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Biggest DM regret

iserith

Adventurer
Here is some helpful expectation setting from the very first section of the PHB which, of course, hardly anyone reads because, you know, why would you ever want to know the point of this game you're playing and what to expect?

There’s no winning and losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game—at least, not the way those terms are usually understood. Together, the DM and the players create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils. Sometimes an adventurer might come to a grisly end, torn apart by ferocious monsters or done in by a nefarious villain. Even so, the other adventurers can search for powerful magic to revive their fallen comrade, or the player might choose to create a new character to carry on. The group might fail to complete an adventure successfully, but if everyone had a good time and created a memorable story, they all win.​

I bolded the bits relevant to the original post in this thread. I'm all for having a pre-game discussion and page-setting and even taking death off the table (as I've done in my current campaign), but my opinion is that someone who's going to get upset enough at this to not play D&D anymore is really missing the point. Of course, we don't actually know that's what happened with this player in [MENTION=6783882]Nevvur[/MENTION]'s game. I have encountered players who legitimately get upset by this though and, again, those people are just missing the point in my view.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Why not? Doesn't take long - 5 minutes tops to tell any new players "this is how things work: bad things, including death, can and likely will happen to your characters at some point(s); we go by the rules-as-written; and [any specific table social rules regarding e.g. interruptions, phones, snacks, etc.]." No discussion involved - take it or leave it.

True, when they don't know it's coming - which makes that 5-minute intro all the more important; so they do know it's (maybe) coming and are thus not so taken aback if-when it does.

In a home game you can do this. In organized play? Not sure if that's entirely kosher...

In a home game I can tweak the rules. Maybe PCs die if they hit 0 HP, maybe they just respawn at their base camp or somewhere in-between.


All I can say is that I agree with the OP and I would not do it the way I did it in the that game. I really doubt anyone is going to call the AL police on someone who tells a brand new player "normally that would kill your PC, what do you want to happen?"

I'm not going to hide behind "the rules are the rules". While technically correct, even in AL the DM's job is to run a fun game. For brand new players that may mean holding their hand a little bit, and yes, IMHO bending the rules a bit now and then in their favor.
 

AriochQ

Explorer
My first D&D game, 1978, was a solo game where I played two characters at once. My Halfling fighter was at zero hit points, but not dead, and my human magic-user was bringing him out of the dungeon using Tenser's Floating Disc. I had zero knowledge of spell duration. Spell expired. Halfling hit the ground and took 1 hit point of damage. Dead Halfling. Needless to say, I didn't stop playing D&D!
 

Monayuris

Explorer
If my character should have been one shot killed because of what happened in the game, but the DM fudged and rolled back on it, I would find that not fun. If my character deserves to die then it should die. To me, this sort of thing tells me that my choices and actions don't have any meaning in the game.

As far as my biggest regret. Giving in to pressure sometimes from players, with regard to what game to use. Choosing to run a game because that is what they enjoy instead of what I enjoy. I should really be running the game that I am most interested / excited about.
 

MarkB

Adventurer
Here is some helpful expectation setting from the very first section of the PHB which, of course, hardly anyone reads because, you know, why would you ever want to know the point of this game you're playing and what to expect?

There’s no winning and losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game—at least, not the way those terms are usually understood. Together, the DM and the players create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils. Sometimes an adventurer might come to a grisly end, torn apart by ferocious monsters or done in by a nefarious villain. Even so, the other adventurers can search for powerful magic to revive their fallen comrade, or the player might choose to create a new character to carry on. The group might fail to complete an adventure successfully, but if everyone had a good time and created a memorable story, they all win.​

I bolded the bits relevant to the original post in this thread. I'm all for having a pre-game discussion and page-setting and even taking death off the table (as I've done in my current campaign), but my opinion is that someone who's going to get upset enough at this to not play D&D anymore is really missing the point. Of course, we don't actually know that's what happened with this player in [MENTION=6783882]Nevvur[/MENTION]'s game. I have encountered players who legitimately get upset by this though and, again, those people are just missing the point in my view.
You don't seem to have taken the last bolded statement very seriously. It's a win if everyone at the table had a good time. Losing your character to a single attack in your first ever game can tend to not be a good time.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I have Skully. Skully currently has 56 names on it. When I start with a new player Skully comes out, I tell people sometimes the dice hate you. Some times the dice hate the monsters. If your pc dies, it name goes on the skull. Now if the picture of you signing the skull goes up on the facebook page, that is up to you. So far only one person did not want his picture on facebook, but he never want any picture of him on facebook, even in the background. He sign the skull and I got a decent shot of his hand. At least two of my pcs are on the skull too.
If a person can not accept the lost of their pc due to bad rolls, bad tactics, etc,; they should go back to playing Candyland with their order family members.
 

ccs

39th lv DM
I'd say my biggest DMing regret would be the year of weekly sessions spent running 4e.

I mean, sure, I can say that I honestly gave 4e a try. And that I'm 100% certain that I don't like the system..... But it was a complete waste of valuable gaming time.
 

iserith

Adventurer
You don't seem to have taken the last bolded statement very seriously. It's a win if everyone at the table had a good time. Losing your character to a single attack in your first ever game can tend to not be a good time.
On the contrary, I take the entirety of the statement - not just one bit or another - seriously since it tells us that my character could be torn apart by vicious monsters and/or my party could fail to achieve its goals and I should still have had a good time. It's very clear as to the expectation that character success or survival is not a prerequisite to fun. The game experience as a whole is what is being judged in this regard.

If I found myself upset at a character death to the extent that it overrides what was otherwise a good time and a memorable story, I would consider that a serious personal flaw that would demand my attention to rectify immediately. That is especially so if I was aware of the expectations the game itself sets forth before it happened. Luckily, this is not an issue for me.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Of course, we don't actually know that's what happened with this player in [MENTION=6783882]Nevvur[/MENTION]'s game. I have encountered players who legitimately get upset by this though and, again, those people are just missing the point in my view.
You are correct that we don't know what happened with the player referenced by the OP, but IMHO I don't think that first time players are necessarily "missing the point" if they were legitimately upset by this. She may have felt that her big cool moment was being unduly punished or targeted. A break of bad luck can make or break a future longterm player. And as per your own statement, did she have a good time? Probably not. So they did not all win.

Some first time players may not find an issue with this, but for others it can turn them off from the game entirely. These latter players may even be amendable to having their characters die in other circumstances or later in the adventure, but a bad first experience can be game-wrecking. There are, for example, a number of threads here on ENWorld that have been entirely devoted to games that people stopped playing after one bad experience.
 

iserith

Adventurer
And as per your own statement, did she have a good time? Probably not.
Unless you were that player, you have no basis for this assertion.

Some first time players may not find an issue with this, but for others it can turn them off from the game entirely. These latter players may even be amendable to having their characters die in other circumstances or later in the adventure, but a bad first experience can be game-wrecking. There are, for example, a number of threads here on ENWorld that have been entirely devoted to games that people stopped playing after one bad experience.
In my experience, a character death contributing to a bad time is often due to unfairness leading to that result and the actual objection is to the lack of fairness, not to the character death itself. Other issues may also be contributing to the game experience not being very fun.
 

MarkB

Adventurer
On the contrary, I take the entirety of the statement - not just one bit or another - seriously since it tells us that my character could be torn apart by vicious monsters and/or my party could fail to achieve its goals and I should still have had a good time. It's very clear as to the expectation that character success or survival is not a prerequisite to fun. The game experience as a whole is what is being judged in this regard.
No it doesn't. It says that if you still had a good time, it's a win. It defines everyone having a good time as being the goal of the game - it doesn't say that doing so is always achievable, or that failing to have a good time is somehow a character flaw.

If I found myself upset at a character death to the extent that it overrides what was otherwise a good time and a memorable story, I would consider that a serious personal flaw that would demand my attention to rectify immediately. That is especially so if I was aware of the expectations the game itself sets forth before it happened. Luckily, this is not an issue for me.
That's perfectly fine, if it's just yourself that you're talking about. When you're setting that expectation for other players, especially new players who know nothing of the game's 'expectations', it's judgemental and prejudiced. Nobody has an obligation to have the same level of investment or detachment as you do when it comes to their character.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
OP, I think you made the best call you could have in that situation. Unless the group decides otherwise ahead of time, character death is one of the potential risks of adventuring. Everyone should know and be prepared for that possibility. And in my experience, the best way to lessen the sting of character death is to roll out in the open, and stick to the results of the rolls. Having to take it on the DM’s word that they rolled that natural 20 and maxed the damage dice sucks. Actually seeing the DM roll that natural 20 and max the damage dice might still suck, but it at least feels more fair. It is unfortunate that getting one-shotted turned that player off of the game, but I don’t think that’s your fault at all. I blame the rule that you die outright if the attack does enough damage to reduce you to 0 and still has your max HP or more left over, combined with 1st level characters having such low HP. Most of us who have been DMing 5e for any significant amount of time have had 1st level characters get one-shotted by an untimely crit, and it always feels bad. This is, in my opinion, a flaw in the rules, which can be fixed in a home game, but is sadly something you just have to deal with in Adventurer’s League.
 

iserith

Adventurer
No it doesn't. It says that if you still had a good time, it's a win. It defines everyone having a good time as being the goal of the game - it doesn't say that doing so is always achievable, or that failing to have a good time is somehow a character flaw.
Taken as a whole, I think my interpretation is correct. Yes, you can still have a bad time with or without a character dying. But the game sets forth the expectation that character success or survival is not a prerequisite to the win condition of the game, that is, having fun and creating a memorable story. A player is well-advised in my view to buy into this.

That's perfectly fine, if it's just yourself that you're talking about. When you're setting that expectation for other players, it's judgemental and prejudiced. Nobody has an obligation to have the same level of investment or detachment as you do when it comes to their character.
I'm only in control of myself, so yeah, it's just me I'm talking about. That said, I likely would not play with people whose good time is necessarily predicated on voluntarily engaging in stakes for which one of the outcomes is the ruin of their good time. That's not well thought-through in my opinion.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Unless you were that player, you have no basis for this assertion.
I have no basis to speculate "probably not" regarding her resulting fun? The OP seems to be under a similar persuasion. He reported that she looked dejected and did not return. :confused:

In my experience, a character death contributing to a bad time is often due to unfairness leading to that result and the actual objection is to the lack of fairness, not to the character death itself. Other issues may also be contributing to the game experience not being very fun.
IME, it varies from person to person. And key here in your statement is that "often" is not "always."
 

MarkB

Adventurer
Taken as a whole, I think my interpretation is correct. Yes, you can still have a bad time with or without a character dying. But the game sets forth the expectation that character success or survival is not a prerequisite to the win condition of the game, that is, having fun and creating a memorable story. A player is well-advised in my view to buy into this.

I'm only in control of myself, so yeah, it's just me I'm talking about. That said, I likely would not play with people whose good time is necessarily predicated on voluntarily engaging in stakes for which one of the outcomes is the ruin of their good time. That's not well thought-through in my opinion.
But do you really expect someone without prior experience to even have the capacity and context to have a well thought-through position when it comes to this?
 

iserith

Adventurer
I have no basis to speculate "probably not" regarding her resulting fun?
No, since "probably" means "almost certainly." We don't have enough details to say one way or the other. Nor does the OP, based on what has been posted, though I certainly respect his self-reflection on the matter. That's a sign of a good DM in my experience.
 

iserith

Adventurer
But do you really expect someone without prior experience to even have the capacity and context to have a well thought-through position when it comes to this?
No. My comments as to the sorts of people with whom I prefer to play were of a general nature, not about this specific person. Of course slack is cut for people who are unaware of the expectations. I'm not a monster.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
No, since "probably" means "almost certainly." We don't have enough details to say one way or the other. Nor does the OP, based on what has been posted, though I certainly respect his self-reflection on the matter. That's a sign of a good DM in my experience.
Given that the OP knows more based upon their own experience regarding what transpired, I would say he has a better hunch than either of us.
 

iserith

Adventurer
Given that the OP knows more based upon their own experience regarding what transpired, I would say he has a better hunch than either of us.
Maybe, maybe not:

Nevvur said:
...I'll admit I'm also neurotic and self-conscious. For all I know she had a great time and just started playing home games.

 

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