December 29, 2019

Resolving Disputes at the Table

Today’s #GMAdvice is all about how to resolve disputes should they arise at the table.

A majority of issues tend to stem from the perception of an uneven distribution of “screen time” – aka the time spent where the GM is primarily focused on a player – and/or items/treasure/goods.

In these cases, it’s important for the GM to not be defensive. Instead, they should listen and thoughtfully consider what the player(s) is/are saying. Try and be fair, equitable, and measured in your response. Invested players are the lifeblood of the story! But you also need to keep in mind that just because a player feels this way, it doesn’t mean they’re objectively correct. If that’s your perspective, it’s important to be firm, decisive, and thoughtful in your justification(s).

Another common issue is a dispute over interpretation over rules and/or results of an encounter. It’s critically important that, generally speaking, the GMs interpretations of encounters be considered canon at all times. When that’s disrupted, it can cause far more serious issues – such as players becoming completed disinterested or leaving the story – so you need to assertively stamp out these issues.

That doesn’t mean you’re infallible though! If these concerns are raised, try and internally process the who/what/when/where/why & how to, as objectively as you can, see if you went wrong.

Either way, you must be decisive in your follow up. If you feel you were right in your initial decision, be thoughtful be firm. If you went wrong, take accountability, make the appropriate corrections, and move on positively.