Thursday, February 15, 2007

Antagonistic Protagonists

One of the dumbest terms to come along in gaming in recent... well, ever really is the tendency of gamers to refer to themselves as "protagonists".

Even dumber is the mangling of language with which this terms is typically expressed. It's not stated as a positive but a negative. In other words, "de-protagonize". Allow me to pause while I kick back some Chivas Regal and get the bad taste that word (for lack of a better name) gives me out of my mouth.

So as if it's bad enough that the GM needs to worry about "railroading" the PCs through a plot or other dastardly devices, he now also needs to worry about "de-protagonizing" them.

I realize what the word means. It means PCs want to be the heroes. They don't want to be upstaged by an NPC.

But could we please stop organizing the Player Pride Parade for a bit?

Can you imagine if the GM looked at a player who had just done something fiendishly clever to an NPC and said "don't de-antognize me"?

All you need to do is think about that word for 30 seconds to realize what it means is "the GM's job is to entertain and empower me".

In other words, we've gone beyond the idea that a GM has a unique status at the game table to GM = Entertainment Center.

And btw... this notion that the players and GM are "equal partners" in the game, that the players should have as much say in the world and what happens as the GM was the first step in this direction.

A player who wants equal say at my table can grind out a few dozen NPC statblocks for me to use, and then find some photos and newspaper headlines for PC handouts.

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