Dealing with a DM who takes things too literally

Barastrondo

First Post
Nor is it helpful to say "OMG! The DM is broken!"

No, it isn't. But I think you can criticize a judgment call without criticizing the person, and even if not every comment in this thread has read that way, the inappropriate comments against the person don't invalidate the premise that a GM is capable of making a bad call.

We disagree here. I think that it is entirely reasonable to expect the player to supply narrative for how powers make sense. In RCFG, Combat Advantage allows you to use any skill check to help your combat abilities, provided that you can make it narratively plausable. The difference with 4e is how the powers are developed, and what the expectations of the players are. The DM has to narrate how the powers of everything else works; the players how the powers of their characters work. Nothing could be fairer.

And I think it's reasonable to call for a narrative description for, say, a page 42 stunt. In some groups, the house rule may be that you have to describe your attacks even to use a basic power that you're expected to be able to use freely. But if a player chafes against the house rule, that's a fair position to hold, too. It basically comes down to whether or not you're asking for extra effort to accord a bonus to a player character, or to permit them to use one of the basic powers that the game expects them to be able to use freely. I'm fine with the former, but the latter's too stiff for me.

And, do you think that "plausibility" is a consistent bias that can break 4e's balance?

"Plausiblity," in quotation marks — absolutely. I think some DMs can have a consistent bias toward "plausibility" that does not impede the game at all, and others can have a consistent bias toward "plausiblity" that messes everything up. If your definition of "plausible" includes the idea that martial characters can do fantastic things, for instance, you'll avoid the trap of being less even-handed to characters based on their power source.

But that pretty much works like any potential bias. In small amounts it probably won't affect much, in larger amounts it's troublesome. I'll admit I'm fond of the idea that, say, if half-elves exist in a setting they're generally kind of poorly regarded outsiders rather than seen as the best of two worlds. But I would not want to extend that bias to the extent of functionally negating a half-elf's basic abilities like bonuses to Diplomacy. That's screwing the player over for picking "half-elf" — a poor move by any standard.

:lol: Because we are talking about 4e. I have said before, and certainly will again, that this applies to every RPG.

But you see from how the context of your posts it's very easy to read your criticisms as game-specific in this thread, yes?

Indeed. But this doesn't mean that the DM is "broken" or doesn't know the rules.

I wouldn't call the DM "broken," but I'd call a literal reading of "push," as described here, as an incomplete understanding of the rules. Reskinning mechanics is a pretty basic GMing skill (absolutely required for, say, HERO System), and not allowing a character to reskin a push based on his opponent or even circumstances is an awfully iffy call.

But no, I don't think the DM's broken. If he let the fighter punt a spider off a ledge, I'd say he's not being too harsh. I have problems figuring out how to knock a spider prone myself sometimes — but if I really wanted to limit that sort of thing, I'd probably design spiders that can make saving throws to avoid being knocked prone and use them sparingly. Knocking things prone is fun to do. I like my players to be able to use their toys. It's not like I can't threaten them if they do.
 

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Raven Crowking

First Post
"Plausiblity," in quotation marks — absolutely. I think some DMs can have a consistent bias toward "plausibility" that does not impede the game at all, and others can have a consistent bias toward "plausiblity" that messes everything up. If your definition of "plausible" includes the idea that martial characters can do fantastic things, for instance, you'll avoid the trap of being less even-handed to characters based on their power source.

Well, that's true enough. But if you examine the quotes of the OP, there are complaints that drawing a creature's attention also means drawing its attack, as well as admission that (in the case of the spiders), where the DM could find something plausible -- even if unlikely -- he allowed it to work.

But you see from how the context of your posts it's very easy to read your criticisms as game-specific in this thread, yes?

I would say, rather, that my criticisms are specific to how some folks argue about 4e, rather than criticisms of 4e per se. I, for one, am awfully tired of "4e is X, as any fool can plainly see! Except when X is inconvenient, in which case 4e is not-X, as any fool can plainly see!" Of course, I railed against this kind of defense of 3e, too. It obstructs any sort of real discussion.....which is, AFAICT, its only purpose.

But no, I don't think the DM's broken. If he let the fighter punt a spider off a ledge, I'd say he's not being too harsh.

Here, at least, we agree.


RC
 


Obryn

Hero
I would say, rather, that my criticisms are specific to how some folks argue about 4e, rather than criticisms of 4e per se. I, for one, am awfully tired of "4e is X, as any fool can plainly see! Except when X is inconvenient, in which case 4e is not-X, as any fool can plainly see!" Of course, I railed against this kind of defense of 3e, too. It obstructs any sort of real discussion.....which is, AFAICT, its only purpose.
That's because you're ignoring group playstyle differences.

You can't treat "all 4e players" as a single monolithic group, and use one poster's argument against another, completely different poster to push a contradiction and score a point. There's no inherent contradiction when two players or tables have different playstyles, and therefore have different answers to the same question.

It's not that it becomes inconvenient - it's because you're having the discussion with someone else entirely, who might not have agreed with all that other stuff from other conversations in which you've been involved.

You're trying to use normal debate tactics and pushing for contradictions, but that's a completely inappropriate and useless rhetorical tool when you're essentially holding 4e players to each others' standards, rather than their own.

-O
 

Barastrondo

First Post
Well, that's true enough. But if you examine the quotes of the OP, there are complaints that drawing a creature's attention also means drawing its attack, as well as admission that (in the case of the spiders), where the DM could find something plausible -- even if unlikely -- he allowed it to work.

Yep. That gives me a little more context to see that the group in question seems to be running more smoothly than the original post might have implied bereft of context. I still side with the player on the case of pushing giants, but I definitely don't agree that the DM in question isn't working right overall. It's just a questionable call. They happen.

I would say, rather, that my criticisms are specific to how some folks argue about 4e, rather than criticisms of 4e per se. I, for one, am awfully tired of "4e is X, as any fool can plainly see! Except when X is inconvenient, in which case 4e is not-X, as any fool can plainly see!" Of course, I railed against this kind of defense of 3e, too. It obstructs any sort of real discussion.....which is, AFAICT, its only purpose.

Sure, I can see that. The partisanship that might or might not actually conceal a good point, that's not so great. The core trouble within this thread is pretty game-non-specific, even if it is about 4e terminology — invoking system doesn't help.
 

Mallus

Legend
Requiring some narration of powers isn't all that difficult -- it is a regular occurance in many supers games.
No, it isn't. Like I said it's something that I really encourage as DM. But I don't require it.

Besides, if it's not difficult for the DM to envision how the power works in a specific situation, why ask the player to explain how it works? Why tell the player it sounds implausible?

A lot of this comes down to DM'ing style. I prefer the challenge the players to use their character's abilities wisely (in conjunction with their own abilities, like cunning, smarts and creativity -- well, mostly the latter).

I don't like the challenge to come from trying to get their character's abilities to function at all. I'm not constantly on the look out for situations where the PC's powers won't work.

Obviously, in the case of 4e, part of the problem is the disconnect between power and description.
It's the use of common words as terms. Push, pull, and slide all have specific game-related meanings that are related to, but not the same as, their everyday meaning.

Therefore, I must also accept that the vehement judgments against the DM in this thread are likewise baseless, if that is what they are based upon.
Given what was presented here I think the DM in question made a poor judgment call. They picked the wrong place to override the rules.

If you think it's plausible that a man can stand in melee against a giant, then it stands to reason that they can do something that makes it take a step back.

The fact that it's so easy to explain how the giant got pushed, it leaves me a little suspicious of the DM's judgment, motives behind the ruling, or both.
 
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gribble

Explorer
No offense, but I shouldn't have to justify base rules of the game with any sort of narrative.
Don't get me wrong, I agree with you there, and those are the sorts of games I prefer. However, I'd say *most* DMs/groups have some element of rules interpretation, otherwise you get into those silly "well, the rules as written don't prevent me for doing infinite damage this round" type arguments.

With any game there comes a point where the DM just has to make a call on what is sensible and what isn't. Some DMs/groups play more fast and loose than others, and that's fine, as long as everyone in the group understands where that line is.

Specifically, I was responding to the post who said it was the DMs job to figure out/interpret how rules interpretations that don't jive with his sensabilities are narrated. The implication is that the DM just has to allow all RAW, and then justify it to himself in-game.

That is what I fundamentally disagree with. If the DM says it doesn't make sense and shouldn't work, then it's up to the player to convince him otherwise - it isn't a failing of the DM.

Otherwise, every fight the DM will be figuring out narratively exactly how that fighter/ranger is doing infinite damage and how that wizard is permanently stunlocking Orcus... rather than just saying "that doesn't make sense it doesn't work unless you can convince me why it should".
 

Nor is it helpful to say "OMG! The DM is broken!"
Interesting argument from someone who made a claim of a straw man earlier in the thread.

Some posters have indeed been dismissive of the DM. Most have not, and have provided cogent arguments that cannot be boiled down to "the DM is broken."

If you wish to reject the vehement judgements of the DM in this thread, feel free to do so. But don't ignore the reasoned arguments as well.
 


Mallus

Legend
Specifically, I was responding to the post who said it was the DMs job to figure out/interpret how rules interpretations that don't jive with his sensabilities are narrated.
Actually I said it was part of the challenge of being a 4e DM; crafting the mechanical results of a power usage into a believable narrative. It's a valuable skill to have when running an effects-based system.

The implication is that the DM just has to allow all RAW, and then justify it to himself in-game.
The implication was that a 4e DM should think a little harder before nullifying basic character abilities. Like I said in another post, if the DM honestly has trouble picturing how a fighter can make a giant step back, then their judgment is suspect.

If the DM says it doesn't make sense and shouldn't work, then it's up to the player to convince him otherwise - it isn't a failing of the DM.
It's certainly is my failing when I make a bad ruling as DM.

Otherwise, every fight the DM will be figuring out narratively exactly how that fighter/ranger is doing infinite damage and how that wizard is permanently stunlocking Orcus... rather than just saying "that doesn't make sense it doesn't work unless you can convince me why it should".
Surely you recongize the difference between an infinite damage exploit and using the rules-as-both-written-and-intended to make a large sized foe take a step backwards.
 

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