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GM-less roleplaying games

Some people have taken to renaming GM-less roleplaying games “GM-full games”, maybe because they think “less” is a dirty word. But I think “GM” is an even dirtier word and that less is more when it comes to that! GM-less should be a selling point for these games, you don’t need no GM to play them!

Especially not a typical 90s game GM, fudging and tweaking and curating and guiding and adjusting the drama levels and what have you.

I generally try to be kumbaya and every-table-is-different and there-are-many-good-ways-to-play but I see the 90s games (well, it started in 1984) as a huge misstep and a reason why roleplaying died out.

The Story Games trend was a fix for that, by giving the GM clear rules and responsibilities (like Three Sixteen or DitV or Burning Wheel), or by kicking out the jams entirely and having no-one be the GM, like Fiasco (the reason Fiasco is always my example game in this category even though there are many others, and many that are more “serious”, is that Fiasco is clear, easy to learn, fun, and can handle getting a bit gonzo) or Untold.

The OSR, at least the part of the OSR that somewhat stuck to the blorb principles or something like it, was another fix:

When there are secrets, as in real, written-down, yet-to-be-discovered, true-even-if-they’re-currently-off-screen secrets, a GM can make handling that much easier. That’s why blorb uses a GM in spite of all the drawbacks of having a GM. It’s just the simplest way of managing information so that what’s in the treasure chest doesn’t get revealed to the players until they open the chest.