Impractical Applications: Articulating the Problem

One of the things I brushed on this week was a person being just that oblivious—and at least some of it possibly being my fault. I’m not sure how much of it is and how much of it isn’t. The phrase “It’s not fun anymore” came up, but wasn’t believed until one of our other group members delivered it.

I don’t think it’s that I didn’t say something. The problem in that game isn’t getting me to say something. On the other hand, the problem in that game sometimes is getting me to stop saying something, since… well, it’s a combat-heavy 3.5 game, and I find 3.5 combat frustrating. Even more so when it seems like everything and the dog is immune to mind-affecting effects and has no discernible anatomy (note that the first two PCs to sign on were playing a rogue and a beguiler, and the third player took over an NPC cleric), and my character depends entirely on feinting and making things roll Will saves, and when it seems like my dice are loaded to lose. And the GM took several tries to realize that no, making joking comments about our misses was not helping. Failure is much better when you get to describe it yourself. So I’d comment. I’ve suggested we stop a session on a couple of occasions when things were getting really bad. Neither of them was a joke. Neither of them was listened to, either.

The problem is, my getting annoyed and saying something about it has happened so much that I think me being irritable is just written off as me being irritable, so it’s harder to get things across when it’s something that matters. That, and I fold like a house of cards if I’m the only one complaining. After all, I have idiosyncratic tastes. This is no secret. And I am playing the character least suited to the directions that the game has been going in. So it’s highly likely, if nobody else says anything, that the problem really is ‘just me’. Add to that never being quite sure which points I’ve addressed and which I haven’t, a severe case of esprit de escalier, and a tendency to try to avoid actively arguing unless I’m sure of my point, and you get a failsafe recipe for being walked all over.

Joy.

So maybe at some point I just need to write a letter. “Dear GM, I don’t know what we’re playing for in this game, but I’m not sure it’s actually touching on any of the things I play for. I’m looking for an agency fantasy, the illusion of having some control over decisions and consequences, but we’re shuttled from one plot point to another, where the two things we’ve most wanted to do have been, respectively, delayed to the point of irrelevance and reenvisioned with a beneficiary none of the group can stand. You agreed to having PCs with ‘comparatively benevolent con artist’ as primary concepts, but we are almost never in any situation where those concepts are of any use. The angst does not come with catharsis, and there’s really no point in wanting anything, since there’s no time to get what we want, and there’s far too much in-game evidence that wanting to save the lives of the NPCs caught in the crossfire is delusional at best and self-defeating at worst. The only people who appear to have time for character development are your NPCs, as everyone else is too busy being run from one combat to another, even in situations that would have been much more interesting if they hadn’t been interrupted by random people/things trying to kill us. More, your attempts to recover our good opinion of your pet NPC of the day are only more frustrating (really, you think that convincing us that Mr. Spoiled The Invisibility That Saved His Life telling the person who only survives battles due to invisibility and the King of Sneak Attacks that such tactics are cowardly and he has no use for them is going to improve our opinions of him?), there’s hardly any room for interesting tactics, and the ‘I’m going to roll to see if they have any of the items you want, and five deliberately reasonable items later you’re still going to be empty-handed’ thing, particularly when combined with the fact that we do not fight people of our approximate classes and therefore almost never upgrade our weapons, is making the team effectiveness imbalance already created by your apparent obsession with the undead and constructs even worse.”

Or words to that effect.

I cannot shake the feeling that the only reason why I don’t walk is that it only vindicates the stereotypes if I walk alone.

1 comment

  1. I’m a better GM now than I used to be because my wife did manage to speak to me about these things and get it through my thick head that I wasn’t seeing the real dynamics at the table (play, gender, control, etc). She had that same kind and level of frustration about the play, and the same hesitation (especially in a couple of games I wasn’t running) about quitting because it would vindicate those stereotypes. I don’t know if that’s particularly helpful or insightful. All I can say is that you’re definitely not alone in this experience. I hope you’re able to figure out a solution that works for you.

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