Happy Holidays fellow roleplayers! It is I, once again, back from a rather long hiatus to bring you all the news that's unfit to print in any respectable media. I know I've been off the radar for a few months. It's been a busy time. Changes at home and a uptick in the work schedule and suddenly I found myself totally neglecting my blog. Sure, you may have caught a rare sighting of me on G+, or if you follow my twitter handle @Goblin_Stomper you will have seen me tweet, but I knew that it was this blog post you've really been waiting for.
But no matter. I'm back, and that's the important thing. The plan is to keep posting, and now that things have settled a bit, I feel confident that it's a promise I can keep (until the next great upheaval).
This post will be something of a two-fer. I've got a bit of a sore-spot I want to rant a bit about, but right after that, I'm gonna drop a fresh magic item on you, so that you won't feel as though you've completely wasted your time with me today.
I recently joined a small, but interesting, group of folks on #Slack. They have a new webpage here http://www.dmsupportgroup.com/. The concept of the group is a good one, with a focus on helping newer DM's with the process of learning how to operate, as well as giving older DM's an opportunity to hash out ideas and concepts. Seems like a good idea, right? I mean, back when I was was learning the game, the DM's (myself included) simply stumbled and bumbled our way through those chapters in the books, eventually discovering that we either had a knack for it, and enjoyed the process of creation and storytelling, or maybe that we weren't cut out to be that guy and instead became die-hard players. Nothing wrong with either path, or walking along both. My time on the channel has been short but fun and enlightening. It's always good to connect more closely with fellow DM's than via a wide net app like twitter or G+ where the conversations are short and to the point, not usually giving way to a deeper discussion.
Yesterday I had a very interesting and enlightening discussion with a member of the group. While we don't disclose much personal info on the channel, I would guess from the context of the conversation that the person was young, female, and possibly a member of the LGBTQ community...but these are all suppositions, and honestly don't matter all that much with regard to how I conversed or what I said. Some of those things may, however, have had an impact on one aspect of the discussion, and it's one that's been stuck in my craw all night...that person might be pleased or displeased with this info...not sure ;)
They mentioned that the DM was responsible for the table, all of it, in game and out. That the DM was completely in charge and should care how everyone felt, control what was (and was not) acceptable language or behavior, and should be creating as safe and inclusive a gaming environment as possible. Another member of the group suggested that perhaps this individual was referring to more public gaming, such as at cons, or in a public space like a school, but the person quickly made sure that we understood that he/she meant everywhere.
I took issue with that, and here are the reasons why...
1) It's my game, I'm running it, and I should have the right to decide who I do and don't want to play with (as should anyone)
2) I cannot control the behavior of others, the thoughts of others, or the attitudes of other people. If a person, a player, doesn't mesh well with the game or other players AND/OR is disrupting the game (and the rest of us aren't having fun), I reserve the right to terminate that relationship (assuming I am both GM and HOST of the game...obviously not my house, not my rules, but that's another issue altogether)
3) No one, no individual or body, should have the right to impose upon me their idea of how a game should be played, how the people at that game should interact on a social level, or what that game represents (assuming it represents anything at all). I can play any game, any way I like as long as everyone at the table agrees to the same.
4) Just don't tell me what I have to do or how I have to run my game. If you don't pay me, you have no say. You probably wouldn't want me to tell you what you should do, would you? You want the freedom to feel happy and relaxed and run or play your game in a way or in a place that you enjoy, right?
5) Because you BELIEVE something is right does not make it so. Because you FEEL a certain way does not mean I feel the same way, or that I even have the ability to empathize with you. I'd like to think I can in most situations, but sometimes life has a way of putting you solidly on the other side of the fence, and there's just no way for you to see over or past it. That's a drag, but it's my truth.
How was I enlightened? I guess I hadn't realized that there were folks out who thought that DM's were 100% responsible for what happens at the table. That if someone had their feelings hurt, or didn't have a good time, that I was totally responsible for that. It was my fault. I am to blame. It's alot of guilt and alot of responsibility. I'm not sure how many folks think this way, but based on the #Slack conversation there are folks at the extreme end of the view, and many more in the middle.
I'd like to think that I give everyone a fair shake when I run a game. I've had bad players as a DM, I've had bad DM's as a player, and I've probably been someone else's 'bad' on both counts. It's fine. I don't have to play with everyone and they don't have to play with me. If a woman plays with me and my group, and she doesn't want to hear a particular word she doesn't like because it upsets her...tough shit. Seriously. Anyone is welcome to play with me, and I make it clear that I play a grown up, sometimes harsh, sometime provocative game. I debrief any new or potential player before they play with me and my group. Do I adjust play style or behavior for very particular or possibly public situations? Of course. But my private games are just that, private. So if a word or phrase bothers you, no matter what that means, you shouldn't play with me in a private game session. I don't WANT to upset you or hurt your feelings. You've been warned. It's a social gathering of friends, and I want everyone to feel open and safe when it comes to their right to free speech, regardless of what you say. BOOM! yup...I totally said that.
In the end we didn't agree, the other #slack member and I. In the end we simply nodded at each other and walked away. I'd like to say I respect the other persons opinion, but that would be a lie. I think they have the right to their opinion, but their opinion kinda stinks. If I were a betting man I'd say the other party felt the same, but we both acted like adults and agreed to disagree. I guess, in the end, this may be the most important thing...as long as it remains so.
That's it. That's the rant. People will now tell me how I have to be nice to everyone and make sure I only say the words poeple are ok with and not say the words people don't like...go ahead. The comments are open. Hit me up on twitter or G+. Feel free to give me an earful...it's cool. If you do it in a nice way, we too will be able to nod and walk away peacefully, disagreeing but having been heard (I hope).
Oh..wait...I promised you a magic item...
The Pendant of Pedant!
Jyles, the lord of Guiollane was a simple man, a warrior of great renown but a fellow of average intelligence and not much charisma. Knowing that he would someday be forced to take his fathers place and rule his small kingdom caused him no end of consternation. He simply wanted to sit with his friends around a small table, eat until full, drink until drunk, listen to the minstrels play and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Instead, he knew that what lay before him was a life filled with one boring party with the social elite after another. Oh, it was easy enough to excuse himself while his father held the reigns of power, but the old fellow was sick now, and soon Jyles would be forced to step into those shoes and hobnob with educated, well read men and women who would make him feel the fool.
His father, realizing the plight of his son, called him to his bed on a day near his last.
"I too was like you my boy. I had no eye for the books, only the sword, and my cups, and of course your mother. She was a good woman son, and she knew that a life among the wealthy and educated would be the end of me, so she called upon a wizard of Elbion, that black cesspool of a city to the north filled with Mages and Sages, Poets and Playwrights, and their debauched hangers-on...she knew that it was magic I needed to endure my rule.
It was this necklace of gold and silver and precious diamond, the one I always wear on occasions where court was in session and those who would see themselves as my betters swarmed around me and looked to take advantage of our kind and simple nature. It gave me the courage to walk among them, to speak as they did, and to match wits with the best of them. It is yours now. Take it from around my weary neck and place it upon your own. This is no gift, my son, but a burden. I am sorry that I must now pass it on to you, but I know that you will need it if you will make your way here, and at the court of the Sapphire Throne where sits the High King. Good luck my son, and rule well"
Properties of the Pendant of Pedant
This magical necklace will imbue the wearer with a quick wit and any knowledge required to take part in any conversation. While it does not boost intelligence or charisma, it creates an aura which surrounds the wearer in a cloak of understanding and believability. The wearer will never be thought a fool while wearing the Pendant of Pedant, though he may seem a bit ostentatious.
+5 to all diplomacy checks or any check where the wearer is engaging in conversation above/beyond the wearers normal understanding.