3.5 Character in conflict with DM - RP question

Greenfield

Adventurer
We're playing D&D 3.5, though the system is actually irrelevant for this discussion

We play in a style where the DM duties rotate amongst the group, all in the same game world and continuity. To do this everyone (including the first DM) is supposed to create their character, and define/prepare the city/state/country/land that their character comes from. When you DM, that's where your adventure takes place.

Our new campaign came with an odd twist: Everyone was asked to design a Rogue, young to mid teens. From there you add a second class, the one you'll be playing and advancing.

My character was something of a crossup for me: I'm a big, noisy guy, and many of my characters share the "noisy" part. This time my character is a 14 year old girl, Rogue/Druid, and she's quiet. Her life has been a bad one, taken by raiders fromher home and "sold" to a master thief for training. Then taken by the city guard, "rescued", and pretty much sold to a wealthy family who wanted another maid servant. After her first beating she fled.

So she doesn't trust the law, doesn't trust the wealthy and influential, doesn't trust the lower class, doesn't trust, well, just about anyone. She might like a person, but she doesn't like people.

Her 2nd class is Druid, though she hasn't learned Druidic, and she's more or less self-training. That's the way I've written her.

The first DM decided that the small cave she's been calling home was actually chosen for her by another Druid. Her first adventure was a set up by people who somehow knew of her past (she hasn't talked about it, or much of anything, to anyone.

Her second adventure was to deal with a witch that had approached the party, attacked and openly challenged us to track her.

After that was done we found a wagon with draft horse, all ready and waiting on a nearby road. As far os our Ranger could tell from the wheel tracks, it had been there a couple of hours. We'd been at the site for about an hour and hadn't known where the site was before we got there. (Following a track.) There was a note in the wagon saying what a good job we'd done.

So someone knew where we were going before we did. Someone has been leading us around.

One DM declared that my character had found a scroll/not that congratulated her for achieving third circle (she hadn't yet and, technically, still hasn't. ) He also said that my character now knew Druidic and was being inducted into the Brotherhood of Druids.

The man who had beaten the character at the rich man's house was found dead, and my character found a note saying "You're welcome".

Essentially, all of the back story I'd prepared was being re-written, for no good reason, by the first two DMs. Any chance of using it as a plot hook when I was going to DM were destroyed.

Her next decision is to simply flee the region. She hates the idea that she's someone else's puppet, and that her life is being managed by someone else. I have no reason to belive that the current DM is going to let that happen.

As a player I'm finding that my choices for the character don't matter. As a character my "brooding, angsty teenager" would find this intolerable. Like, change her alignment from True Neutral to Chaotic-something-or-other (complete rejection of all authority.)

So what should I do? Tempted to give up and either quit the character or quit the game. (Problem: It's at my house.)
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Wait, you're going to quit the game rather than talk to the DMs and ask why their taking an approach that conflicts with your backstory?

Alternatively, you'd rather quit a group with multiple willing DMs rather than play along with their hook and just modify your character a bit?

Characters are a dime a dozen, having a group with multiple DMs is a luxury a lot of people don't have. Or is there more going on than in your story (a history of DMs imposing unnecessary constraints on player concepts)?
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
Before quitting you may want to have a discussion with the group to clarify expectations. You should talk further about who exactly controls background details for characters and where the arc of that character should go.

In most of my campaigns this is a collaborative process between player and DM. Player has a concept they want to play and will adjust backstory details to fit the DM's world. From there the player can talk to the DM about their goals for the character and what themes they want to explore with that character which the DM can use to create hooks.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
You can quit or your can voice your issues with the people who caused them. My only recommendation is that, if you do approach them to discuss the matter, you do so respectfully with an eye toward whatever you may have done to contribute to the situation, if anything.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
I've talked with the DM. He nods and smiles but he doesn't stop.

Question: Would you continue playing a character that's no fun because the DM keeps screwing with them?
Question: Would you consider leaving a game if the DMing was really bad?

As for a history of problems: No, that's what makes this such an unpleasant situation. The initial DM is known for running railroads, but this time his need for control is over the top. Some story elements, such as whether we were opening and exploring a secret passage that appeared in my character's cave. He started telling us that "after you open the passage...", and we pointed out that we hadn't decided if we were going to do that. (Note: 2nd level PCs shouldn't be tampering with Artifacts.) He smiled and nodded and continued to describe the passage, and what we found after two miles of travel. We finally agreed that this part of the adventure was now "Box Text".

He's also been interrupting the second DM to insert his own plot developments in the middle of some other DM's adventure, such as the arrival of workers needed to handle some property we'd more or less been given. (Note: Beginning characters with a criminal record as thoieves shouldn't be granted noble titles out of the blue.). And although several people have had words to say about this, he smiles and nods and continues. Sometimes in the next sentence.

He and another player/DM were having an argument (friendly) about what the surrounding territories looked like, and what their social structures were like. Even though those territories were supposed to be defined by whichever of us had claimed them.

Sadly, the second DM has picked up on the control thing and is more or less playing puppeteer as well.

So if the DM really wants to play my character for me, I'm tempted to let him and just make up a new one. And if he tries to take over that one as well, then what am even doing at that table? He's playing solitaire and I'm a spectator.
 

dave2008

Legend
If the actions of the DM are causing you to not have fun. Then stop, explain it to the DM. If they don't do anything to at least mitigate your concerns, then you have a few choices:
  1. Refuse to comply. Don't accept being 3rd circle nor learning Druidic.
  2. Go with the flow and RP the hell out the wacko situation your character is being put in - (like really, really paranoid or something).
  3. Go with the flow and completely change your character
  4. Go with the flow and retcon it all when your DM (it was all a dream)
  5. Refuse to play that character any longer (have her run away or something) and roll up a new one.
  6. Refuse to play at all and just wait it out
  7. Refuse to play and kick them out.
Personally, I like #1 the best, but I could go with #2 or #4 too
 

dave2008

Legend
Question: Would you continue playing a character that's no fun because the DM keeps screwing with them?
No, the whole point is to have fun. They have taken all player agency away and that is no fun.
Question: Would you consider leaving a game if the DMing was really bad?
Yes, same reason as above.
As for a history of problems: No, that's what makes this such an unpleasant situation. The initial DM is known for running railroads, but this time his need for control is over the top. Some story elements, such as whether we were opening and exploring a secret passage that appeared in my character's cave. He started telling us that "after you open the passage...", and we pointed out that we hadn't decided if we were going to do that. (Note: 2nd level PCs shouldn't be tampering with Artifacts.) He smiled and nodded and continued to describe the passage, and what we found after two miles of travel. We finally agreed that this part of the adventure was now "Box Text".
Yikes, that is pretty awful IMO
He's also been interrupting the second DM to insert his own plot developments in the middle of some other DM's adventure, such as the arrival of workers needed to handle some property we'd more or less been given. (Note: Beginning characters with a criminal record as thoieves shouldn't be granted noble titles out of the blue.). And although several people have had words to say about this, he smiles and nods and continues. Sometimes in the next sentence.

He and another player/DM were having an argument (friendly) about what the surrounding territories looked like, and what their social structures were like. Even though those territories were supposed to be defined by whichever of us had claimed them.
Ugh, i would look to kick this guy out personally. He sounds over the top controlling.
So if the DM really wants to play my character for me, I'm tempted to let him and just make up a new one. And if he tries to take over that one as well, then what am even doing at that table? He's playing solitaire and I'm a spectator.
Unfortunately I agree with you.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've talked with the DM. He nods and smiles but he doesn't stop.

Question: Would you continue playing a character that's no fun because the DM keeps screwing with them?
Question: Would you consider leaving a game if the DMing was really bad?
The answer to these questions for me is "No" and then "Yes." And, provided I've stated the problem clearly, have not contributed to it, and have gotten no satisfaction, I would leave the game.
 
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Sadras

Adventurer
Solely from your above description this sounds like a horrible table.

EDIT: The only option I see is to take over the DMing duties and show them how it is supposed to be, to spare others from their badwrongfun ways.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
As for a history of problems: No, that's what makes this such an unpleasant situation. The initial DM is known for running railroads, but this time his need for control is over the top. Some story elements, such as whether we were opening and exploring a secret passage that appeared in my character's cave. He started telling us that "after you open the passage...", and we pointed out that we hadn't decided if we were going to do that. (Note: 2nd level PCs shouldn't be tampering with Artifacts.) He smiled and nodded and continued to describe the passage, and what we found after two miles of travel. We finally agreed that this part of the adventure was now "Box Text".
Yea, that's a bad sign. Railroad-y DM's don't usually stop railroading without getting their hands firmly slapped (and often not even then). If he isn't listening to deliberate feedback (and you're being explicit in the sense of "Listen, you're making my character do things I haven't agreed to, and that's not cool"), than you need to be directly oppositional in game, to make it clear that he's put you on a railroad. If that fails, you might need to have a group discussion about retaining him as a DM (and/or retaining your residence as a place to play).
 
I've seen shared campaigns before, and IME they only end well with clear rules established at the beginning. Obviously that's not the case here, so you need to talk with the group. Assuming you're the only one who's had another DM screw with their character, I'd suggest axing the character and starting again with another one from your same region. If others have the same problem, you might want to consider rebooting the entire campaign. I have no idea what the other DMs are thinking, but trying to have a cohesive character plot split among several DMs just won't work without collaboration, which is against the spirit of this type of campaign.


For this particular type of campaign, the best method I would suggest is the following:

  • Each Player/DM designs their own character and the region they're from.
  • The DM uses their turn as DM to expand the background and story of their character to the others by exploring the region they're from.
  • DM's may only expand the backstory of another PC after they've already run (so they have at least some understanding of the background), and only with the player's permission.
    • They can have odd plot points occur after the background. The DM who had the wealthy family assassinated is perfectly fine, because presumably this is a plot point for the adventure (someone manipulating the party).
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
#4, so much #4. Don't just retcon your character either. Think of a few "minor details" about those DM's characters to mess with exactly the way they did with yours.

Then, pause and ask them if this is how the game is supposed to go. Perhaps they smile and say "Yeah! Cool!" If so, they have a very different idea about the game, and you can decide together if you're all on board with it or want to change some stuff.

Probably though, they're going to be a bit unhappy. They now understand how you feel. Now you can tell them you have no intention of actually doing that to their characters, but it is exactly what you feel like they've done to yours. You don't want to be a jerk here, so use your DM powers for good and declare that you'd like the group to spend the rest of the session figuring out some clearer rules about who is allowed to define what about the campaign and other people's characters.

And do let us know how it goes. Hopefully it will work out, but if it doesn't you might want to politely ask to sit this particular campaign out. If you're playing with friends you still want to game with, let them know you are totally on board for the next one, but your assumptions about this one were different, and you don't think they mesh well with the reality.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Tbh, you better play several campaigns. Suggest to the smiling guy he convert the original DL Modules, so you can play a railroad campaign and get the other DM for your original story.

I do not want to take sides, there are always two parties in a conflict and both have their point of view.
But from what you told me, your main problem is a guy which is as open to a discussion of his DM style than a wall. You will never convince such people, just take him for the railroad DM he is, and maybe he is a nice guy in other aspects.
Do not escalate this, it will not help you. Even if the whole rest of the group decides to boot him, he still will feel in the right.
I do not like collaborate DMing, there is to much compromise going on, and even with the campaign being focused or heavy into Roleplaying, which I assume is very important for you since you created some extraordinary character with hefty quirks, there is always the danger that one of the DMs has back-knowledge he should not have as a player.
But for your special case it is extremely problematic, players never like to much meddling in their background, as DMs do prefer that players do accept the setting preconditions. A good deal of your characters (reasonable) development comes from some plot elements which imho, should not matter the slightest to the DM nor being taken by them as plot hooks of their own which they can mod as they like.

Killing of the abusive employer is fair game, also tracking the party by some means they not figure out (yet).
It is not ok to come up with things out of the blue to model the PCs Character to the DMs expectations.
I can preselect crunch and some fluff, e.g. system is 3.5.(crunch) and I allow or disallow some character classes (fluff) , and I can rule that e.g. druids learn their special language by a mentor when they reach 3rd level (fluff). But I cannot enforce the character to find that mentor or if he gets found to talk with him, if I want to play out such details, only the player can.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
The funny thing is that we've been playing shared campaigns for literally decades. This is the first time it's gone off the rails.

Normally we talk about setting beforehand, and come to some agreement on house rules, which books are in use, campaign goals and so forth. This time, nothing. We're kind of working those things out in play, which makes it bloody hard to plan anything, in terms of our own characters.

So I don't know if it's the campaign setting or what but this is getting to the no-fun zone. I may not have to quit, but something should change.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
I would feel similar pain as the OP.

The rational part of my brain would say "Talk it out, it's the adult thing to do". Everything else would say "Drop the PC, it's not worth continuing even if the other DMs agreed the situation went overboard."

Noting the two positions are not mutually exclusive, I'd retire the PC and tell people why if they asked. The next PC would be a young rogue / whatever with exactly zero potential hooks -- since the group has proven unable to handle them appropriately.
 
The funny thing is that we've been playing shared campaigns for literally decades. This is the first time it's gone off the rails.

Normally we talk about setting beforehand, and come to some agreement on house rules, which books are in use, campaign goals and so forth. This time, nothing. We're kind of working those things out in play, which makes it bloody hard to plan anything, in terms of our own characters.

So I don't know if it's the campaign setting or what but this is getting to the no-fun zone. I may not have to quit, but something should change.
In that case, I would ask for a group meeting at the next gaming session, postponing the game for a session (but not taking over the DM's turn). Let people know what your issues are beforehand, so they can have a chance to plan out their arguments as well.

Also, in this discussion, make sure to mention what you feel has worked in the past. If, as you have said, you guys have done this for decades, it should be a solvable situation.
 

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