Worker or Basher

I’ve been making a mistake when GMing my games. I’ve been trying to jam more and more intellectual and social challenges into my games. What I didn’t realize is that some of my players aren’t interested in this kind of game and it wasn’t who I expected.

Maybe you already know this, but some players are workers and some are bashers. For some reason I always imagined that players usually start out as bashers and then eventually develop into workers. That’s not true though.

There’s something that is missed by a lot of GMs, because we are involved mentally in the game we imagine that the players are similarly mentally involved. Some, possibly most, are there to be entertained. They are there passively. Yes they roll the dice and go for obvious advantages, but they’re not making strategy and only take the lead when there’s a direct threat.

Now, I understand that this may be self evident to some GMs, I didn’t realize it because my players tend to be intelligent and don’t shy away from thinking. They seem like they’d make good workers. If you have players that overtly say “I’m just here to hang out and blow stuff up.” Then you know what you’re dealing with. Many bashers will dabble in intellectual challenges and even enjoy them. It’s not the center of their experience though, they’re most interested in some action and enjoying what everyone else is doing.

Workers tend to be the ones that develop the strategies, they take the lead in puzzles and social situations because the way forward may be less clear. They may be more interested in avoiding combat because it reduces their resources. They may be rules lawyers because they want to squeeze out every advantage they can out of the game.

Are workers better than bashers? It might seem so, but here’s something to consider. The majority of the populace are more interested in sitting back and passively allowing entertainment to happen to them. That’s not a level of intelligence or ability, it’s an approach to recreation. Would you rather have a healthy gaming group that’s happy and enjoying the game, or a small handful of players that are looking to take the reigns?

Bashers can be intelligent and imaginative but they’re in the game for the action, for the fun. Workers are interested in making the game happen the way they want it to. Bashers allow the game to happen to them. GMs tend to be workers, or maybe the role of GMing turns the player into a worker.


Filed under GM Advice

3 Responses to Worker or Basher

  1. brainwipe

    This is a balance I find hard to strike. This is because my players are both bashers and workers, depending on what sort of a day they had at work. We play Icar mostly as an investigative sandbox: I give hooks and the players ignore them; sometimes I risk an out-and-out missionproblem challenge here is that in a sandbox the workers generally set the goals. I can steer but efficient works plan long ahead and make it difficult to inject randomness. Also, my sessions are relatively short: just 2.5 hours. Everyone can be in worker mode one session, get everything tied up and then the next week want to bash, destroying their own plans in the process!

    Not found a solution to it yet!!!

  2. Loc

    Good points, I don’t really know if there is a solution because I don’t know if it’s a problem. If a player wants to relax mentally, I don’t know that I want to try changing that. Maybe with a really amazing story, you could stoke up someone’s fire.

    • brainwipe

      Agreed. Not sure I’d it is a problem. The only thing I would like to fix us that feeling that a certain session missed the mark even though everyone was present and feeling awake. I am not sure it’s possible!

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