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Your Players Are Smarter Than You

December 15, 2014


This should be rule number one of being a GM.

Your players are smarter than you.

Always remember this. It’s sometimes easy to forget. You, as GM, have fantastic cosmic powers, after all. You’re the creator of worlds, destroyer of parties, lord of all you survey.

But your players are still smarter than you.

They will find that plot point you haven’t reasoned out all the way. They’ll find that loophole in the NPC’s deal that lets them have an all-expenses paid trip. They’ll reason their way out of having to fight your big bad and reap the XPs without having to shed a single a hp.

Because, in the end, your players are smarter than you.

And this is a good thing.

Smart players keep you on top of your game, for one thing. If you’re constantly striving to keep ahead of that hive mind of good ideas then you’ll hone your own mind in the best way possible. It will only make you a better GM. Of course, it comes at a cost. Temporary sanity. Your pride. But, in the end, you can probably live without these things and be a better GM.

For another thing, good role-playing is like improvisation. The right answer should always be “Yes, and…” Everyone should be having a good time. Good ideas should be rewarded, not punished. This is where GM pride can be crushed. In the end, it’s not the GM’s game, but the players’. And that can hurt. But in the end, the game is generally better for it.

A recent game session recently was, shall I say, interesting. I had a scenario that I thought was pretty interesting. As I started putting the PCs through it, they started throwing out some other ideas–ideas I hadn’t considered–ideas better than mine. At first it stung–I was afraid I had put out a sub-par product for them, something I try not to do. I never want to put out a lame adventure for my friends. But as I started to go roll more with what they were doing, I think (I hope) they were still having a good time–and that is the bottom line of the game.

Letting your players be smarter than you can save a lame scenario that may not be as well thought out as it could have been. It can elevate your campaign. Even if it stings the pride more than an elven-forged blade sometimes.

From → Ramblings

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