Dealing with a DM who takes things too literally

wayne62682

First Post
I'm wondering how to deal with my DM. The issue I have with him is that he often takes the wording in conditions or effects far too literally and then raises issues that don't exist by the RAW.

I'll give you an example: My Dragonborn Fighter/Iron Vanguard has the power Frontline Surge which lets me push an enemy back a square and shift into that space. My DM reads the word "push" as meaning I physically push the target, and raises issues that it's not realistic for me to push something that's much larger than myself - last week we were fighting a Fomorian (Giant-sized creature) and he would not let me push him as a result of Frontline Surge, despite there being no size restrictions for the power (in fact the only pushing power that has a restriction I'm aware of is Tide of Iron and that seems to be just because it's an at-will and infinitely spammable). I pointed out there was no rule saying this and he's like "Well, I don't like the idea of a medium-sized Dragonborn pushing a 20-something foot tall giant". He's said the same thing in regards to my Fighter's ability to stop enemies from moving.

Another example: He reads the word "immobilized" and takes it literally, thinking it's like paralysis. He once ruled that when you were immobilized in water, you automatically started to drown because you couldn't move, and he doesn't think you should get a save against bursts.

In short, how do I explain that, for instance, the word "push" is a status effect and a metagame term - it doesn't necessarily mean that I shove the dragon away, but that my blow makes him back up. I know the DM is always right, but...
 

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Halivar

First Post
It sounds like your DM hasn't read the rules. I don't consider it "rules lawyering" when the DM gets certain basic concepts wrong. I think you should ask him to read the books, or take some time off DM'ing until he does.
 

Jack99

Adventurer
Preferably with words, and without sounding condescending ;)

Seriously, did you try as you just did in your post? Or maybe you can start a thread where we all tell you (in a nice polite way) that your DM is a clueless noob and then you can refer him to it ;)
 

Cadfan

First Post
Point out that pushing a 20 foot tall giant one space back is like pushing a regular person back a quarter of a space. From the giant's perspective, he's shifted his weight and adjusted one of his feet slightly. He barely reacted at all, proportionally to his size.

More realistically, you're never going to get through to this type of DM. He's going to turn out to be the sort that forever imprisons martial characters in his own conception of fantasy, while dissing yours. Just play a spellcaster and I predict he'll never give you trouble again.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Point out that pushing a 20 foot tall giant one space back is like pushing a regular person back a quarter of a space. From the giant's perspective, he's shifted his weight and adjusted one of his feet slightly. He barely reacted at all, proportionally to his size.

This way of describing it is particularly good when you point out that in order to push the giant off a cliff you've got to push ALL of him off the cliff, which is much harder than it is to push a normal sized person. (Unfortunately this doesn'twell as an explanation with pushing giants into walls of fire and such, but nothings perfect...)

Best of luck
 

Mallus

Legend
I know the DM is always right, but...
The DM always has the final say, that doesn't mean they're always right... :) Like in this case.

Asking how the man in armor pushes a giant is like asking how the man in the pointed hat shoots fire out of his hand. It just happens. You can explain it any way you like, in fact, that's a big part of the 4e DM's job.

The challenge for a 4e DM isn't to determine whether a martial exploit is reasonable in a given situation, it's to create a reasonable description of it occurring. It's a creative challenge, not a logical one.

If this doesn't work, point out that older editions of D&D aren't much different. A man armed with a dagger can kill a giant, presumably by stabbing it mightily in the foot (this is easier if your using the double-specialization rules from 1e's Unearthed Arcana). In Rolemaster I'm fairly sure you can punch someone with a cestus so hard that their spleen explodes, doing splash damage to everyone in a 5' radius (I kid... barely). Mention that David killed Goliath with a sling stone (more or less). There are plenty of example of successful and unreasonable actions in other games and heroic fiction in general.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
The DM is making judgement calls, which is part of his job. He can decide a power doesn't work or not; he seems to be basing those decisions on what makes sense in the game world, and I think that's a reasonable thing to do.

Here's what I suggest:

Go have some drinks with your DM. Talk about this. See if he has any other problems or if he's just trying to maintain a consistent gameworld.

If that's all it is, offer a compromise: "If I can describe Frontline Surge in a way that makes sense, can I use it? If I can't come up with a description that works for you, can you help me come up with one?"
 

Raven Crowking

First Post
The challenge for a 4e DM isn't to determine whether a martial exploit is reasonable in a given situation, it's to create a reasonable description of it occurring. It's a creative challenge, not a logical one.

The DM is making judgement calls, which is part of his job. He can decide a power doesn't work or not; he seems to be basing those decisions on what makes sense in the game world, and I think that's a reasonable thing to do.


Funny, but the argument about how unrealistic 4e powers are has been defended regularly with "The DM can disallow power use where it is unrealistic". LostSoul's post is consistent with this viewpoint; Mallus's is not. Personally, I'd follow LostSoul's advice, which, while similar to Mallus's, is simply more likely to work in your favour. Also, it includes drinks. :lol:

Because, if you go the "point out that older editions of D&D aren't much different. A man armed with a dagger can kill a giant, presumably by stabbing it mightily in the foot" route, your DM is likely to point out that that 1e DMG specifically tells the DM not to allow this sort of thing if it seems illogical to him. In 1e, some weapons simply aren't large enough to affect some foes, and the DM is expected to make that determination.

Good luck.


RC
 

Bumbles

First Post
In short, how do I explain that, for instance, the word "push" is a status effect and a metagame term - it doesn't necessarily mean that I shove the dragon away, but that my blow makes him back up. I know the DM is always right, but...

I think you've done your best to try*, and you may need to make the decision of "It's time to walk" or "It's time to live with this" . You could always point the DM to this thread, but they may not listen.

However, I do think you are entitled to have these rules changes explained to you upfront. A GM who behaves arbitrarily is a disadvantage to the group as a whole, and it's better to know where you stand.

*Well, I wasn't there so I don't know. But I see nothing wrong in your post so far.
 
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LostSoul

Adventurer
I suppose I should explain why I think that way (I didn't always).

If you always follow the letter of the RAW, even when what the RAW says happens doesn't make sense to you (be it tripping oozes, swimming while immobilized, getting archers to jump off battlements to fight you, or halfling fighters pushing giants around), the game will become an exercise in maniuplating the rules and you'll lose the gameworld and the fiction to the mechanics.

You also lose the ability to do things that "you" think you should be able to but the rules don't specifically allow it.

I put "you" in quotes because the ultimate arbiter of what "should" happen is the DM. I think it's good that it's the DM because the DM has no stake in the outcome of any conflict; his job isn't to take sides. It's his job to not take sides. Another one of his jobs is to maintain a consistent gameworld; given those two duties, who else would you want to be making those kind of judgement calls?
 

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