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nDervish wrote:I create a world, then let the players do whatever they want in it.
Personally, I consider that player-centric (and sandbox) because, if Spartans exist in the world and you want to create a Spartan character and try to rebuild Sparta, great! Go for it! I leave my players free to decide for themselves where they want to go and what adventures they want to pursue.
I suspect, though, that you would consider it GM-centric because I feel no obligation to alter the world to provide specific means to rebuild Sparta, to insert Spartan-appropriate rewards just because a Spartan PC happens to be the person receiving them, or anything like that.
In my games, the world is what it is and will not warp itself to accommodate the PCs' personal goals and ambitions, but the PCs are free to do anything that a real person in that world (if it were real) would be able to do, including pursuing (or ignoring) those goals and ambitions however they see fit.
Matt_E wrote:From my POV, player-centric and GM-centric games live on a spectrum, and a given campaign could switch from one flavor to the other at different stages in its development. It might also present aspects of both styles simultaneously.
Here I avoid the term "sandbox", because I reserve that for a slightly different dyad of "sandbox" versus "railroad" scenario design. Also, I prefer the terms "player-directed" and "GM-directed".
Wherever your game lives on the spectrum, it's important that the players and GM are all satisfied with the flavor. There is no wrong way to game, if you are having fun--but if you aren't, then you should fix it.
I do think it's important to realize the different responsibilities of player and GM. The GM takes on a lot, and players really need to keep in mind how hard it is to run the show. Just keeping things manageable, never mind self-consistent and entertaining, can be a challenge. Therefore, I don't think it's necessarily fair to expect a GM to have created an entire world for haphazard poking and prodding, in a different corner every week, by attention-deficient players and their peripatetic alter egos. Some GMs prefer, and excel at, worldbuilding and shifting gears rapidly, which is great--but I don't think players should expect or demand it.
On the other hand, some players really like gaming, but want or need a bit more direction. Without it, they have a tendency to freeze, or endlessly hem and haw--analysis paralysis. This is especially true of young or otherwise new players, I find. In a free-for-all setting, where the GM asks what they want to do now and waits silently, such players are lost. Know your group!
Though recently I did run an enjoyable, finite, closely plotted one that was well received, most of my campaigns are open-ended. My players have characters with fairly well-defined personalities, but fuzzier goals, which allows me to write the adventures I like. Every so often I ask offline questions about where they might want to visit next, whether they wonder about what so-and-so is doing now, or what they think the big gold key from #5 might be for. This keeps them loosely invested or interested in what I throw at them in the next few episodes, while keeping things manageable for me.
Matt_E wrote:We just touched on this at the end of another thread (as you recall): viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1958
I agree, the happy medium may be hard to hit. Some time ago we talked about the idea of the "global average" for the spotlight: Maybe one episode in your arc is about Character X, while the next is about Y, and finally Z gets her turn. It's not exactly the same when talking about independent episodes, each for just one adventurer, but maybe the same player attitude applies: Be patient. The GM can only do so much at once. Your turn will come.
Depending on the players, it could be amusing to try this: Lone Wolf goes on his private mini-quest, and at the most inopportune moment just happens to bump into someone else from the party, whose presence normally would be welcome, but in this particular case is a problem. If the players are unlikely to be miffed by any outcome, have them roleplay the awkward scenes, and then deal with any consequences later when Lone Wolf rejoins the main group... Know your players, though, because if one is touchy, then this is probably less amusing and more disastrous. If they're both down with it, though, it might be fun. The world does have a way of intruding on our private plans, and who says the intrusions always must be totally unfamiliar?
Icefield wrote:In re-reading the OP I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with a friend in which he posited that you cannot have a character in the group that has a concept tied to some lone gunman type job, that the character will want to do, despite whatever else might be going on in the game. I call this guy a "Solo." This can be the Bounty Hunter, or the Ranger, Cat-Burglar, or the Death God Assassin. Any character built on a concept that takes them away from the group to perform their specialty.
In a game this character is going to look to get into situations where they can ply their specialty, and who can blame them because it's what they thought was cool and built a character accordingly. I normally facilitate these excursions in a way that allows them to have a little side mission (assuming that the others don't want to join in or are not invited), but not to the point where the whole game is now about that Hit or Theft, or Mark.
Is it something that you see as a positive aspect, or something that you regard as not optimal in the game and would prefer that the players build a team that is first and foremost designed to work together? In a GM Fiat situation the Solo may be discouraged from making that type of character at all, or may be simply denied any chance to do his purpose if its not in a group situation or combat. In a Player-Centric game the GM may start experiencing torsion if the players peel off on separate missions and maybe have wholly independent stories. In my experience it's not the end of the world but it can be tricky.
I think the happy medium is hard to hit at times and requires that the GM be like a good waiter. Serve the food, keep refilling the drinks, don't ask how it is when their mouth is full, and be ready with dessert.
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