maturity is the heart of a good game. Everyone, ST and Player alike, needs to respect each other. Sometimes I think that the solution is to thin the wall between ST and Player. Everyone is a Player, the ST is playing the game. Everyone is a storyteller, the Player is telling a story about himself.

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