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Slaying the "The"

There are a lot of great games happening among participants at Adept Play right now. I'm especially happy about specific observations: people who are playing games they'd never heard of or conceived they'd ever play; people playing with others they've met through this site and associated internet things like the Discord channel; people who've played with one another in some specific capacity (who the GM is, e.g.) playing some more with a different arrangement; people who've been burned-out on role-playing returning to it; people who've never or rarely done it trying it out; and more.

Given the ideas, play-observations, interactions, and casual comments flapping about like bats among this wonderful forest, I decided to present some thoughts which will be very familiar to those who are unfortunate enough to have been listening to me or reading my writings over the long haul. But I think they might be useful and fun for people who haven't, so here goes.

These points go way, way back into the depths of the Forge and they're made in the context of this framework:

Social organizing

  • Proposing a game
  • Gathering people
  • Managing commitments
  • Initial and ongoing logistics (scheduling, hosting, many other things)
  • Presenting and possibly teaching the game
  • Managing moods, emotions, relationships

Creative tasks

  • Four separate Authorities (Backstory, Situation, Outcome, Narration)
  • Each with its own internal distribution
  • Possibly relating textual rules to what we do at the table

You don't have to know exactly what I mean by any of these things, singly. That's not my point in this presentation. Instead, it's about this scheme being made of many, many independently-functioning units, and about recognizing that any combination or concentration of the units at a single person, at any level, is also viable.

What's not viable is presuming that a person who holds responsibility or takes point for any one of them is also necessarily so for any of the others. What's worse than non-viable, even outright abominable, is expecting all of them to go onto one person's shoulders by default, with any other arrangement requiring cognitive and social effort. It is this abomination which is connoted and intended by the definite article, the game master (GM).

I accept "GM" as a historical legacy term with almost no meaning except for some concentration of these tasks in some way. I do not accept the "the." This is not some stylistic or play-preference. I am talking about non-viable social and creative realities.

Attached: translation into French

PDF icon Pourfendre_le_Le.pdf


Dreamofpeace's picture

Most people aren't aware of these distinctions, so it's important to keep emphasizing them imho

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