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General How Was Your Last Session?

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
100+ sessions into my Tyranny of Dragons/Scales of War mashup and the 5 player characters are 17th level. When the elf arcane trickster rogue was created, his player said the rogue had amnesia. He left it to me to conceive the rogue's true origin. So, I decided the rogue is actually the elven god of trickery in mortal form. This plot thread has been dangling for over 3 years. Only now, in this adventure, is it being resolved.

The session started with the PCs on the plane of Arvandor, outside the trickery god's sole temple, fighting an ancient green dragon with minions sent by Tiamat to stop them. The tiefling shadow sorcerer dropped a meteor swarm. For the first time. It did not disappoint. That was pretty much the end of the fight.

Inside the temple--the Temple of Mischief--the players found a nearly empty space with a single statue that resembled both the rogue and his twin sister. (She's his mortal enemy who he slew in a previous adventure, but whom he'll soon discover represents another aspect of himself.) Passing through a doorway they entered into what is basically a dream sequence that will reveal the origin and history of how the elven god became the arcane trickster rogue.

Next session: More dream sequences!
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Last session I played in was really good. We've gone 1st thru 10th in the City-State of Vesta, an ancient Greek reskin of Ravnica. Anyway, we'd kicked over the bees hive and things were close to a civil war between the factions, with some factions we had allies trying to calm it down, as well as Athena's Legions (whom we belonged to, though in an A-Team like manner). However, our detractors were using us a a point to delegitimize the martial law that had been declared to stop the fighting because we were wanted criminals (framed) by Zeus and the legions were sheltering us.

So the last session ended with us asking for voluntary exile to allow the legion to hold Vesta together, and this one started with us outside the city-state for the first time. It's a completely new scale for us, and all of our allies and enemies are far away. And the DM didn't hold back. He's layering Theros on top of our homebrew reskin, and we're already embroiled in a plot by a Returned to collect the artifacts left behind by the gods to become divine. After an epic escape from their forces, we are sailing away with the dead and un-revivable (so far) body of the oracle he had come to slay (and succeeded in doing so), knowing of multiple divine artifacts he has - a lyre that allows him to summon monsters, a sword he killed the oracle with in a single blow, and a starry shroud, the same stars appearing on her death wound (and preventing her raising).

Just a very dramatic start to a whole new season of the campaign on a much bigger canvas.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Our session today was... wet.

The bad guys were doing a major summoning at the waterfront, and we were pressed for time to stop them. They managed to call up a water elemental and a water weird before their spellcaster went down. We were worried, because we were nowhere near at top resources.

Luckily, the water elemental found our barbarian too much to swallow (the character didn't need to breathe, so couldn't be drowned, and was resistant to the bludgeoning damage it was dishing out). The water weird dragged me under, but I was wearing the party's cap of water breathing.

However, I was still in trouble, as the weird was dishing out a lot of damage, and my dice weren't with me - my attempts to break out of the grapple and restraint were pitiful. I decided to try change tactics and attack, though I'd be at disadvantage... And my dice blessed me.

It is a glorious thing to cast a smiting spell, and you swing at disadvantage... but roll a 16 and a 17! And then fall only one point short of max damage on the roll! I beat down the weird just as the other two party members finished off the elemental.

Soggy, but successful!
 

Nod_Hero

Explorer
We had our session zero and session one of a new Dark Sun campaign.
It was vigorous, as our party faced down some bandits and all kinds of weird desert critters.
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
Just finished a great session, except I killed off my new NPC within the first few minutes of the session.

The party has been doing a fair bit of work for the local temple of Tyr, so when the party was needed for an urgent task I created what I thought would be an interesting, long term recurring NPC.

We prepped for the VTT session with role playing via Discord. Session starts with a big combat, and my NPC takes a lucky crit from an enemy archer then fails her save against an amazingly rolled fireball from an enemy sorcerer. -15 hp before the end of the first round of her first combat, and she had yet to take an action..

RIP Sister Beatrice, Blessed of Tyr. I’m sure the party will put all of your potions to good use.
 
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Our last session was cancelled. Complaints regarding one of our campaigns had been voiced on our Discord channel, after our DM refused to discuss it directly with us last week. Perhaps at that moment he was not in the right mind space for something to confrontational, so instead he send us a document with his thoughts, before we had a time to voice ours. This approach did not go over well. But, voice our complaints we did. Last sunday we talked it over. Not all of our issues with the campaign were directly aimed at the DM, although still a lot of them were.

Our biggest complaints were the railroading, the slowness of the sessions, and how our DM was prone to handing us a list of possible actions, instead of letting us think for ourselves. Being a DM myself, I try to be as constructive and positive as possible. I understand that the game can demand a lot of prep work, and it should never feel like work. I would be okay with playing less often, if this would improve the quality of the sessions. But we all have some doubts whether our DM really took our complaints to heart. He seemed more inclined to deflect, rather than listen. This has raised worries for the future of this particular campaign. In the end, we are all a group of friends who like playing D&D together. And we'd like to continue doing that. But lately the campaign has become a bit of a slog, and it feels as if neither the DM nor the players' hearts are into it.

It puzzles me a bit. I've never had any issues like this with any of my own campaigns. But it seems that with this particular DM, discussions like this come up every few months or so. Now some players feel like quiting this campaign entirely, which would be a shame. But honestly, if we all have doubts regarding whether any of this will improve in future sessions, then perhaps putting a stop to it is the best thing to do.

I'm curious to hear if others have been in similar situations like this...
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
Our last session was cancelled. Complaints regarding one of our campaigns had been voiced on our Discord channel, after our DM refused to discuss it directly with us last week. Perhaps at that moment he was not in the right mind space for something to confrontational, so instead he send us a document with his thoughts, before we had a time to voice ours. This approach did not go over well. But, voice our complaints we did. Last sunday we talked it over. Not all of our issues with the campaign were directly aimed at the DM, although still a lot of them were.

Our biggest complaints were the railroading, the slowness of the sessions, and how our DM was prone to handing us a list of possible actions, instead of letting us think for ourselves. Being a DM myself, I try to be as constructive and positive as possible. I understand that the game can demand a lot of prep work, and it should never feel like work. I would be okay with playing less often, if this would improve the quality of the sessions. But we all have some doubts whether our DM really took our complaints to heart. He seemed more inclined to deflect, rather than listen. This has raised worries for the future of this particular campaign. In the end, we are all a group of friends who like playing D&D together. And we'd like to continue doing that. But lately the campaign has become a bit of a slog, and it feels as if neither the DM nor the players' hearts are into it.

It puzzles me a bit. I've never had any issues like this with any of my own campaigns. But it seems that with this particular DM, discussions like this come up every few months or so. Now some players feel like quiting this campaign entirely, which would be a shame. But honestly, if we all have doubts regarding whether any of this will improve in future sessions, then perhaps putting a stop to it is the best thing to do.

I'm curious to hear if others have been in similar situations like this...
Yes. From what you've said, it sounds like there is a core issue of expectations of GM vs. expectations of the players, but these issues have bubbled over and it's become personal.

If you as players have honestly and constructively raised your concerns and the GM ignores them, then it's probably time to stop this game. Maybe someone else GMs a different game, or you socialize for a while with non-TTRPG avenues. Because if it keeps going on without change, from experience it's going to end up with people leaving the game and possibly ending some friendships.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
very interesting. As in two of the group want to turn to Kobold slavers. Had a player tear up because he could not handle the in game griping about his pc. I made popcorn.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
our last session was BANANAS.

through catacombs to a room with a narrow bridge over 60’ long to a dais/temple from which wights with longbows started nailing us.

On either side were pits FULL of ghouls. So my cleric 1/warlock 7 celestial patron blade pact warlock decides to run down the narrow bridge to engage the undead archers. Once there the first wight dropped his longbow, rolled well and shoved me into the ghoul pit.

the whole party used every resource to keep me alive. I used tomb of Levistus to live a few rounds.

I cast protection from good and evil and the Paladin threw sanctuary on me.

somehow I crawled out of the teeming pit after getting to a rope ladder with 6 hit points! no spells, spent. They pursued.

We took turns getting paralyzed and being drug and then subsequently dragging our paralyzed friends.

we left beaten to a pulp and pursued to the surface world. Every round was do or die. Any additional failure would have been a party wipe....

anyway, in case you wondered, falling into a pit of ghouls sucks even at our level.

had I beaten the wights athletics check it would have been a totally different game!

the whole day got shaped with one important roll...
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
You know when you spend hours creating a finely tuned tactical combat encounter and your players negate it in one fell swoop? Yeah, that's what happened. I'm still raw about it...

This is my Dragon Heist/Deck of Many Things mashup with three 4th level PCs. Rogue, fighter, wizard. The rogue's uncle has been kidnapped by the Xanathar Guild and is under interrogation.

I borrowed the Sodden Hold location from the Hall of Harsh Reflections, an old Dungeon adventure that's part of the Age of Worms campaign. It's a pretty cool map with a lot of varied terrain. I rekeyed the entire map and put together about five combat encounters that I thought would really test the PC's mettle. But the rogue's player had other ideas.

The first thing they did was walk up to the front door and claim they wanted to surrender. The rogue aced his Deception check. Once inside, they were told to put on manacles. They aced their Slight of Hand checks to only appear to have locked shut the manacles. Then they were escorted by five monstrous guards to the interrogation chamber where the rogue's uncle was held. Inside was a nothic, a gibbering mouther, a troll, and two grimlocks. The PCs were so heavily outnumbered that I started to worry about a TPK. But the rogue pulled out a magical potion and bluffed that it was flask of "pyromancer's fire" (think Game of Thrones) and if the creatures didn't follow his instructions precisely he would burn them all down. Once again, he aced the Deception check. The troll was terrified. The PCs grabbed the uncle, blocked the doorways behind them, cut down a few stray grimlocks, and fled into the sewers with nary a scratch.

They were thrilled.

I was not.

Next session: The lost lair of the Shadow Thieves!
 


THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
That sounds like a fantastic session. If the players have that much fun (even if they do cheese the encounter), I am happy as a DM. Being surprised by the resourcefulness of your players is one of the joys of being a DM.
I'm being tongue-in-cheek in my post. It was a fantastic session. And I totally agree that being surprised by players is one of the greatest (or even the greatest) joys as a DM.

But.

I've wanted to run that epic fight in the Sodden Hold for years!
 


I intended to run a 3-part murder mystery over Zoom. We had part 4 on Monday, and the party only just discovered the murder victim.

I was perhaps too optimistic about my ability to smoothly set up a mystery with 10 suspects. It involves roleplaying a lot of NPCs. But apparently the players are into it.
 

Azuresun

Explorer
My Primeval Thule game:

The PC's needed a boat to get off the cursed island they found themselves in, and convincingly bushwacked the slavers who had an outpost there. It was an entertaining stomp--one highlight was a panicked enemy jumping into the water of the docks, and the dwarf barbarian jumping in after him! Afterwards, they headed towards Ikath, the "City of Serpents" known as a lawless city of vice. They took advantage of this, partying hard after their brushes with death or slavery, formally deciding to work together and looking for work. They got offers from an ambitious lieutenant of the local crime lord, an Atlantean aristocrat and a sinister sorcerer who only spoke through his bodyguard ("Mighty Raan-Soloth has deigned to offer you great rewards if you perform a task suitable even for your limited intellect.....") The warlock of Hastur had disturbing dreams of Carcosa somewhere in the middle of all that and woke up to find new rituals copied into his Book of Shadows.

I'm basing this on a suggested campaign arc from the PT book, where all three of them are offering the PC's the same quest--the two patrons they refuse (and their minions) will become their rivals.

One thing I really liked was how the PC's are coming out of their shells and beginning to roleplay more--it got a cheer / groan from the group when I asked how the group were waking up after their night of partying (when the patrons contacted them), and the aforementioned dwarf replied "in a stable". :)
 
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pogre

Legend
But lately the campaign has become a bit of a slog, and it feels as if neither the DM nor the players' hearts are into it.

It puzzles me a bit. I've never had any issues like this with any of my own campaigns. But it seems that with this particular DM, discussions like this come up every few months or so. Now some players feel like quiting this campaign entirely, which would be a shame. But honestly, if we all have doubts regarding whether any of this will improve in future sessions, then perhaps putting a stop to it is the best thing to do.

I'm curious to hear if others have been in similar situations like this...
If I am not having fun playing - I leave the campaign. If I am not enjoying running the campaign - I shut it down.

If I ever begin to dread a session - that's a clue for me to move on.

No gaming is better than bad gaming. YMMV

Were you kind of relieved the session was cancelled?

Our biggest complaints were the railroading, the slowness of the sessions, and how our DM was prone to handing us a list of possible actions, instead of letting us think for ourselves.
From an outsider's perspective -
1st slow play is a cardinal sin for me.
2nd railroading can be alright - if it leads to real fun.
3rd a DM offering solutions sounds like a person who would rather be playing the game than running the game.
 

Were you kind of relieved the session was cancelled?

Honestly? Yes. There were better ways for me to spend my afternoon. Plus the heavy discussion put noone in the mood to play.

3rd a DM offering solutions sounds like a person who would rather be playing the game than running the game.

That is possible, but it also ties into the railroading. Our DM does not seem to understand that he shouldn't be steering our actions as players. His description of a scene should be enough for us to decide a course of action. Instead he continues by also telling us what our next actions could be. Thinking up solutions is half the fun of being a player, but he takes that fun away from us all the time, or pidgeon-holes us into doing one of his suggested actions, by making our own ideas impossible. He does not wait for us to think up a response, and immediately makes suggestions regarding our next course of action; either explicitly as a DM, or through one of his many npc's, who hand the solution to us. He seems obsessed with steering us into a preferred direction. It also feels like we get punished whenever we ignore his suggested actions.

Also quite often abilities that our characters have, suddenly stop working, or the rules for them are changed, to further rob us of autonomy and control. While I believe the DM has the right to houserule some things, I think the rules exist for a reason and should be applied consistently. If the DM find situational reasons to change how our feats work, then why did we pick them?
 
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pogre

Legend
... but it also ties into the railroading. Our DM does not seem to understand that he shouldn't be steering our actions as players. His description of a scene should be enough for us to decide a course of action. Instead he continues by also telling us what our next actions could be. Thinking up solutions is half the fun of being a player, but he takes that fun away from us all the time, or pidgeon-holes us into doing one of his suggested actions, by making our own ideas impossible. He does not wait for us to think up a response, and immediately makes suggestions regarding our next course of action; either explicitly as a DM, or through one of his many npc's, who hand the solution to us. He seems obsessed with steering us into a preferred direction. It also feels like we get punished whenever we ignore his suggested actions.

Also quite often abilities that our characters have, suddenly stop working, or the rules for them are changed, to further rob us of autonomy and control. While I believe the DM has the right to houserule some things, I think the rules exist for a reason and should be applied consistently. If the DM find situational reasons to change how our feats work, then why did we pick them?
That is tough. I can feel your frustration. I certainly would not last long in a campaign like that.
 

pogre

Legend
We had an interesting session this past Thursday. The PCs blew up a tavern at the request of the owner. It was a trap engineered to take out some enemies of the owner from a past life who were coming after him and make it look like he had perished too. Some close calls with the gunpowder trap, but in the end - mission accomplished.

I had the whole tavern laid out and the players enjoyed gathering info and planning/engineering the trap.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Last session was .. decent and fun filler.

Our now 10th level campaign changed scope two sessions ago as a result of player agency, moving to a much bigger one but one where we also can't really return to where we were without undermining what we want to happen.

Last session the DM ran a beautiful start to this larger scope, getting the all-religious party involved in someone escaped from the lands of the dead profaning and collecting artifacts of the gods, and slaying the oracle we were seeing. Big plot set up. We ended the session sailing away from the oracle's isle with her dead body, fireballing some opposing ships (much bigger but slower) on the way out to delay our foe.

Then the DM is like "where do you sail next" in an open-world sort of way, but none of the characters (nor any of the players) have any information about this larger context. We randomly picked a place by name, and the DM started working on it for the next (this past) session. (It was a bit after that which we realized that we had a bunch of divination magic we could pull out but not the expensive material components for some of it, so we didn't go for that yet.)

So we had a good session exploring a destroyed and profaned temple to our shared (mostly) goddess, and ended the session mid epic battle because we ran way over on time and one of the players had work early today.

As a session, it was fun exploration and discovery, some RP, some puzzles, some combat. But in the larger scheme it feels like we can't make meaningful choices where to go next, and this place isn't giving us what we need either in terms of clues or ability to purchase specific expensive spell components to use Divination. So it's filler and we're soon again going to be at the crossroads of telling the DM where we want to sail next without being able to make it a meaningful choice.
 

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