Monday, January 9, 2012

The Worst GMs from Video Game RPGs

Video game RPGs arose out of tabletop rpgs- with D&D arguably being the font from which the genre sprang. Of course they evolved in different directions, utilizing the strengths of their particular mediums. What I look for in a computer or console-based rpg differs hugely from what I want at the gaming table. And some of the things that happen in VGRPGs would make me quit if a GM tried to pull that. Yet I'm pretty tolerant of that when I have a controller in my hands.

So below is a list of a few moments of video game rpgs, and what they would look like at the table-top. Don't get me wrong- I love some of the games below (and hate some). Some of these problems can be seen in many, many games (especially the "I Win, You Actually Lose" problem). Spoilers ahead in a couple of places.

1. Wild Arms 2 

GM: OK, you beat the bad guy...
Player: Yes!!!
GM: And he leaps up to his feet, grabs the item you were defending and flies off.
Player: Again?
GM: He's fast. 

2. Persona 2 
GM: The monster hits you.
Player: How much damage to I take?
GM: None, but everyone loses half of their money.
Player: Wait...what? (The fight continues). OK, I killed them, we get our money back from their bodies.
GM: Nope, it seems to have magically disappeared. 

3. Xenogears  
GM: You guys mind if I do a little time lapse and move the story forward a little.
Player: Um, sure.
GM: all of that? Next week we'll take up with the final boss fight.

4. Shadow Hearts: From the New World 
GM: OK, so I'm going to run a kind of supernatural investigation game set in 1929.
Player: Like Call of Cthulhu?
GM: A little, it has Arkham in it, but it has more magic and fantastic stuff.
Player: OK...well it sounds cool...
GM: Great. So I made up some pre-gen characters. So I have a boy detective, a Native American sorceress in a bikini, an crusading old man trained by South American ninjas, a fat ballerina vampire, a mariachi player with a gun-guitar, or a giant drunken cat. Everybody pick.
 Player: What the what?

5. Might and Magic IX 

Player: Man, I love this campaign world- I can't wait to get back to playing.
GM: Yeah, about that. I destroyed that campaign world. I'm not going to run it anymore. But it is really the same campaign.
Player: blew it up?
GM: Yup. And I decided to go with a new set of rules. But don't worry, you won't know the difference.

6. Suikoden III 

GM: That was a great session, but I think I want to run a different campaign in this game setting.
Player: OK, but we were just getting started with this one...
GM: No, I want to do another story...roll up new characters.
(Several sessions later)
GM: Yeah, so I want to try another story in this world...
Player: What? Again? We just got into the groove of this one.
GM: I have a cool idea, just roll up some new characters.
(Several sessions later)
GM: Yeah, so I was thinking...
Player: I'm going to kill you.

7. White Knight Chronicles 
GM: With a mighty blow, you knock your adversary down and bask in your victory.
Player: we...
GM: But the bad guys sieze the Princess and make off with her.
Player: She was ten feet away from us, and the rest of the party was guarding her.
GM: They snuck up and grabbed her.
Player: OK, we'll chase them.
GM: No, you're stunned by the turn of events.
Player: Grrr...OK, we'll recover from stun and shoot them with our freaking bows...
GM: Too late. They ran across the courtyard, jumped on an massive sky-anchor that dropped down and are now sailing away in their skyship. 

8. Dark Souls 
GM: TPK again!
Player: I wasn't done making up my character...

9. L.A. Noire 

GM: So, yes- all those murder cases you solved. They were all done by someone else!!!
Player: What about the crime scenes? The evidence?
GM: All faked. He was really clever.
Player: What about all the rolls I made and work I did?
GM: Moving on.... 

For some further discussion and analysis of this see my follow up post: Stolen Princess Syndrome: A Tabletop Read on WKC


  1. I think we've all played in, if not run, many of those games. #4 was my fave write up, but I have no idea what most of those games are advertised to be about.

  2. #4 immediately made me think of the kinds of characters that are made when playing a game of octaNe (which I'd like to try playing sometime).

  3. Shadow Hearts sounds like a convention game where the GM lets players bring their own characters from home. That's just asking for trouble.

    Great list!

  4. Yes- I've played in some of these games at the tabletop...and undoubtedly run some.

  5. 4 made me laugh, but 5 and 6 are kind of me. :(

  6. I hope you do another article like this one. Good stuff. No. 7 is one that I've sadly experienced.