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balance and the burden of being GM

There's a whole lot of talk out there about making games 'balanced,' as in how the players all have equal input into the game. You and I both get the same amount of points, we each can't take more than three levels of XYZ, and your cool ability isn't any more useful than my cool ability.
But what about the GM?

It seems to be a foregone assumption that the GM is in some separate class, able to wield godlike powers with the only restraint being a player who says "your game sucks, I'm bailing." The GM always has the final say, can conjure unlimited antagonism out of thin air, and often has the right to dismiss the rules whenever they don't support some premeditated plan. GM powers always outrank any player power, too. Imagine me saying, "ha, I use my Action Point, and that'll get me a total of 22! That means we won!" and the GM says, "nope, uh, four more guys rush through the far door."

It's pretty obvious that there's a clear threshold at which point the player power to say 'screw you' kicks in, but there's a big gray area before that in which all sorts of things can happen that can disappoint player and GM. Ever been the GM and in the middle of an encounter, you quietly think to yourself, damn, I made these guys too tough? Ever had intentions as a player to have your guy do something cool that was totally blindsided by a GM handwave? You can talk about it afterward, and everyone can tell the GM what they liked and didn't like, but why can't they say that during the game? Why can't the players have any real power while the game is being played?

That ain't balanced. I think all that responsibility and power makes being the GM less fun than it could be, and it makes the GM seat more attractive to the kind of person that you don't really want in the GM seat, if you know what I mean.

So how do you redistribute power but still give the GM the ability to provide cool situations that the players can respond to?

Am I right in guessing that the answer to the question of redistributing power is something that various indie RPGs are working on addressing in different ways?

well, yes and no. It's something I'm definitely working on. Many indie games are concerned with the player's ability to contribute in a meaningful way, but that's not necessarily a big redistribution of power.

Conflict resolution is a big step, I think, but there's way more to come.

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