Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dubious GM Advice

As one does, I occasionally think about GMing and "how it's done" and that kind of rubbish.  This week's random GMing thoughts are here distilled into a terribly-pretentious student/Master dialogue, because that's what I felt like doing.  So nyah.  Let's be clear here - I make absolutely zero claims at being some sort of GM guru or the sort of person who ought to be dispensing advice.  This is what comes of an idle Sunday afternoon, I suppose.

Sri Mushvara dispenses the wisdom of the ages in exchange for cigarettes.

A student asked the Master: "Master, I have been told I am skilled at a thing.  That thing is also something I greatly enjoy.  Now I wonder whether I developed the skill because I loved the thing, or whether I love the thing because I display talent at it.  Which is true?"

The Master replied:  "What does it matter?  The two are surely interrelated, this is natural.  Which spawned the other is meaningless rumination.  Be good at what you are good at, and enjoy it."

The student said: "There are also skills at which I fail.  I lack talent in those areas.  Should I no longer attempt these things?"

The Master replied: "Do not abandon your attempts purely because you do not succeed.  Giving up is the truest failure.  A wise man acknowledges both his strengths and weaknesses; he improves upon his strengths, and improves upon his weaknesses as best he can.  It is good to know who you are, and to be that - but do not make excuses for your failures.  Strive again."

A student asked the Master: "When I see something which I judge as successful, I try to puzzle out how it came to be, so that I may replicate it.  How may I do this?"

The Master replied: "Think less.  You see autumn leaves scattering on the breeze and judge it beautiful; your impulse is to diagram the winds, when instead you should spend time being a leaf."

The student said: "I do not understand, Master.  I see others do amazing, creative things - is there no way to understand their method?"

The Master replied: "Even if there were, their method is not yours, as you are not them.  You envy the creative impulse in another and seek to replicate it stroke-by-stroke, as a forger copies a painting.  Instead you must embrace your own creativity, and find your own strokes."

A student asked the Master: "The creative act seems chaotic, or to benefit from chaos.  To truly embrace creativity, must I embrace chaos?  Should I be driven by whim or randomness?"

The Master replied: "Do not embrace chaos; harness it.  You see the incomprehensible, passionate swirl of nature and presume you must be chaotic or random to replicate it; that is false.  Too many see the beauty of life and seek to imitate it in this fashion; but most of those who attempt reckless abandon manage only recklessness.  The goal is not reckless abandon, which smashes chaos against chaos, but joyful abandon which brings together many hearts in a single creative complex."

A student asked the Master: "I am afraid that if I participate with abandon, my friends will think me silly or no longer respect me."

The Master replied: "If your friends know you to be so fearful and untrusting, then they do not respect you now.  The display of confident vulnerability earns trust."

A student asked the Master: "I worry that my endeavors are poor, and may anger or alienate my teammates."

The Master replied: "If your teammates come back for more, your endeavors were good, and you will strive to make them even better.  If your teammates abandon you, then it is they who have been uncharitable - especially if they refuse to communicate to you how you have angered them."

A student asked the Master: "I understand in the abstract what I must do to lead my team, but I have difficulty applying those things.  How can I learn?"

The Master replied: "As I understand your group, you require communication and clear goals, and trust and mutual respect to succeed.  Who else needs these things?"

The student hesitated, then answered: "I have heard soldiers speak of these things.  And lovers."

The Master answered: "You speak truly.  There are your models."

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