Being Your GM’s Muse

(Again for RPG Blog Carnival.)

If you’re the kind of person who likes to serve as a muse, it’s quite likely you’ve done so for your own GM. The good news (for the GM, anyway) is that you’ve got more hands-on knowledge about the game in general, and your character in particular, than anyone else she’s likely to be able to ask. The bad news… well, there’s a lot of potential complications. What are they, and how do you avoid them?

The appearance of favoritism. That one’s one of the toughest to work around; how do you avoid the appearance of the GM being biased in your favor because you help out so much? Fortunately, it’s also one of the least likely to damage your situation, particularly if you’re the kind of person who works with rather than against the other players; after all, if there’s something that you all really want, or that they want and you think would be nifty, you’re in a good position to advocate for them. Which brings us to the second issue….

The possibility of throwing your power around. Being a fount of inspiration for the GM can give you a great deal of power, and you’ll need to use that responsibly. I find that being willing to offer accurate advice on how best to mess with your character helps, particularly if you’ve been cheerfully offering the same sort of advice on messing with everyone else. That way, you’ve got something to balance out whatever benefits you occasionally try to arrange for yourself or others.

And of course, there’s the everpresent threat of spoilers. If that thing your GM is anguishing over is part of an unexpected plot twist, it’s going to be very hard for you to get a chance to help, let alone get the information you need in order to help properly. One way to work around this is to demonstrate yourself capable of being trusted with plot twists like this; another is to hope like anything that the GM needs help with something that can be explained to you without giving away the plot. (Trying very hard not to start dropping leading questions that should hint towards whatever the plot twist is—well, that’s also a very good idea.)

Don’t forget the other players. I covered this with the paragraph on favoritism, but I cannot stress this enough—be able to come up with ways that the game can focus on or bring benefits to other people’s characters, not just yours. Not only does this make you more useful as a source of advice, but it can help you keep from taking over the game on accident, or from looking like you’re trying to become the focal point of the game. It makes it a whole lot easier for the GM to want to work with you that way. And yes, this might mean a little research into other players’ PCs. It’s a useful thing to do anyway.

Keep these in mind, have good ideas, and good luck being the GM’s muse!

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