When is it okay to Voice Disagreement with the Game Master?
Arrows are flying. Swords are swinging. Blasters are blasting. And suddenly your character goes down in a fight because of what you perceive to be a stupid ruling from the game master.
Your blood boils and your temperature begins to rise. What you want to do is curse and yell at the game master, informing him or her just how much of an idiot they really are. Or maybe you want to break into the middle of the game and argue about how the game master’s ruling was bad or unfair.
Save it. Whatever role-playing game you’re playing, whether Dungeons & Dragons or something else, bury your emotions for the time being, compose yourself and plan on having a discussion with the game master at a later time, maybe after the game is finished or a day or two after that if you still need time to cool down. This will serve you better in several ways. First, it keeps the immediate game flowing, which is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you are not the only person at the gaming table and others are awaiting their turn. Second, by taking a more mature route, you help to ensure that others will want to play with you again in the future. I mean, who wants to keep role playing with someone who halts the game and makes things uncomfortable for everyone by shouting and screaming?
Yes, it’s true that sometimes a game master will be the one to act immature, and sometimes they will make bad calls, but let it wash over you.
If someone doesn’t make a particularly good game master, word will get around and soon enough others will not flock to their games. Or if a GM’s style of play isn’t one you like, suck it up to get through the game, then you don’t have to play with them any more.
There will always be other games. There will always be other characters. The world isn’t going to crumble because of one bad night of gaming.
That doesn’t mean you cannot argue your point with a game master.
Just wait until the time is right, after the game.
Most game masters who are worth their salt will expect or even ask for suggestions on how to improve their games. When they do so, tell them your opinion. Give it to them straight and fair, but also give the GM an opportunity to voice his or her own take on things. If you still disagree with them, again, you don’t have to play with them any longer.
All of that is easier said than done, of course, as personal and emotional feelings can be involved, especially if the GM is a long-time acquaintance or someone you consider a friend. But if you’ve been gaming with them for a long time, you probably know what to expect from them, and don’t allow one ruling that doesn’t go your way to ruin a relationship. The same could be said if the GM is a personal friend.
Some might argue that one should never voice a disagreement with the game master, but that’s simply foolishness. The game master is only human, after all, and yes, they will make mistakes and might sometimes seem unfair. Also, the game master might hold much of the control over a game, but they are still a player in their own way, and if they are a decent GM then they should seek out ways to make themselves better at what they do.
As for a matter of fairness, often that is in the eye of the beholder. You and the game master might be seeing a situation differently. What might seem reasonable to you might not be reasonable to the game master, and vice versa. Talk it over later. Explain your point of view, but later.
Keep in mind, too, that you might not be in the right. Once you’ve had time to calm down, ask yourself if you might have been unreasonable, or if you could have been wrong about something. The middle of a game isn’t the time to grab a rule book, but afterward feel free to go rule searching if you feel you need a clarification.
Always keep in mind that everyone at the gaming table is human. Mistakes will be made. Heck, sometimes mistakes even add to the fun. But whatever the case, keep the game flowing.
Unless maybe you are dealing with the worst, most unbelievable, most unreasonable game master of all time, keep the game flowing. Even if you are facing the worst GM ever, it would be better to simply walk away from the table or sign off your computer than to ruin everyone else’s fun. And if everyone else isn’t having fun, they can walk away, too.
It’s just one game. There will be other chances to win the day.