D&D 5E DM takes the wheel

Over the years I have been accused (not by players but by people on these boards) of taking control of PCs... and I have not seen it in years in play until tonight... when I was playing and the DM constantly provided my character's dialog based on skill rolls. Not social ones either. I tried to make a theives tools check and he told us "_____ says he think he has it, then goes to make one last adjustment but his fingers shake a bit and he swears in abysal as he sets off the trap"
"I don't swear, and I don't speak abyssal"
"Nah, that is what happens when you fail a roll in my games"
later we had another player make a stealth check and the DM moved him on the board to the middle of the room... cause he missed the passive perception of the single hobgoblin...

he also decided to 'narrate' every attack roll. I have never seen a round of combat take so long. He described every attack hit or miss in detail, taking longer for him to tell us (even if we described our own attacks he ignored it and went with his own flavor text action) what happened.

the biggest fight 3 goblins and a dretch took almost an hour... not sense 4e has a combat taken so long.

I don't remember the last time we had this little of control of our own characters. I guess I understand why people get so annoyed when they THINK I do this to others...
 

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TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
Thats bad. Sometimes...on a crit, or something unexpected, or the occasional joke, I will do some extra narration. But I am now also aware of it, because I also hate when DMs do exactly this for the rare times I am playing.

I did experience a little of this ages ago in a face to face game...though it was more they were just narrating too much in general, which can be easy in a trad game.

I think were it can get really bad is in play by post play. In this case, there is more scope for the DM to summarize action, or to just step in and say "this happens" in part to help move the game along, and that can be good thing, until it isn't. I have seen both.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Have a private conversation with the DM. Tell him that you'd rather you play your character's reaction to failure. If he agrees, great. If he can't see that when you're pointing it out, or can see but don't want to stop even after you ask him to, that's a pretty big red flag about how they will handle other bits of player agency.
 

Thats bad. Sometimes...on a crit, or something unexpected, or the occasional joke, I will do some extra narration. But I am now also aware of it, because I also hate when DMs do exactly this for the rare times I am playing.
yeah, this was a new kid DM(kid for us he is in his 20s)... and it was bad. I didn't crit fail we all failed by 1 or 2 and like I said every attack (a few of us where making 2 attacks per round) got a minute of description (No not exaggerating at one point one player hit the stop watch on his phone for one of 2 attacks it took 78+ seconds to describe it).
 



el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Some of this does seem off, like describing the player's reaction in terms of cursing in abyssal, but I'd need more details to get what is wrong here overall? Like the moving to the center of the room thing, is that what the player said their character was trying to do stealthily (cross the room) and thus not knowing they failed moved in that direction until they became aware of the hobgoblin noticing and that was how far they got?

As a DM I narrate a bunch of stuff. The players say what their character it trying and how, the DM narrates the result. So for example, I might describe a character's hands as shaking when a failure is rolled in disarming a trap. In combat, I might describe the result of a particularly big hit from a PC against a monster, for example, though taking the player's description of their character's action (if they make one) into account. Isn't that just playing D&D? Then again, I have described my style as leaning towards so-called "trad" play in some way, though the idea of a pre-determined outcome or even a story is anathema to me.
 


Some of this does seem off, like describing the player's reaction in terms of cursing in abyssal, but I'd need more details to get what is wrong here overall? Like the moving to the center of the room thing, is that what the player said their character was trying to do stealthily (cross the room) and thus not knowing they failed moved in that direction until they became aware of the hobgoblin noticing and that was how far they got?
We were in caves, and I was trying to disarm a magic trap, when I failed he had me swear in a language my character doesn't know...
when the soul knife tried to hide behind a barral and missed the passive perception of the hobgoblin the DM ruled he moved into the middle of the room instead of behind cover.
As a DM I narrate a bunch of stuff. The players say what their character it trying and how, the DM narrates the result. So for example, I might describe a character's hands as shaking when a failure is rolled in disarming a trap.
if it's quick and just a bit of flavor that's cool but I swear he spent more time telling us what we did then we telling him
In combat, I might describe the result of a particularly big hit from a PC against a monster, for example, though taking the player's description of their character's action (if they make one) into account.
every attack. Our soul knife and our hexblade both made 2 attacks per round every round, and I could (in theory) attack twice but I didn't often... every blow got a "You go to slice and look for an opening and see he drops his gaurd but it's a trick and when you swing he sees it and dodges, but you adjust and get a glancing blow for XX damage" even if the hexblade started with "I stab the goblin with my sword"
Isn't that just playing D&D? Then again, I have described my style as leaning towards so-called "trad" play in some way, though the idea of a pre-determined outcome or even a story is anathema to me.
in my experience you narrate a bit but it should never be too long or too many times in a row.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
very attack (a few of us where making 2 attacks per round) got a minute of description (No not exaggerating at one point one player hit the stop watch on his phone for one of 2 attacks it took 78+ seconds to describe it).

Yeah, that is way too long. But it sounds like this guy was new to DMing? I'd cut him some slack to learn the ropes. None of us was a great DM our first however many times out the gate. The key to improving at DMing is to do it a lot with room to F-it up.
 

Yeah, that is way too long. But it sounds like this guy was new to DMing? I'd cut him some slack to learn the ropes. None of us was a great DM our first however many time out the gate. The key to improving as DMing is to do it a lot with room to F-it up.
yeah if I wasn't clear this is a new guy 1st time running he doesn't even normally play with us. This wasn't "man this guy sucks" as much as it was "this felt sucky" I would hope that he will improve.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
In my experience, DMs learn to do this because the players aren't offering much in the way of describing what they try to do, so they are just filling in the vacuum the players create. Then it just becomes a habit for the DM. Players that make a clear statement of goal and approach in a reasonably specific, but succinct way don't leave a lot of room for the DM to do this. If the DM is habituated to this practice though, sometimes even that doesn't matter. And a lot of actual plays have examples doing this, so people pick it up there, too.
 

In my experience, DMs learn to do this because the players aren't offering much in the way of describing what they try to do, so they are just filling in the vacuum the players create. Then it just becomes a habit for the DM. Players that make a clear statement of goal and approach in a reasonably specific, but succinct way don't leave a lot of room for the DM to do this. If the DM is habituated to this practice though, sometimes even that doesn't matter. And a lot of actual plays have examples doing this, so people pick it up there, too.
okay, so when the hexblade described himself as stabbing the creature (with a piercing sword) and "You go to slice and look for an opening and see he drops his guard but it's a trick and when you swing he sees it and dodges, but you adjust and get a glancing blow for XX damage"
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
okay, so when the hexblade described himself as stabbing the creature (with a piercing sword) and "You go to slice and look for an opening and see he drops his guard but it's a trick and when you swing he sees it and dodges, but you adjust and get a glancing blow for XX damage"
That's a bit much in my view and is an example of the DM establishing what the character is doing. All they need do it narrate the result - the orc is wounded, but still in the fight, then move on.
 

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