Dealing with a DM who takes things too literally

Raven Crowking

First Post
Or, what the situation actually is:

When the DM is playing the game ONE way, while his players expected to be playing the game a different way, there are going to be problems.

You CAN run 4e in an "old school" way. However, if you run it that way, but DON'T tell your players that you are doing so, you have to expect some resistance.

Within the context of the OP and his DM, there certainly seems to be a lack of communication. Which is why I championed LostSoul's excellent suggestion for dealing with the same.

Within the context of this thread, AFAICT, the predominant opinion isn't that "It's not telling your players what to expect that causes problems" (Mallus, LostSoul, and myself excepted, as well as one or two folks I might have forgotten).

Within the context of this thread, AFAICT, the predominant opinion is that the DM is making "a poor reading of the game mechanics and how the effects work."

LostSoul's advice really follows the credo "It's not that old school is badwrongfun. It's not telling your players what to expect that causes problems." It's excellent advice.

The rest of this thread? Not so much.


RC
 

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Barastrondo

First Post
Now, in previous discussions (more specifically focused around CAGI), many 4e defenders claimed that 4e could be run in an "Old School" way. Specifically, it was claimed that if the use of a power didn't seem plausible in a particular circumstance, the DM could veto its use. We now see that, for a number of EN Worlders, this statement simply isn't true. In both the circumstances of the CAGI discussion and the OP, the question is whether or not a character can compel a creature to move if the DM rules that it makes no sense for it to do so.

The way I see it, just because the referee has the capability to make a rules call doesn't mean that call can't be challenged, particularly when you're posting on "Sportsworld.org" in a forum with a lot of professional referees. Unfortunately, we lack the instant replay to see for ourselves accurately whether or not it's a good call or not.

The thing that makes me tend to side with the player in this case is that if a GM is sufficiently interested in immersion that he wants to make sure the image in everyone's head fits the world, there is another option other than just "deny use of the power." It's "offer a narration of your own." If you can describe what a grazing hit on a gargoyle looks like, you can describe what a marking effect on an ooze is like or how a slide against a golem would work. If you're not willing to do that, then it does imply you have priorities that outrank immersion. And that calls into question just how fair it is to ban the use of a player's power "because it doesn't feel right." There's almost certainly a better call.

Edit: And just to be clear, I don't want to say that a GM does not have the right to make whatever call he wants, even if it's one that most people (including players) disapprove of. But at the same time, I do think it's not unfair of the community to want to try helping a player work out issues with his GM to the point that he feels comfortable trusting the GM's judgment.
 
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The way I see it, just because the referee has the capability to make a rules call doesn't mean that call can't be challenged, particularly when you're posting on "Sportsworld.org" in a forum with a lot of professional referees. Unfortunately, we lack the instant replay to see for ourselves accurately whether or not it's a good call or not.

That rules call cannot be challenged by anyone here. Only the players involved in the actual game have any influence in that decision.

The thing that makes me tend to side with the player in this case is that if a GM is sufficiently interested in immersion that he wants to make sure the image in everyone's head fits the world, there is another option other than just "deny use of the power." It's "offer a narration of your own." If you can describe what a grazing hit on a gargoyle looks like, you can describe what a marking effect on an ooze is like or how a slide against a golem would work. If you're not willing to do that, then it does imply you have priorities that outrank immersion. And that calls into question just how fair it is to ban the use of a player's power "because it doesn't feel right." There's almost certainly a better call.

Edit: And just to be clear, I don't want to say that a GM does not have the right to make whatever call he wants, even if it's one that most people (including players) disapprove of. But at the same time, I do think it's not unfair of the community to want to try helping a player work out issues with his GM to the point that he feels comfortable trusting the GM's judgment.

Offering a different narration changes nothing about plausability or lack of it. If the giant moving according to the will of the fighter is indeed the problem the DM is having, then narration isn't an issue here.
 

Raven Crowking

First Post
I do think it's not unfair of the community to want to try helping a player work out issues with his GM to the point that he feels comfortable trusting the GM's judgment.

"The DM is wrong". "The DM is just lazy", "The DM is broken", "The DM doesn't know the rules" will never do that. Just the opposite, actually. It is among the least helpful responses possible.

AFAICT, LostSoul's advice (and, to the degree they intersect, Mallus') is the only advice that will actually accomplish this: post-game, have a friendly chat with the DM and see what the problem actually is. Try to offer some constructive solutions. Have a couple of drinks. Be prepared to accept No for an answer (even if that means finding another game).


RC
 

wayne62682

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.
 

Wolfwood2

Explorer
My DM also doesn't divide the XP for encounters by 4, as we only have 4 players; he divides it by 5 because as he says, if he divided by 4 we would be at a higher level than the adventure states (but I thought this was the point, since the adventures are designed for FIVE PCs of a specific level), nor does he tone down the fights and still says we breeze through it (although this is in part because he tends to forget monsters special powers or hazards until midway through the fight). For instance, we just finished Trollhaunt Warrens and he kept us from hitting 13th level until after the last fight (and we started the adventure at 10th level, when it's designed for 11th-13th I believe).

I think mucking about with xp to control advancement rate is fair enough. I've known DMs who don't even bother with xp and just tell everyone, "Okay, level up now," when they think it's appropriate.


Also he feels the same way about the fighters Combat Challenge ability (hitting a moving enemy with an OA stops them from moving) as he does about my Push ability; i.e. if a dragon moves past me, it shouldn't stop his move. He tends to "punish" me when I do this by having the creature stop, turn around and attack me instead of whatever it was going to do, but I guess that's the price I pay for having that ability.

As someone else said, that is pretty much supposed to be how it works. Your job as the fighter is to suck up attacks for the team.
 

Barastrondo

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.

I agree, actually. The narrative is basically a social convention. It'd be nice if you can provide it if everyone enjoys immersion, but I think it's unfair to forbid the basic use of the power in such a situation.

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.

That's good to hear! Knocking a spider off a ledge may be pretty hard, but the square thing to do is to say "Well, I guess you're just that good" in such a situation.

I can understand his position as well, to be honest. Last night we had the question of whether or not a blinded warlock should suffer the concealment penalties when using his power to teleport away and damage everything around him. If you fill an area with slashing shadows, do you have to direct them to hit everything in there? Particularly if it's "every creature" instead of "every enemy"? By the rules, the PC should have been penalized, but I was kind of leaning on the side of common sense.

Of course, then the cleric activated a saving throw, cured his blindness, and it was a moot point. But still, I understand where he's coming from.
 

Raven Crowking

First Post
I agree, actually. The narrative is basically a social convention. It'd be nice if you can provide it if everyone enjoys immersion, but I think it's unfair to forbid the basic use of the power in such a situation.

There are also folks who believe that the rules are basically a social convention to support the narrative, rather than the other way around.

Or, again, "what the situation actually is" seems to be that you think it's unfair to run 4e in an Old School way.


RC
 

WalterKovacs

First Post
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Specifically, the example was that the DM didn't think that the fighter character could actually cause the giant to move. Plausibility is specifically the issue, so one has to assume that the power was not described in a way which the DM felt was plausible.

Specifically, the DM said he couldn't push the giant. However, push is defined in the book as being something other than one person physically pushing another. Turn undead also uses the word push, but doesn't involve the cleric walking over and physically pushing each of the monsters. Push is a forced movement that must be away from the source. Pull is a forced movement towards the source. Slide is a forced movement in any direction. Each individual power describes it differently ... and in different situations it can be different things.

Specifically (if one goes by the OP), the DM is saying that the plausibility of the world is more important than the rules of the game. I.e., the sequence of importance is "plausibility then rules". This is the definitive "Old School" sequence of importance.

Except of course, he is not looking at the plausibility of "the fighter forces the large creature to move one square back away from him" and instead looking at the plausibility of "the fighter physically pushes the large creature one square back away from him". He's putting importance of the plausibility of the word push ... without actually looking at the RULE of the word push. If you are ignoring the rule, you can't really be measuring the plausibility of that rule working in the world. He has misread a power and has decided that his misreading of the power is implausible.

Now, in previous discussions (more specifically focused around CAGI), many 4e defenders claimed that 4e could be run in an "Old School" way. Specifically, it was claimed that if the use of a power didn't seem plausible in a particular circumstance, the DM could veto its use. We now see that, for a number of EN Worlders, this statement simply isn't true.

Yes. For a number of EN Worlders, they would not want to be in an Old School game like this. That does NOT mean that it cannot be done. It means that you would have to run it with different people.

In both the circumstances of the CAGI discussion and the OP, the question is whether or not a character can compel a creature to move if the DM rules that it makes no sense for it to do so.

And the answer in both of those cases is "The player should know they are in an old school campaign, so that they can play a non-martial class since martial classes will be the ones that are most often told they can't do that, it doesn't make sense."

Come and get it pulls the targets. So this DM, since they consider push to mean actually pushing, would see that power as the fighter grabbing and moving all those enemies into position ... or perhaps lasso'ing them into place.

IOW, in 3e "5-foot step" can (should) be interpreted as more than one step (and is explicitly vetoed where it makes no sense, i.e., rough terrain), but in 4e that "push" still has to be interpreted as something.

And that something is defined in the rules as forced movement away from the target (with the related things like it not counting against the creatures speed, ignoring difficult terrain, etc, etc, etc). It has to have some cause, but it does not have to be a physical push as the OP said the DM was interpreting it.

It is as much the player's responsibility as it is the DM's (more, I would say) to offer an interpretation that is plausible. Clearly, the OP did not offer an interpretation that the DM found plausible.

Or the DM felt that any explanation other that didn't involve a push wasn't plausible because the power said "push", and thus it means push.

If the "push" isn't a physical push (i.e., the character is not physically forcing the creature to move), then either the creature is in some way compelled to move or it is not. This is exactly the same argument as with CAGI.

And again it becomes "ask your DM if he's playing this old school, if he is, don't play a martial character because you can justify anything with magic, but the martial player has to justify every power he uses."

So, perhaps it is an "apparent lack of familiarity with the rules", or perhaps it is an unwillingness to allow rules to interfere with what makes sense (to the DM) in the game world.

And an unwillingness to let the fighter player know before hand that, unlike non-martial characters, most of his powers will only work some of the time, because unlike magic users, the DM has a better idea of what is plausible for a "normal" person.
 

Obryn

Hero
I still can't see why it's remarkable that different groups could use the same rules, but end up playing in largely different ways. Or that people who play a game one way would be critical of people who play it in another way.

Maybe I'm just not looking to score points, though. :)

-O
 

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