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Do You Ever Act As Both Player And GM?

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Dead Monky

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« on: <03-21-11/1711:37> »
This question's been rolling around in what passes for my brain for some time now.  How many of you GMs play a PC at the same time you're running the game?

Dakka

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« Reply #1 on: <03-21-11/1718:20> »
This is a tricky line to navigate.  GMPCs can lead to self favoritism and resentment of players.  The GM is already responsible for every contact, every grunt, every lieutenant, every CEO, and all the prime runner foils for the PCs, why add a PC to that mix?

James McMurray

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« Reply #2 on: <03-21-11/1747:50> »
I haven't done it in the last few games we've played, but I used to always play a GMPC when running. Sometimes it was just to fill a hole in the party (like a healer in D&D) but sometimes it was just because I wanted to also play. I don't anymore, but that's not saying I wouldn't if the mood struck me. Though I'd be more likely to insert an NPC temporarily into the game for plot purposes than have a full GMPC.
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Makki

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« Reply #3 on: <03-21-11/1754:38> »
I as a PC once asked a favor of my team. At the end of the adventure I GMed with my PC as the employer, who accompanies the team. The old GM was hired as an additional outside expert.
I kept him in the background not doing anything unless told so by the team. He was emotionally attached and confused at the time.

I would not recommend actually.

Man Who Walks At Night

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« Reply #4 on: <03-21-11/1819:59> »
Never.

I use plenty of NPC's (love fleshing out contacts and giving them personality) but I wouldn't play a real PC while GM'ing, its just too messy, and in a game like Shadowrun, I don't even see why - just have the players hire an extra if they are short on someone to fill a role (or modify the scenario so they can do it without said role).

I am perfectly comfortable with the fact that as a GM "My character(s)" are NPC's, I put personality in them (sadly, sometimes more personality than some of the players put in their characters!) but they are mainly a source of information or out-of-combat help. I avoid bringing them into fights (or disable them with panic attacks or getting KOed if I can't avoid it).

Its the same reason you rarely see the Director of a movie also star in it - its simply best to keep things separate.

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Charybdis

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« Reply #5 on: <03-21-11/1838:36> »
Because we have a couple of GM's for the games, each GM has a PC they play normally (as a player), and if GM'ing a small group (due to absences), we can slot these GM-NPC's in without any hassle.

I don't recommend these for permanent GM's for all the favouritism issues mentioned above. I personally much more enjoy flecshing out actual NPC's, that may/may not bite it at any opportunity :)
But the other players definitely appreciate having the familiar GM-NPC around when the group is small.
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CanRay

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« Reply #6 on: <03-21-11/1904:03> »
I've found that GMPCs tend to be overpowered and munchkiny, and heading into the realm of Mary/Marty Sues.

That said, sometimes the group needs a little bit of help...
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Charybdis

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« Reply #7 on: <03-21-11/1949:38> »
I've found that GMPCs tend to be overpowered and munchkiny, and heading into the realm of Mary/Marty Sues.

That said, sometimes the group needs a little bit of help...
Mary/Marty Sues?  ???

I don't get the reference....  :-\
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Dakka

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« Reply #8 on: <03-21-11/2004:09> »
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue

Be warned, TVTropes will ruin your life.


Basically Mary Sue is a character in a story who can do no wrong, always has the solution to any problem, and has permanent Plot Armor.  Peter Petrelli of Heroes is a semi-recent example of this, although he's more of a God Mode Sue.

GMPCs can fall into this if the GM plays them in anything more than a support role, as it is really REALLY hard for anyone suffering from the human condition (i.e. all of us) to stab themselves when other targets are available.

Bradd

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« Reply #9 on: <03-21-11/2014:31> »
I'm not a fan of GMPCs. As a player, I've seen them abused far too often. As a GM, I have plenty of bookkeeping work already.

Sometimes I practice this in reverse, however, by delegating GM responsibilities onto other players. Most commonly, I'll ask the other players for advice on a ruling, especially players with GM experience themselves. Occasionally, I'll have players take on the roles of NPCs or even villains.

Tagz

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« Reply #10 on: <03-21-11/2028:23> »
I didn't intend to have a GMPC.  It just sort of happened when my players decided to NPC the matrix.  I made a few characters with different attitudes, styles, strengths and weaknesses.

They had them compete to be members of the team and picked the one that showed them what they liked.

They went with the Pixie Hacker Adept.  Since then I can't get rid of it, they like it too much.  I really shouldn't have come up with a Pixie voice and made it into a game to guess the gender of the androgynous Pixie.  Recently I've had it get hit hard with Black IC and put into a coma, 1) to keep the GMPC out of the final climax of Ghost Cartels, it should be the players 100%, 2) If they really want to keep it then they should shell out some nuyen and time to get the pixie healthy again.

I try to keep it balanced by not giving it improvement karma and not coming up with much in the way of plans or knowledge he shouldn't know.  In the end though, since the players have completely detatched from learning the matrix rules, his karma and power don't even matter... I just decide if I want him to succeed or fail.  I long for a player hacker again, it just feels like to much control over the players.

James McMurray

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« Reply #11 on: <03-21-11/2137:58> »
I don't recommend GMPCs for immature GMs. You have to be fair and you have to be ready to watch them suffer along with the rest of the party.
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Chaemera

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« Reply #12 on: <03-21-11/2258:33> »
I'll use the definition of "a character who is near--permanently attached to the party and run by the GM" as my definition of a GMPC. "NPC accomplice" might be a better term, implying the subordinate role such a character fills in my games.

I use them, when the group is small, or missing vital roles. Or, when it fits the story being told. However, they are near-universally weaker than the PCs (gen them as lower-level in DnD, less BP/Karma in Shadowrun, etc) and typically fairly passive.

They've also proven useful as a way to offer up reminders or plot information when the team gets stuck or forgets something important, though not to put them back on a pre-determined plot line. Think "Oh, hey, didn't we hear from that shaman a ways back that there's a powerful toxic spirit living in here? I don't know that we should just barge in..." as opposed to "Hey, we're supposed to be breaking into the bank vault for Mr. Johnson, not researching his sordid past & deciding to stick it to his mega-corp ass!"

That being said, as a full-time GM, there's enough on my plate, as others have previously said, I try to limit the use of such characters. More over, I try to use ones already viewed as fallible / inferior (to the party) NPCs to discourage any unconscious desire to be the center of attention. I'm already the whole universe, minus the stars of the show, so there's little need to stoke my ego. But, I'm metahuman, too, I wouldn't be surprised if I've tried to turn an "NPC accomplice" into the star of the show. Fortunately, I have a good group of runners who'll swat me upside the head, then kill the guy in his sleep to make it stop. And laugh at me mockingly if I try to railroad them.

If you guys are reading this, I kid, I kid. Maybe.

All the bad things people have said about GMPCs are valid & true. But, sometimes, that long-running NPC accomplice can help bring the world to life and gives the GM a way to pass along in-world advice and reminders to help keep the story rolling. If you're group is comfortable enough with you as a GM, and understand that when you speak as the party's NPC accomplice, you speak with his limited knowledge and capabilities, an NPC accomplice can be a great addition to the group.

The true GMPCs, where the GM expects to be a "star" of the show, control the story, rather than direct it, and handle the encounters, drown the group in a sense of pointlessness. The game goes on, with or without them.
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Wayfinder

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« Reply #13 on: <03-21-11/2353:48> »
Perhaps its my own fault, but my players NEVER trust anyone speaking with my voice. It doesn't seem to matter if it's a long running contact with 6 loyalty or the shifty "expert" the Johnson insists works with the group, if I'm the one controlling them they are automatically a suspect . So it's pretty easy for me to keep the NPC attitude. Even long term hirelings to fill mission critical roles are always kept partially in the dark and with backup plans in case they become a Judas. They must have been abused in the past because what I find ironic is that I've never had a contact flip on my players. I've always thought that a GM as a player was a bad idea. If you don't think it's a bad idea, tell one of your players the entire plotline of your game. Then tell them they cannot use any of that information in game because their character wouldn't know. See how well that works for ya.

Critias

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« Reply #14 on: <03-22-11/0109:29> »
I've occasionally run a decker or rigger when the team has needed one to complete a specific job, but for the most part I try not to mix GMing and playing;  GMPC's are tricky to keep balanced, and all too often in my local gaming group I'm the leader-guy when I'm at the table.  I don't want to let things revert to type and have PCs start reflexively looking to my GMPC for advice, orders, organization, and that sort of thing.