This is just a quick reminder to all the GMs out there.
As a GM, your job is to please your PLAYERS, not the CHARACTERS that they’re playing. When all is well with the world and a player has rooted interest in their avatar, then fulfilling a wish of the in-game character’s will give some satisfaction to the gamer at the table. But doing stuff with an in-game character won’t matter if the player doesn’t feel rooted, and some players just never get to that place.
We’ve all played with that person who’s built a character for the statistical bonuses rather than developing character traits or their backstory. Sometimes it’s not even a malicious or dramatic thing – oftentimes, players just prioritize the numbers on their character sheet over the words.
But on the other hand, it’s just plain wrong to expect players to ignore that they’re playing a game built around combat and damage-dealing abilities. By no means do I want to encourage murderhobos, but you can’t blame a player for liking combat.
So just remember, as you build plot arcs and side-quests and innumerable world-shaking events, that you should tailor your content to the people actually sitting around the table. Know which ones like combat, and which ones like role-playing. Know which ones are just there to have a good time with friends, and which ones want to drive the story. Know your players, and you’ll know what to put in the game.
But also, never forget that YOU are one of the people sitting around the table, as well. It matters if YOU’RE having a good time, just as much as it does if there’s a player who looks like they’re feeling left out. Make sure that you and your players want the same things from the game you’re building. If there are differing expectations on one side of the screen or the other, discuss them, and see if you can’t reach a compromise.
And I’ll leave you with something that I’ve said before: Communication is everything. If a player wants to build towards a plot arc, encourage them to come to you and discuss options. Have a chat with your players if there’s any issues that come up while running the game. Too often, we are blind to issues that are glaringly obvious to others.