Managing mistakes

Mistakes happen! Sooner or later in the game, there are going to be posts that contains errors or creates other problems. As a player (and, for that matter, as a GM) it is important to stay on top of things and manage these problems instead of letting them ruin the game.

There are several things that has gone wrong on games and probably at least as many that will go wrong in the future. In this article, I am going to deal with three types of problems to give you examples of how they can be handled and what to think about. This article is both for players and for GMs, since it is a collaboration between us all to avoid or deal with these types of problems.

The first problem is when two players posts at the same time, or without reading the latest posts first. The story described in the posts can be conflicting, causing uncertainty about which one is correct.

This is a situation that is best fixed by the GM. He or she can fix this in a couple of ways. Either by canceling on of the posts, either keeping the first on or keeping the one that fits the Game Master’s idea of where the story should be heading best. This is really up to the GM to decide. The Game Master should quickly send out a message informing all the players of the decision so they can continue the story. If the GM is actively participating in the game, he can send a post of his own to clear things out.

As a player, you should probably first try to inform the GM of what has happened and let him take action. If, for some reason, the GM is not available there is a possibility – depending on the rules of the game – that the player who posted the last post can retract his post. However, this is something that can be a bit tricky. It is important in this case that it is the player himself that retracts the post and not another player. This to avoid confusion.

Another problem that is bound to happen sooner or later is that a player screws up some important part of the story, background, or any other type of fact that needs to be correct further on in the game. This can happen by mistake, the player was not aware of how it was supposed to work. This is especially common in games set in in context of a TV series or other types of well-known fiction.

Again, it is important to act quickly. If an error is allowed to be carried on in more posts, it becomes an established fact that is very hard to change later on. The GM, or the player, should send out a correction. It is important however, not to put blame on a specific player. Keep it in general term and be professional about it.

A third problem that can happen in PBEM (Play By Email) games that allow players to include other player’s characters in their own posts is that a character is used in the wrong way. This problem can easily be avoided by checking in advance with the player who’s character you want to use. If you, however, have found someone else to be using your character in a way you do not approve of, you should act on it.

The most polite way is to contact the player who write the offending post and discuss the problem. Note that I said discuss, do not accuse them of anything or blame them for the problem. Keep it on a friendly basis. If the two of you can’t work it out, contact the GM and ask for advice. One way of fixing the problem is for you to write a post about the same situation and change a bit in what your character says or does. Be sure to make it clear to the other players though what the purpose of the post is, just to avoid further confusion.

To sum things up, you can deal with pretty much any problem by
– Contact the GM
– Act fast
– Be polite.