D&D General I need a D&D counseling session! Help! (Re: Update ("Argument-Stopping Protocols" -- please advise!))

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You're describing my unfortunate behavior of the past, and I acknowledge that problem. I asked the question of GMs that can actually enjoy joining players who want to be creative at the table.

Let me expand on what I am trying to say....

Let's assume for this example that you are a player at my table and I am the GM. We have never played before. You are a friend of a friend so I know little to nothing about you other than its your first game with me.

ME: OK, Droop, we are playing a homebrew game. We use all the official WotC books as source material for your character. I don't usually allow 3rd party or homebrew material, but if you REALLY need to try something out I will take a look at it.

YOU: I want to play a fighter that uses polearms. I want to use the rules for High Elves, but I want to storywise be a Wild Elf (i'm odd in my tribe). I want to start with a magical polearm that has been in my family for generations, and was once a powerful artifact that was used to kill the Dragon Queen eons ago which ushered in the era of magic in the world. I took the liberty of statting it up...

SuperAwesome Dragon Queen Slaying Polearm
+2 to hit/damage
+3d6 damage vs. dragons
Resistance to dragon sourced elemental damage
Can never be taken against my will


Your creativity in this example is deliberately written to go from "least disruptive" to "most disruptive".

You pick a fighter who uses polearms: Great choice 100% by the book, no issues at all.

You want to reskin a High Elf to be a Wild Elf: You have only changed story. My campaign certainly can accommodate this with ZERO effort. Go for it! (Note that reskinning is my favorite way of sticking to the rules but flexing my creativity as a player).

You want to start with a magical polearm: This the request that puts you on the edge of creativity bouncing up against my game. Magical items are designed to be used sparingly in 5e, and even then not usually at low levels. I COULD figure out a way to give you a starting magical polearm however I would balance it by assigning it some trade offs to keep it fair for the players who DON'T start with a magic weapon. If, however, I didn't want to let you have one FOR WHATEVER REASON then the correct response on your end is to say "OK, I guess Sabathius42 likes to stick to those item level suggestions pretty closely".

You want your starting magical item to have been super powerful in the past: Once again, I could make this happen with some thought, but that is going to mean that its going to take the item the entire course of the campaign to "level up" alongside of you. You can't just start with a powerful artifact, no matter how many negatives are assigned to it.

You describe there existing a Dragon Queen (easy to add to most campaigns history) which is fine and reasonable but then you add the super background changing idea that her death allowed the other races to use magic. No, you can't design something this big as a player. You can suggest it. Maybe I can make it work, maybe I can't. Its odd to suggest something that "BIG" when it has no impact on the character you created. This is the level of creativity that players shouldn't be expecting the GM to incorporate.

You custom designed actual stats for a item your character shouldn't have anyway: Absolute hard no. If you are asking the GM to grant you a magical weapon for a starting low level character you are already asking a lot of them. Take what they give you and be happy with it. Furthermore, in the example I provided you are asking for a weapon that would be considered Legendary, which a low level character shouldn't own for rules balance purposes.


Continuing my example, if you showed up at my table and asked for all those things I'd generate a low powered magical polearm for you and tell you that it can "power up" over time. I would then, behind the scenes, work out a system for that "powering up" and roll it out when the design was finished. That really should be the end of the conversation on the mechanics of the polearm for the campaign.

If the next week you showed up for session 2 and told me that your family also has a magical suit of armor that goes along with the polearm, and that you would like to get that also, I would be annoyed and tell you no, you already have one item ahead of time, you aren't going to get two. If you complained that your story demands you have magical armor, I would be super annoyed.

If you showed up on week 3 and had a bad combat because your magic polearm negative kicked in and complained aloud about how it doesn't make sense that a super powerful magic polearm should be really awesome, not hindering you I would be tempted to take it away, be annoyed again, and begin to reconsider wanting you at my table if you are going to be like this every week.

If you showed up on week 4, had a great combat, defeated the big bad guy, and complained when the magical armor you wanted didn't show up in the treasure pile I would have a personal conversation with you that you need to reel it in or maybe my game isn't for you.

If you showed up on week 5 and during a session of interacting with the town your character begins proselytizing about how all magic users are evil because their power flows from the blood of the Dragon Queen flowing into the ocean even though I have no interest in incorporating this fiction into my campaign world I am going to ask you to not play in my game anymore.


I realize that this fictional example is "putting words in your mouth" but I am trying to illustrate to you that there is a line that exists between the players and the GM and creativity on the players part should never infringe on the other side of that line. You can suggest a reasonable number of things, but the GM has the ultimate right to say "No, that isn't how it is going to work in my game." and that should be the end of the conversation. You should limit your number of suggestions and those suggestions should all have a tie in with your character's story.

If you are only a player, not a GM, stick to creativity involving only the story. Do not get creative with rules or mechanics. This goes quadruple if the GM has literally asked you to stop doing so and just play the game as it is written.

the Jester

I realize I have a question to add to your post. And I would love to hear some people at least verify the validity of the point I would like to add.

I have to agree with your assessment of my situation - with this specific DM.
I would add this too, that also no DM wants me to act out about dice rolls, etc. Any bad behavior I have to own and deal with. That is universal.

But I am not yet convinced in overly fixing the separate rolls between player and DM . If I have potential as a DM, then it is clear that a DM (me) would be very happy to have a player engage on the level of correcting facets of things that might offer rich experiences and learning. Feats, spells, whatever. Isn't this the basis of friends who like to home brew? Sure, I'd have limits, but I expect I can't be the only one who imagines a friendly partnership between players and DM in this way.

You can certainly imagine it, but you can't impose it as a player, and asking after being told 'no' is being pushy in a way that quickly enters bad player territory.

Some DMs allow basically no input into the game. Others might let you dabble in ideas only for the story of the game, while others might welcome only mechanics. The possibilities are endless, and the level of input the DM allows is not something you should try to negotiate once he's drawn the line.

On a personal level, I am far more interested in things like letting pcs research unique spells than I am in things like giving a player some special magic item just because they want it or it suits their character. The treasure you find is not something you get to have any input on, unless you provide that input via in game actions, such as going after a monster known to collect gems or into a gem mine if you want to find gems.

I don't see myself as pure DMs nightmare. I do see myself as a nightmare for my friend DM. Are people going to insist that my asks are in the majority a problem, or ok in themselves and just need the right DM. My asks are one thing. Bad behavior is another thing.

I suppose there's a right game (and DM) for everyone. You have a lot of playstyle preferences, such as no traps, no pc death, loose and changing rules, etc., that fly in the face of what I prefer, but to each their own. The real problem is that you keep trying to push what you want in the face of the DM not wanting it. Take no for an answer and learn to live with it or find a group whose DM is 'looser' and more tolerant of what you're after.

See, that's the thing: after a certain point, your asks are the bad behavior, if you won't stop asking.

Please understand, I'm not trying to say that your playstyle preferences are bad or wrong, just that they are bad for this group. The best resolution, I think, ends with you running your own game and/or in a game run by a DM who is in to allowing a lot of input and a group who is accepting of your preferences.

I am separating the two things and looking for whether another culture exists here than those who relate to my friend as DM.

Yes. I have seen or played in groups that are very much what you are after. Though your playstyle preferences don't provide what I want in my game, they can be tons of fun for those who enjoy them. The right DM is out there for you, you just have to find them.

Welcome buddy. I admire your courage in wading in. Bold move! Well done.

(Fine handle: Your "Droop" goblin sidekick really jumped into the "Soup" this time. ;) )

There are two priority issues:

1) That we remain good friends.

2) That we as individuals, devote our time to what is nourishing (=fun), edifying (=virtue-building), and healthy (=sane). In my case, the question is whether (or how) I am able to game with you (and especially DM with you) without feeling crazy.

I've already sent my best hand-written letter through the local post office. I have already decided that I cannot DM with you any more, barring an unprecedented change in character.

What is an unprecedented change in character?


Some things you say here, seem to be a continuation of changeless misperceptions. Which I could and may (or may not) respond to in detail.

For my part, I understand that the changes I mandated in my campaign, via the 13-point "New Way Forward" plan, back in February, were difficult for you. It was a big shift toward individuation. Some, but not all, of the points would've best been crafted via discussion. I had intended to actually sit down with you and go over (and possibly modify) the 13-point vision. Yet I took your emailed semi-agreement as good enough. That was a mistake, which could've been partly (though not totally) sidestepped though a face-to-face convo. I was tired of convo (as a gateway to negotiations and arguments), but that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake to skip it.

Other things you say in this thread point to the possibility of genuine change, with a long will.

In such a scenario, though you would not have to be absolutely perfect, I do know that it would be treacherous to go forward without anything less than a long-willed, consistent, steady practice of good faith. I'm speaking over a span of months and months, or year. Week in and week out.

I wonder what accountability and support would help you to succeed, in the long will?

Would others in the group best know the details of our troubles, so that they can be supportive of you? Or not?

To help firm up our memory, would I or you need a newly written, less sharply worded, condensed, player-specific, inter-personal document, in hard copy? Or not?

Would this thread of the E.N.World community continue to serve as a forum for long-term mediation and check-in?

What outcome do I want now?

What outcome do you want?

For the sake of honoring the wound between us, there's got to be a pause for reflection.

In any case, a pause is mandated by outside (corona) circumstances.

If New York weren't shut down, I would have no problem reading D&D fiction with you and the gang next Monday. In fact, I would be glad to. Or researching D&D-themed and Middle-earth-themed cardgames and boardgames to pick up and try out. (My nephew and I recently played a D&D cardgame called Dungeon Mayhem, and it was simply fun.) Or picking up some old or new D&D Endless Quest gamebooks (choose-your-own adventure novels), where we have a simple vote to decide what action to take. Thoughts of things like that do not strain my emotional wariness.

Yet, as of today, thoughts of sitting down with you again at a Tabletop RPG which involves adjudication, does strain.

I have not totally lost all interest in the array of the cool adventures I told you I was prepping, but the glow is very dim.

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Welcome buddy. I admire your courage in wading in. Bold move! Well done.

(Fine handle: Your "Droop" goblin sidekick really jumped into the "Soup" this time. ;) )

There are two priority issues:

1) That we remain good friends.

2) That we as individuals, devote our time to what is nourishing (=fun), edifying (=virtue-building), and healthy (=sane). In my case, the question is whether (or how) I am able to game with you (and especially DM with you) without feeling crazy.

I've already sent my best hand-written letter through the local post office. I have already decided that I cannot DM with you any more, barring an unprecedented change in character.

What is an unprecedented change in character?


Some things you say here, seem to be a continuation of changeless misperceptions. Which I could and may (or may not) respond to in detail.

Thanks for the post, and the letter I received today.

The mood and message you choose to lead with is consistent as always. Thanks for that.

I agree with your 2 points. Well said.

Personally I wonder why you say "unprecedented" in relation to change in character? I expect it means you think the ways that I cause you trouble are so many and so fundamental that it would be unprecedented to expect your experience to be different with me. That is what I think you must mean.

I actually intend to change myself quite significantly. Not as a main purpose of being able to play D&D with you, though I expect I might be glad to if I managed my side of the bargain, but fundamentally I want to change out of the commitment I have to life in general, which your 2 points admirably express a lot of concurrence. I say it this way because I don't need to convince you in words, or change your mind about me. If I change, that will show itself in fact. Otherwise, what would words now mean? I can only say something of my intentions and what I learned.

I started to write about what I learned, but it is not finished and I don't have time now to share it. I expect I will share it, also for the chance that it will bring some value to the Enworld community as well.

My last open-ended no-expectations ask is this: If you or others perceive that I am continuing in changeless misperceptions, I am sincerely asking for those misperceptions to be corrected. It is clear you, the OP, are in your own process, so that is why I ask with no expectations. Open-ended means, if possible, I am interested if the opening comes.

IF others on the forum are willing to try again with me if they know what your are talking about or have their own take on it, then I hope they do.

I have not come to a complete conclusion as to whether it was ideal that you, the OP and my friend, brought this thread to an open community. As to how you portrayed me in those posts, I am sure it has cost me in some fashion by creating a certain picture of me here before I could present myself, but my focus on it is, as I've said before, that I don't need you to be perfect for my sake, so you can judge that for yourself. In the future, you may want to ask your co-creator before you choose to 'let it all hang out,' but for me, I've no reason at the moment to do more than make the most of it.

That said, I am convinced that I gained a great deal from engaging in this process here, even if it were not an ideal method for me to come to clarity.

In a good way, I do NOT now feel impelled to seek the kind of asks that I was pursuing with you consistently. It has, in a good way, partly been beat out of me, but also I think it is the change in my perceptions of the situation that shifts a lot in me.

I would characterize my feelings about myself and my inner focus is that at the moment my focus is to be a good player. Not a self-appointed co-creator who insists on demanding agency where my way is not in harmony with my friends.
I can admit that I always felt that you said "no" too much, for what I felt were the wrong reasons. But I am no longer satisfied with my assessment. Maybe I never was satisfied with my assessment, but I didn't have control of my feelings to feel anything else. I take the position now that I have missed something, and expect that I still don't see it all. What I do see is that I pushed when I should have stepped back and asked deeper questions. I acted naively.
I realize that both of us let it go on a long time without getting to the bottom of it. I would like to learn why some things take a while for a door to open for a truly new step. Unfortunately it took a full crisis that necessitated a break for our shared D&D adventure year.

AND, I credit you a great deal for reminding me so often, and repeatedly, that my behavior did not accord with what you felt our agreements were. For some reason that wasn't enough for me to be pointed toward the right response or thoughts. I realize that had conflict with those agreements, and didn't address that in the right way. Fundamentally, that is my mistake. So in that it is fair to put the majority of the blame on me. That is on the level of agreements. I agreed and didn't agree. And my behavior reflected that. That has been most unfortunate and costly to us both.

On the level of bad behavior, the pushing also falls into that category, and also all my general difficulties with my emotions, grumbling, pouting as you put it, and the like, these are my lifelong challenges. It is hard to bear them, because these inappropriate behaviors are so out there to see, with only the conclusion that that kind of behavior isn't acceptable. It gets tolerated by friends, but it is lamentable, period.

People who know me know that I have changed a great deal in my life. I still will change more. This collaborative D&D and personal-growth experience over this past year has been valuable to teach me a lot, gave me a lot of great memories, challenges, and also through my mistakes, gives me motivation, because I regret strongly want to learn from them and do better.

This seems adequate for this post.

Thanks to all who contributed. I've experienced a lot of people with quite strong character and presence.

Perhaps some time in the future I will share some of the insights that will come as I reflect and work further on this experience. For now, just know that this was an overwhelmingly positive experience for me, because of the good will and generosity of the contributors, even though I felt that I have been perceived as someone most people would expect to firmly eject from their gaming table, based on what they saw come through the forum. Even so, people were honest and respectful and supportive. That says a lot about the people here.

- Michael
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OP is short for Original Poster. In this case, your friend.

"Trolling" is an activity in which a person or persons deliberately stirs up drama instead of genuinely engaging in whatever activity the medium is there for.

A "Sock Puppet" is a separate account a troll might use to help create drama. A lot of times you can identify a sock puppet by comparing the style, vocabulary, and format of one accounts posts versus another.

April 1st (aka April Fools Day) is a day where many on websites and forums takes the opportunity to "trick" people into believing and engaging in a story that is fiction.


If you are exactly who you say and represent yourself to be then great! Welcome to ENWorld!

If you are interested in this community then it really is a great source for discussing D&D and other RPG topics.

Do you mean to say that your comment saying you thought we were trolls was an April Fools joke?

I ask because I am not clear whether your mention of it was an explanation of you poking fun. I usually enter my thinking so seriously that if people say something seriously I experience it as intentional, not a joke. I like to joke, but I miss a lot of jokes if I don't catch the cue.

Also, I hoped people would read my post today, which is basically a closing post to my friend and the folks who have helped me. Unless others offer me insight to anything I missed, it feels like people have moved on, and my friend has concluded this phase to the point of us agreeing not to play, as so many of you recommended and expected. I may share some insights in the future to this group, but after some reflection.

I also wanted to say thanks to you especially, anyway. So many people went above and beyond to accommodate my questions. Thanks for that.

First, thanks for everyone's feedback, even those who felt off-put.

Context: it's not a school club, it's a house game of adults ranging from 20s to 50s. We just call it the "D&D Club."

I admit that the language is hard and confrontational and wounded (non-secure) in places, because I have felt repeatedly chafed and crazed by certain experiences. It came to a head this week, and I felt I was living in a crazening co-dependent DM's nightmare. :)

These Table Rules were a first draft, which I may (and probably should) further hone, thanks to your suggestions. I haven't yet shared it with the other members of the group (beyond my problem-player), and it makes sense to tone down and streamline some of the wording.

Yet I'm hoping that this ultra-frank draft will sink into the player's memory, because the player has a tendency to forget things, and to renege on agreements, and we repeatedly fall back into difficult dynamics.

I'm sorry to say: there's a reason why each point is there.

This was my attempt to salvage the group, by making a frank inventory of my sore spots, and presenting it in an actionable way.

In regard to the parts of Rule Zero which chafed the most readers in this thread:

The DM can make up rules on the spot, fudge the dice, repeatedly change rules, alter a monster's hit points and stats on the fly, retcon the story, switch to a different rules system, and even modify your character's traits, stats, and features!

Well, I have not been that way as a DM -- if you read some of the other, nicer table rules, you'll see my more usual tenor. Yes, if that was the invitational document to a new player, I can see how it'd be daunting and off-putting...yet at this point, this document is more a "medicinal" antidote and "wake-up call" directed to this specific player. The intense wording is a countermeasure, to moderate the opposite expectation--for the past year, the player has expected me to bend and sway to entertain his wishes.

For example: I told the table that I want to play 5E RAW. I wanted to spend 6 months running a straight RAW campaign, so that I have that as skill-set, and then at the end of the 6 months, I'd be open to considering new house rules, or switching to another RPG system.

So, a day or two later, the player calls me and says he saw a cool Youtube video where the DMs recommend giving out bonus feats as story rewards. At the end, he's like: "So, are you up for that?" I was like: "That's cool, but no, I'm playing RAW". And he got angry. He can't take "No" for an answer.

He was like: "But you gave us other stuff, like letting us become Knights of the White Dragon and Saints of Namyats, and we received titles from the Harpers and Lords' Alliance." I was like: "I'm glad you enjoyed those. But that's story! There were no mechanical benefits. But a bonus feat is a big mechanical boon. Gaining a feat is really rare in 5e." He didn't know what Factions and Renown was -- and he thought that those are commensurate to receiving bonus Feats. He was disappointed that I wouldn't hand out Feats as treasure, like I handed out titles for Faction rewards.

If I say "no", he pouts, and grumbles about me being a stingy, un-free, box-minded, linear DM. (At the same time, last summer, I invented a freeform LARP version of D&D which he enjoyed playing -- somehow he forgets that. But now I want to play 5E RAW.)

As for emotional serenity. He gets disturbed and has nightmares afterward. He grits his teeth and yells loudly in anger when he rolls low or makes a mistake. Which is a bummer.

At some point in the Phandelver adventure, I got tired of coddling his party with kid gloves. (At that point, we were playing one-on-one, since we hadn't found other players yet.)

So I resolved to play Cragmaw Castle with my very best monster tactics.


So he went up to the side door and found it locked. He was running multiple characters, one of which is a thief, with proficiency in lockpicks. But he said: "Well, I guess there's no other way than through the front gate." Long story short: after a long attricious fight in the entryway, one thing led to another, and the doppleganger drew him into the central room...where he was surrounded by dozens of goblins + the big boss and his pet, and the doppleganger. And his entire party was felled. Total Party Loss. I played it totally straight.

Two characters made their death saves and were made slaves of the Cragmaw boss. I was ready to move on -- I was planning to pick up a Slavers adventure. But he was like: "I don't have time to make up a new character! I didn't sign up for this!" I'm like: "You didn't sign up for the possibility of your characters dying in D&D?!"

He was emotionally bent out of shape. So basically, I felt I was at the mercy of his wishes and emotions and distress - like I'm just there to entertain him and make sure that his PCs don't die, no matter what. So I let him replay Cragmaw Castle, and retconned the previous TPL to be a dream-sequence.

And I even flat out told him: "Okay, for the rest of this adventure, so let's just play that your characters can't die." And he was happy with that. And I even said: "If you don't like how a scene went, you can either replay the scene, or just retcon it yourself, and tell me how the story actually went." haha - I thought was being pretty generous as a DM. :) But seriously, I was trying to be 'therapeutic' when faced with some major emotional troubles.

In regard to the Cragmaw TPL, he even admitted later that "I was testing you to see how far I could go."

Last adventure, I just gave up, and decided to fulfill his wildest dreams. He had repeatedly griped that he should have a +2 weapon by now (he was 4th level), and that since the Lost Mine of Phandelver is rumored to have a magical forge, then the module is dumb for not having magic weapons lying around, and that I should change whatever magic weapons are in the adventure so that it matches his own character (e.g. instead of a magic sword, it should be a magic pole arm -- which is not a terrible idea, but I simply prefer to play the module-as-written, like I did back in the old days of BECMI. And he doesn't like it.)

Anyway, for the final room of the Lost Mine, I filled the treasure room with 101 magic items, including a vorpal sword, and all the specific magic items he'd asked for (ring of protection, cloak of protection, girdle of giant strength, etc).

Result? As I read the list off, the player's face drooped more and more, and he became emotionally distressed. He was totally unhappy. Afterward he said he "hated that", and said I was being "vindictive". I was like: "Vindictive is a strong word. My jest was no more intense than your repeated griping."
Another example: he would get angry that I don't accept his proposed changes to the class features of his character (to make them more powerful) -- for example, he wanted me to house-rule that a Fighter could take more than one Fighting Style, and switch between them, from round to round. I'm like: "Dude, I told you I want to learn to play RAW." And he pouts and gets angry, and labels me as being "constrictive of player freedom."

He'll read some article online, and then swear by it. Even though he hasn't read the PHB or DMG himself. Ever since he read some article about how there shouldn't be traps in D&D, he wants me to delete all traps from D&D adventures. I'm like: "Dude, it's D&D! There are going to be traps!" He portrays me as a crotchety DM for not going along with his wish that there be no traps in D&D!
In regard to Shield Master. He made up a character with Shield Master feat- and before the character entered play I ruled for the latest (revised) Sage Advice on that feat; but he pouted and wouldn't play that character. Then, as a sop, I wrote up a new ruling which salvaged the original (pre-revision) Sage Advice, but required the Shield Master to actually follow through with their declared attack (no matter what), if they took the bonus Shove before the attack. He didn't like that, and so he wrote his own version.

I even provisionally agreed to the intent of his Shield Master hack, but when I asked for clarification about his wording, it all unraveled. He offered various explanations: "If I fail on the Shove, I suffer Disadvantage to attack that creature for the rest of this turn (but not any other creature), or maybe there'd be four different degrees of success or failure on the Shove." He suggested that we playtest the various proposals. I became frustrated with the lack of firmness and contour. And didn't relish drawing it out even further by a playtest. I said that if we are going to totally homebrew the Shield Master feat, ideally we would first gather all the various online hacks of the feat which others have written, so as to see ways others have done it, as due diligence. But he lightly dismissed this as being uncreative, saying: "We should just trust our own creativity." This happened a couple days ago. We had spent months wrangling over this feat, just because he wouldn't really accept either of the Sage Advice rulings which I adopted.

At the same time as he was proposing these changes in how feats and fighter styles work, he didn't even know the rules well enough to roll ability scores. His character had a wild array of numbers: like several 18s and 17s, and some like 3s or 4s (or something like that). I was like: "What method did you use to roll up your character?" And he was like: "d20s."

At the same time, he was busting my chops for not going along with his proposals to change the RAW . He seems to think that just because he read it online, and he thinks it's a good idea for his character (i.e. makes his character more powerful), then it's ingeniously inspired, and I should adopt it. And that I'm a mephistophelean gear-head for trying to play the RAW.

In hopes of salvaging things, I recently announced that I'm starting a new campaign, where everyone is going to start on a level playing field. Partly because, when we first started playing, he would roll multiple sets of ability scores, and choose the highest. And I have another player whose character has suspiciously high scores (IIRC, the scores are all 14 or higher) So I wanted to head off that temptation. So I was like: if you want bring an old character into this new campaign, I need you to redo their ability scores using the Standard Array or Point Buy. But he was like: "I rolled an 18 for the druid, and I don't want to give it up."

That blew my fuse. I felt I could literally not make any rulings or table parameters without being endlessly challenged and pushed and prodded.

I said: "Well, photocopy the sheet, and keep its stats for use in another campaign."

But I went to bed feeling like I was trapped in a crazed codependent DMs nightmare.

The next morning, I wrote up and sent the Twenty Table Rules. Which was just yesterday.

So you see I'm still in the thick of some tumult - that is why some of the wording is too hard and harsh.

You guys are right that this player-constellation may not be salvageable. These "Twenty Table Rules" are really a last-ditch effort, in hopes that my dynamics with this player would truly and lastingly change.

Lastly, believe it or not, we are best friends. His wife warned me that he has emotional trouble when playing games. That is something to consider.

Well, I've gone and "aired the laundry" in public, and "called out the cavalry" in this thread.


Sack this dude from your table. Immediately.

Seriously, why on earth would you spend your free time hanging out with a self entitled, whiny, oversensitive, demanding, cheating, sooky player who cant be assed reading the rules (but clearly spends a lot of time reading up on how to wreck games)?

If someone was like that to me, they would be instantly booted from the group. No ifs buts or maybes. If they were like that to me in ANY context, I would flat out refuse to hang with them under any circumstance.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Sack this dude from your table. Immediately.

Seriously, why on earth would you spend your free time hanging out with a self entitled, whiny, oversensitive, demanding, cheating, sooky player who cant be assed reading the rules (but clearly spends a lot of time reading up on how to wreck games)?

If someone was like that to me, they would be instantly booted from the group. No ifs buts or maybes. If they were like that to me in ANY context, I would flat out refuse to hang with them under any circumstance.
You’re a bit late to the party.


Baronet of Gaming
I have not come to a complete conclusion as to whether it was ideal that you, the OP and my friend, brought this thread to an open community. As to how you portrayed me in those posts, I am sure it has cost me in some fashion by creating a certain picture of me here before I could present myself, but my focus on it is, as I've said before, that I don't need you to be perfect for my sake, so you can judge that for yourself.

You need to take a step back and not think about yourself, and how this thread affects you, but what actions you took that drove your friend to post about it in the first place.

In the future, you may want to ask your co-creator before you choose to 'let it all hang out,' but for me, I've no reason at the moment to do more than make the most of it.

Here is part of the problem in my mind. Yes, it is collectively everyone's group, but the power of creativity (and the veto powers inherent therein) lie with the Dungeon Master. Collaborative storytelling is one thing, collaborative story writing is another.

I would characterize my feelings about myself and my inner focus is that at the moment my focus is to be a good player. Not a self-appointed co-creator who insists on demanding agency where my way is not in harmony with my friends.

Put in bold for emphasis.

Apparently you still have some work to do in this regard as earlier in your post (in fact included in what I already decided to quote) you refer to yourself as a co-creator. You. Are. Not. When you are the a Player you need to be a Player. Let the Dungeon Master be the Dungeon Master.

That doesn't mean that you can't make cool suggestions about "that village across the river" or the "What if the rumors about the Dragon Cultists were made up?" but it does mean that you need to abide by the decisions of the Dungeon Master even if they say no to your ideas. The Dungeon Master wants to have fun too and sometimes that means going with their own vision for things.

All that being said, I would like to echo what others have said and suggest you take a good long break from being a Player and be a Dungeon Master for a nice long campaign or two. I think it will give you good insight into this predicament and how you can adjust your behavior in the future to both you and your friend's benefit.

Good luck!


I'm changing the title of this thread: "I need D&D counselling! Help!"

I'm gonna let it all out.
Some more difficult/crazening episodes:

A few days ago when I read off the ENWorlder's advice to my player, he said that I'm a selfish DM because I don't want to make him happy by maximizing his fun. He said when he DMs, he tries to make me happy as a player.

Which sounds nice. But I basically told him:

"Look, the difference is, I am EASY TO PLEASE as a player. You know I don't care how many magic items I get -- I enjoy whatever comes along. You know I don't care if my characters die - I'll happily roll up a new one. It doesn't mean I'm careless or apathetic. I'm just happy for the story. If I roll a sub-par character, you know I try to make the most of it."

"You on the other hand, ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO PLEASE. You push and push to change the RAW to make your characters the most powerful. You gripe about every bit and bobble. You flip out if you make even the slightest tactical mistake, and will not accept the possibilty of any of your characters dying, or suffering any loss whatsoever. You forget whatever agreements you make. You criticize much of what I bring to the table. And you repeatedly challenge and prick at whatever rulings and parameters I try to establish."

That got through to him. He agreed.

(But by our next conversation, he'd reverted to his usual difficult, wrangling self.)

I'm the only player in our group who has lost characters. Three of my characters have died under his DMship. And I didn't sweat it.
But when one of his characters dies, he flips out.
This player used to actually blame me for him not remembering to use his class powers. He would get angry and say: "You should've reminded me to use this power!"

I would have to tell him: "Man, I have a lot going on my side of the table, with fifty monsters and NPCs and entire world to run. Imagine a line running down the middle of the table. You are totally responsible for your side of the table, namely, your PCs. And I am totally responsible for this side of the table, namely the monsters and setting."

My friend may have difficulty with perceiving and honoring boundaries.

Another anecdote:

I once tried to run a B/X adventure, using B/X Moldvay rules. I was interested in trying that - and had even pre-ordered the B/X-based Old School Essentials boxed set, in anticipation.

But when we played B/X, he would gripe and snipe at me about this and that.

He kept griping that the party's Magic-User only had Read Languages.

He griped about the B/X Combat Sequence, with its Declaration Phase, etc. When I had explicitly said that part of the goal for the evening was to understand and experience how it was done back in those days.

He griped that his Elf set off a trap. And blamed me: "I only rushed in without checking for traps because it took so long for you to guide the newcomers to roll up characters." (Remember, he is sure that there should be no traps in D&D at all.)

The evening was un-enjoyable.

After that, I canceled my OSE order.

Later he asked: "When is your OSE kickstarter arriving?" I was like: "I canceled my order. We hated that game, don't you remember? (Him: "Oh yeah.") "Why would I buy a game that we hated. We could've liked it, but we didn't."

When I say "we", I mean "he." And I hated the experience because it was trampled on.

(Now, I admit that as DM, I was in large part responsible for various snags during the evening (e.g. I got THAC0 backwards), but he sure as heck wasn't very helpful in facilitating a good experience for all.)

BTW, when I next played, with him DMing, I intentionally rolled up a Magic-User whose one spell is Read Languages.

And you know what? My 3-hit-point-MU-with-Read-Languages fought a 70 hp fire elemental hand-to-hand with a dagger, for many rounds (along with the rest of the party), and slew it.

I was like: "That's how you play a MU with only Read Languages."


Another time, I bought the whole Black Hack package (hardcover + player's booklet + GM's screen) and had it shipped from the UK. I was so looking forward to GMing it, with some intention of it becoming my favored ruleset. (I was desparately seeking a way out of the brain-frazzling complexities of 5E, and the argumentative wrangling which came with it.) But when I joyfully pulled out The Black Hack to show-and-tell, he trampled on it. He wouldn't even consider playing, because the artwork was too edgy -- for example, it has a pentacle on the cover. (He went to some art school in Switzerland, and is apparently allergic to anything which isn't ultra-refined, high spiritual art.)

Since then, he shudders and makes a critical comment whenever The Black Hack is even mentioned.

I shelved my aspiration. TBH is gathering dust on my shelf.

Sometimes he can be kind of like the 'church lady' from SNL. I told him that a local player had responded to our D&D promotional poster, and that the enquirer said he was familiar with Savage Worlds and FATE. He shuddered and interrupted: "Oh, those are dark games aren't they?"

I'm like: "FATE is about as non-dark as you can get. It's a totally generic, setting-free, mechanics-light ruleset."

He's like: "Yeah, but the other, it has word 'savage' in it - it must be violent and dark. Surely it's not referring to dinosaurs."

I'm like (in exasperation): "Yes, as a matter of fact, it is referring to dinosaurs. The name is inspired by pulp fiction titles from the 1920s, which featured 'savage' themes, such as Tarzan and lost worlds of dinosaurs. 1920s fiction was not so dark."

He was like: "You're kind of jacked up, aren't you?"

I was like: "Jay-zus, man! I'm just relaying some basic information here, about a player enquiry. Can't we just skip the moral inquisition?"
And here's more of our group history:

At first was just him and I. We learned the basics of 5E together over the course of several months.

I served as DM, and he as player. The emotional difficulties and wrangling I mentioned earlier, built up, and I felt chafed. So I asked him to please try DMing.

Honestly, 90% of the reason I asked him to DM was in hopes that the experience of sitting on the other side of the screen would somehow sand off his constant criticism.

Then a younger friend joined us, which helped the dynamic.

Around that time, I'd gotten burnt out on the complexities and fiddly bits of 5E (which fueled arguments), and so we tried some OSR games: White Box, Heroes & Monsters, and the aforementioned B/X / OSE.

As warm weather came, I decided to switch to a homemade LARP D&D system. And the three of us played outside all last summer. It was fun.

But then as cold weather arrived, we settled back into table play. At first we used the LARP rules while sitting at the table, but 5E creeped back in. Because LARP of course lacked almost any sort of tactical / mechanical aspect.

But we had a huge roster of characters - probably 50 characters between us, built using several different systems, but existing in the same world. I dreaded converting them.

And I dreaded going back to the brain-friction-inducing 5E.

I was also working on my own home-made RPG, and we playested it a couple times, but it wasn't really coming together.

I considered quitting again.

All this, from a year+ of play, had built up over time. The sore spots had not really resolved themselves. My "problem-player" had changed in some ways, but in other ways, kept doing the same difficult things over and over again. I was considering quitting.

But again, a vision arose: of really devoting ourselves to learning how to play straight 5E RAW. So that we'd have a stable ruleset. We'd take one month off from playing. And we'd put up posters to grow our group, and get fresh blood flowing -- a new dynamic. During that month, we'd all buy a copy of the PHB (we played for over a year with only the Starter Set and online rule references). And the two DMs would buy a copy of the DMG. And read it. And we'd refrain from houserules, so that we could more easily plug into the existing player network.

We'd convert all our key characters to 5E. And we'd play 5E RAW for 6 months straight. I would go back to serving as primary DM. I laid out the titles of a bunch of cool 5E adventures I plan to run.

After 6 months, we'd re-assess. At that time, we could adopt house rules, or even switch to a different system. But just give me 6 months of 5E RAW.

Thus I decided to humble myself and go back to 5E. I DON'T EVEN LIKE 5E. But I could get enthusiastic about doing it if we would essentially do RAW, so that I could finally properly learn it, instead of mixing in a bunch of exceptions and house-rules from the start, like we used to do.

My friend agreed to the vision.

We put up posters, and a fourth player joined us.

But as things got rolling, my friend reneged on the agreement. He said: "I agreed to something I didn't understand. I don't want to play RAW." And he went into making the usual requests for rules changes, bennies, etc. like he used to do.

I felt betrayed. And crazed.

In retrospect, it would've been better to sit down together and jointly decide what system we would adopt, if any. BUT I WAS SO THROUGH WITH NEGOTIATING WITH HIM! The thought of negotiation blacked out whatever fire I had left to play.

And I myself could not picture how any other system would really work for us. For two reasons:

1) 13th Age was at the top of the list, but to buy its complete array of sourcebooks (and thus serve as a complete platform for converting our existing world) would cost $200+.
2) Converting our characters to another system (whether it be 13th Age, The Black Hack, OSE, or White Hack) would involve even more home-brewing (in order to model our motley crew of monstrous PC races) -- and I dreaded haggling with him over the creative details that such a home-brewing would entail.

So my vision basically mandated 5E RAW. But that is why.

We took a month off - which was March. We are slated to begin play again in April. But as you see from my recent posts, there are some big wrenches in the works.

In my next post, I'll list positive qualities of this player, so you can see why we're friends.

You absolutely need to stop playing with this person! If you are friends you can still be friends doing other stuff. You're not compatible.

Epic Threats

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