Why Friends Make the Best Players – Part 3 of a Leadership series

Posted: March 24, 2011 by Raparth in Uncategorized

This week the Leadership series concludes by asking the questions of “How should a Member [of a group] behave?” and “How should someone with a Significant Other also in the group behave?”  These are perhaps the questions least-obviously connected to what people traditionally think of as “leadership roles.”  I, however, like to think that anyone can be and is a leader when they conduct themselves in a certain way in front of others.  (This “in front of” is anywhere where other members/GMs/DMs/anyone can witness, whether visually, aurally, or textually, that behavior.)

As a member of a group, one has a number of responsibilities not often discussed.  These are not as overt as a Guild Master’s handing of raid-group logistics or a Dungeon Master’s creation and maintenance of the Non-Player Characters in their world.  These duties are no less important, however.  A member, as with all of the other leadership roles, must remember the sage words of Wil Wheaton: “Don’t be a dick.”  Little is as simply effective as that phrase, but nonetheless I will elaborate.  A member should be a good citizen and by this I mean that they should endeavor to view the actions of their fellows (be they GMs, DMs, officers, or other members) charitably (though not necessarily uncritically).  A good citizen behaves in ways that are conducive to the well-being of the community as a whole, while still conscious of what helps them flourish and find enjoyment.  In a game this often takes the form of acting appropriately: this is not necessarily your character acting in a way that is “appropriate” in the eyes of other characters.  It does mean that you should act in a way appropriate to the game-play everyone at the table (or in the guild, etc.) has agreed to.  If you’ve all agreed to play a game of working together against a common evil, suddenly turning around and stabbing your teammates in the back prooooobably isn’t the best idea.  There are games where that would be totally appropriate and acceptable, but always remember not to damage the enjoyment of other players and the GM/DM.  Doing so will put the GM/DM in an unfortunate situation: they can either let it slide and have their (and probably other players’) enjoyment suffer (potentially fracturing the group) or they can crack down on you and cause a direct confrontation (potentially fracturing the group).  It also either alienates you from other members (if they still want to stick to the original agreement of acceptable game-play) or might alienate the GM/DM from other members (if they decide to go along with your new behavior).  Lesson summarized:  Be aware of the effect your decisions/behaviors have on others!  And don’t be a dick!

When in a group which contains your significant other, the situation can be even more precarious.  If you are both “merely” members, then one can easily slip into factionalizing the group by interacting mostly with your S.O. to degrees that alienate other members and/or the GM/DM.  If you are an officer/GM/DM and your S.O. isn’t, than there is always the danger of you favoring your S.O. over others.  Even more so, there’s the danger of it looking like you favor your S.O. over others.  Both are damaging, but the latter is actually worse because there may well be nothing you can do to stop others from falsely thinking you’re playing the favoritism game.  This also has serious ramifications if you are the member and your S.O. is the officer/GM/DM, but I feel that Cynthia covered that area better than I could in her last post (The GM/DM’s Girlfriend), so I won’t go into it here.  As the O/GM/DM side, when all things are equal, you need to favor the person not your S.O.  Often, even if your S.O. has the slight lead in deservedness, you need to choose the other person.  This is something I know I do more than I should, overcompensating in ways that, objectively, aren’t really fair to Cynthia.  I will flatly admit that 99%, if you see me picking Cynthia in anything like an even contest, that decision was either principally made by other officers (who I rely on to check my judgment at nearly all times as a GM/officer) or by predetermined randomness (as a DM, I might say “if this d10 lands 6+, Cynthia gets it”).

Don’t get me wrong, though, I really enjoy playing with Cynthia.  Gaming is (as you’ve probably figured out by now) one of our biggest/most commonly shared hobbies.  There are times when I, I hope understandably, will choose to do something with her rather than with someone else.  I just have to make sure that I’m not using any power/position/influence beyond just my own time/effort to make that decision.  If I don’t take care to treat her equally with everyone else, it’s not fair to me (for the consequences of my actions), her (for how other people my react to her “being favored” or otherwise not having legitimately earned whatever she has), or other people.  This might the biggest point in this entire post: It’s not fair to someone to favor them.  If you do, they haven’t really earned what they have.  They may well not be able to enjoy what they’ve been given (or even what they have legitimately earned!) and it’s almost certain that other people will resent them for it.

This discussion, or [hopefully not] rant, seems to be complete.


Keep gaming!

~ Mr. Pacman


  1. Cynthia says:

    Shame on you for posting so late. 😛

  2. buy tramadol says:

    Great work, webmaster, nice design!

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