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What would you, the GM, do? A question about Player power.

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The situation:

Amber is under attack.  The enemy is ruthless and inhuman.  Amber City is in flames, and one of the PC's is in the thick of things.  He's hunting through the streets with a company of soldiers looking for the enemy, but not currently engaged in battle.

GM: "A building to your right collapses, sending flaming debris into the alley.  The debris falls up against the next building along, an orphanage.  You can hear the screams of terrified children inside."

Player: "To hell with the battle, I go into the burning building and save them."

GM: "Okay, you're hunting through the building, but it's rapidly filling with smoke and you can still hear coughing.  You've saved some, but there's still some more here.  The danger is increasing."

Player: "No, you don't understand.  I save them all.  End of scene.  I don't want to play in a game where children die on-camera, so I save them all, and we move on."

What do you, as GM, do?

Let the character save them all, though perhaps losing some of the accompanying troops in the process if the character has zero or bad stuff. Regardless, make it tense and make the player play it out before succeeding.

Don't mess with a player's hotbuttons if you don't have to.

The very first thing I would do as GM is respond:

"You've conflated Player direction with character direction. I'd like to seperate them again. You don't want to play in a game with these deaths on-screen, Yes?

Now what does your character want, or do we need to stop the game to discuss Player needs?"

Is it a bad thing to conflate player direction and character direction?

Is what the character wants more important than what the player wants?

Edit: Also, how would you respond based on how the player answers the question?

Is it a bad thing to speak to two people simultaneously? In some genre, it is amusing. In others, merely a stylistic choice that adds some manic.

Generally, it might be considered rude or bad communication.

I don't think most Players function well at a rping level where what the character wants is more significant than what the Player wants. I've seen it done, and very impressive it can be, but most Players break when attempting this.

Sometimes GMs break when attempting same with significant NPCs. Or sometimes Players break when GMs actually succeed in such levels of interpretation of character.

The most direct answer to your additional questions: as GM, I want the Player to be aware of when they issue 'in-game' direction versus 'out-game' in terms of dictating actions. I want the other Players to also understand how the GM will deal with Player hot-button issues. Such transparency is good for the trust invested, IMHO.


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