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


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Isn't it almost always about winning after the first few pages? :unsure:
Yes, and no...

I firmly believed in the standard array. Yet, in a post, Maxperson shared with US his asymetrical rolling method of 2x 5d6, 2x 4d6 and 2x 3d6. His explanation on why and how he and his group came to this method was, enlightening and made me reconsider standard array enough to talk about it with some of my players. We might use that in our next campaign.

So after a few pages, it might be because you might find a nice gem of inspiration in all the argumentation we see.
 

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.
No one is treating DMs as "smarter, wiser, more creative". That is nonsense. Although, I would say that the DM should at least get credit for stepping up and putting in the time to run the game. Don't conflate that commitment with being "smarter, wiser, more creative" though.

Your posts all seem to share a theme of dreading the abusive DM and somehow wanting to blame the game for it. I truly am sorry you've had bad luck with these kinds of DMs but it is certainly not the game's fault.

In 5e, the designers deliberately moved away from creating rules to curb abuses on both the DM and players side. Mainly, doing so simplifies game play for the vast majority of tables where people are gathered together for good faith play. Secondly, there is no perfect rule set that can curb abuses. Jerk DMs and players will always find a way. The solution lies not with the rules but with the social contract. Don't play with jerks. Maybe that's an oversimplification but it really can be that simple. No gaming is better than bad gaming -- a mantra I've seen on these forums before.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why do you need to draw a strict line between a Mind Flayer and an NPC.
The line is between species that are PC-playable and species that are not. If a species is PC-playable then it naturally follows that any member of that species has the potential to become a PC; and because any member of that species has that potential they all need to be "designed" the same in the setting, without regard to whether that potential is ever followed through on or not.
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.
One night is no problem. But we do multi-year campaigns, and this was to be one (and became one, though half of us left not long in).

That girlfriend example you gave - I'd walk out on that game right quick (or, far more likely, get voted out; as it'd be a her-or-me choice). Even if done well, as it seems to have been here, it's still non-negotiably unacceptable in my eyes.
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 ?
I'm not denying the DM was the victim. What I'm saying is that players are always going to push the envelope even just that little bit and if the DM can't or won't push back then DMing probably isn't their thing.

[skipping the balance discussion as that could very easily be its own thread - again... :) ]
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?
Nothing wrong with any of that provided the PC Elves have the potential to do it too. The thing is, if those potentials exist then for game-based reasons they need to be written into the racial write-up for Elves so players know what their options are.

Same with real-world people - we don't all end up with karate power but we pretty much all have the potential for it.
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.
There's a few problems with the design-on-the-fly method in a game context:

--- if something character-based is designed two years into the campaign to suit a player's concept, other players would have a fully valid complaint that this same option wasn't available sooner, when they rolled up their characters. Having all the options in place before the campaign begins takes care of this.
--- when designing on the fly, rather than all at once ahead of time, it's far more difficult to avoid conflicts - every new thing has to be vetted to ensure it meshes with what's already in place.
--- changing things on the fly risks invalidating play from before the change was made, or making something that was once possible in the setting impossible. I personally detest this sort of thing; if a DM wants to make big changes like this she should start a new campaign in a new setting where things work differently. (I'm in this boat right now: I've some rather sweeping rule changes I'd like to make - or try out - in my game but to do so I'd need to start a new campaign/setting; yet my current campaign has years of potential left in it which I don't want to waste)
 

@Lanefan , wow. That is a long campaign and congratulations for that. Personnaly I prefer shorter campaigns along the year or year and a half. This allows us to try new rules and new options. Our goal is the same though. We do not want people to create new characters with options that were not available to the original characters.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

Okay, but is it utterly impossible to give DMs ultimate authority to abuse? They may abuse no matter what, but abusing limited authority is necessarily less harmful than abusing ultimate and unlimited authority.

Again, because obviously I must repeat myself ad nausem, I'm not saying that changing things will remove all abuse ever and make everyone perfect. What I am saying is that the current system combined with this cultural climate of idolizing and lionizing the DM invites more abuse than I think is warranted, and there seems to be no reason not to change things to limit abuse.

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.

"Only bad people will abuse it" is a terrible design principle. You can't redesign a hammer to allow it to perform its function without including ways to bash people's heads in. Hammers are too simple. But you can redesign table saws to cut wood and metal, but not flesh. You can also redesign DnD to allow for DMs to continue doing their jobs, but without giving them the authority to use weighted dice if they feel like it.

And the only recourse player's have, the only tool in their arsenal, is leaving the game and looking for a DM who isn't abusing their powers. Perhaps we can redesign the game to give the players more options. But I think the worst thing is to just shrug and say that we can do nothing to improve. We can always improve.

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.

Oh good God! The word master is far less of a nothing burger than the authority is.

The rules give absolute authority. If no rules are changed, the DM still has absolute authority.

Correct. They completely ignored the bad DM, because it's a nothing burger.

I disagree. It isn't "nothing" it is something. Just saying "only bad people do bad things, so we need to change nothing" is ignoring the problem, sticking your fingers in your ears, and singing loudly.

Again, shockingly, no other gaming community I am aware of has this level of problem with DM abuse, where people will tell me that the rules perfectly allow the DM to use weighted dice or anything else they feel like, and if the players don't like it they should just leave. Part of it are these "rules" being too broadly interpretted it, and part of it is this culture where we place all of the expectations of good behavior on the players.

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.

But according to your philosophy, he can't be making mistakes. Everything he does is by the rules, and 100% right. No matter what.

Sure, maybe he will listen, but he might feel he did nothing wrong. And then come to these forums and be told constantly that he did nothing wrong, that it was the players who are complaining and whining that are wrong. And that leads to an increased likelihood of DM Power Trips and arrogance, because nothing causes arrogance more consistently than the belief that you can do no wrong.

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, I just have a different view on what true rarity is. If I can nearly guarantee that every person will meet 10 people with Down's in their life, then meeting a person with Down's isn't that rare. It is uncommon, but since they are so consistently around, it isn't rare. Most people will likely go their entire lives without meeting someone who is Amish. That is rare.

Since most people playing DnD have had at least one Bad DM, I don't consider them to be as rare as you think,.

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.

Did he tell me? Or did I misremember? I didn't go sifting through conversations, so I hedged on my memory being potentially poor. Or him saying "rarely" instead of "never". I wasn't expressing doubt at him experiencing what he experienced, I was expressing doubt over if I was correct in claiming what he experienced. Which I suppose was a mistake. I should have just declared myself an expert on his experiences and that my memory is flawless.

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.

Oh, I'm sorry, you only claimed that I "implied" he was a liar. While Lyxen just blatantly started accusing me of calling him a liar.

Now that that is settled and your honor is restored for only claiming that I called someone a liar when all I did was not claim I knew their life perfectly, how about we focus on the thing you do best, deflecting from my point. Because you still haven't addressed my actual words and the actual thing I said in this post.

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.

See, because you are claiming I assumed they were a bad DM. But, yet again, you are wrong. See, for example, when you look at the bolded you will see this line " 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" which is me acknowledging that Lyxen feels the person was not a bad DM. I also didn't say that my gut reaction was right, but that it "wasn't too far off." It was off, he didn't have a Bad DM, but he did have a game that he left due to irreconcilable differences leading to an unfun experience. Something I would have guessed from his previous posts he had never experienced. I would have been wrong, which is why I "called him a liar" AKA didn't assume I knew every detail of his gaming career, and hedged that I was likely wrong in my sweeping assumption.

All of which you followed up, by claiming I assumed it was a bad DM... which I explicitly did not. So, again, if you can't be bothered to read my posts, then don't respond. I don't feel like wasting time repeating what I actually said while you engage with your strawmen.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
New names for Dungeon Master
Dungeon Guru
Rules Guru
Game producer
Game director
The B**** who we led play the monsters
Dungeon Dude
Dude
The wimp we bully when the game does not go our way.
Person to be Wedgie
They who should not be obeyed.
The Person we really need.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Yes, and no...

I firmly believed in the standard array. Yet, in a post, Maxperson shared with US his asymetrical rolling method of 2x 5d6, 2x 4d6 and 2x 3d6. His explanation on why and how he and his group came to this method was, enlightening and made me reconsider standard array enough to talk about it with some of my players. We might use that in our next campaign.

So after a few pages, it might be because you might find a nice gem of inspiration in all the argumentation we see.
Which is why I said almost always. :)

Occasionally there's interesting stuff.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Okay, but is it utterly impossible to give DMs ultimate authority to abuse? They may abuse no matter what, but abusing limited authority is necessarily less harmful than abusing ultimate and unlimited authority.
No it's not. Those kinds of DMs will break the rules and change things anyway. The abuses will be about the same with the same result. Lost players.
Again, because obviously I must repeat myself ad nausem, I'm not saying that changing things will remove all abuse ever and make everyone perfect. What I am saying is that the current system combined with this cultural climate of idolizing and lionizing the DM invites more abuse than I think is warranted, and there seems to be no reason not to change things to limit abuse.
Except that it doesn't. The number of abusers doesn't change, because the vast majority of us aren't douches and aren't going to abuse the game regardless, and the few that are will do it regardless of any limitations.
"Only bad people will abuse it" is a terrible design principle. You can't redesign a hammer to allow it to perform its function without including ways to bash people's heads in. Hammers are too simple.
You can't redesign RPGs for that, either.
But you can redesign table saws to cut wood and metal, but not flesh. You can also redesign DnD to allow for DMs to continue doing their jobs, but without giving them the authority to use weighted dice if they feel like it.
Bad DMs will still use weighted dice(modifying that saw so it cuts flesh anyway). Non-bad DMs would never have used weighted dice in the first place, so you're attempting to fix a problem that isn't fixable, nor even really much of a problem. Just leave the game and have fun with someone else.
And the only recourse player's have, the only tool in their arsenal, is leaving the game and looking for a DM who isn't abusing their powers. Perhaps we can redesign the game to give the players more options. But I think the worst thing is to just shrug and say that we can do nothing to improve. We can always improve.
Nope. It's impossible to redesign the game in that manner. Even if you put into the rules that the players can outvote the DM, a bad DM will just ignore that rule and push on. The only real recourse for a bad DM is leaving the game and getting another DM.
Again, shockingly, no other gaming community I am aware of has this level of problem with DM abuse, where people will tell me that the rules perfectly allow the DM to use weighted dice or anything else they feel like, and if the players don't like it they should just leave. Part of it are these "rules" being too broadly interpretted it, and part of it is this culture where we place all of the expectations of good behavior on the players.
I've had bad GM experiences with both Vampire the Masquerade and Exalted. This is not a D&D specific thing and I sincerely doubt it happens in any lower percentage of games with other game systems. You just hear less about it, because far fewer people play those systems.
But according to your philosophy, he can't be making mistakes. Everything he does is by the rules, and 100% right. No matter what.
Utterly wrong, but understanding me(and others from what I can see) isn't your strong suit.
Sure, maybe he will listen, but he might feel he did nothing wrong. And then come to these forums and be told constantly that he did nothing wrong, that it was the players who are complaining and whining that are wrong. And that leads to an increased likelihood of DM Power Trips and arrogance, because nothing causes arrogance more consistently than the belief that you can do no wrong.
Maybe you're new here, but I've been present on this site for years and you will be told(in some manner) that you did something wrong with just about any position you take.
No, I just have a different view on what true rarity is. If I can nearly guarantee that every person will meet 10 people with Down's in their life, then meeting a person with Down's isn't that rare. It is uncommon, but since they are so consistently around, it isn't rare. Most people will likely go their entire lives without meeting someone who is Amish. That is rare.

Since most people playing DnD have had at least one Bad DM, I don't consider them to be as rare as you think,.
No. It's rare regardless of your opinion. All rare means is that it doesn't occur very often. You seem to want it to mean unique or almost never found. It doesn't mean that.
Oh, I'm sorry, you only claimed that I "implied" he was a liar. While Lyxen just blatantly started accusing me of calling him a liar.
Wrong again! I never said that you implied that he was a liar. I said straight out that you did what I did, which was accuse him of being mistaken. That's it.

He has accused you of saying he was a liar. I don't agree with that. You just called him mistaken about things he experienced with his life and you did not.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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 ?

Sigh

Look, you want to be offended because I didn't remember every detail you've told me about your life over the last 3 weeks, I can't stop you. I'm not wasting more time telling you I didn't call you a liar if you refuse to believe me.

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

It isn't "only" that. I was responding to you randomly bringing up people being called stupid, which no one did.

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.

Which is exactly what I just said, so how am I wrong, if you just parrot what I said back at me? Seriously, is someone hacking my posts and rewriting them?

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.

See above.

... Because "That is probably wrong" was me talking about my observation, not your statements. Something I would have been glad to clarify if you hadn't jumped boot first down my throat with your indignation.

So, please explain, as I add in the clarity, how this is calling you a liar? "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 [observation and recollection of what I believe he said about his 4 decades of experience] is probably wrong, they probably have [because statistically it is more likely, and I may be misremembering]."

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.

No, complaining about railroading isn't entitlement. Calling someone a Bad DM for railroading by removing player agency isn't bad in and of itself. You don't get to call players whiners and then obfuscate that by making ridiculous hyperbolic claims.

Note that you acknowledge asking players if they want something "more guided" or "more sandboxy". This acknowledges the need to communicate with your players and get their consent. Instead, many DMs just decide that the will limit the player options until they can only do what the DM wants to happen. This is worthy of complaining, because it is not a preference of style, it is forcing a style upon someone against their will.

But you seem invested in the idea that the players can never be in the right.

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.

And yet, your position if taken literally, is that that one evening was something they deserved. Again, it isn't. It is likely little more than chance and convenience that brings people together, and no one deserves that turning into a rotten evening because of bad people.

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.

That line gets tossed around like that solves anything. "No DnD is better than Bad DnD!" but, have you considered it in practice, when paired with social norms? Have you considered what happens in a small community where you were the only player to speak up, and the only one to walk out, and the DM declares to the community that you were just an "entitled little-" of a player who couldn't stand not getting their way? At best it is your word against theirs, unless the other players speak up for you.

And not everyone has the luxury of playing with friends. Sure, that's the ideal, but a lot of us end up playing with strangers who hopefully become friends.

There is a lot that goes into these decisions, it is more complicated than just refusing to play if the game isn't to your liking. Especially if the pervailing culture is one of placing the blame with the players consistently.

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.

I disagree with just about all of that. And you seem to be ignoring my point in favor of just blaming the player, because the DM is the "master" and all trust and good things must flow too and from him. I mean, wow, it is literally pointless to do anything other than offer absolute trust to the DM, because he is the master of the world. Yet, you want to believe that arrogant DMs who abuse trust and twist the rules to leave their players helpless and confused in the game world, for some measure of power over other people don't exist? That it is all people making up stories because they are whiners and entitled?

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...

And again, considering DnD is a team game and people have abiltiies that affect more than just their own character, I don't see "it isn't even his character" as being relevant to the discussion.

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

So, you tell them that they can turn into any animal no larger than a bear. Which first of all, is telling them the rules, which as I said, is practically no different than reading them.

Except, that the practical differences are vast here. Because if that is what you told them, you have altered the rules to such an extent that I can't believe it. I could dig into the vast vast differences in the rules you have proposed, and the rules in the book, but that doesn't address the point.

If "you can turn in any animal no larger than a bear" are the only rules, then you telling the rules is the same as them reading those rules themselves. If they aren't, then the player is going to run into invisible barriers constantly as they find more things you didn't tell them (like the fact that they can't turn into a bear, nor can they turn into a sparrow). The game actually assumes that the players likely either read or had their abilities explained to them. And the game additionally assumes that those rules are likely going to be followed.

And yes, if you take the rules to a point where they in no way resemble DnD, then you are playing some TTRPG, but it isn't DnD 5e. Especially, if you just let the players sit down and declare abilities that they might be able to do, based on your whims, then you are likely playing a different game. Unless your position is that any time someone is playing in a fantasy world they are playing DnD, which I think is unsupported by the existence of multiple other Fantasy TTRPGs which are not DnD.

I have seen nothing of the kind.

Sure you have.

Absurdly so, and confrontational.

You mean, like a DM using weighted dice ?

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.

I find it fascinating that despite the fact I have constantly said I do not believe a single DM in this thread has ever cheated, that people are taking personal offense and seeing personal attacks in the very concept that a DM might be capable of cheating.

I have not said that you are a cheater. I have not said you are an abuser. I have not said you are a Bad DM. I have simply stated that such things are possible. Railroading, to my understanding, is the equivalent of handing a group of players a theatrical script, letting them know what their roles are, what their lines are, and what they are supposed to do to put on the performance desired. And yes, I have directly experienced the sensation of that being what the DM wanted out of a session, so I will call railroading a bad thing. If you think that means a linear adventure where you guide the party past logical points (such as which road you turn down to get the Viridian City) to get to the fun part, then I apoligize that we have different conceptions of what the term means, but you seem uninterested in exploring ideas, you simply want to blast me as advocating your style is badwrongfun, when I have done nothing of the sort.

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.

Kicking someone from a table can be malicious. I've seen and heard enough to know that is very possible. Many DMs who take any disagreement from a player as a sign they aren't right to game together, and kick them to "nip the problem in the bud".

Maybe the player should find a different group, but if their attitude is such that they are just mildly annoying to be around... that is going to be a constant problem for them. And I'm more than willing to put up with some mild annoyance if it isn't intentional or based in them trying to be malicious in some capacity.

And, I'm also never going to apologize for speaking up about a DM who is engaging in poor practices. If a DM decides to take away player agency without consulting the players first, then I'm going to call them out on it. Because behavior doesn't change if you never address it.

I'll match your story about your cousin with a story about a really good friend of mine. He was deeply into Magic the Gathering, and believed himself to be very very good at the game. I collected cards more by accident than anything else, but I had a few cards that gave rise to a very powerful combo, if I understood the interactions correctly. So, before we started playing a game, I pulled out those cards, showed them to him, and explained what I believed would happen with those effects. He agreed with me, and said it was fine to use them.

They got drawn, and played, and he started throwing a fit because he was losing. So, I surrendered the game and packed up my cards. I have never played Magic with him again. We are still very good friends. I understand why he is the way he is. We haven't talked much recently, because he moved states to get away from certain people and cut off his social media use, but that is life. I don't begrudge him being the way he is. I'll also call him on BS when he is acting out of line, because we can't change if we aren't aware of the need to change.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
No one is treating DMs as "smarter, wiser, more creative". That is nonsense. Although, I would say that the DM should at least get credit for stepping up and putting in the time to run the game. Don't conflate that commitment with being "smarter, wiser, more creative" though.

I was actually referencing a post by Lyxen (potentially in a different thread) where he directly said "your DM is likely more clever than you". There is a rather consistent through line with some posters and people online that the DM is somehow better than the players. Not everyone all the time in every thread, obviously, but it is something I have encountered more than once.

Your posts all seem to share a theme of dreading the abusive DM and somehow wanting to blame the game for it. I truly am sorry you've had bad luck with these kinds of DMs but it is certainly not the game's fault.

In 5e, the designers deliberately moved away from creating rules to curb abuses on both the DM and players side. Mainly, doing so simplifies game play for the vast majority of tables where people are gathered together for good faith play. Secondly, there is no perfect rule set that can curb abuses. Jerk DMs and players will always find a way. The solution lies not with the rules but with the social contract. Don't play with jerks. Maybe that's an oversimplification but it really can be that simple. No gaming is better than bad gaming -- a mantra I've seen on these forums before.

And again, I don't think that you can remove all abuses. I've said that repeatedly.

But what if the game in the same place in the DMG that says you as the DM can homebrew rules said that as a general rule, you as the DM should consult your players and possibly hold a vote over homebrewing rules that affect them directly? Would that be so bad? Would that overly complicate the rules?

And I know, "A Good DM will do that anyways, they don't need the rules to tell them" but the point isn't that Good DMs have good practices, but that we can improve the game by putting into the game books things that lead to better DMs. Because I find the status quo slides far too easily in the wrong direction.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
New names for Dungeon Master
Dungeon Guru
Rules Guru
Game producer
Game director
The B**** who we led play the monsters
Dungeon Dude
Dude
The wimp we bully when the game does not go our way.
Person to be Wedgie
They who should not be obeyed.
The Person we really need.

Honestly, I've been using "Dungeon Manager" for a while now.
 

I was actually referencing a post by Lyxen (potentially in a different thread) where he directly said "your DM is likely more clever than you". There is a rather consistent through line with some posters and people online that the DM is somehow better than the players. Not everyone all the time in every thread, obviously, but it is something I have encountered more than once.
Not here to discuss what someone might have said somewhere sometime. That said, perhaps I should have expressed my point as: "Virtually no one is treating...". Never say never (or always) and all that.

And again, I don't think that you can remove all abuses. I've said that repeatedly.

But what if the game in the same place in the DMG that says you as the DM can homebrew rules said that as a general rule, you as the DM should consult your players and possibly hold a vote over homebrewing rules that affect them directly? Would that be so bad? Would that overly complicate the rules?
You mean like the spirit of the text on page 4 of the DMG?

The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. You're the DM, and you are in charge of the game. That said, your goal isn't to slaughter the adventurers but to create a campaign world that revolves around their actions and decisions, and to keep your players coming back for more! If you're lucky, the events of your campaign will echo in the memories of your players long after the final game session is concluded.

And I know, "A Good DM will do that anyways, they don't need the rules to tell them" but the point isn't that Good DMs have good practices, but that we can improve the game by putting into the game books things that lead to better DMs. Because I find the status quo slides far too easily in the wrong direction.
Apparently that paragraph in the DMG wasn't enough for the abusive DMs you've encountered. How much more do you believe would suffice to curb the abuses that you seem to believe are inevitable? Do some of the rules need caveats to help prevent bad-faith gaming? Do most of them? Do they all?
 

I'll keep dungeon master. Although me and my players have a ery democratic approach to rules, I am the one creating or adapting the adventures and the campaigns for the players. I am the one doing most of the work (almost entirerly but sometimes, some players come up with brilliant ideas about some part of the setting that I just can't pass by, like the dragonborn refugees that got stranded in Greyhawk, allied themselves with mountain dwarves in the Abbor Alz mountains and elegantly justified their insertion in my campaign).

Since I doing almost all the work, it justify for me to have the final say on what will be allowed or not in my campaign.

As much as possible, I will try to rule with impartiality but if I make a mistake, I expect my players to tell me politely what was my mistake and it is duty to correct a mistake. But my role is not to take the side of the players, it is not to take the sides of their foes. I need to create interesting challenge and to make the world the characters are in as vivid and believable as possible. If the low level characters go into giant lands, they will die. The players know that. But as their foes learns about their reputations, the stance their foes will take will be in accordance to said reputation. And so will be their contracts/adventures. I have had bandits flee at the mere recognition of a group. I have had characters of fifth level being asked to say an ancient red dragon because a bard got lucky and made the whole city of Divvers believe the grossly exaggerations of the party's exploits.

Actions of the players' characters will have repercussions on the world and it is my job as a DM to make these reactions as believable as possible! They may become heroes or the villainous of villains. But that is the say of the players through their actions. My role is not to force them into the story I want to see. Let the dice decide the fate of the characters. But for all the rest, that is me. The DM.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
But what if the game in the same place in the DMG that says you as the DM can homebrew rules said that as a general rule, you as the DM should consult your players and possibly hold a vote over homebrewing rules that affect them directly? Would that be so bad? Would that overly complicate the rules?

Fwiw, Tasha's has a whole section about this, both house-rules and social contract. That's not technically "core", to be sure, but those ideas made it into Tasha's precisely because they're mainstream and in demand. And it's not uncommon for tables (including all of AL, if I understand correctly) to incorporate all WotC pubs by default. Heck, it's even codified in a popular meme, Wheaton's Law:

"Don't be a d*ck." *

So yeah... All this stuff that addresses your concerns is already out there. "Officially" even! If a DM (or player) is being a jerk, they're doing it contrary to widely regarded RAW, as well as social convention.


* Quack!
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Fwiw, Tasha's has a whole section about this, both house-rules and social contract. That's not technically "core", to be sure, but those ideas made it into Tasha's precisely because they're mainstream and in demand. And it's not uncommon for tables (including all of AL, if I understand correctly) to incorporate all WotC pubs by default.

So yeah... All this stuff that addresses your concerns is already out there. "Officially" even! If a DM (or player) is being a jerk, they're doing it contrary to widely regarded RAW.
Interesting, I've never seen this deployed to point out that others saying that it's the GM's world and they make the choices are playing wrong according to RAW. Perhaps I should look out for it in the future?
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Interesting, I've never seen this deployed to point out that others saying that it's the GM's world and they make the choices are playing wrong according to RAW. Perhaps I should look out for it in the future?
Perhaps you should. Since I have no idea what you're talking about, I can't help you, sorry.
 


Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Perhaps you should. Since I have no idea what you're talking about, I can't help you, sorry.
No problem, my sarcasm was probably a tad too subtle. I was mainly pointing out that the bits in Tasha's you're referring to aren't actually rules, so not RAW, and don't actually contradict a GM that's making changes unilaterally. I did this in the guise of asking why if this was so it wasn't being trotted out to correct GMs that insist the game is entirely theirs and they can't ever cheat, because, if what you suggest was RAW, then not seeking consensus for a change would be cheating.
 

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