Two quick stories:

  • My wife watches a fair amount of "redecorating television," and I’ll admit to being sucked into a show or two. One of the recurring plots of this type of show involves designers who do not listen to the clients. Instead, they often decorate to impress other designers, or build the living space that they would prefer, instead of what the clients asked for in the first place. 
  • For a year, my college roommate was a drama jock. He would go on for hours about how innovative and revolutionary certain directors or set designers were, but when I would attend the performances, it was all lost on me. Hell, just finding the basic plot amidst the revolutionary innovation was often difficult enough. The directors and designers were trying to impress each other, not necessarily their audience.

See where I’m going here? Listen to your players, yourself included. Don’t impose the latest indie game craze on them, if they’re not interested. (Although feel free to ask if they are interested. C’mon, the first one’s free…)

Avoid controversial social or political commentary, if you have mixed opinions in your group. Or even if you don’t think you have a mixed group; many of us gamers have learned to be pretty good at social camouflage.

Don’t try to impress anyone but your group. Your gaming heroes may love your choice of system, genre, setting, or storyline. But they are not at your table; your group is. Remember who your audience is.

My confession: I’ve done this more often than I’m proud of. Not intentionally, but I’ve fallen in love lust with a system or campaign setting or story idea, and dragged my players along. Sometimes it’s worked out better than it should have. Other times… well, let’s not go there.

Okay, there was True20, but that really should have been a good system. (Actually, it’s more than adequate as a system; my executive decision to run with it was the problem.) I’ve repeatedly apologized for my four-page House Rules document; my bad. And there was the Easter game, where the group had to save the dragon’s egg from the evil princess. Um, yeah…

Ahem. Have you learned this lesson the hard way, too? Got any stories to share? Have a different opinion? Sound off in the comments and let us know!