I have spent a ton of time thinking through Roleplaying Games. From my little experience into the world of game design to my obsessive level of reading other game systems, I have come to several strange conclusions about RPGs as a genre.
This is where I put my disclaimer and remind my readers that this is my opinion. It is a mentality I have taken when it comes to running RPGs based on learning systems after system and digging into the foundations of what makes an RPG function. I often will refer to my “kit” which is a small way of discribing the skills and knowledge I use actively in my RPG sessions. Now that I have that out of the way…
In my years of running, researching, and experiencing DND, well, RPGs in general I have found that there is a divide between Players and GMs. This divide is almost physical as there is a lack of perspective on the Player end and GMs have to much perspective. I have in the past said that GMs make the worse players, and Players make the worse GMs. Now, when I say this I am not talking about the individuals themselves but rather the mentality they carry with them.
Some people naturally think like a GM. Creatively they create mass worlds around each NPC or they logic out battle scenarios ahead of time, or even as simple as having a solid grasp of the rules. Other people think like Players and tend to focus on their character alone, the material rewards of the adventure, or other focused details. Simply put GMs have a very wide view of the game while Players are much more focused.
This is not, inherently, a bad thing. It comes to personality traits, the way each individual thinks, and the background they have in such settings. People who talk to me about these things have heard me say the words: “Everyone CAN run a game… That does not mean everyone SHOULD.” When I say this I am not thinking as little as gender, race, or background. I say this as some people simply do not have perspective.
Homebrew is a great example of this understanding. Every GM I know has had the following experience. A player comes to you with a piece of homebrew. This could be a spell they created, a custom item, a new class, or even something as small as a new feat. They want this implemented into the game to deepen their character or sometimes just because they think it is cool. Nine times out of ten the homebrew presented is either unbalanced, does not fit the world, or makes another aspect of the game worthless.
Now, this is not always the case and I have seen and implemented some great works of Homebrew. The issue is not the homebrew itself but the lack of perspective that the player has on the impact the homebrew will have. I have seen players that evolve into GMs who used homebrew fixes to “patch” content that they simply did not understand.
The main thing I would want you to take away from this is not a divisive “you should not GM if your a player” mindset, but rather change your perspective a bit. I am not trying to limit who can GM by “gatekeeping” or whatever other bullshit they are saying these days, I am trying to open up the reality of perspectives and the way that people view games.
Perspective is the foundation of game experience. Rules, world, lore, and everything else can be added on but if your perspective is too narrow then you will not make it as a GM, at least not for long. A GM can run any game without knowing the rules if they have the right perspective.