Excisions: “lazy GM” and “it’s like herding cats”

I’ve excised these two phrases from my gaming lexicon: “lazy GM,” in any form (“lazy game mastering,” etc.), and “it’s like herding cats,” when used to refer to players.

I don’t care how anyone else games unless it negatively impacts others, including me, but I submit that these two phrases need to go the way of the dodo.

Fuck this noise

There’s no such this as a lazy GM.

GMing is as much art as craft as science as performance, and some approaches to it require work. But for fuck’s sake, no one is a “lazy GM” because they don’t enjoy, and/or don’t do, the parts that feel like work to them.

I’m not lazy because I don’t like spending hours doing game prep, and neither are you. Conversely, if doing hours of prep isn’t work for you, that’s awesome. Do what you love!

When GMing feels like work, I don’t enjoy it. When I take out the work, I love every minute of it. There’s no work I “should” be doing that I’m not doing, so “laziness” doesn’t apply.

Fuck that noise, too

I love the phrase “it’s like herding cats.” It’s fun to use; the visual is fantastic. But I loathe when it’s applied to players.

Translated, it sounds like this: “It’s hard to get my players to what I want.”

Well, duh. Maybe talk about what everyone wants, and do that instead? Or find a group that wants the same things you do?

Gaming is alchemy. It’s magic and science and hokum all in a big ball, and sometimes you turn lead into, well . . . other lead. But when you turn lead into gold, through play, it’s fucking magical.

In my experience, “herding” players toward that goal has a much lower success rate than putting down the fucking lasso, getting off the fucking horse, and joining the cats.


As concepts, these phrases are insulting and counterproductive. They send a bad signal to new gamers: that you have to do a bunch of work to be a GM, and that players need herding — neither of which is true.

Adios, “lazy GM” and “it’s like herding cats.” You won’t be missed.

2 thoughts on “Excisions: “lazy GM” and “it’s like herding cats””

  1. Randal

    No exaggeration – we had a game set up with the old grade-through-high-school-through roommates-in-college-through-three-marriages-and-five-kids-total-through-one-moving-to-the-other-coast-but-visits-when-he-can D&D group…and the DM, the only single guy in the group, gets a booty call two hours before the game and bails.

    We called him a lot of things, including lazy…

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