Saturday, November 30, 2019

Building a Better PC - 2019 addition

Here are other ways to Build a Better PC, following on the ones I listed in these posts:

Building a Better PC

and the posts linked here:

Stuff I Like: Being a Better Player

One of the reasons I can play with such a large group is this trait of my players:

Offload From the GM

The GM has a lot to do. The GM is the bottleneck of play - and the GM's attention cannot be focused on more than one area or one player at a time. The GM is needed to keep things moving - it's a GM-centric approach to play.

Because of this, any administrative tasks the GM needs to perform take away from time that could be spent focusing on resolving PC actions. It's valuable as a player to limit the amount of admin a GM needs to do.

In my own games, for example, my players offload the following:

- rolling to hit and damage
- effects of damage on PCs
- calculating margin of success
- tracking consumables, loot, and encumbrance
- calculating spell costs
- calculating and tracking spell energy recovery
- timing of spell effects

amongst other things. This allows me as the GM to focus my attention where the players can't fully offload the task from me, such as NPC actions, arbitrating decisions, and describing the world.

The more you can take off the GM's plate, the more smoothly game can run.


  1. Good stuff. I especially like your original 2011 article, so I've linked to it from my blog.

  2. This sent me down a rabbit hole of 2013 era OSR goodness! Personally, I'd rather cut out the rules that are a hassle to manage, rather than delegating them to players.

    1. Sorry for the rabbit hole.

      I agree with you on cutting the rules more than keeping them, but there will always be things that need keeping track of or resolving. It's more efficient if the players offload those from the GM where possible. Even in systems with less to track than GURPS I offload a lot to my players to keep the game running quickly. It's not just "rules" - players need to keep track of where people are, what they're doing, what stuff they have, what abilities they have, etc. - and it's always easier if they pull as much of that weight as possible. Even something as simple as organizing who is next and who is doing what - like a pseudo-"Caller" - is valuable to the GM and therefore widens that bottleneck effectively.

    2. This reminds me; I often ask one of my players to track the initiative order for me, for the same reason.

    3. Yep, that makes sense. The GM shouldn't have to do all the work.

  3. Huh, that's interesting. Unless you mean to-hit rolls and damage done by NPCs, and their success margins, I'd never think of any of those as GM's job. As a player, I just always (well, except for the very first games) rolled my rolls, resolved damage taken, and tracked encumbrance, resources and expendables. For me it just always seemed like the default.


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