After reading Ten Secure Ways to Screw a Pen and Paper RPG Session, Richard, a fellow GM and good friend suggested that someone find an article for GM’s on how to alienate players. This is my attempt at providing such a guide. All of the cases below are real experiences that I have had as a player. Hopefully we’ll all learn what not to do as a GM from these examples.
Provide a Hostile Environment
10) Host your game at a house without a working toilet or running water.
Bathroom breaks are for suckers! No, you can’t have a glass of water, that would lead to the unnecessary aforementioned bathroom break.
9) Keep your house a filthy, disgusting mess.
Your players shouldn’t care if your cat is in the corner, playing with a dead mouse in a heap of trash. Those cockroaches crawling around your sticky dining room table add ambiance. If they can’t handle a little mess, gaming must not be very important to them.
Stick to Your Vision
8) Railroad the hell out of your players.
The story that you have painstakingly mapped out in excruciating detail must be played out exactly as you envisioned it. If the players find a loophole that allows them a glimmer of hope for freedom, squash it. You can’t have them going off god-knows-where and doing god-knows-what. Stick with the script!
7) Ignore the dice rolls.
While trying to railroad your players (see #8 above), if a player tries to do something that is not in your plans, make them roll a dice to see if their character can pull off that action. Then overrule the dice roll. “Yes, you critically succeeded on your dice roll. Your character ALMOST makes it over the fence.” “Yes, you critically failed while swimming across the lake. You barely make it across the choppy water, but don’t drown.”
6) Deny your players’ requests, always!
It doesn’t matter if every single player at your table agrees that you need to make a change in your campaign, your house rules or general attitude. Ignore them and deny their requests. “No we can’t have more combat” “No, you must lose experience points when you die” “No you can’t have a mentor”. Learn to say “NO” every time they ask you something, no matter how reasonable.
Keep Them in the Dark
5) Schedule your games at your convenience.
Don’t bother using a regular, repeating schedule. Keep things random. Make sure to let your players know about game date and time changes at the last possible minute. This will keep them on their toes. While you’re at being inconsistent in your scheduling, change your location for the heck of it as well.
4) Don’t bother communicating with them.
Your players will whine that they never get an email, phone call, voicemail, tweet, or face book notification when you’ve changed your plans (see #5 above). By denying them the crucial information they seek, you are helping them develop their telepathic and precognitive skills.
Make Sure No One Else Has Fun
3) Don’t remove the problem player.
Consider it a learning experience for the problem player. It may take years, but they’ll eventually catch on and improve their game. Don’t bother explaining to the player what they are doing that is disruptive and ruining the other players’ fun though. They have to figure it out on their own or they’ll never learn.
2) Play to Win
Show the player characters no mercy. Then rub it in the players’ faces when your uber NPC’s and Antagonists win every single conflict and combat scenario. You’re the Game Master because you’re the best at creating munchkin twink characters, right?
1) Run the game for your own amusement.
Who cares if your players are having fun. You’re here to project your vision onto a captive audience. Ignore the yawns, bored stares and dice juggling of your unenthusiastic players. If they don’t get why your campaign is awesome, then they’re idiots.