D&D General How to be a Better DM: One Size Doesn't Fit All

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Solved because the person got advice on a forum... that is the part you left out.

A player at an all-male table keeps making crude remarks about female NPCs. The others don't like it. The DM has said something. It did not stop. They come to a forum for an answer. Do you really believe a stranger's advice (one who does not know the DM or the players) will help this? Do you think they will come up with something that the table or DM could not have come up with on their own?
Yes. Otherwise, I have to accept that advice cannot ever help.
A player keeps using mage hand in unique ways (at least to the DM). The DM asks the forum for advice on how they would handle it. They answer. And the reason their answers work is because they know the entire context. They understand mage hand.
The same problems exist here, though. The table or GM could have come up with this on their own. The internet person may or may not have context, but that wasn't your argument above -- it was that nothing said on the internet could possibly be something that the table couldn't come up with on their own. This is a losing argument.
What they do not understand is the context of a problematic player or DM. Someone might come along and say, "I had a player like that once. We cut him from the group." This is something the DM will have thought of. Another might come along and say, "Communication is key. I think you need to sit down and talk one-on-one with the player and express how you feel when they make those jokes." Another thing anyone who actually considers a problem will have thought of. Another might come along and say, "Give an ultimatum." This is also something the DM will have thought of.
You're relying on perfect context, which is another losing argument. Advice doesn't need to have perfect understanding to be useful. Also, if a table is coming to the internet for advice, they lack perfect context themselves. You're requiring advice to only be useful if perfect context exists. I disagree vigorously.

And I do so because I've received good advice that I've used from the internet to address table problems. Sure, in some perfect world, I might have imagined these things eventually, but I didn't. I get them from the internet. Heck, session zero isn't an obvious tool and it heads of lots of table problems and it suggested to people that haven't heard of it all the time on the internet.
That is what I am speaking of. If it is an actual table-problem, the options are apparent. There is no need for advice. And if they do take any advice, there is a greater chance of it being wrong because the advice giver does not know the entire context.
So, if I have a social problem with real people in real life, I never need advice on how to deal with it. And advice given is always worse than no advice given.

Yeah, hard nope.
 

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Mort

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Supporter
Solved because the person got advice on a forum... that is the part you left out.

A player at an all-male table keeps making crude remarks about female NPCs. The others don't like it. The DM has said something. It did not stop. They come to a forum for an answer. Do you really believe a stranger's advice (one who does not know the DM or the players) will help this? Do you think they will come up with something that the table or DM could not have come up with on their own?

A player keeps using mage hand in unique ways (at least to the DM). The DM asks the forum for advice on how they would handle it. They answer. And the reason their answers work is because they know the entire context. They understand mage hand.

What they do not understand is the context of a problematic player or DM. Someone might come along and say, "I had a player like that once. We cut him from the group." This is something the DM will have thought of. Another might come along and say, "Communication is key. I think you need to sit down and talk one-on-one with the player and express how you feel when they make those jokes." Another thing anyone who actually considers a problem will have thought of. Another might come along and say, "Give an ultimatum." This is also something the DM will have thought of.

That is what I am speaking of. If it is an actual table-problem, the options are apparent. There is no need for advice. And if they do take any advice, there is a greater chance of it being wrong because the advice giver does not know the entire context.
@Ovinomancer covered a lot already but just to add:

When you (the general you) are close to a problem sometimes the options are quite opaque because though you may have context (though not nearly as often as you imply) you,(again the general you) often lack perspective, the problem is just too close.

Plus, while any given problem may be new to you, it likely is NOT new to a forum of experienced gamers - several have likely encountered it.

As stated up thread, table problems are very rarely unique and there are better and worse ways to deal with them. It's great to have a tool such as an internet forum to see what has and hasn't worked for similar problems to yours.
 


@Ovinomancer covered a lot already but just to add:

When you (the general you) are close to a problem sometimes the options are quite opaque because though you may have context (though not nearly as often as you imply) you,(again the general you) often lack perspective, the problem is just too close.

Plus, while any given problem may be new to you, it likely is NOT new to a forum of experienced gamers - several have likely encountered it.

As stated up thread, table problems are very rarely unique and there are better and worse ways to deal with them. It's great to have a tool such as an internet forum to see what has and hasn't worked for similar problems to yours.
I bolded the part that is also true for a person on a forum giving advice that only hears one side of the issue.
Scott's examples are also extremes. Most social problems in a gaming group are a lot more borderline and/or subtle than that.
I gave those examples because those are table problems. Not - the player keeps ordering food during combat or the player keeps getting on their phone. Those are not problems, they are preferences.

You see, I feel that those defending are looking at it as if they actually know the people involved. If you were to tell me, Player A is creating for Player B, and I know both of them. I know their relationship. And yes, I hang out with both of them. Then yes, you have perspective. Even better, you have context.

But what you are saying is that an unknown person who only hears one side of the story, and by default, has limited context and perspective, has a better chance of coming up with options than a person who is there. I respectfully disagree.
 

Mort

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Supporter
I bolded the part that is also true for a person on a forum giving advice that only hears one side of the issue.

I gave those examples because those are table problems. Not - the player keeps ordering food during combat or the player keeps getting on their phone. Those are not problems, they are preferences.

You see, I feel that those defending are looking at it as if they actually know the people involved. If you were to tell me, Player A is creating for Player B, and I know both of them. I know their relationship. And yes, I hang out with both of them. Then yes, you have perspective. Even better, you have context.

But what you are saying is that an unknown person who only hears one side of the story, and by default, has limited context and perspective, has a better chance of coming up with options than a person who is there. I respectfully disagree.

But what you are saying is - there is just no point in asking for advice - no one out there could possibly know the problem you're having better than you yourself.

You're actually arguing that asking for outside advice is BAD.

This is how problems perpetuate. By this weird notion that no one outside your immediate group can possibly help or could possibly have gone through a similar situation?!?

I mean, if an acquaintance, new to gaming, who knows you've been gaming a long time comes to you and says "Hey, I'm having this issue at my table..." is your response honestly going to be "Nah man, you'll have to solve that yourself, no point in me giving you any advice..."
 

But what you are saying is - there is just no point in asking for advice - no one out there could possibly know the problem you're having better than you yourself.

You're actually arguing that asking for outside advice is BAD.

This is how problems perpetuate. By this weird notion that no one outside your immediate group can possibly help or could possibly have gone through a similar situation?!?

I mean, if an acquaintance, new to gaming, who knows you've been gaming a long time comes to you and says "Hey, I'm having this issue at my table..." is your response honestly going to be "Nah man, you'll have to solve that yourself, no point in me giving you any advice..."

Here’s some advice that I hope will serve two purposes.

We should all stop replying to Scott on this matter.

First… we’ll all keep our sanity.

Second… it will show that advice from strangers on the internet can work out.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Here’s some advice that I hope will serve two purposes.

We should all stop replying to Scott on this matter.

First… we’ll all keep our sanity.

Second… it will show that advice from strangers on the internet can work out.
I think you're right - but it is a bit maddening!

Edit: I am going to add - when posting on stuff like this. It is RARELY for the benefit of the person you are responding to. The chance of changing the mind of an opposing view on the internet is usually around 0%.

But it's for the benefit of others looking at the post - I just REALLY don't want people thinking that the ONLY way to approach a problem is by relying solely on yourself when there is clear help out there. Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and solve problems yourself! Far from it.

But you shouldn't limit the tools you use to do so, and a good message forum is one such tool.
 

I bolded the part that is also true for a person on a forum giving advice that only hears one side of the issue.

I gave those examples because those are table problems. Not - the player keeps ordering food during combat or the player keeps getting on their phone. Those are not problems, they are preferences.

Whether something is a problem or not is in the eye of the beholder. Its not an objective quality.

You see, I feel that those defending are looking at it as if they actually know the people involved. If you were to tell me, Player A is creating for Player B, and I know both of them. I know their relationship. And yes, I hang out with both of them. Then yes, you have perspective. Even better, you have context.

But what you are saying is that an unknown person who only hears one side of the story, and by default, has limited context and perspective, has a better chance of coming up with options than a person who is there. I respectfully disagree.

Given I've seen it happen, disagree all you want. You're ignoring, among other things, that the same thing that gives someone context can also give them tunnel vision.
 

But what you are saying is - there is just no point in asking for advice - no one out there could possibly know the problem you're having better than you yourself.

You're actually arguing that asking for outside advice is BAD.

This is how problems perpetuate. By this weird notion that no one outside your immediate group can possibly help or could possibly have gone through a similar situation?!?

I mean, if an acquaintance, new to gaming, who knows you've been gaming a long time comes to you and says "Hey, I'm having this issue at my table..." is your response honestly going to be "Nah man, you'll have to solve that yourself, no point in me giving you any advice..."
Please read what I wrote. I said asking for advice from an impartial person - who has an understanding of the context and both sides of the problem, is beneficial. It stands to reason someone who knows the people involved and the entirety of the context is helpful. A person on an internet forum hearing one side is not anymore helpful than a person trying to solve it on their own, and often times, will be less helpful.
 

Please read what I wrote. I said asking for advice from an impartial person - who has an understanding of the context and both sides of the problem, is beneficial. It stands to reason someone who knows the people involved and the entirety of the context is helpful. A person on an internet forum hearing one side is not anymore helpful than a person trying to solve it on their own, and often times, will be less helpful.

This only follows if you don't think people can convey enough of the context to be useful, or won't. That's not self-evidently true. In fact, in the case of such discussions coming up I've rarely seen the go one without one or more people asking questions before they'd respond.
 

This only follows if you don't think people can convey enough of the context to be useful, or won't. That's not self-evidently true. In fact, in the case of such discussions coming up I've rarely seen the go one without one or more people asking questions before they'd respond.
I understand where all of you are coming from. Can we agree that people voicing problems often don't give complete context? And when they do (which they do sometimes), they still windup leaving stuff out... because in their head it isn't relevant. Does that seem true to you? They may leave out the fact that the problem player happens to be a little jealous of some relationship at the table. Petty? Sure. But it might just be overlooked by the poster. It's context, or in this case, sub-context, that isn't relayed.

As much as what it drives you all crazy that I am not acquiescing, it drives me just as crazy that you won't concede a simple fact: hearing one side of a story, and one often incomplete, does not accrue better advice than someone trying to solve it themselves. To me it makes me think you believe that people are either incapable or not emotionally cognizant enough to handle a table problem. (I don't think you think this, but that is what it implies.) I think players are able to solve table problems. And even more so, I think they are better off not hearing the opinions of people who only hear one side of the story. To me, that often leads to someone using a poster's message as condoning an action or some type of evidence that what they thought was right, is just that, right.

But I get it. You believe people offer good advice (and I do believe it comes from a good and genuine place). And it may be advice someone with a problem hasn't heard or didn't think of. That's fair. I get it. We'll just have to agree to disagree.
 

I understand where all of you are coming from. Can we agree that people voicing problems often don't give complete context? And when they do (which they do sometimes), they still windup leaving stuff out... because in their head it isn't relevant. Does that seem true to you? They may leave out the fact that the problem player happens to be a little jealous of some relationship at the table. Petty? Sure. But it might just be overlooked by the poster. It's context, or in this case, sub-context, that isn't relayed.

When that's the case, what makes you assume the person presenting it would be any better at shaking it down? After all, they've either shuffled off into irrelevancy or ignored things that are important about context. If a person can't properly describe the context, they probably aren't paying attention to it themself.

As much as what it drives you all crazy that I am not acquiescing, it drives me just as crazy that you won't concede a simple fact: hearing one side of a story, and one often incomplete, does not accrue better advice than someone trying to solve it themselves

Because I don't think its true in any consistent fashion. The fact you seem unable to believe there can be enough value to getting a third party opinion to be useful seems to make the concession you want, simply wrong. So here we are.

. To me it makes me think you believe that people are either incapable or not emotionally cognizant enough to handle a table problem.

Incapable? No. Fail at it fairly frequently? Yes. In fact, I have any number of years of hearing and seeing things cook up enough I will state it with as much certainty as I can absolutely anything.
 

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