Switching roles is something we’re supposed to learn as role players, isn’t it? But then there’s the problem: humans are creatures of habit. Jumping from being a GM to being a player can be a difficult transition, as well as vice versa. Sitting on the other side of the screen can be excruciatingly difficult. The mystery has all but dissipated, you know all the monsters and recommended DC’s. Whoever is stepping behind the screen to give you a break has to be one crafty bugger. We know how to be a good GM, but how to be go back to being a good player?
Well, easier said than done there, my friend. Have no fear, because here are some guidelines! I have been lucky enough to have been the GM on the other side of the screen and seen another GM play alongside me in the same seat. Having two different gaming groups certainly comes in handy, especially when observing situations such as this. One thing that I had noticed in the group that I typically play in is that the stand-in GM tried his damnedest to not use any monsters from the book, nearly everything was a reskinned version of another monster. A true stroke of genius, if you ask me. However, if you’re the GM facing the wall, and your stand-in is using a monster that you know everything about, well… it can be difficult to not just say “I hit” or “I miss” or maybe for you crunch masters out there, to keep track of the damage and know when it’s going to die. For your stand-in, this can be very frustrating, especially if you interject and run the combat basically from the other side of the screen.
It’s tempting, I know. I’m sure my stand-ins hate me because sometimes I do this. Keep quiet, let the game roll and focus more on role playing what’s happening. However, even role playing as a GM can have its pitfalls. Again, from my personal experience, I find that stealing the spot light is all too easy. Worst of all, it’s fun! As GM’s, we are used to slipping into the skin of a fictional character and thinking differently and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, for any players who may be reading this, GMing can help you improve your role play game for when you’re running a PC. Striking the balance with the rest of the table can be difficult with this honed skill at our disposal. Be reserved, only role play when you’re called upon or you feel there’s enough space in the moment. Try to read the table and take your now fellow players into consideration.