This is the third part of a three part series about the mighty Empathy Hammer. If you’ve missed the other two parts of the empathy hammer you can check out Part one and Part two by clicking the hyperlinks.

The third and final part of the Empathy Hammer is on the table top. Since we are using empathy as our main drive to be a better player it’s best that we understand the GM’s responsibilities. To give you a reasonable understanding of this I will discuss the time commitment for three different systems that I have GMed for and what exactly is done with that time.

  • DnD: This game is a good representation of a system that needs a lot of preparation. There is a lot of math involved in Dungeons and Dragons for things like encounters, character wealth, and experience. I personally need a good eight hours to plan a solid adventure for DnD
  • Star Wars Age of Rebellion: This system requires way less prep time the DnD because experience is given per session and there are no encounter tables to work with. There are still narrative aspects to this game and stat blocks that need to be built though. This game can take me anywhere from two to four hours.
  • End of The World Zombie Apocalypse: This game represents the least amount of time commitment for a GM. The dice are streamlined to D6’s and the rules focus on quick and narrative encounters. Due to these factors I can run this game with no prep time at all.

I picked these three systems because of the varied time commitment that each of them require. As a disclaimer I will say that the time other people spend on each of these games can vary. I wanted to point out that with a standard four to five hour session it is not unreasonable for a GM to put twelve to thirteen hours of time into a game including the actual play session. A GM has to fit those thirteen hours in between a full time job, keeping a house clean, significant other time, and any other thing that he or she has to do to be a normal member of functioning society so it can be a real bummer when a player throws a game off.

With this in mind there’s a few things that a player can do to make sure they are treating the table with respect.

Have empathy for your GM. Just as with all other parts of the empathy hammer putting yourself in the shoes of your other party members is the most important thing. Keep in mind how hard a GM works to make sure everyone is having fun and be sure to respect that work.
Think about the tone of your game. It doesn’t matter what the play style of your game is as long as you respect that tone mechanically. Be sure to build characters to help your party succeed in games and not the opposite. I’m not implying letting the party build your character in order to make it be useful. What I am saying is that if a party agrees on making a political campaign it may not be a good idea if all of the players roll up barbarians.
Know your rules. When you start a system the GM should help you understand the rules, but soon you’ll have to take off the training wheels. Pay attention to rules that involve your character directly including the basic rules. Doing so will cut the effort needed to keep your character rules compliant during the game and as such will make GMing much easier for whoever is behind the screen.
Keep your GM in check. Once a game is agreed upon for tone, commitment, and play style it’s important to make sure things stay the same way unless it is directly discussed. Changing things without previous discussion can cause serious friction in a party so if you see your GM changing things up on you be sure to tactfully point it out and ask for a discussion about the change before moving forward.

Keeping these “on the table” responsibilities will go a long way in reaffirming your GM and keeping them engaged in your game. Be sure to use your surrounding and respond to the narrative constantly in search of mechanical and narrative advantage so that you can keep the GM thinking about the world. Also don’t forget to consider other players feelings in mind when playing a game. Combining all parts of the Empathy Hammer will surely make you a mighty player that is unstoppable in all RPG ventures so go out there and game!

As with any other advice peace I can not stress the importance of keeping open, clear, and honest lines of communication with a party. Make sure that if you have a problem that you tell your party respectfully.

Missed the other parts of the Empathy Hammer? No problem Part one and Part two are right here, just click on the link. Be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section below or through our contact us page. Also follow us @nblogcollective on Facebook or Twitter. Also be sure to follow us via email for updates on our weekly scheduled posts and as always,

Happy Gaming!

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