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D&D General DM's: How transparent are you with game mechanics "in world?"

Chaosmancer

Legend
Why don't you say straight away that I'm a liar ?

I'm sorry, I didn't realize my own uncertainty about your entire 42+ years of playing DnD, and acknowleding I don't know your entire life now counts as lying. Next time I'll just make sweeping claims about your life with no acknowledgement that I could possibly be wrong about that.

No, I've NEVER experienced a truly bad DM in 42+ years of roleplaying. People are not stupid, when they do something, it's for a reason, and you can discuss with them. Even if some DMs did things that I thought were not particularly fun, I either discussed it with them, and we found solutions, or I stopped playing with them, that's all (and even then, I think it only happened with one DM in my entire roleplaying "career" - and note that I've also had DM's have talks with me because they did not find what I did as a player really fun for them and other players, which also got me thinking, believe me or not).

1) I have never said people are stupid, not sure why this is coming up. Miscommunication and mismatched expectations are not signs of stupidity.

2) I'm glad you've discussed with people, but since you quit at least one game, it seems my gut that you might have had a "Bad DM" once in multiple decades of play wasn't too far off. I'm glad that you ended up feeling like the DM wasn't abusing their power over the game and you two just had different aesthetic tastes, but it also shows it was a good thing I didn't make a sweeping statement about your expeirences... oh wait, "that I called you a liar". Which I didn't.

But then, I'm probably more tolerant than most. I don't think a DM is truly bad for a bit of railroading. I don't feel that I'm entitled to any specific level of "player agency", if a DM decides to turn me into a wererat for stealing, I discuss that with him and we find solutions. And I also don't try to hide my favourite playstyle of the moment either, because the things I've seen on forums are a lot about a player's playstyle conflicting with the DM's and usually whining that they don't get what they feel entitled to.

So I won't do what you did and call you a straight liar about what happened to you with this "bad DM", but I would really like to hear the other side before I make my opinion about what actually happened.

My personal perspective is that, in general, as a DM, you get the players that you deserve and, as a DM, you get the players that you deserve.

Wow. So, again, I didn't call you a liar. All I did was not make a claim about your experiences based off a half-remembered post from weeks ago and your general responses over the last few weeks of our interactions. Lay off the hair-trigger next time.

I also don't think it is "entitlement" to complain about DMs railroading and some of the other things that have been reported or that I have personally experienced. You might personally have thicker skin about that, but labeling players as whiners doesn't really come across as fair.

Also, your personal perspective is a bit abominable if you really mean that literally. Because it is very much a type of victim blaming, where if you have a player or DM who is abusive towards you, you generally deserved that. You get the players or the DMs who are available. Sometimes that means you meet really awesome people who you become lifelong friends with. Other times it means you have a horrible experience that ruins weeks of your life trying to deal with naughty word people. You make do with what you get, and try and sort through the bad to find the good.

Honestly, I'm glad your experiences have been so positive. You are lucky. Others aren't.


You know what, I was about to apologise in turn, but after you just called me a liar in another post, I don't think I will.

You find my language combative and confrontational, I just suggest you reading yours with an open mind, and seeing if you don't find that in your own speech> some examples below.

Didn't call you a liar. and I'm glad you can refuse an apology for an imagined insult.

After that, when you say "By the rules, the player is not incorrect in assuming that they will know when a spell is cast", it's just another of skewed reading of the rules. Just to point something, when you say "the casting of a spell is noticeable" (and I put you to the test here, PROVE to me that it is), does it meant that it is noticed ? No, it just means that it COULD be noticed, and the game leaves it completely to the DM as to things are noticed or not. Almost everything in the rules are left to a DM's interpretation anyway, but you insist, despite everything in the rules also telling you that it's up to the DM, to have a player feel entitled to cite the rules to the DM to demand "justice". I just don't. Your perspective here is a 3e one, and even per the RAW, it's wrong, so please don't come and try to insist that anything in the rules that you really seem to stick to is on your side. It's really interesting how some parts of the rules are holy to you and others completely ignored. Don't you think that you are missing a few things there ?

So, I tried to be very careful in my phrasing there. "the player is no incorrect" was a specifically chosen phrase. Because I'm not saying that they were right. As you aggressively point out while deriding me about players citing rules and demanding justice (again, never said that, that never came up, so why are you using such inflammatory language), the DM could determine differently.

However, it is a reasonable assumption on the part of the player that Passive Perception combined with the Xanathar's rules that state "To be perceptible, the casting of a spell must involve a verbal, somatic, or material component." that they are supposed to know when a spell is cast.

You can wave the flag and call upon DM Fiat that the DM determined that wasn't so because reasons, but my point was simply that unless the DM stated otherwise, the players would not be automatically incorrect in their assumption. And yes, the players have to make assumptions. You couldn't play the game otherwise with people declaring that the DM can change anything and everything whenever they wish.

I think almost everyone here has told you why they think that a DM can't cheat, so I won't continue here, in particular because I find it funny that you accuse me of being extreme in my examples and in turn bring "what if a DM uses weighted dice" as an example. Not only is it ridiculous but even if a DM ended up doing this, all it takes is for the DM to decide that the rule is that he is allowed to for it stop being cheating.

Which is my point. I bring a massively extreme example, something no one would actually do because it is so flagrant, and the community response is that if the DM rules they can use weighted dice, then those are the rules of the game. No matter how extreme I go, you'll justify it. All the while calling players whiners and that even asking the DM questions at the wrong time is hounding them to death over any technical advantage.

As for the designer's "blurb", yes I will continue quoting it as a proof that you are just sticking to the letter of some rules rather than understanding the spirit of the game. No, to play, there is no obligation to read the rules for your class. Or for spellcasting even if you are a spellcaster (and if you think that there is, please prove it). I have initiated lots of people to the game and they played really well without reading a single sentence of the rules because they understood the spirit of it. And yes, my view on that spirit is supported by many section of the game itself, where as how can you optimise when it's not necessary to read all the rules, you might have missed the section that actually provided the optimisation.

How did they fill out a character sheet with abilities if they never read the rules? Have you ever had a rogue use Cunning Action? How about a Druid use Wildshape? The only way they can do these things is by reading the rules to know they can, unless instead you just verbally relayed to them all of the rules for their character, which is practically the same thing. And if a fighter came to you and said they use wildshape, because they have a deep connection to the forest, and you didn't let them because they don't have that ability... then you have enforced the rules of the classes. Despite the fact that there are character's in fiction whose story was exactly that.

You are obviously going to keep judging me though, because it seems that you've already figured out everything there is to know about how I run games and how I abide by "the spirit of DnD". And it isn't like I haven't proven you wrong about me and my intentions multiple times, even in this very post.

As for the "lead storyteller" vs. "referee", I actually agree that they should not be opposed, and it was actually the apology that I was going to make at the start, because although our games are really different, I think that they still share some common element because you (at least I hope) and I are not extremists. But seeing the types of examples that you pull out to try and prove that DM could be cheating, or about the fact that a spell being cast has to be noticed really shows me that I don't think that we have much to discuss, especially when you are calling me a liar straight to my face.

A thing I never did. And my examples were purposefully extreme, because the position I was against was an absolute. For an absolute to be true, absolutely, then it is true even in the face of something extreme. And showing that even in the face of the most extreme and ridiculous examples, people will defend the DMs absolute right to do anything, I hope that I've shown at least some people that we may have a problem. Because once you tell someone that they can use weighted dice as long as they say they can use weighted dice, and declare that players should never assume anything is true, but also not ask the wrong questions, you have empowered people to be abusive. Not everyone will. Most people won't. But some people will. Some people do. And since I don't need to use weighted dice, and have no desire to fudge hp or Ac... I don't need that much power bestowed upon me.

And yes, coming back to this thread, I do believe that the player was hounding the DM to death, we have a real life example and not a completely hypothetical one. This attitude is not normal in that game, and the player's playstyle is clearly not the one that the DM is running at the table. Seeing that he is the only doing that should lead him to question the way he plays and whether it is the right table for him.

Maybe it should. Or maybe he has poor social skills. Or maybe is trying to be better, and changing yourself is hard. But "hounding the DM to death" is hyperbolic and certainly extreme. Maybe the OP would agree with you, but for me, I have dealt with far worse. It can sometimes be annoying, but I can understand that the intent behind it may not be malicious. And kicking a player from your table should be reserved for malicious behavior, not annoying behavior.
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
Depends on the player. I am generally open. But if they are FISHING for information, but not expending an action to do so, I tell them, "The numbers are correct. Ask me AFTER the Game, and I will explain why then."

I'd say this is mostly fair, but I hesitate because actions are far more valuable than most information you can gain. Spending an entire action to learn that a bandit cast Hunter's Mark is very much a waste, and if the fight is in anyway close, then spending actions like this can lead to the party being in a worse situation, not a better one.

If you absolutely must have an action economy cost to information, I'd make it a bonus action. Because once you make it an action, I've found that the majority of players at my tables don't bother to try and figure out anything until after the fighting is done, so I can't really put in clues for them to discover during combat, because they won't even attempt to discover them.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
2) I'm glad you've discussed with people, but since you quit at least one game, it seems my gut that you might have had a "Bad DM" once in multiple decades of play wasn't too far off. I'm glad that you ended up feeling like the DM wasn't abusing their power over the game and you two just had different aesthetic tastes, but it also shows it was a good thing I didn't make a sweeping statement about your expeirences... oh wait, "that I called you a liar". Which I didn't.
I've quit two games, only one of which was due to the DM being bad. I quit the other one, because it involved too much silly comedic play, which I dislike in an extended campaign. I let them know it wasn't my cup of tea and thanked them for their time. Don't assume that just because someone quit, it was because the DM is bad.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Because that's how tools work. The design of the hammer tool includes the ability to bash people in the head repeatedly or vandalize someone's car. The design of the car tool allows me to run people over or deliberately drive through someone's house wall. The design of the fork, spoon and knife tools allow me to shove them through someone's eye.

You don't get rid of tools just because their design is abusable in ways that harm others. The solution is not to get rid of that tool, but rather to impose penalties for abuse. In the case of the above tools, there are laws that will punish me if I do those things. In the case of the DM authority tool, I would lose my players if I abuse that authority.

There is no problem with the way the game is designed.

I disagree that the design of the game must include the potential for the DM to abuse ultimate power. Again, I don't see what we need all this power for anyways. Lyxen has gone forward saying that the DM can make a rule that allows them to use weighted dice. Why is that a thing we are going to say the rules allow them to do?

In no other game, in no other context, do we give people this much unbridled authority. There are RPGs I've planned, and forums I've visited where these sort of claims would get you laughed out of the conversation, yet I have two people making them here.

Name one that doesn't involve rules changes.

Changing our perspective on what it means to be a DM. Stop calling them "Masters", stop treating them like they are smarter, wiser, more creative and all the rest than the players. Acknowledge that the game involves multiple parties, and multiple voices, and all of them should be heard and considered.

Consider that instead of the rules being seen as a limit on the creativity of the DM, to be discarded at a whim, if we instead viewed them as very solid guidelines for how to approach situations, and that you shouldn't discard them without a very good reason and careful consideration. Perhaps even a discussion with your players.

No rules are changed, and yet, making this a standard approach in the community may do a lot. Along with us stopping treating any player with an opinion as a problem.

I can and have quoted multiple spots allowing the DM to do what he likes with the rules and there are no such quotes limiting that power.

RAW and RAI are acknowledged to be different things. And I don't think the intent of the people who designed the rules was to have DMs ignore all rules in pursuit of their own aggrandizement. I think the intent was to give enough freedom to tweak things to fit better to specific circumstances, which is far less than the power you give DMs.

That's also wrong. A bad DM is one who goes out of his way to be vindictive, abuse authority, etc. Someone who is mismanaging the game due to a lack of understand is not a bad DM. He's making mistakes and will learn from those and improve.

How will he improve? No one can tell him what he is doing is wrong, the rules support what he is doing. Players who complain are just, to borrow a phrase from Lyxen "entitled little ****." or if they are asking questions then they are distrusting their DM, and that's bad, or hounding them to death, or just a powergamer seeking any advantage, or or or or.

We have dozens of ways to label bad players, that excuse a DM from all wrong doing, so how is a DM supposed to learn and improve? If they come to these forums and ask why their players are unhappy, while explaining their intentions (not necessarily their results) they are likely to be told that their players are ungrateful for all the hard work, and that they've done nothing wrong. That the players are wrong for questioning them.

And, since I believe that a Bad DM can improve, I have no problem saying that in a specific game, a DM was a Bad DM. It could also be that you are using the term more narrowly, since you seem to think that intentional vindictiveness is needed to be a Bad DM.

Er, no. You have not disproven anything other than we all encounter rare things in our lives. I'm sure all or most of us have encountered multiple people with down syndrome during our lifetimes, despite only 1 in 700 people being born with it. Most of us encountering the rare bad DM in our lifetimes does not make them anything other than rare. It just means that given enough DMs over enough years, we're bound to encounter a few.

1 in 700 people, when estimates are that you will likely encounter around 10,000 people in your life is not that rare. In fact, you should likely meet about 14 people with Down's using those rough estimates.

And unlike genetic diseases, people's attitudes in a game that we willing participate in, should be something that we can address and try and improve. And even if it is rare, does that mean we shouldn't attempt improvement? I don't think so, especially since improvement is likely coming at so little cost.

A few posts ago you got really upset with me for saying you were mistaken and you incorrectly thought that I was implying that you were lying. Now here you are doing the same thing to @Lyxen.

No, like I told them, all I was saying is that I didn't know for certain, and that I was likely wrong about my assumptions. Good Lord, can a person not say that they don't want to make an assumption without getting jumped for calling people liars?
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Game mechanics. If Elves have a non-class-related power then it perforce has to apply to all Elves as a benefit of species, thus making them more powerful (probably). If only some Elves have a power then, if it's not class-related, how do they get it and why can't my Elf PC get it?

One answer I have for this, just because I think it is a question worth answering, is that it takes time and service.

Sure, your elf can have this special royal guard power if you spend 50 years dutifully serving the Elven court and successfully complete a magical ritual that must be done on the dawning of a new decade. It is a little cheaty to make it technically possible, just not for the PC, but I also feel like things like this must exist in the magical worlds of DnD. Rituals and "magic ceremonies" exist in cultures across time and many of them are based on the idea of repetition or status. Purification rituals or sacred teachings were a big thing, and often hidden behind time spent doing specific actions for a set period first.

I'd also say you can tie it to a specific place. The Guardian of a Sacred Tomb might have powers based on his station. You can have them too, but the price is that you cannot go more than a half a mile from the tomb proper.

But, in general, I agree with you Lanefan. IF someone has a way to get a specific ability, that way should generally be possible for others to take.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I've quit two games, only one of which was due to the DM being bad. I quit the other one, because it involved too much silly comedic play, which I dislike in an extended campaign. I let them know it wasn't my cup of tea and thanked them for their time. Don't assume that just because someone quit, it was because the DM is bad.

I'm not. Actually read my post please, instead of using your own interpretations. Just like you did when you claimed I called him a liar.
 

If you absolutely must have an action economy cost to information, I'd make it a bonus action. Because once you make it an action, I've found that the majority of players at my tables don't bother to try and figure out anything until after the fighting is done, so I can't really put in clues for them to discover during combat, because they won't even attempt to discover them.
My practice for those sort of activities is that the character gets one free “Recall Knoeledge” type activity in their turn, and cannot reroll failures.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I disagree that the design of the game must include the potential for the DM to abuse ultimate power.
It's utterly impossible to avoid abuse. Abuse will always be possible and with bad DMs that abuse will happen no matter what you do.
Again, I don't see what we need all this power for anyways. Lyxen has gone forward saying that the DM can make a rule that allows them to use weighted dice. Why is that a thing we are going to say the rules allow them to do?
Because no DM who isn't a bad one will ever do it, so it's an irrelevant thing. It's just like the hammer being used to bash someone's head in. Only murderers and attempted murderers will ever do it, so we don't need to redesign the hammer to account for it. So long as there's a consequence like players leaving the game, we don't need to worry about bad DMs and their abuse of good tools.
In no other game, in no other context, do we give people this much unbridled authority. There are RPGs I've planned, and forums I've visited where these sort of claims would get you laughed out of the conversation, yet I have two people making them here.
This is a nothing burger. Again, ONLY bad DMs will abuse it and they will abuse the players no matter what you do, so we don't need to consider any changes.
Changing our perspective on what it means to be a DM. Stop calling them "Masters", stop treating them like they are smarter, wiser, more creative and all the rest than the players. Acknowledge that the game involves multiple parties, and multiple voices, and all of them should be heard and considered.
Oh good God! The word master is far less of a nothing burger than the authority is.
Consider that instead of the rules being seen as a limit on the creativity of the DM, to be discarded at a whim, if we instead viewed them as very solid guidelines for how to approach situations, and that you shouldn't discard them without a very good reason and careful consideration. Perhaps even a discussion with your players.

No rules are changed, and yet, making this a standard approach in the community may do a lot. Along with us stopping treating any player with an opinion as a problem.
The rules give absolute authority. If no rules are changed, the DM still has absolute authority.
RAW and RAI are acknowledged to be different things. And I don't think the intent of the people who designed the rules was to have DMs ignore all rules in pursuit of their own aggrandizement.
Correct. They completely ignored the bad DM, because it's a nothing burger.
How will he improve? No one can tell him what he is doing is wrong, the rules support what he is doing. Players who complain are just, to borrow a phrase from Lyxen "entitled little ****." or if they are asking questions then they are distrusting their DM, and that's bad, or hounding them to death, or just a powergamer seeking any advantage, or or or or.
It's called gameplay and learning the rules. If he's simply making mistakes and not on a power trip(being a bad DM), then when people talk to him about what they like and don't like, he will listen.
1 in 700 people, when estimates are that you will likely encounter around 10,000 people in your life is not that rare. In fact, you should likely meet about 14 people with Down's using those rough estimates.
They are very rare. That's only 14 out of 10,000 people. I think you have a very skewed idea of what rare is.
No, like I told them, all I was saying is that I didn't know for certain, and that I was likely wrong about my assumptions. Good Lord, can a person not say that they don't want to make an assumption without getting jumped for calling people liars?
He told you what he had encountered. To express doubt that he knows what he is talking about is exactly what you complained to me for doing to you.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm not. Actually read my post please, instead of using your own interpretations. Just like you did when you claimed I called him a liar.
This is what you do best. Twist my words. Here's my quote and you can tell me where I claimed you called him a liar.

A few posts ago you got really upset with me for saying you were mistaken and you incorrectly thought that I was implying that you were lying. Now here you are doing the same thing to @Lyxen.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Mindflayers are monsters, which I've already noted can and do work differently.

Why do you need to draw a strict line between a Mind Flayer and an NPC. Just look at Critical Role and Clarota. I'm not doing any such distinction in my game, currently the PCs in my Avernus campaign have build an unlikely coalition of local warlords with a Night Hag, a Chain Devil, a human mage, a Barbed Devil, an Arcanaloth, etc. All of these are NPCs and some of them are straight out of the MM, although of course with my interpretation of their personality.

One was outright bad; he played favourites among the players and overall was on something of a power trip.

I agree, that's not good. However, it has happened to me, and a bit of talk with the DM usually smoothed that over. We even had that one DM in Runequest who had to ensure that nothing bad happened to his girlfriend, otherwise the campaign would come to an end. He discussed that openly with us, and it was really not a problem, we gamed happily for many years and we actually played around the concept of fate and luck (Important Runes in Runequest). And of course, the girlfriend was in on the "secret" and played along nicely. Lots of extremely good memories, actually.

The power trip is a bit more delicate, but if it's a long campaign, just talk to the DM. Happened to me once, had discussions amongst the players, then with the DM, problem solved, no need for a horror story.

And honestly, even if you lose one evening to someone running a really poor game, what of it ? Just don't do it again.

Another was inexperienced (which is fine, of course) and somewhat let the players walk all over him (which isn't fine; being walked over was kind of a part of his personality, and as this wasn't likely to change it meant he wasn't really cut out to be a DM).

And then again, how much was his responsibility and how much the players' for behaving that way with him ? If it caused a problem for them, why did they behave that way ? Actually, in this case, the victim was the DM, not the players. Because I've seen too many cases of people pressured into being the DM because the alphas of the group just wanted to play their own power trip. So where is the horror story there, exactly ?

Cool! Now tell me, how can you possibly have one without the other?

Extremely easily, I have the picture of my world in mind, and I play by the 5e motto, which is that I use the rules only as tools, and make rulings to make sure that what happens technically reflects my vision of the world.

We agree about balance, at least. :)
We agree about the concept, but I don't think that we agree about the intent. 4e had balance as a goal, and look at the character development railroad fest that it was.

So just as the 5e designers, I don't want imbalance (because of the power gap problem), but balance is not the goal of the design. As long as it's at a level that can be controlled by the DM (which it could not in 3e because of the awful player entitlement of the edition through complex massive rules), I don't have a problem.

In a sense, it's a bit like constructing fighter aircraft, unstable is more agile.

I put setting consistency ahead of story pretty much every time; in part because if I and-or the players can't use the setting as-is to tell a decent story then I've clearly designed a garbage setting and should start over.

I see less potential for inconsistency between setting and story than between rules and story/setting, honestly.

Game mechanics. If Elves have a non-class-related power then it perforce has to apply to all Elves as a benefit of species

I'll stop you right here. Again, why ? What if some elves worship a different power ? Or made a pact with a different power ? Or found a different magic item ? Or simply have different skills and abilities and interests, in a magical world where power abound.

Exactly like on earth, some humans become karate champions and other couch potatoes. Should we all have karate power as part of our species?

, thus making them more powerful (probably). If only some Elves have a power then, if it's not class-related, how do they get it and why can't my Elf PC get it?

See above. Different opportunities, it's a varied and magical world.

I see class as very much translating into the game world, much like occupation translates in our real world.

And sure, all engineers have exactly the same skill set, abilities, personality, and succeed in exactly the same way. I started as an engineer, a lot of my friends did as well, and we have completely different career path and skill sets, and it's not even a magical world with magical opportunities...

Real-world conversation:

"What do you do?"
"I'm an accountant with Price-Waterhouse."

In-setting conversation:

"What do you do?"
"I'm an adventuring Cleric to Tymora."

It's the same conversation.

And therefore all characters of all playable species need to have a profession that matches one of the PH ? That seems so reductive in terms of possibilities.

I very much agree. I just don't have the patience to do all the designing it'd take to get to that point. :)

It seems to me that this is because you are taking it top down trying to define all the potential paths. Don't, just create a different path to power and different abilities for an NPC when you need one. You have a huge catalog of abilities in the MM and the PH, just use the ones that feel nice and will look cool on the NPC.

Well, in the specific example of Clerical spells in fact I do have to prepare everything in advance, such that a player thinking of playing a Cleric has all the options - and the ramifications thereof, for good and-or bad - available up front. And as I've no idea ahead of time which deities the players will want to play Clerics to either now or later, to do this right means I have to design a bespoke spell list for each one of 'em; and last I checked, my setting has something like 70 deities in it.

Life's too short. :)

We have very different concepts about design here, one of my (engineering) principles is that over-design is bad, costs too much time and effort and is usually unnecessary. Just design what you need when you need it, it will also avoid burnout.
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
I'm sorry, I didn't realize my own uncertainty about your entire 42+ years of playing DnD, and acknowleding I don't know your entire life now counts as lying. Next time I'll just make sweeping claims about your life with no acknowledgement that I could possibly be wrong about that.

No, this is not what you did. You took a specific statement of mine and just straight up said that I was wrong about my own experience. Very different.

The thing is that I am very open about my experiences because it avoids bad faith arguments and prevents people making generalisations and using ridiculous examples that never happen in real life (like a DM using weighted dice). Why don't you try it, basing your examples and demonstrations on actual examples ?

1) I have never said people are stupid, not sure why this is coming up. Miscommunication and mismatched expectations are not signs of stupidity.

And for you, if it's only "miscommunication and mismatched expectations", where do the horror stories come from ?

2) I'm glad you've discussed with people, but since you quit at least one game, it seems my gut that you might have had a "Bad DM" once in multiple decades of play wasn't too far off.

And again, you are mistaken. My reason for quitting that game was because what they expected in terms of playstyle did not match what I expect in terms of fun. They wanted an extremely technical game that was only about fighting, I did not. Nothing wrong about their style, it's just not what I like to play.

I'm glad that you ended up feeling like the DM wasn't abusing their power over the game and you two just had different aesthetic tastes, but it also shows it was a good thing I didn't make a sweeping statement about your expeirences... oh wait, "that I called you a liar". Which I didn't.

Which you did, here is the sentence: "In fact, I think @Lyxen is about the only person I've seen on these forums who has seemed to not have had expeirenced a truly bad DM. And that is probably wrong, they probably have."

Please explain to me how this is not calling me a liar.

Wow. So, again, I didn't call you a liar. All I did was not make a claim about your experiences based off a half-remembered post from weeks ago and your general responses over the last few weeks of our interactions. Lay off the hair-trigger next time.

See above.

I also don't think it is "entitlement" to complain about DMs railroading and some of the other things that have been reported or that I have personally experienced. You might personally have thicker skin about that, but labeling players as whiners doesn't really come across as fair.

Yes, of course, railroading is a capital offense, right. Anyone doing it in their game is a really bad DM, who should be banned from DMing and should be put on a list to be monitored so that players can avoid playing with him ever again.

Factually, a lot of published adventures contain a fair bit of railroading, some more than others, but I've also head players complain about areas which feel too much like a sandbox. It's again just a question of playstyle (and, by the way, when designing our LARPs, we ask each player what he expects to find, a more guided adventure or a more sandboxy one). It's just a question of preference so yes, complaining about railroading and calling a DM "a truly bad DM" because of that is very probably truly bad in itself.

Also, your personal perspective is a bit abominable if you really mean that literally. Because it is very much a type of victim blaming, where if you have a player or DM who is abusive towards you, you generally deserved that.

Nothing forces you to stay and support abuse in TTRPGs. This is not a life choice, It's at worst one evening of entertainment that you choose to participate in. If you don't like it, just walk out.

You get the players or the DMs who are available. Sometimes that means you meet really awesome people who you become lifelong friends with. Other times it means you have a horrible experience that ruins weeks of your life trying to deal with naughty word people. You make do with what you get, and try and sort through the bad to find the good.

Honestly, I'm glad your experiences have been so positive. You are lucky. Others aren't.

See above. Believe me, for a number of reasons which will, in that case, remain private, I am truly horrified by abuse, whether it's (usual examples) familial or work-related. But equating that to abuse that you could get at a TTRPG table that is only entertainment and that you can get out of at any time with no more consequence than losing one evening of potential fun is for me totally unjustified. Moreover, if some of the people there are really friends, and the abuse is real, these friends should support you.

It's impossible for most people to go through life without family and a job, but D&D is only light entertainment and the guiding principle should be "No D&D is better than bad D&D" because D&D is not a necessity of life.

That being said, I'm also really sorry if you received real abuse, because that is bad. But where I stop following you is calling railroading abuse.

So, I tried to be very careful in my phrasing there. "the player is no incorrect" was a specifically chosen phrase. Because I'm not saying that they were right. As you aggressively point out while deriding me about players citing rules and demanding justice (again, never said that, that never came up, so why are you using such inflammatory language), the DM could determine differently.

However, it is a reasonable assumption on the part of the player that Passive Perception combined with the Xanathar's rules that state "To be perceptible, the casting of a spell must involve a verbal, somatic, or material component." that they are supposed to know when a spell is cast.

You can wave the flag and call upon DM Fiat that the DM determined that wasn't so because reasons, but my point was simply that unless the DM stated otherwise, the players would not be automatically incorrect in their assumption. And yes, the players have to make assumptions. You couldn't play the game otherwise with people declaring that the DM can change anything and everything whenever they wish.

Bu they can, it's the principle of the game. The players know only the world through the DM's description of it anyway, so whether the DM makes changes or not could be totally transparent to them, they will never know. This is why the most important thing at a table is trusting your DM. It's totally pointless to do otherwise. He is, literally, the master of the world.

And if, as in the OP's example, the DM has described what your character saw, then it's fine to make assumptions, but that is what the character saw, nothing more and nothing less. The player has zero entitlement to drill the DM for ten times as long because he wants to gain a purely technical advantage.

Which is my point. I bring a massively extreme example, something no one would actually do because it is so flagrant, and the community response is that if the DM rules they can use weighted dice, then those are the rules of the game. No matter how extreme I go, you'll justify it.

I'm not justifying the DM (there is no need here, because the example is absurd), just pointing out that it would still not be cheating, by the definitions of the word.

All the while calling players whiners and that even asking the DM questions at the wrong time is hounding them to death over any technical advantage.

No-one said that asking questions now and then is forbidden but coming back to a real example, re-read the OP's post. It's not even his character...

How did they fill out a character sheet with abilities if they never read the rules? Have you ever had a rogue use Cunning Action? How about a Druid use Wildshape? The only way they can do these things is by reading the rules to know they can, unless instead you just verbally relayed to them all of the rules for their character, which is practically the same thing.

Ah but it's not. Not at all. I just tell them "you can turn in any animal no larger than a bear", and that is a sufficient explanation. As a DM, I handle all the technical details and limitations, and if some limitations are thrown out of the window now and then (local rulings), who cares as long as everyone is having fun ?

And please don't start on the "if you're not using (all) the rules, it's not D&D", these same rules actually point out extremely precisely that it IS playing D&D, and that is is exactly what the spirit of at least this edition is about (I agree that it was not the same with 3e and in particular 4e, although house ruling was covered in both cases).

And if a fighter came to you and said they use wildshape, because they have a deep connection to the forest, and you didn't let them because they don't have that ability... then you have enforced the rules of the classes. Despite the fact that there are character's in fiction whose story was exactly that.

And they still have not read any single word of the rules.

You are obviously going to keep judging me though, because it seems that you've already figured out everything there is to know about how I run games and how I abide by "the spirit of DnD". And it isn't like I haven't proven you wrong about me and my intentions multiple times, even in this very post.

I have seen nothing of the kind.

A thing I never did. And my examples were purposefully extreme

Absurdly so, and confrontational.

, because the position I was against was an absolute. For an absolute to be true, absolutely, then it is true even in the face of something extreme. And showing that even in the face of the most extreme and ridiculous examples

You mean, like a DM using weighted dice ?

people will defend the DMs absolute right to do anything, I hope that I've shown at least some people that we may have a problem. Because once you tell someone that they can use weighted dice as long as they say they can use weighted dice, and declare that players should never assume anything is true, but also not ask the wrong questions, you have empowered people to be abusive. Not everyone will. Most people won't. But some people will. Some people do. And since I don't need to use weighted dice, and have no desire to fudge hp or Ac... I don't need that much power bestowed upon me.

As I see it, the problem is that you are confounding the objective and the means. My objective is for my players to have fun. If, to reach that goal, I use means that you don't like (e.g. railroading, fudging), etc. you have ZERO right to call that cheating or abuse, which is exactly what you are doing in this thread. So stop it, it's badwrongfun all over the place.

Play your game the way you like it with your own enforced limitations, but don't call other DMs cheaters or abusers because they use different tools now and then.

By the way, for me, what potentially makes a DM bad is not the means he employs, it's when his intent on running the game is not directly linked to his players having fun (like being on a power trip), but once more "no D&D is better than bad D&D" and if simple mature out of the game discussion to clarify it does not give you what you expect, just walk away, there is zero reason to suffer abuse.

Maybe it should. Or maybe he has poor social skills. Or maybe is trying to be better, and changing yourself is hard. But "hounding the DM to death" is hyperbolic and certainly extreme. Maybe the OP would agree with you, but for me, I have dealt with far worse. It can sometimes be annoying, but I can understand that the intent behind it may not be malicious. And kicking a player from your table should be reserved for malicious behavior, not annoying behavior.

And kicking a player from the table (which I've never done on my own, just done I think twice because all the players agreed that playing with a specific person was just not feasible) is not malicious either. It's just a parting of ways because people have different expectations of what makes a simple game fun.

So if a player annoys the table and does nothing to change his behaviour, is just a realisation that maybe, they are not meant to game together, not a personal insult. Just as with different playstyles.

And if a DM annoys you with too much railroading, but it's his style and you prefer a more open style, which do you think is better ? A simple parting of way because you don't have the same expectations of calling him a really bad DM and saying that he abused your entitled player's agency ? This is why, in these cases, I really like to hear all sides of the story...

I played tennis with my cousin once, and we were having fun just playing exchanges. Then he insisted on playing a match, which I easily won 6-0 because I (used to) have a killer service. We never played tennis together again, because for him it's all about competitive play and winning. He is still my cousin, I see him regularly and we have fun together, we just don't play tennis together.
 

WOW, 300+ posts and lots of walls of text...
Roll on the open, or hide your roll is just a matter of preference and transparency As long as the DM and players are having fun, it is just a matter of play style.

What is also very important is that people at the the respect each others.

A DM should not force his preferences onto his players. And neither should the players. We are building stories. These stories might not see the heroes winning all the time, but it is the journey that is interesting. The heroes winning is just icing on the cake.
 






zach weaver1

Villager
I'm curious where the rest of you DM's tend to draw the line between in-game observations and OOC info? For example, I have a player in my group who is laser-focused on combat mechanics, and generally assumes that every die rolled in combat should be unambiguously identified to players along with its associated game mechanic. Here's a fictitious-but-typical exchange from our table:
  • Me: "The bandit archer stands up from behind the barrel. He points his finger directly at <PC-1> and mutters something before drawing back his bow and firing."
  • Roll 1d20 => 17 "He hits!"
  • Roll 1d8+1 (arrow damage + DEX bonus) => 2+1
  • Roll 1d6 (Hunter's Mark) => 3
  • Me: "<PC-1> takes 6 points of piercing damage."
  • Player5: "Wait, how is that 6 points? Why did you roll another die? Is he a rogue? <PC-1> isn't flanked, so there shouldn't be sneak attack damage."
  • Me: "Right, <PC-1> isn't flanked. It looked like that shot was extremely well-placed, though. <PC-1> takes 6 points of piercing damage."
  • Player5: "It's all piercing damage? So it's not an elemental buff. Is he a Ranger? Oh, <PC-1> was already wounded, is it extra damage from Colossus Slayer? Isn't that a d8? Wait, did you roll a d6 or a d8?"
  • Me: "You did notice him doing something right before he fired. Does anyone want to make an Arcana check?"
  • Player5: "Why should I have to roll Arcana? Clearly he took more damage. We should know where it came from, we all saw what happened."
You get the idea. Obviously we have different ideas about how transparent the game mechanics are to in-game characters. To him, we're playing a wargame with certain rules and there's a bias towards "perfect information" so players can adapt to the strengths/weaknesses of the pieces in play. To me, there's no reason the characters would automatically have that information. As far as the characters are concerned, that bad guy did something, maybe you recognize what happened, maybe you don't.

We've had OOC discussions about this a couple of times outside of session, and it's not like those have been hugely adversarial . But every time I think I've explained how I want to run the game, it crops up in some very slightly different context. Like, we put the issue of bonus damage dice to rest, but then when an NPC has Haste up and takes an extra action, there's a five-minute holdup at the table ("That's two actions!! He can't take disengage as a bonus action unless he has cunning action or something, so he wouldn't be able to attack.") and we're back to square one.

I know there's no silver bullet that will put this all to rest, but this constant back-and-forth has got me curious about what is the "most common" way of handling this stuff? Just wondering if I'm out on the fringes here, or more near the median. ;-)
Your player is associating player class abilities to NPCs. He needs to understand that NPCs aren't player characters, and don't follow the same rules as classes. They have different abilities. I'd tell him that if they had class abilities, they'd be doing a hell of a lot more damage.
 


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