Moderating gender

I may not like being considered “one of the guys” in the groups I have DMed, but as a female DM, it’s hard to be omniscient without that status. There are, however, interesting dynamics when playing D&D, and it is to the female-DM / male-member dynamic I mean to speak. If any readers have a view they’d like to share, please do so and I may include it as an addendum at the tail of this post. Apologies to those who think me narrow-minded or discriminating, as those aspects are not my intention.


Male members group together.

In no other place than D&D do I see the formation of such a level of comraderie. I would say that this leads to “favorites” behavior since I’m a woman, that men in my groups seeking favor for their characters will act friendlier. It happens.

I merely listen to what they have to say and mentally file away any usable bits – they want that magic item, or they would like this to happen for their PC (playable character)? Alright, I’ll keep in mind those things for if / when the story takes that turn.


Gamers do not produce adequately playable opposite-sex characters.

I would say this is an exception and not a rule, but hear me out. Just as females see males one way, so do males see females another.

Males playing a female PC typically feminize them too much: vestigial hair flipping, raising their voice an octave, performing stereotypical female quirks (most commonly, that of an ex while they’re still working out emotional kinks), and making bad guy jokes (to garner a sort of endearing “female respect” from the female DM).

A female playing a male character runs the risk of trying to be too “he-man” and may not even want to play a male character just “to keep up” with the others and be heard. Females often play fairly good tom-boy (male-aspect) female PCs; since induction into male-majority groups requires a certain level of behavioral pull, a more forceful character will likely gain male players’ trust.

I would agree with you, reader, should you think me biased, but I’m omniscient – I must play both male and female roles as a DM. And the roles of constructs, jellies and oozes, abberations, familiars, inanimate objects… And I’m the world. A better way to act out such characters would be to narrate their movements, rather than over exaggerate them.


Do not introduce homoerotic jokes.

Male Players may make jokes among themselves at what might feel “at your expense,” but they are absolutely not. Call it alpha-male bantering, but it isn’t personal. Consider that fact that you may be the lone female of the group, DM or not. Homoerotic situtions, however, make many men uncomfortable.

Men, you might claim confidence in your sexuality, you may hump your friends (“to be funny”), you may call everything “gay” – but it doesn’t transfer to your character. Get in-character sometime and tell me different. Your PC is a part of you, and as such you will take offense when things in-game take any turns with which you do not initially agree.

Women, you might be put out by the “womanizing” going on around you at the table. Just do this: In your head, call them shallow and then drop the subject. There’s no need to be offended by male humor (I mean, really, women do it too).

In my case: I’ve heard enough of this behavior and prodding around a gaming table the past ten years that, right or not, it takes a bit more pushing to actually offend me. What offends me is female-bashing. Your ex-gf screwed with your head? Yeah, bad move. She was mean to you, and it’s obvious from your description? Again, I’m like to agree with you. But don’t call her a “bitch” because she has breasts and menstruates, and then proceed to dehumanize her by saying so. That she can “bleed for seven days and not die” does not make her unnatural. And don’t lump one woman with all of them – it’s not like being moody is what we’re out to do. Going on about these things ain’t funny, it don’t fly with me, and it does not give you back any measure of dignity or respect. Realize: Everything takes two to tango, so you had some part in the situation, even if it was merely an enabler. This goes both ways, so don’t think I mean this male-exclusive behavior.


Avoid eroticism.

In the case the DM is female and the PCs male, completely avoiding erotic situations may be a good idea. Aside from surface detail (“Yeah, you go upstairs with the bar wench. You have a good time.”), avoiding them calls less attention to gender dynamics and keeps the story focused where it belongs: on the game.

There does come a time, though, that sex does enter the picture. Do not fear this eventuality – just keep it tasteful. You can add more detail, such as what the NPC (non-playable character) of interest looks like, but keep bedroom specifics out of the picture (your Player has a creative enough imagination to fill that part in, and you can tell him so – just smile while you do it). If it’s a succubus, stay objective; “This is how she proceeds to seduce you, and here are your impressions… If you were more conscious of what’s happening, you’d feel this way and notice this about her expression.” That way, the PC gets a better idea about the bigger picture and won’t have as much opportunity to make fun of the circumstances (so long as they’re story-related).

Rule of thumb: if it’s not an important event, then don’t go there. That goes for anything in the game, not just sexual encounters.


I don’t mean to sound as if to divide the sexes when gaming, or that one is less than the other. I don’t mean to put down men in any way, either. I simply mean to point out some differences in behavior that I’ve noticed since being a female DM and a couple pointers to avoid potential faux pas among male Players. Knowing these things should also help smooth gameplay.


About jlnp
This entry was posted in GM Perspective 3.0 & 3.5 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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