When playing any RPG, it is important to remember that your table is a community. Everyone has the opportunity to input and help build the game. A big mistake that a lot of new players make is that they feel like the GM controls everything so there is no point in bringing up something that bothers them. This is simply not true, or shouldn’t be true, in any game that you run or play. If a player, or for the sake of this article a GM, does something that bothers you it is vital to the state of the game that you bring it up to them. In this article, I’m going to go over the best way that I’ve found to challenge something that bothers me at a table.
Identify a root cause
Whenever there is an issue in any relationship, it’s important that you identify what the source of the issue is. Usually you want to do this prior to actually addressing the issue because it clears up a lot of the fogginess and confusion in later stages. If you know why something bothers you, you can learn how to fix it. If you’re addressing a GM, you have to be able to specify what part of the game bothered you. GM’s have an overwhelming amount of notes and a general description of a moment usually won’t help clear anything up at all. Be specific.
Create some talking points
Make sure that you’re being delicate about these talks. You aren’t confronting a person, or even starting a fight. It’s a discussion between adults and should be treated with the basic respect the other person deserves by nature. It helps to mellow the aggression if you have one or two talking points in mind going into the discussion. These can take the form of a question, a statement, or retelling a moment and why it bothered you. They don’t have to be super detailed or deep, just simple points to help move the discussion along and get to brass tax. Having these ready should also help take a bit of bite off of what you’re saying. Usually these discussions regard something that annoyed or upset you, so making sure that tone doesn’t direct itself toward the person you’re talking to is important in the resolution.
Meet the person away from the game
This is probably the most important step, but don’t try to have this talk during or even near game time. Step away from the table, maybe get lunch, and just chat. Get out of the environment that’s making you frustrated so that you both can stay more level. This also takes away a lot of potential embarrassment from you and the person in question because you don’t have the rest of the crew throwing in their thoughts or making outside comments. This is a personal matter and should be handled personally. Don’t try to initiate this talk on a time crunch, don’t rush it, and don’t involve other unless it escalates to something worse (i.e. bullying, in-game sabotage, multiple people expressing public frustration, etc.
Have a compromise as part of your resolution
A major step towards conflict resolution is being willing to compromise. Even if it’s small, make sure that you’re willing to give as much as the other person is being asked to give. Nobody is perfect, and in order to demand change we must be willing to change as well. For example, a player always plays pranks on you in game. This bothers you so you have a discussion with them. During this discussion they express frustration at your habit to always dominate a conversation. In this moment, the easiest way to resolve the issue is to shake hands and agree that both of you will go into the next session and try to show growth. He doesn’t play pranks all the time and you allow others a larger talking spot in your game.
I want to clarify that not every issue can be resolved this easily. Usually this method will at least help get the point across, but it does require someone willing to listen. Facing an issue instead of brushing it aside is always a better option towards resolution than any other because if an issue isn’t known it can’t be resolved.
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Thank you again for reading, and as always…