Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sympathy for the Devil

Running a Chat is a bit different from running a larp. Even a larp that meets often will have downtime in between sessions. But a chat is essentially a 24/7/365 kind of deal and any given night, you can be asking yourself, "What ST stuff should I be doing right now?"
For a conscientious sort, this can be hard road to hoe. Personally, I don't even have the juice for blocking out a night for myself to go play, much as I might like.
It's no wonder that ST's tend to burn out, ask any GM around these parts and they'll tell you their stories.
But there are things we can do as players that can alleviate some of the stress of the GM. They are the sort of things that I try to do as best I can when I know that the ST isn't some loon or control freak.
1) Remember: Your GM is not being paid.
Every single bit of work that has been done to your setting, every single thing that has been done to your sheet, and likely most of the work you take for granted in the forums and in the Wiki are as the direct result of an all-volunteer effort. No one is receiving dime one. Even if you contribute to the cost of server upkeep, you still aren't paying anyone's salary and frankly, if the baby is crying, then THAT takes priority.
Look, Playing takes varying levels of commitment, time, and energy. You can go fuck off for an entire week and not have anyone say a mumbling word to you, but try that shit as an ST and it's a different story. As a matter of fact, On occasion, I got a little perturbed at my Larp players because often, I was expected to stay in town and run a game for a minuscule number of players who couldn't go to a regional convention, while everybody else was going to that same con. How the hell am I going to grow and stretch as an ST if I don't get to play in other people's games every once in a while?
And you know what, We GET that we've made a significant commitment and that being an ST is a serious responsibility. Not only are we called on to be entertaining at the drop of a hat, but we are called on to craft stories and render Solomonic judgement on all manner of things. They are big shoes to fill and they require poise, grace, energy, creativity, and most of all patience and understanding to pull off.
Hey, at least in a Tabletop game or in a larp, there is slight possibility that you'll be bribed with snacks. Chat ST's don't even get that.
2) Politeness is the grease that allows the machine of social interaction to function.
Look, I understand that some people just don't have the same understanding of social skills or may in fact be fairly blind to social cues and their own excesses of behavior. We've all got that ONE friend who requires a bit of set-up before new people meet them. And GOD, Role Playing games has always been a natural roosting place for people with a dim understanding of how to inter-act with one another. I am well aware that there are people, who, even among their own tribe, just don't know how to be cool. Hell, I used to be one of them.
But if you want to get better at it, step one, is "please" and "thank you".
And if someone is wondering why everyone hates them? Take a minute and explain "please" and "thank you" to them. Either they get it, and things get better for them, or they don't and what have you lost? Nothing really.
3) Most people forget that Cross-over blows chunks.
A friend mentioned today that players and even some GM's have a peculiar sort of amnesia when it comes to remembering that Cross-over games usually suck. Mainly because they heard about that one game that was supposed to be pretty good that one time. If you must do cross-over things. Do them small and conservatively. I am not interested really in learning a whole bunch of game systems for games I'm not actually running. I truly don't have the time to do the reading. I honestly don't care if you have a werewolf boyfriend or a Mage girlfriend or whatever, but the second you decide to do something that starts a war, then it's a problem. So DON'T. K?
4) If there's a preferred format, use it.
And the main reason why I say that, is because those things save the ST oodles of time. Even I have gotten cranky about certain types of things like this, but I've also seen the other end of it and I know that sometimes, the way something is organized can be the biggest help in terms of handling it.
5) Be as transparent as possible.
If you're stiring the pot for some reason, say why, and you might find the ST helping you.
6) Assume every mean word you type will find it's way into the ST's ears.
Because often they will. Even if it was said off the chat itself.


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