Dealing with a DM who takes things too literally

Raven Crowking

First Post
1. That the DM is "broken" isn't a straw man -- it's a quote from upthread.

2. We've come a long way from the early rpg admonition not to let the rules override common sense. Now the admonition is not to let common sense override the rules. :lol:

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The implication was that a 4e DM should think a little harder before nullifying basic character abilities.
Sure, but define "basic character abilities". There's nothing inherent in the class features that lets the fighter push. So you're defining using a power as a "basic character ability"?

A lot of the "exploits" rely on the way the RAW work with certain powers (rain of blows, cascade of blades). Unless you're one of the WotC designers, you can't speak with any authority about the RAI, so as a DM you have to use some interpretation. If a DM isn't happy with the way a power is being used it should be within his ability to rule on how it works in his game. If a player can't convince him otherwise, what makes the player's judgement any more suspect than the DMs?

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.
Sure, *I* do. That doesn't change the fact that not all DMs do, and that some err on the side of caution. My point was that if the DM feels that a rule is broken, doesn't fit with the world he's portrayed, or doesn't fit with the narrative of his story, or any one of a hundered other good reasons, he's well within his rights to change it or interpret it differently. As long as he's transparent about it and the players understand where he's coming from.

A DM shouldn't be expected to blanket allow every RAW from every book/article WotC publish and then "make it work". If a player wants to use something it's up to that player to convince the DM that it works.

At least that's the way I've always played/run the game.

Sure in this specific example it should have been very easy for the player to describe how it works, and the DM should have allowed it once the player had done that. And no, I'm not in the camp you have to narratively describe every action - once the player has described how it could work, and the DM has been convinced by that description, the player should be allowed to use it that way without describing stabbing the giant in the foot every time. Heck, I'd probably even do it offline in a game I was playing in or running.


First Post
2. We've come a long way from the early rpg admonition not to let the rules override common sense. Now the admonition is not to let common sense override the rules. :lol:

I have a feeling that all the common-sense rulings don't tend to make it to the Internet and engender threads. It's the weird calls you hear about here.

Raven Crowking

First Post
Now, about those reasoned arguments I mentioned...

......Where? :erm:

I've seen a lot of (intentional?) bypassing of the arguments I've presented, but that's about it. And I've seen some reasoned arguments that I've responded to.

Not sure what you are referring to here. AFAICT, anything that I haven't bothered to refute is either a flippant response, or doesn't speak to the issue.



First Post
No offense, but I shouldn't have to justify base rules of the game with any sort of narrative. It doesn't matter whether I say "I deftly lunge and cut the back of the giant's leg with my sword, hitting a tendon with enough pressure to force him to step backwards; he takes 18 points of damage and is pushed one square." or "I hit the giant for 18 points of damage and he gets pushed back one square." The rules state the giant gets pushed back - DM or not, I don't believe that someone can ignore a power's effect on the grounds of narrative. That is lousy DMing - it's like saying you don't deal damage unless you come up with a good enough narrative to justify the damage you did.

My DM seems to have his own ideas about the game world and dislikes how the rules "dumb things down" instead of applying "common sense" (both actual phrases he used). For instance we had a case last night where I used a pushing power to knock a Demonweb Terror off a bridge that fell into a 100+ foot drop. It was at the edge and I hit it with Tide of Iron; DM rolled its falling save per the rules, and failed. He got upset ("Can you imagine how hard it would be to knock a spider off a ledge?") but he let it slide.

I was siding with you at first in this discussion, but the more I read things, the more I think both you and your DM are "wrong" (in a way). I think the two of you need a perspective that's between the two of you.

Based on what you've said, it sounds like your DM might have a 4E bias. He feels like it's become too much about tactical powers and that there is a loss of realistic narrative that he may resent. Though I believe he's mistaken in that belief, he's being literal as a way to resist the style of play that he *believes* 4E enforces.

On the other hand, you seem to embrace the mechanical and tactical aspects of the game, and don't want to have the mechanics to be held back by the narrative.

I think that the thing that your DM may not understand is that 4E completely reverses the way that powers are approached. In previous editions, the narrative effect of powers was often the focus, and the mechanical parts were created in order to help describe the narrative effect (often with disclaimers, rules, and limitations to prevent abuse through altering the narrative). 4E completely turns this on its head and gives lots of mechanical abilities with a suggested (but not absolute) narrative.

He is being inflexible on the effect because he seems to be seeing narrative as static, instead of realizing the effect is static and the narrative is flexible.

On the other hand, you are being inflexible in that you think that the narrative shouldn't be required to support the mechanics, when this is clearly what is intended in 4E. You have pretty much said that you don't care about the narrative effects, and that the mechanical effects should be followed through to the letter, else it unfairly penalizes you. While I agree that it unfairly penalizes you, I don't agree that it has to be followed even if it makes no sense in the situation. I think you and your DM need to meet in the middle on this one.

My suggestions for the player are to suggest a narrative and asks the DM if that's reasonable. Another way is for the player to ask the DM (or even the other players at the table) for suggestions as to what would make the narrative more reasonable. You've already stated that you don't like this idea, but it's hardly fair to the DM to imply he's lazy and stubborn while not willing to contribute to the story and yield some yourself.

Regarding the DM, I don't really like the idea of pulling DM fiat and just forbidding or restricting a power as you've described. Instead of the DM flat out saying that it doesn't make sense, he should ask the player, "can you describe this in a way that makes sense?", or "how would you feel if we describe it like __________ instead?"

Being able to do this is what I love about 4E, and both of you really seem to be missing this concept as a gameplay tool.

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