Game Master Characters
As I've been contemplating my gamist GMing, I've been wondering why one of my habits seems to work. I almost always have an NPC member of the party that I run more or less like a PC. I get a lot of enjoyment out of presenting the players with a challenge, and then stepping in to help them overcome it.
I have heard some people warn of this style of play, and I have had issues in the past where I allowed my NPC to overshadow the PCs. This was often caused by the fact that they gained XP faster than the PCs since they never missed a session. Then there my high school days where I would often run my NPCs through a new module as my way of reading the module, and they got the XP for that! Then one (or two) of them would get to run through the module with the PCs!
But in some of my recent play, I've been paying a lot of attention. And I've talked to players specifically about their feelings. In my Arcana Evolved campaign, I thought I saw a big red flag when one of the players started moan about how he wasn't the "coolest scrapper anymore" after my NPC pulled a particularly good stunt. Then before I really had a chance to ask the player about it, he figured out how to use a new ability. When I got around to asking him if he felt he was being overshadowed and his character wasn't working out for him. He said "No, my character is starting to be really fun."
I think what happened here is that he didn't see my NPC as cheating, but that I had figured out a particularly good combination of abilities. And now he had a challenge. And when he stepped on up to that challenege, he succeeded.
I know there are a few games out there (can't recall the titles) which have one of the players take on some of the traditional GM roles, though I'm not sure that part has been the creating challenges part. Somehow though, it seems like my play is functional.
This is another contribution to Martin Ralya's 31 Days of Blogging for GMs.