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Welcome to My Slashfic

Hoh-leeeeee crap! We just got the log from last night’s RPG.

Wait. Let me back up. Ella, running our ongoing M&M “Tethered” campaign is taking a lengthy vacation. So Jude’s taking a sabbatical from gaming as well to ease his busy schedule, and Jen is running a three-session D&D game to keep the rest of us occupied.

I knew going into this that it wouldn’t make my top ten list of RPG sessions. Jen and I have very different tastes, and there’s no right or wrong when it comes to taste. The silver lining: I’ve been clamoring for variety, and this will at least be different. So if we’re going to do an amateur Jane Austen imitation using D&D rules, then by gum I’m going to do the best amateur Jane Austen imitation I can! Besides, whatever I don’t like will all be over in three weeks, anyway.

We had our first session last night. Joe ducked out, so it was just Dave and me trying to match Jen’s vision. Jen sent us a session log this afternoon, ostensibly as reminders for us for what we did this week, and to get Joe up to speed.

I can’t help but notice, however, that well over half of this write-up consists of material we never witnessed. It’s a private conversation between the apparent villain of the piece, a fallen noble working his way up the chain again and sleeping with one of his conquerors, another hunky noble who will hint broadly, at every opportunity, to everyone in the room, that his sexual preferences won’t be a problem as long as they’re kept under wraps. This strikes me as very silly. It’s also destructive to the premise of the adventure, which is supposed to be about navigating strict and arbitrary social obstacles: how are we to take social mores seriously if the major NPCs flout them continuously? It also reeks of bad slashfic. Slashfic almost inevitably looks ridiculous to anyone who isn’t into the particular kink the slashfic addresses. But again, that’s merely a difference of taste. Is bodice-ripping any more ridiculous than the bare-chested hack-n-slash warriors on which RPGs are founded?

Quite beyond being silly and reeking of bad slashfic, however, the write-up is concrete evidence of a cardinal sin of GMing: never consider your NPCs cooler, more interesting, or above all more important than your PCs. If you cannot help yourself, then never, ever, ever be obvious about it. It makes the players feel like spectators in your adventure, rather than protagonists in theirs, which rather defeats the whole purpose of role-playing for everyone else at the table. If a GM wants to write his own story about his own characters, he’s better off telling it as a novel; the captive audience will just get in the way with their pesky attitude that they’re supposed to be the heroes of the story.

Our GM is spending more attention on her own surrogate personality than on the adventure, and offering us a chance to share in her adoration, as though it were a gift of extra background material rather than the self-indulgence it is. Knowing that my contribution isn’t really that important to the unfolding scenario sorely tries my resolve to contribute at all.

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