Daily Archives: 23 October 2009

21 Sure-Fire Ways to Lose Players

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Problem players are a perennial subject on GMing blogs. But problems can go both ways. Here are some GM behaviors guaranteed to cause friction in your group. Please feel free to add more.

  1. Force your PCs into a predetermined plot line and refuse to let them deviate from it.
  2. View the players as opponents to be beaten.
  3. Don’t listen to player suggestions. Get angry is someone even tries to talk to you about improving the game.
  4. Spend a lot of time looking up rules during combat, especially to find that +1 modifier you know it there to give the NPCs an edge against the PCs.
  5. Argue with your players. Tell them they’re not allowed to do certain actions.
  6. Permit your players to argue with each other. Allow these arguments to consume large amounts of each game session.
  7. Be obviously unprepared. Spend copious amounts of time shuffling papers trying to find the next page of the adventure.
  8. Don’t keep an eye on the magic items your group has. Allow them to surprise you with a game-breakingly over-powered item you forgot you let them create.
  9. Destroy, loose, or pick-pocket every helpful or impressive magic item the party ever gains.
  10. Be very easy going and permissive one game session and hard-nosed rules-stickler the next.
  11. Arbitrarily change the rules from one game session to the next.
  12. Allow yourself to be bullied into decisions you don’t like by the players.
  13. Regularly show up late to game session without an explanation. After all, you’re the GM; they have to wait for you.
  14. Frequently cancel game sessions at the last minute.
  15. Show obvious favoritism to certain players in your group — SO’s, best friends, etc…
  16. Make all adventures as lethal as possible.
  17. Don’t take the party’s abilities into account when designing encounters.
  18. Regularly fudge die results in the NPCs favor. Make it obvious to the players.
  19. Use an NPC to solve every major challenge. Don’t let the PCs do anything important.
  20. Forget how many opponents the PCs are fighting. Increase that number midway through combat. Berate any player who tries to correct you.
  21. Don’t allow your players to make changes to the game world. Make sure their actions have no permanent affect on the setting.

Do you have any more GMing pet peeves? Please tell us in the comments below.