12 July 2008

GM consistency

Some people claim that the most important thing for a GM of an RPG to do is be consistent. I don’t agree.

Firstly, if you now know that the way you handled something in the past didn’t work well, you shouldn’t repeat the mistake for consistency.

Secondly, if you handle something differently than you did before and the players don’t notice, and the players are fine with the way you’re handling it this time, where’s the harm? (One thing that is important is that you make the players feel free to mention when they think you’re being inconsistent or when something could be handled in a better way.)

Lastly, it is rare for two situations to be completely identical. All a GM needs to do is handle the current situation to the best of his ability regardless of how he may have handled anything in the past.


Jeff Rients said...

I totally agree. Consistency is the bugbear of small minds. And as we all know bugbears aren't worth that many XPs.

Matthew James Stanham said...

Consistency is an interesting problem. I think as long as you are not seen to be flitting or oscillating between different methods, inconsistency is fine, but if you are perceived as being 'unable to make up your mind' or 'easily swayed' it can harm your (even nominal) authority as the game master.

In my opinion, both consistency and inconsistency generally need to be qualified in some way.