On 2005-03-09, TonyLB wrote:
To elaborate a little in the direction of one of my own personal pet peeves: Most GM-ful games do a sadly inadequate job of giving the role of GM a proactive agenda that they can whole-heartedly pursue.
Take D&D for instance. What's the GM agenda? Try to hurt the party? Damn, it better not be. Because if they whole-heartedly pursue that (i.e. find the nastiest monster available in any of the books, then have one hundred of them ambush a part of first level players) then it ruins the fun of the other players.
Instead, the GM in D&D is walking a constant mental tight-rope between making things too hard and making them too easy. They cannot whole-heartedly pursue any one agenda, because their goal is inherently conflicted: the game does not give them the structure to unleash their full power without risk of damaging the players fun.
It is like telling an olympic runner "Okay, go out and run with these folks, but make sure you don't finish more than five seconds ahead of the second place runner". They can do it, but it's not likely to be fun for them.
By stark comparison, let's look at My Life With Master. The Master's agenda, as described to me by Michael Miller, is to torture the players. So if they want their characters to be happy, you punish them. If they want their minion to be miserable, you reward said minion.
There is, as far as I can see, no extreme to which the Master can go that will make the game less fun for the other players. In fact, the nastier the Master is, the better horrific fun it is for the minions. That's a game where the GM is allowed to actually cut loose.
If a game has that, I don't care whether it's entirely GM-fiat or as freeform as possible.