On the Shoulders of Dwarves
Guiding Actions (episode 91)
We have a guest: Di, author of “[The Anatomy of the GM curse](https://gnomestew.com/the-anatomy-of-the-gm-curse)” on the Gnome Stew gaming blog.
## What is a guiding action
An action that powerfully affects the game's experience for some or all players.
## What isn’t a guiding action
It can be done consciously or reflexively, mostly by a GM, because the other players give the GM authority.
## Examples of guiding actions
- Putting on specific music to engage specific emotions (consider Di’s recent article [Moodlists](https://gnomestew.com/moodlists-making-better-playlists/) or T[abletop Audio](https://tabletopaudio.com/))
- Ignore a player, or reduce attention. blocking them. Address the least active player and ask "what do you do?"
- Have your character address another player's character, if you want to give them some spotlight (you might want to listen to The Spotlight Episode)
- Giving details, obscuring by speaking quickly
- Includes social cues
- And many more
## Guiding actions by players
Players can perform guiding actions as well.
## Roleplaying games are weird
Some people react to the mentioning of guiding actions by "That's manipulation!" Yes, you've just described drama. Fictionalized storytelling is our attempt to evoke emotions, whatever the medium. In writing, the writer writes the text to manipulate the audience. In RPGs, in which participants are both the creators and the audience, it's obviously clearer to us.
Yoko Tarou - Nier Automata ([Wikipedia link](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nier:_Automata))
Some of the confusion is due to the fact that some people treat RPGs only as games while others treat them as art.
# Uri recognizes two kinds of guiding actions:
## Using the game elements to shape the experience -
As part of the game mechanics, these actions are expected but their timing or use is not for the explicit actions of the gameplay - rolling dice to create suspense and not due to rules, asking for clarifications.
## Using the elements external to the game to shape the experience -
These actions are completely external to the actions and mechanics of the game. May include: lighting, non-gaming paraphernalia props, music, scent, sitting order, specific drinks, external activities (LARPing), staring disapprovingly.
# Di elaborates:
## Guiding Actions & Subtlety
“You should search again” vs “You have a sense of unease as you leave the room” - notice the diffrence? One is making the narrative an obstacle? Saying you need to do this to progress, also easily identified as railroading. Can lock players into checking what you want/need them to check. ‘Ohohohoh you shouldn’t leave until you find the bait I put out for you because I’m so clever.’
The latter, if unheeded, becomes foreshadowing that later bites players on the butt, but feels more deserved. It gave them the OPTION to fumble.
## Giving Definitions to Guiding Actions/GM Curses
Being a GM, guide, or storyteller and learning the trade behind it is primarily a bardic style of learning: it's passed from word of mouth or keyboard and you learn a general idea of what things produce what results. Giving titular definitions to such topics gives us the ability to talk about and discuss it. It pushes it into something scholarly and long-lasting.
# Summary (35:55)
We will summarise with some links and shouts out
The original post in the Israeli roleplayers groups (Hebrew): [https://www.facebook.com/groups/israeliroleplayers/permalink/10159806929353312/](https://www.facebook.com/groups/israeliroleplayers/permalink/10159806929353312/)
Di’s article on GnomeStew: [The anatomy of the GM curse](https://gnomestew.com/the-anatomy-of-the-gm-curse).
Read [Israeli tabletop three flavors of delta green](https://gnomestew.com/israeli-tabletop-three-flavors-of-delta-green/) on GnomeStew.
You can find Di on:
twitter [@DiceQGM](https://twitter.com/DiceQGM) (Feel free to contact her)
EpithetRPG Podcast: [https://epithetrpg.podiant.co/](https://epithetrpg.podiant.co/)
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# Taking the load off (39:00)
- Eran - Returning to 50 Fathoms, SWADE conversion
- Uri - Pathfinder birthday dinner ([cake](https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157126079863412&set=pb.566933411.-2207520000..&type=3&theater)!), D&D 5e and why Uri enjoys it specifically because he doesn’t remember the rules.
- Di.- Playing [ICRPG](https://www.icrpg.com/), [Epithet Erased](https://epithet-erased.fandom.com/wiki/Epithet_Erased), and finishing off the first arc.
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Intro and outro based on On the Shoulders of Dwarves by the Cliches Duo. On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).
Brought to you by Eran Aviram of On the Shoulders of Dwarves